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The Python Conference

21 replies on 2 pages. Most recent reply: Mar 3, 2007 12:30 AM by Parag Shah

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Jeff Ratcliff

Posts: 242
Nickname: jr1
Registered: Feb, 2006

Re: The Python Conference Posted: Feb 28, 2007 3:20 PM
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> > >
> > > In the end, life is all about competition. We compete
> > for
> > > food, shelter, mates, getting the best seats to the
> > > superbowl and so on. True collaboration requires a
> > pretty
> > > high level of maturity. Suppressing your own needs
> for
> > the
> > > good of 'the whole' is a very hard thing to do in
> some
> > > cases.
> >
> > That's a nice philosophical statement but has little to
> do
> > with corporate life.
>
> How do you figure? We're all competing for our share of
> the company's limited resources. If a company had infinite
> amounts of money to pay out then sure, pay everybody the
> same. Until then, I'll take my chances that on some level
> I'll have a shot being paid, at least in part, on the
> value I bring.
>
> I'll also guess you've never been part of the sales
> process if you think that competition has little to do
> with corporate life.

I guess the problem with responding to a somewhat contradictory paragraph (i.e. "it's all about competition" and "suppressing your own needs for the good of the whole") is that nobody will know which idea you're commenting on unless you make it clear. My point was that working for the good of the whole is not really rewarded much in the corporate world.

>
> > >
> > > > If a company truly believed in
> > > > collaboration, each developer would share common
> pay
> > > and
> > > > couldn't be laid off except as a unit. This might
> > sound
> > > > "extreme" but .. you get the idea.
> > >
> > > Heaven forbid people get compensated on something
> like
> > > 'merit' or 'the value they bring to the company'. I
> > know
> > > there are plenty of cases where this isn't the case
> in
> > the
> > > real world, but I'll take what we've got over making
> > the
> > > same amount as everybody else. That sounds more
> > > 'communist' than 'extreme'. Admitting that somebody
> > else
> > > might be right and you may be wrong seems well nigh
> > > impossible for some people. I fail to see how equal
> > > salaries will fix that. If anything, it will make it
> > worse
> > > because some schmuck will believe that he is 'just as
> > > right' as everybody else. He must be. He's getting
> the
> > > same pay!
> >
> >
> > Does anyone with a few years of experience under their
> > belt really believe that pay and performance go
> > hand-in-hand?
>
> I've got about 13. As I said, in real life there are many
> times this isn't the case. I have had some experiences
> where pay and performance have gone hand in hand. Really.
> The notion that everybody getting paid the same is going
> to somehow magically solve this 'competitive problem' (I
> don't see it as a problem) doesn't make sense to me. And
> the thought of everybody getting paid the same just irks
> me. And I don't see what that has to do with
> collaboration. I have collaborated just fine with interns,
> peers and senior vice presidents. 'My paycheck is bigger
> than yours' never entered into the picture. I've never
> been part of a discussion that has ended with "I get paid
> more than you, so just shut up."
>

Wasn't it you who suggested that if people were paid the same the less competent ones will start thinking they're just as good?


> > It's not about convincing people that they
> > are the same, it's about creating an environment that
> > minimizes competitive behavior.
>
> There is a lot beyond flattening pay scales that needs to
> be done to minimize competition. Having worked many years
> in market research, every study I've seen shows that among
> the factors that strongly influence job satisfaction,
> salary is very low on the list. Maybe I'm odd, but if I
> can see that somebody is bringing more value to the
> organization and I know he is getting paid more than me, I
> say good for him. I've not ever felt the need to compete
> with somebody based on the size of their paycheck. Maybe
> I'm just strange that way. From what I've seen,
> competitive behavior or the lack thereof is pretty hard
> wired into people. Either you are or you aren't. Life in
> generally has been rewarding organisms that compete
> successfully for millions of years now. I don't really see
> that changing any time soon. Personally I like
> competition. It makes me work harder. It usually teaches
> me something I didn't know. This doesn't mean you need to
> be an ass about it.
>

I think pair programming really goes well beyond typical collaboration and the idea of sharing pay, etc is to tie the pair's fate together since the output of their work is tied together. In any case, it's not unusual for partners in a venture to split the profits down the middle, it's only unusual in the context of employees.

