Monday, June 11, 2007

Quick: Wolves

A great story from Steve Yegge. It sounds like Steve recently realized that there are wolves at Google. Can you see the wolves in your organization? How are you protecting yourself? (or are you being eaten alive?)
"Have you ever noticed that all our folklore about wolves has certain themes and patterns to it? I've never met a wolf, but I give them fair credit for being wily creatures. I'm a big man, not one to fear a big dog's bite, but I would give a wolf a wide berth, because they're reputed to be so crafty. And crafty, friends, I am not. A craftsman, yes, but I realize now that I am more sheep than wolf.

"The landowner in my tale is a good, affable fellow; I could see it within minutes of meeting him, and I stand by him today still. He's a man with a clear vision and a good heart, and he hired crew members who, for all our talents, know nothing of wolves or wizards.

"The problem with setting up an untended, untrained flock of sheep is that there are wolves aplenty, and as sheep are not adequately prepared to recognize or deal with wolves, they will all eventually be eaten. This seems obvious to us. Nearly as obvious is that this idea applies equally to government, with the minor change that the wolves are savvy politicians and the sheep are incompetent ones. Eventually the sheep are all eaten, so our assumption is generally that the government is filled entirely with wolves — an assumption that has proven to be essentially axiomatic, across time and nation.

"What's far less obvious is that the idea applies outside flocks and governments, with the same consequences. If you set up any organization of saintly do-gooders, with no politics anywhere in sight, then the presence of a single master politician can go unrecognized for long enough for every single sheep to be eaten and replaced with a wolf. At some point the shepherd looks down and perceives that he now has a flock of wolves, and he wonders how it happened. But a shepherd rarely witnesses the process while it's in motion, because the wolves are so sneaky.

"I was being eaten alive on my mansion project, and yet I was utterly oblivious to anything but the need to survive, which due to various odd circumstances required working without sleep and eating marshmallows without respite, apparently until either I was dead or forever happened, whichever came first.


Capt.Craig said...

My computer geek son sent me your piece. You should check out the following for your edification.

As a retired old warhorse I know a few things vis a vis sheep and wolves; woof.

The capt.

Anil Philip said...

one of your poorer articles.
if all you are saying is "watch for wolves", then 3 words will do.

Sim Gamboa III said...

how is a dog chow much worst?
i would be interested to know.

great indeed!

Sim Gamboa III said...

upon waking up, i've realized perhaps ... are there *leftovers* in Google?

Manoj said...

"Can you see the wolves in your organization? How are you protecting yourself? "

==> You will be my hero if you can give me some tips on dealing with the wolves!!!