Q1’09 is drawing to a close and it has been a strange one. For me, at least. I was eyewitness to three professional suicides.
Strange thing, professional suicides. I don’t know of anybody who wakes up in the morning, throws off the covers and says, “Yeah, today I’m going to ruin my career forever!”
I believe professional suicides are different from people who take an unpopular or uncompromising position based on personal beliefs or such. I can understand standing up for your beliefs, morals or ethics and suffering professional ostracism for doing so. I remember once being told not to burn my bridges. My response was “Burning a bridge insures that I’ll never have to cross it again. Or if I do have to cross it, I’ll definitely do so with a block of humility on my back.”
So, to me, there’s a difference between someone taking an unpopular stand that will cost them their job while saving them their dignity, honor, self-respect, etc., and someone being…well…an ass or an idiot.
And in all the cases of professional suicide I’ve seen over the years, there’s always an element of ego involved, a tie to the Seven Deadly Sins as it were. Let me share these last three as examples:
- Pride – Professional Suicide #1 comes from a professional programmer and database developer who is, I’m sure, very capable. They’ve been employed for a number of years, have been loyal and were respected by their co-workers and employer.
Then a funny thing happened. They were put on a systems migration project, told to contact the original developers with questions, concerns, whatever and didn’t. In fact, they were told to contact the original developers just to get an idea of what the system was all about, and didn’t.
And after two months of work they had a migrated database that didn’t work and there was no progress on the rest of the system. They then told their employer that the original work was impossible to understand and wouldn’t work anyway.
And presented a sizable bill for their time and trouble.
Only problem was that the original system had been working fine for a number of years. A second developer was called in, spent about an hour asking questions before getting to work and had an operational data system prototyped and data migrated in about a day.
- Greed (and Pride again, me thinks) – Professional Suicide #2 comes from a show promoter who asked to be paid to promote a product (this is common and wasn’t the suicide). The promoter then asked that no one be told they were being paid because it would violate agreements they had in place with other companies whose products they were also promoting.
What? I admit I had to ask for clarification because I was sure I misunderstood.
Unfortunately I had understood correctly. The individual wished to be compensated for their endorsement and didn’t want anyone else they were in business with to know they were being compensated because that knowledge could raise business, legal, professional and ethical issues.
But not to worry, their endorsement would be a genuine endorsement.
In all fairness, I had heard such rumors and chose not to believe them, proof that bridges come in many shapes and sizes.
- Wrath and Envy – Professional Suicide #3 is the strangest of the three to me. I can kind of get my arms around the other two, this one…well, this one I thought was last seen on the playground.
Person A felt threatened by person B. There is no direct evidence that B is actually intentionally threatening A, never-the-less B’s questioning of reasons and asking for validation is, to A, a threat.
So A publicly states that B is a fraud and knows nothing about what is claimed. There is no question this was an intentional and highly directed attack. The problem? The attack wasn’t well researched or organized. B is well recognized in her field. Recognized, quoted, referenced, published, travels internationally presenting in her field, … I once saw this woman’s CV … all twenty pages of it. I was impressed and I don’t impress easily.
To her credit, B quietly excused herself from the meeting where the attack took place. Later she emailed everyone present and apologized for the incident (that she didn’t instigate). Eventually A emailed “As some of you know, I made inappropriate and inaccurate accusations about … at the last meeting. … I have apologized, but that is not sufficient and does not solve my original problem. No more discussion.”
The original problem? Until B came along, no one had challenged A’s assumptions or statements.
No morales, no summaries, no take-aways to this post. Just sharing my amazement and confusion. Hope that in some way it helps.
- teaching a Masters Class among other things at the iMediaConnection Brand Summit 7-10 June 09 in Colorado Springs, Colorado
- doing a presentation on Machine Detection of and Response to
User Non-Conscious Thought Processes to Increase Usability, Experience and Satisfaction – Case Studies and Examples at the Towards a Science of Consciousness 2009 11-14 June 09 in Hong Kong, China
- presenting a formal research paper entitled Machine Detection of and Response to
User Non-Conscious Thought Processes to Increase Usability, Experience and Satisfaction – Case Studies and Examples at The 7th International Conference on Computing, Communications and Control Technologies: CCCT 2009, The 2nd International Multi-Conference on Engineering and Technological Innovation: IMETI 2009 10-13 July 09 in Orlando, Florida
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