I have nothing against a more conventional approach where each person does their own individual work and receives their own individual pay. I just think there's a fundamental disconnect when equal responsibilty doesn't lead to equal rewards.



> And I think the whole 'laid off as a unit' idea is
> completely flawed BECAUSE every now and then somebody
> really awful gets hired. If a project is failing because
> of one person (I saw it happen once) then I believe
> getting rid of that one person is the thing to do. Having
> the project succeed with the problem person removed is, in
> my mind, much better than either firing everybody or
> having what could be an otherwise successful project
> fail.

Well, if the project is failing because of one person he can't be part of a pair, right? Otherwise, the whole argument for pair programming comes crashing down. In my experience, if one person is able to bring down a project it means that somebody isn't managing the work properly. It should have been detected long before it became a firing level problem. Of course, being fired and being laid off are not the same thing.
>

Merriodoc Brandybuck

Posts: 225
Nickname: brandybuck
Registered: Mar, 2003

Re: The Python Conference Posted: Feb 28, 2007 5:08 PM
Reply to this message Reply
> I guess the problem with responding to a somewhat
> contradictory paragraph (i.e. "it's all about competition"
> and "suppressing your own needs for the good of the
> whole") is that nobody will know which idea you're
> commenting on unless you make it clear. My point was that
> working for the good of the whole is not really rewarded
> much in the corporate world.

oops. Yeah. Sadly, I concur.


>
> Wasn't it you who suggested that if people were paid the
> same the less competent ones will start thinking they're
> just as good?

Yup. Based on your comment that everybody should be paid the same. I'm saying that won't do anything but annoy the people who are better.


> >
>
> I think pair programming really goes well beyond typical
> collaboration and the idea of sharing pay, etc is to tie
> the pair's fate together since the output of their work is
> tied together. In any case, it's not unusual for partners
> in a venture to split the profits down the middle, it's
> only unusual in the context of employees.
>

Hadn't thought of it like that. That is an interesting take.

> I have nothing against a more conventional approach where
> each person does their own individual work and receives
> their own individual pay. I just think there's a
> fundamental disconnect when equal responsibilty doesn't
> lead to equal rewards.
>

What if the pair is partially in an effort to try a mentor/apprentice type of training? Just a thought. As I said earlier, I'm not a big proponent of pair programming.

Also, I think some variance is desirable even in areas of equal responsibility. Equal responsibility does not equate to equal performance. I think that programming in particular makes this difficult because in most cases the better someobdy is at it, the less time they take doing the same amount of work as a less talented person. So either the good programmer looks like a slacker because he is only working for between 1/3 and 2/3 the time of the less capable individual and getting the same work done in a likely higher quality fashion, or they are working the same hours and getting other things done above and beyond their assigned tasks.

>
>

>
> Well, if the project is failing because of one person he
> can't be part of a pair, right? Otherwise, the whole
> argument for pair programming comes crashing down. In my
> experience, if one person is able to bring down a project
> it means that somebody isn't managing the work properly.
> It should have been detected long before it became a
> firing level problem. Of course, being fired and being
> laid off are not the same thing.
> >

True.

I think I could have happily shut up if I could have simply ignored your last paragraph. :-)

John Zabroski

Posts: 272
Nickname: zbo
Registered: Jan, 2007

Re: The Python Conference Posted: Feb 28, 2007 7:22 PM
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@Bruce Eckel
@We learn in spite of the education system. The one laptop per child initiative allows children to learn in spite of not even having an education system.

This is a bit confusing. If we learn in spite of an education system, then how do children without the spiteful presence of an education system learn in spite of said education system?

@Bruce Eckel
@On numerous occasions she pointed out how much the educational system discourages us from helping each other. Sigh. To the point where management (and programmers) often patently dismiss the possibilities of of pair programming.

