Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 5-Jun-2008
Questions for readers: Managing Boomers vs Generation-X in the workplace.

Web Log - June, 2008

Questions for readers: Managing Boomers vs Generation-X in the workplace.

Also an ethics question: When do you tell the boss that the project is crashing and burning?

Related Articles

The housing bubble began in 1995.: This means that the housing crisis will last for almost another decade.... (8-Sep-2009)
Laughable SEC report on Madoff absolves SEC management of blame: "Confusion" and "inexperience" of young SEC staff members are blamed.... (6-Sep-2009)
Stories of massive generational fraud and corruption continue to pour out: Long-time readers of this web site know how much my life... (14-Apr-2009)
The economy, the stimulus plan and the budget plan all continue to unravel: Markets keep falling as world economic trends continue to plunge.... (2-Mar-2009)
Neil Howe calls Early Gen-Xers the "dumbest generation": I disagree - Boomers are the dumbest generation.... (10-Dec-2008)
'Liberation Hero' Robert Mugabe now destroys Zimbabwe with cholera: Adding to his record of mass torture, slaughter and economic destruction,... (8-Dec-2008)
A generational view of China's growing melamine food disaster: On Thursday, the FDA issued a nationwide alert, banning Chinese dairy products... (17-Nov-2008)
How Boomers and Generation-Xers brought about the dumbing down of Information Technology (IT) : Software development has adopted a Java cookbook approach that leads to project failures. Also: How Digimarc Corp. self-destructed with management's cookbook programming mentality. (1-Jul-2008)
Questions for readers: Managing Boomers vs Generation-X in the workplace.: Also an ethics question: When do you tell the boss that the project is crashing and burning?... (5-Jun-2008)
Teen "emo subculture" creating violent fault line in Mexico City: The depressive 'emotive' music style is also being blamed for suicides in Europe.... (25-May-2008)
Software development projects for Moody's, Digimarc, Y2K, DEC further illuminate Gen-X nihilism: As Boomers and Gen-Xers have taken charge, software development standards have suffered.... (23-May-2008)
China and Taiwan: Understanding two different war paradigms: None of Obama, Clinton or McCain have any idea of this.... (23-Apr-08)
NY Governor Elliot Spitzer: A Generation-Xer gets his comeuppance: Rarely has someone's fall from grace been met with so much glee.... (12-Mar-08)
Reader comments on the Nihilism of Generation-X: Who's more at fault for our problems - Gen-Xers or Boomers?... (29-Jan-08)
The nihilism and self-destructiveness of Generation X: Who's more to blame for our troubles: The Boomer generation or Generation X?... (21-Jan-08)
Markets fall as investors are increasingly unsettled by bad economic news: Hopes for quick return to "normal" bubble growth are fading.... (21-Nov-07)

Later this month, I'm giving a talk to a user group on "Generational issues in managing IT projects." I specifically want to focus on issues between Boomers and Gen-Xers. The title refers to "IT projects" (i.e., software development projects), but the generational issues should apply to any group of professionals in any field.

Here's the way I currently see it:

As I described in "Software development projects for Moody's, Digimarc, Y2K, DEC further illuminate Gen-X nihilism," I consider this difference in view to be the highest risk factor in a development project, if management does not address it.

So how does management address it?

I'm looking for real-life anecdotes, as well as opinions and viewpoints on the general problem. Needless to say, anything of yours that I use will be stripped of any personal identifying information.

A separate but related issue is an ethical question I've recently been posing to several people. This is based on personal experience.

In the 1990s, I was working under contract on a project at Fidelity to develop telemarketing software. There were five of us working on the project, each of us developing a different piece. My piece was portfolio rebalancing -- the user interface where the client would specify what percentage of his money was to go into each asset class, and the back end algorithmic software that would generate the buy/sell orders to bring his portfolio into balance. The other four people were working on other pieces.

The idea is that we'd each spend three months working on our pieces, and then we'd put them all together to have a complete working system.

(As an aside, this is a common mistake that software development managers make. They divide a software development project up into components, assign people to work on each component, and assume that the components will all work together at the end. This is a VERY common mistake, and it's the main reason for that old saying, "The first 95% of the project takes the first 95% of the time, and the last 5% of the project takes the remaining 95% of the time.")

So I went in on a Sunday, and spent a couple of hours doing a little mini-QA project. (QA = quality assurance.) I tested out each component, and I tried to get them to work together. I identified 82 different bugs and issues, some trivial, some major. I put them all into a memo, stating my opinion that the project would slip 3-6 months. On Monday, I gave the memo to my supervisor, who gave it to his manager.

Well, the s--t hit the fan. The manager was absolutely off-the-wall furious at me, and was screaming at me in his office. A couple of weeks later I was fired, and a couple of months later the entire project crashed and burned -- not at all to my surprise. A few months after that, I ran into a consultant who had left the project before I did. He told me that he had quit the project because he, too, realized it was headed for disaster.

My point of view is that I was a consultant working for a boss whose project was going to crash and burn, and that as a consultant I had a moral and professional obligation to tell him that. I still feel that way today, although of course I now realize that my view is typical of the sense of "moral superiority" that many Boomers have.

Still, what other choice did I have? I've asked several people about this, and one said that it would have been better for me to resign and not tell anyone, just as the other consultant did. The reasoning, I guess, is that it's not up to the consultant to disturb the client's plan, even if it's wrong. At least I think that's the reasoning. And also, when the last Shuttle disaster occurred, there were stories coming out of Nasa employees who had warned of problems but who had been ignored or fired.

