High School Science Club Management Guidelines: The View from an Engineer Working at Home Alone

January 11, 2021

I have been collecting examples of high school management manifested in high technology companies. I am interested in online, but any firm which embodies the elitism, the “we know better” attitude, and “it’s easier to say sorry that ask for permission” are fair game.

I read “What Silicon Valley “Gets” about Software Engineers that Traditional Companies Do Not” is an outstanding essay. It captures the essence of high school science club management method or HSSCMM.

What are these principles? Let me compress them and urge you to read the source document while thinking about these points:

  • Unbridled data capture and the use of these data to manipulate users, advertisers, partners, regulators, and probably moms and dads
  • The “we know better” view of solving a problem
  • Clever is more important than historical context.

Now let’s look at the compressed points from the source essay:

  1. Software engineers have to be left alone.
  2. Software engineers have to solve problems, not function as librarians or amanuenses
  3. Software engineers want to know everything we define as relevant
  4. Software engineers want to have access to fundamental data; that is, revenue, trade secrets, legal deals, etc.
  5. We don’t want to be hamstrung by hierarchies. Anyone we identify as a useful resource must be available to the software engineers.
  6. Software engineers have to be made and kept happy; otherwise, well, maybe bad things will happen.
  7. Software engineers deserve more money than any other employee in the organization.

This is a very good list. Now let me pose a few questions for an intrepid reader to ponder:

What type of organization emerges when these principles are implemented?

What’s the likelihood of fair and equal treatment of employees who are not engineers?

What’s the likelihood of actions which “break things” perceived as inefficient?

What is the role of ethical decision making in this type of organization?

For me, we are watching the fruits of the science club’s approach to people, processes, and procedures transform society.

How is that working out? Snort, ho ho, chuckle sound effects, please.

Stephen E Arnold, January 11, 2021


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