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RE: Case study for interviewing Oracle DBA

From: David Wendelken <>
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2005 19:02:07 -0500
Message-ID: <007d01c51c5f$94346620$6401a8c0@davidwendelken>

The word "you" as I write it refers to anyone who agrees with the = comments
from the prior poster, and not just the prior poster.

>I wish it is as easy as learning how to work the system, Dave.=20
>It may work in a few places but not in most.

It can work in most places but not in a few.

> =20
>What if the management has preformed opinions? What if your=20
>manager thinks an MBA from a Top 10 school is always a better=20
>person and will do a great job managing IT infrastructure even=20
>though the person may not know enough? (I have seen them a=20

Then get an MBA from the best school you can.

>Many non technical managers think that programmers can=20
>only think in terms of 0 or 1.

And they would be right. Teach them you can think in terms of the = business,
and always communicate to them in business terms.

> =20
>Many managers have preformed opinions based on your degree=20
>(which you might have gotten 15 years ago, and if it is from a=20
>foreign land you are kept in the bottom most rung of the=20
>corporate ladder - "not from a recognized school"), whether=20
>you worked for 'Big 5' (you need not know anything, but if you=20
>worked for them, you are god to some managers), whether you=20
>are from a certain university ("you went to my university too?=20
>Great"), and so on. I find it hard to agree with the statement=20
>that learning to work the system can you take you above. (A=20
>woman could have worked real hard about 30 years ago - I dont=20
>think it would have taken her anywhere here in US. No way she=20
>could have 'worked' the system back then).

All good points. But not completely true. Check out Rear Admiral Grace Hopper for an example.=20

Is it harder if you aren't one of the "good ole boys". Yep. Sure is. Get over it and work harder and smarter to get past the barrier.=20 Or don't, and put up with where you are and enjoy pissing and moaning = about
Those are your two choices. Name your poison and have a gulp.

> =20
>DBAs/technical people should be judged by what they know and=20
>what they will be able to do. To measure that a manager has to=20
>have a reasonable level of technical knowledge, among other=20
>things. If the manager does not have that knowledge and she/he=20
>is going to judge a tech person by a whole bunch of other=20
>criteria and they are going to get the wrong result.

That's **exactly** where you are wrong!

More accurately, if you do not change your behavior, you are right.

If you change your behavior by learning how to communicate your = technical
choices to managers in terms they can understand (time, money, risk, prestige), you will be judged well.


You can grumble and not change how you communicate, or change how you communicate and reap the advantages.

I've been telling people this for 10 years now, and everyone who's given = it
a solid try over a several year period has profited by my advice. Those that said it would never work, and so never tried, enjoyed being right = in a
self-fullfilling prophecy. =20

Harsh words? Yep.

Here's an example from real life:

A senior VP tells me to do something that won't work technically. = Period.
Just won't work.
We've all been there and all been told to do it.

And we've all said, "That won't work."

And been promptly told to get ourselves in gear and hop to it, go do it.

You see, we were talking a different language from other people in the organization that say "That won't work." Most non-technical staff mean "I don't want to." when they say "That = won't
work." We actually mean "That won't work."

Most senior VPs get where they are because they have the ability to = impose
their will on an organization and make it move in the direction they = want it
to go. So, what they hear is "That techie isn't with the program. I = need
to push harder and make them do what needs doing." And, like Pavlov's = dog,
they push harder when given resistance.

Here's what I learned to do instead:

Look them in the eye and show by your body language that you mean what = you
are saying.
"I am completely committed to the success of this project. I will work = my
heart out to make this project succeed.
What you have told me to do, for technical reasons I'm sure you could = care
less about, will not work."

Then, depending upon what is true, follow with one of these statements:

"I know a way that will work and I will get us moving forward."


"I will find a way that will work, and once I do, I will let you know = that
we are making progress again."

Guaranteed to work each and every time? Nope. But it's worked a whole lot more often (by several orders of magnitude) = than
"That won't work."

Note that I never said what my workable way was, either. If they don't = have
the technical knowledge to evaluate it, it's none of their business. = The
time, cost, risk, prestige and profit aspects of it are their business, = not
the technical path itself. If my technical solution fits within the = time,
cost, risk, prestige and profit parameters they set, I just do it.

Sorry for the strong tone, but we really have simple choice: wish for = the
other person to change, or change how we communicate. One is in our control, one is not. Being on the wrong side of the power curve, we are motivated to change and management is not. That's why we have to change instead of expect management to change.

>Thanks =20
>On Sat, 26 Feb 2005 16:14:36 -0500, David Wendelken=20
><> wrote:
>> Ok, Ellis, I have to ask you this:
>> If you work 70 hrs a week compared to 40 hrs a week, for less money,=20
>> and =3D you have a far more stressful job, why do you think your=20
>> managers are so =3D dumb?
>> And if layoffs are pending, who will get the axe? You or them?
>> They are succeeding because they know how to work the system. Until=20
>> good IT people learn how to do that - and remain good IT people -=20
>> things won't change.
>> --

Received on Sat Feb 26 2005 - 18:47:55 CST

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