Anyway, so I'm asking you readers this question as well: What should I have done? More generally, when should a consultant or employee tell his boss that the project is headed for disaster? What should he do if he's afraid that he'll be fired just for saying so? And what should a manager do when an employee gives him that news? In your answers, does it make a difference if you're talking about a telemarketing application program versus a project where lives are at stake?

As in the previous question, I'm looking for philosophical opinions and rants as well as real-life anecdotes. Anything I use will have personal identifying information removed. You can write to me at , or else use the "Comment" link at the top of every page. (5-Jun-2008) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

Web Log Pages

Current Web Log

Web Log Summary - 2016
Web Log Summary - 2015
Web Log Summary - 2014
Web Log Summary - 2013
Web Log Summary - 2012
Web Log Summary - 2011
Web Log Summary - 2010
Web Log Summary - 2009
Web Log Summary - 2008
Web Log Summary - 2007
Web Log Summary - 2006
Web Log Summary - 2005
Web Log Summary - 2004

Web Log - December, 2016
Web Log - November, 2016
Web Log - October, 2016
Web Log - September, 2016
Web Log - August, 2016
Web Log - July, 2016
Web Log - June, 2016
Web Log - May, 2016
Web Log - April, 2016
Web Log - March, 2016
Web Log - February, 2016
Web Log - January, 2016
Web Log - December, 2015
Web Log - November, 2015
Web Log - October, 2015
Web Log - September, 2015
Web Log - August, 2015
Web Log - July, 2015
Web Log - June, 2015
Web Log - May, 2015
Web Log - April, 2015
Web Log - March, 2015
Web Log - February, 2015
Web Log - January, 2015
Web Log - December, 2014
Web Log - November, 2014
Web Log - October, 2014
Web Log - September, 2014
Web Log - August, 2014
Web Log - July, 2014
Web Log - June, 2014
Web Log - May, 2014
Web Log - April, 2014
Web Log - March, 2014
Web Log - February, 2014
Web Log - January, 2014
Web Log - December, 2013
Web Log - November, 2013
Web Log - October, 2013
Web Log - September, 2013
Web Log - August, 2013
Web Log - July, 2013
Web Log - June, 2013
Web Log - May, 2013
Web Log - April, 2013
Web Log - March, 2013
Web Log - February, 2013
Web Log - January, 2013
Web Log - December, 2012
Web Log - November, 2012
Web Log - October, 2012
Web Log - September, 2012
Web Log - August, 2012
Web Log - July, 2012
Web Log - June, 2012
Web Log - May, 2012
Web Log - April, 2012
Web Log - March, 2012
Web Log - February, 2012
Web Log - January, 2012
Web Log - December, 2011
Web Log - November, 2011
Web Log - October, 2011
Web Log - September, 2011
Web Log - August, 2011
Web Log - July, 2011
Web Log - June, 2011
Web Log - May, 2011
Web Log - April, 2011
Web Log - March, 2011
Web Log - February, 2011
Web Log - January, 2011
Web Log - December, 2010
Web Log - November, 2010
Web Log - October, 2010
Web Log - September, 2010
Web Log - August, 2010
Web Log - July, 2010
Web Log - June, 2010
Web Log - May, 2010
Web Log - April, 2010
Web Log - March, 2010
Web Log - February, 2010
Web Log - January, 2010
Web Log - December, 2009
Web Log - November, 2009
Web Log - October, 2009
Web Log - September, 2009
Web Log - August, 2009
Web Log - July, 2009
Web Log - June, 2009
Web Log - May, 2009
Web Log - April, 2009
Web Log - March, 2009
Web Log - February, 2009
Web Log - January, 2009
Web Log - December, 2008
Web Log - November, 2008
Web Log - October, 2008
Web Log - September, 2008
Web Log - August, 2008
Web Log - July, 2008
Web Log - June, 2008
Web Log - May, 2008
Web Log - April, 2008
Web Log - March, 2008
Web Log - February, 2008
Web Log - January, 2008
Web Log - December, 2007
Web Log - November, 2007
Web Log - October, 2007
Web Log - September, 2007
Web Log - August, 2007
Web Log - July, 2007
Web Log - June, 2007
Web Log - May, 2007
Web Log - April, 2007
Web Log - March, 2007
Web Log - February, 2007
Web Log - January, 2007
Web Log - December, 2006
Web Log - November, 2006
Web Log - October, 2006
Web Log - September, 2006
Web Log - August, 2006
Web Log - July, 2006
Web Log - June, 2006
Web Log - May, 2006
Web Log - April, 2006
Web Log - March, 2006
Web Log - February, 2006
Web Log - January, 2006
Web Log - December, 2005
Web Log - November, 2005
Web Log - October, 2005
Web Log - September, 2005
Web Log - August, 2005
Web Log - July, 2005
Web Log - June, 2005
Web Log - May, 2005
Web Log - April, 2005
Web Log - March, 2005
Web Log - February, 2005
Web Log - January, 2005
Web Log - December, 2004
Web Log - November, 2004
Web Log - October, 2004
Web Log - September, 2004
Web Log - August, 2004
Web Log - July, 2004
Web Log - June, 2004

Copyright © 2002-2016 by John J. Xenakis.