This seems very true of my experiences in the US education system. I think the problem is systemic and can't be fixed simply by forcing average people to program in pairs.

nes

Posts: 137
Nickname: nn
Registered: Jul, 2004

Re: The Python Conference Posted: Mar 1, 2007 6:54 AM
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> If you are talking about macros like C macros then, yeah,
> those are pretty much universally abhorred. There are a
> very few cases where they are nice, but in general most
> people prefer using functions, objects, etc. but the blog
> entry specifically cites lisp macros, so that was my
> assumption that this is what you were talking about. Your
> 'lisp is a different beast' comment perhaps makes me think
> you were thinking otherwise?

Yes I was. Bruce was talking about adding macros to Python. Lisp already has them. Everybody is assuming that because macros in Lisp work well, that they will automatically be as useful in any other language. If in Lisp, with the ideal syntax for it, macros provide limited usefulness (from my point of view anyway), I can’t imagine a sensible macro system in Python worth using. On the other hand if somebody wants to implement a proof of concept for kicks I would not be opposed to that at all.

Parag Shah

Posts: 24
Nickname: parags
Registered: Mar, 2003

Re: The Python Conference Posted: Mar 2, 2007 4:43 AM
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>We learn in spite of the education system.

One reason why sharing and helping does not work out well in the educational system, is the need to grade students. When students have to be graded, each student's individual capability has to be determined, which makes it really difficult to incorporate a culture of sharing. Also if the grades are determined on a bell curve, then students may not be very willing to share and help.

If we could get rid of grading altogether (I still have not thought of all implications of this... so if you think differently, please suggest alternatives) then we can focus on just helping students in their learning process. Helping each one get better at their pace and gather skills of their interest.

Perhaps someday schools will focus more on learning and skills/personal development rather than grading.

Jeff Ratcliff

Posts: 242
Nickname: jr1
Registered: Feb, 2006

Re: The Python Conference Posted: Mar 2, 2007 9:37 AM
Reply to this message Reply
> >We learn in spite of the education system.
>
> One reason why sharing and helping does not work out well
> in the educational system, is the need to grade students.
> When students have to be graded, each student's individual
> capability has to be determined, which makes it really
> difficult to incorporate a culture of sharing. Also if the
> grades are determined on a bell curve, then students may
> not be very willing to share and help.
>
> If we could get rid of grading altogether (I still have
> not thought of all implications of this... so if you think
> differently, please suggest alternatives) then we can
> focus on just helping students in their learning process.
> Helping each one get better at their pace and gather
> skills of their interest.
>
> Perhaps someday schools will focus more on learning and
> skills/personal development rather than grading.

We are "graded" in our working life as well.

I'm not sure whether not being graded in school or work is a good idea overall, but I think would lead to more cooperative behavior.

Parag Shah

Posts: 24
Nickname: parags
Registered: Mar, 2003

Re: The Python Conference Posted: Mar 3, 2007 12:30 AM
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> We are "graded" in our working life as well.
> I'm not sure whether not being graded in school or work is
> a good idea overall, but I think would lead to more
> cooperative behavior.

I agree, we are graded in our working life as well.
I am an adjunct faculty at a college where I teach Java. The fact that I have to grade students, keeps me from implementing some processes that I'm sure will help them. I also believe that if a student is good then their merit will be discovered when companies interview them (I have noticed a trend that companies do not rely much on college grades anyways. Most of them have their own criteria). Hence my reservations about the merit of grading.

Now I'm thinking aloud, but what if the focus of an education system changes to helping students learn rather than certifying or grading them. I think such an underlying theme will actually help shape people's skills far better. It is true that when they enter the workforce they will be graded, and the fact that they are alien to the concept might work against them, but it may also happen that they will have gained very good skills in their learning years and will be assessed well in their working life (perhaps not only because of their skills but also their attitide of cooperation and participation). Just a thought... I am not absilutely sure if this is really the way it will turn out.

At the work place I can say from personal experience that cooperative behaviour is immensely satisfying, and the work output usually need not suffer as a result of cooperating. But this depends on the overall culture at the workplace.

--
Regards
Parag

Flat View: This topic has 21 replies on 2 pages [ « | 1  2 ]
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