Be careful what you wish for, you might get it​

Be careful what you wish for, you might get it

Absolutists are annoying, smug, pain’s in the ass. They piss everybody off and make them uncomfortable.

I should know, I’m an absolutist.

I got feedback from someone I respect, about one of my recent posts. It was along the lines of: “I get what you’re saying, but…”. Then they explained how I am describing/proposing things that can’t always be done in the real world. Practical limitations, politics, personalities etc get in the way of the goal.

I’ve heard it before, and it made me cringe with an “Ah fuck, I’ve done that thing again…”

Here’s where I go wrong, I really struggle with the concepts that a client would:

  • Accept an obstacle that is preventing me from achieving what they asked
  • Accept failure

What I often fail to remember, is that people lie a lot about what they want. The lie is typically started at the top and rolls down like a bullshit snowball. Each person in the chain isn’t trying to be deceptive, they are nice people etc. They wouldn’t even call it a lie. 

They call it, “David, it’s fucking obvious I meant xyz when I said abc, everyone knows that!”. Well, everyone but me 😛

If you tell me “It’s critical my website never goes down” I can design something that will outlive the fucking Apocalypse. That’s easy. But if that’s a lie, and the reality is “Marketing promised shit I don’t have budget for, so make a token effort to keep legal happy.”, we are going to end up in trouble.

For me, that always ends up in a mess. Which is on me, I get that. I blame the Autism 😛

I just wish everyone could collectively be honest about what they want, and what they are willing to give up (or not) to get it.

Here’s an example that boggles my brain (a safe example as I’ve never worked with Coles).

Health and safety one coffin nail at a time

Cole employs over 120,000 people in Australia. Some of those people work in their tech teams to deliver ecomm and other services on Amazon Web Services.

Coles has a Code of Conduct on their website and it states:

At Coles we are committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of our team members and our customers. This includes their physical health and mental wellbeing.

Nor do we accept behaviour that risks the safety of anyone we interact with. This includes physical and psychological violence or harm

Yet, on their website they sell cigarettes. In fact, there are only three things they exclude from the minimum spend for delivery: fees, alcohol and cigarettes.

Coles ad

So someone tell me how I (or the rest of the tech team) can build a platform that sells customers poison, while still ensuring the “health, safety and wellbeing of our team members and our customers”?

Was the bit about the customer health a lie? Is sales the real core principle, regardless of how many customers die? What else should I ignore in the Code of Conduct? The Anti-Bribery bit seems less important than giving people cancer, can I ignore that if AWS offers me free re:Invent tickets?

It’s a bit like companies that say security is a core principle, but then don’t patch servers or store PII in the mail server.

Being an absolutist is bollocks, I can’t recommend it.