I saw a ridiciulously dumb post today. Now, if this was some random blogger, it'd be nothing ... but this was posted on a company blog, and I just have to point out its stupidity.

Why do only "executives" deserve summaries?

The phrase "executive summary" is strange.

"Oh, you're the most important person? You only need to read this. Everyone else: Go ahead and waste your time with the full thing!"

Why should only executives be spared the task of reading fluff? If the important, power-wielding, DECIDER only needs to read a few paragraphs to get what's going on, that should be enough for everyone else too.

Sure, the real context of these summaries is usually "If you don't have full bandwidth right now, read this." But if that's the real meaning, why not have a title which accurately reflects that?

Either the author does not understand the purpose of executive summaries, or he does not understand why we use adjectives to help describe nouns.

There is this misguided notion that "executives" somehow have complete insight into everything that's happening. That is impossible to do. If you ever work with other people reporting to, you'll quickly understand that you trust the people underneath you to do the job to the best of their ability. In the case of software managers, there is a real tendency to always fall back on your software background to "dive back in" and do the "better job" - this has to be resisted. You grow the people underneath you by mentoring them, even if they don't do as good of a job as you used to do. (MENTOR!)

An executive is not expected to understand in-depth every aspect of every person he or she manages. That is information overload. The people who report to the executive's jobs are to vet and research, then make a recommendation for execution through an executive summary. When things are summarized in such a manner, it is not about removing fluff, it's about removing the nitty gritty details that aren't relevant to the exeuctives' decision making, but were relevant to the specialist who compiled the report.  The executive modifier has little to do with seeming exclusive, and indicating the summary is related to execution. This is also why when rulings are summarized, they are called judicial summaries. Or when laws are summarized, they are called legislative summaries.

That's not to mean that executives can claim ignorance when bad things happens. Whenever someone who reports to the executive fails, that executive has failed too. It is as much the fault of an executive as it is of the person who committed the error. It may not be in the same direct way as the person who committed the error, but the executives' blame is more indirect - why was there nothing in the process to help this person succeed? Why was this failure bubbled up to that level? (But sometimes, shit just happens and it's really nobody's fault)

I don't know what got this guy's panties in a twist - it just seems like has a vendetta against the notion of executives ... but I'll give him more credit than that.

The post was clearly just pandering.

Posted by roy on September 16, 2009 at 01:42 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

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