Saturday, June 15, 2024

Two Pizzas for ME – The Daily WTF

Programming LanguageTwo Pizzas for ME - The Daily WTF


Gloria was a senior developer at IniMirage, a company that makes custom visualizations for their clients. Over a few years, IniMirage had grown to more than 100 people, but was still very much in startup mode. Because of that, Gloria tried to keep her teams sized for two pizzas. Thomas, the product manager, on the other hand, felt that the company was ready to make big moves, and could scale up the teams: more people could move products faster. And Thomas was her manager, so he was “setting direction.”

Gloria’s elderly dog had spent the night at the emergency vet, and the company hadn’t grown up to “giving sick days” yet, so she was nursing a headache from lack of sleep, when Thomas tried to initiate a Slack huddle. He had a habit of pushing the “Huddle” button any time the mood struct, without rhyme or reason.

She put on her headphones and accepted the call. “It’s Gloria. Can you hear me?” She checked her mic, and repeated the check. She waited a minute before hanging up and getting back to work.

About five minutes later, Thomas called again.”Hey, did you call me like 10 minutes ago?”

“No, you called me.” Gloria facepalmed and took a deep, calming breath. “I couldn’t hear you.”

Thomas said, “Huh, okay. Anyway, is that demo ready for today?”

Thomas loved making schedules. He usually used Excel. There was just one problem: he rarely shared them, and he rarely read them after making them. Gloria had nothing on her calendar. “What demo?”

“Oh, Dylan said he was ready for a demo. So I scheduled it with Jack.”

Jack was the CEO. Dylan was one of Gloria’s peers. Gloria checked Github, and said, “Well, Dylan hasn’t pushed anything for… months. I haven’t heard anything from him. Has he showed you this demo?”

Gloria heard crunching. Thomas was munching on some chips. She heard him typing. After a minute, she said, “Thomas?”

“Oh, sorry, I was distracted.”

Clearly. “Okay, I think we should cancel this meeting. I’ve seen this before, and with a bad demo, we could lose buy in.”

Thomas said, “No, no, it’ll be fine.”

Gloria said, “Okay, well, let me know how that demo goes.” She left the call and went back to work, thinking that it’d be Thomas’s funeral. A few minutes before the meeting, her inbox dinged. She was now invited to the demo.

She joined the meeting, only to learn that Dylan was out sick and couldn’t make the meeting. She spent the time giving project updates on her work, instead of demos, which is what the CEO actually wanted anyway. The meeting ended and everyone was happy- everyone but Gloria.

Gloria wrote an email to the CEO, expressing her concerns. Thomas was inattentive, incommunicative, and had left her alone to manage the team. She felt that she was doing more of the product management work than Thomas was. Jack replied that he appreciated her concerns, but that Thomas was growing into the position.

Julia, one of the other product managers, popped by Gloria’s desk a few weeks later. “You know Dylan?”

Gloria said, “Well, I know he hasn’t push any code in a literal year and keeps getting sick. I think I’ve pushed more code to his project than he has, and I’m not on it.”

Julia laughed. “Well, he’s been fired, but not for that.”

Thomas had been pushing for more demos. Which meant he pulled Dylan into more meetings with the CEO. Jack was a “face time” person, and required everyone to turn on their webcams during meetings. It didn’t take very many meetings to discover that Dylan was an entirely different person each time. There were multiple Dylans.

“But even without that, HR was going to fire him for not showing up to work,” Julia said.

“But… if there were multiple people… why couldn’t someone show up?” Gloria realized she was asking the wrong question. “How did Thomas never realize it?”

And if he was multiple people, how could he never get any work done? Dylan was a two-pizza team all by himself.

After the Dylan debacle, Thomas resigned suddenly and left to work at a competitor. A new product manager, Penny, came on board, and was organized, communicative, and attentive. Gloria never heard about Dylan again, and Penny kept the team sizes small.

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