Asking Why

While at our outsourcing partner in India, I learned that one of the engineers was synchronizing the tip of one revision control system (CVS) with the tip of another revision control system (Perforce) by checking out the Perforce tip, checking out the CVS tip, copying the CVS files over the Perforce files, then checking in the Perforce files.

This resulted in Perforce changes being overwritten if they were never reflected in CVS.

It seemed strange that anyone would engage in this inefficient manual labor without thinking there is a more efficient way to accomplish the goal.

Here are some ideas for why he was doing it:

  1. Rather than thinking his job is to work efficiently, he thinks his job is only to work.
  2. He is not accustomed to being told why. He does exactly what he is told. In other words, he fears his innovation may fail to meet an unstated need. His supervisor withholds the why in order to impose control or power.
  3. His schooling has taught him to "memorize and repeat" not to "compose" or "solve problems"

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Updated at: 6 August 2008 4:08 PM

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