Is Thinking Allowed?

When I was still working as a contract programmer, I was on an assignment where the boss was from the United States. I didn’t meet him very often, but he seemed like a nice enough guy. One day, he surprised me though.

I was sitting in my chair, leaning back for a while with my hands behind my back. I was thinking about how to handle some little challenge with an XML schema I was struggling with. While sitting like that I heard (faintly at first) the sound of my American manager approaching. I could tell it was him, because his shoes made a specific and quite powerful clicking sounds on the hardwood floor.  Suddenly, he passed behind me. He never stopped, but he did shout at me:

”Hey Tobias, you’re not programming! Hands on the keyboard!”

When we sit and think, it looks like we’re doing nothing. This makes it hard to think in many organizations.

Doing is what it takes to change the world, but if we don’t think a little first, how can we know if we’re about to change it for the better or the worse?

Is thinking allowed in your organization?

Published by Tobias Fors

I'm a software management consultant. I help other people succeed with software development. In my work, I help teams and organizations be more effective and ship software.

4 replies on “Is Thinking Allowed?”

  1. Reminds me of the episode in Peopleware where Wes is thinking and his manager asks him what he’s doing. Wes says “I’m thinking” and his manager replies “Well can’t you do that at home”!

  2. My favourite episode was when I was working for one of the bigger content portals in Sweden and as a contract programmer I was assigned a desk in the manager´s room with my back to the CEO because he wanted to see my screen and confirm that I was working. Those I were assigned to work with where situated at the other end of the building with 2 security stations in between. Subtoptimal to say the least…

    1. That reminds me of a story I heard about a guy who was the last programmer in a shrinking company. He ended up working from the CEO:s living room. He finally realized the insanity, and moved on.

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