Thursday, December 22, 2016

It will not work

It's a hard lesson to learn, particularly in tech, but you can never hope to succeed once gammas assume control:
I'm part of a tech/open source community where the people leading the project are displaying some very gamma behavior. They can't take any criticism, have to be right on everything, refute major points with minor technical quibbles, etc. On top of it all, there's a very big split in the community and while there's some stuff being done, the Gammas are clearly preventing further progress with their toxic attitude. That said, they do have technical talent and the problem is mostly that they seem to be in ill-fitted leadership roles where their insecurity is having a detrimental effect.

Anyway, what's the best course of action to make the community better? Is it even possible to survive Gamma leadership?
The best course of action is to force them down into their natural place in the hierarchy, which is taking orders and doing what they are told without any input into the decision-making process. This is not always possible, of course, so the second-best course of action is to leave and rebuild the project anew without their participation.

And in answer to the second question, no, it is not possible for an project, a business, or a nation to survive Gamma leadership, because Gammas are not leaders and are not successful people. They will cheerfully burn the entire thing down at a moment's notice merely because they feel insufficiently appreciated or insufficiently respected, regardless of how bad their performance has been or how poorly the project is doing.

This does not mean Gammas are stupid or untalented. In fact, they tend to be smarter than the average, and their lack of social status often means they've had the time to develop their talents beyond the norm. Unfortunately, this reliably results in them overestimating their abilities and encouraging their misplaced ambitions, and thereby seeking to promote themselves well beyond their psychological ability to usefully contribute to a group objective.

Gammas make useful critics. They are very good at identifying problems because they love nothing better than to tell someone that they are wrong. But they are hideously bad at prioritizing, delegating, managing, and providing vision.

30 comments:

pdwalker said...

Fork it if the license allows it, otherwise start again with hand picked, non gammas.

matthew thomas said...

I'm a software developer and personally I've never understood why anyone would come home from work and do more work on a project, for free, that other people will profit from.

I also have an open question to do with being a gamma. What is the difference between arguing a point because you believe it is right and arguing a point because you can't admit you are wrong. Does the gamma know he is wrong and argue anyway ?

Samuel Russell said...

Matthew Thomas: Cognitive Dissonance.

Shimshon said...

I would say my ex-boss was like this and I spotted it right away when I started. He bristled at minor criticism or anything that struck him as an affront to his authority, no matter how ridiculous. He has a reasonably sharp mind (with a CS PhD from a suitably top-tier CS program) but is stuck in the 1990s when it comes to web development. He was the CTO so he somehow decided that also made him good material to manage the project. He was the worst manager I've ever had (and that's saying something). I could've done a better job, and I've never had a management job before. I would've suggested as much, but there's that prickly response to criticism thing.

At that point, I decided I was just going to phone it in. The eventual failure was expected and could be laid directly at his feet, but he is too self-absorbed to make an honest assessment.

Speaking of which, I'm looking for web development work (:-).

Anchorman said...

Again, I see parallels between Gamma and female.

pdwalker said...

Matthew, not a criticism, just an observation.

Some people really really like programming. So much so that it's never work, but an exercise in pure joy. To them, the question is, "why wouldn't i program?"

if you had to ask that question, then i'd guess you really don't enjoy it much, as it's just a job.

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

Some unsolicited advice from a (mostly) recovered gamma on how to mess with these guys and separate the ones who will become deltas from the loud-and-proud gammas...

If their ideas are sensible enough:

1. Acknowledge them.
2. Say "wow that's interesting..."
3. Then say to them that until they can connect it to a real problem that real users/customers want solved or would want solved, it's just a solution in search of a problem.

By acknowledging that it is interesting and a solution, but they've put the cart before the horse you've now put it on them that if they fail to complete it's clearly their fault. Why? Because you didn't shoot it down, you even said it was pretty cool. You just said it's non sequitor until they can make it do something.

matthew thomas said...

@pdwalker I used to enjoy it before I started doing it as a job.

Elocutioner said...

So for you it was a fun hobby and not a passion. For some of us it's a passion.

IrishFarmer said...

The worst part about being a programmer is working with other programmers. The career attracts spergs, and people rarely mentor others because theyre annoyed at distractions and they get frustrated when people dont just get it. Its enough to make a person want to switch to a career in car maintenance or something. I havent had the misfortune of running into any yet but maybe thats because i avoid open source. Matthew im with you: programming is a passion and while i am willing to work for free i also dont believe in giving away for free something that people are happy to pay for as a general rule. Only exception may be a passion project for the greater good, but otherwise i work for money.

Koanic said...

What is Zuckerberg's rank?

MycroftJones said...

To see how someone got useful work out of Gammas, read the first few years of the Linux Kernel Mailing List archives. Linus Torvalds ran a pretty tight ship.

baduin said...

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."

Dr Samuel Johnson

http://www.samueljohnson.com/writing.html#203

VFM #7634 said...

What is Zuckerberg's rank?

@Koanic
Gamma. One thing Gammas -- and Lambdas too, come to think of it -- are very good at is dirty backstabbing politics. That's how they end up in positions of power in the first place. Plus, Zucky has had (((networking opportunities))) most of the rest of us don't.

In addition, IIRC, Zucky boy stole Facebook from someone else and passed it off as his own invention. Even if he didn't, that's something else that Gammas are good at. (Incidentally, Bill Gates did something similar with MS-DOS, as well as the (((merchants))) who stole and built up McDonald's.)

l' Américain said...

@ Matt Thomas:

Someone mentioned cognitive dissonance earlier; this is mostly the problem. It is not that gammas know they're wrong and wont admit it, but that they think they are always right.

On the other, there is a personality type called ENTP, which is essentially someone who takes pleasure in debating and playing devils advocate. I find that I fluctuate between the ENTP and the INTP (logician) type, depending on who I am around.

I like to argue and will do so ferociously, but the difference between a persona such as myself and a gamma is that I can see when I am wrong, thus giving me the opportunity to be more right.

Gammas always assume that they are right and cannot see where they are wrong. It seems to boil down to insecurity. Gammas think that thinking something incorrect is a reflection on who they are instead of the information they have at hand.

Gammas are the perpetual wise fools.

Matamoros said...

I had a gamma employee tell me (I was managing) that he'd seen lots of managers come and go, and I'd be gone soon too. I looked at him and said, "Maybe so, but I will guarantee you if you don't get moving and get your work done properly, I will be the last manager you'll ever see here."

He looked at me funny, but actually improved his disposition and work, so that I didn't have to fire him.

VFM #7634 said...

On the other, there is a personality type called ENTP, which is essentially someone who takes pleasure in debating and playing devils advocate.

I like to argue and will do so ferociously, but the difference between a persona such as myself and a gamma is that I can see when I am wrong, thus giving me the opportunity to be more right.


I suspect that one major difference between Gammas and non-Gamma ENTP men is that the latter know when they're wrong, but it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference outwardly since the non-Gamma ENTPs will still often put up a front that they aren't wrong, but they will alter their positions after the fact and not hold it against whoever showed them up. Trump is a good example of this.

It seems to boil down to insecurity. Gammas think that thinking something incorrect is a reflection on who they are instead of the information they have at hand.

Making false ideas part of your identity is probably the dumbest thing anyone can do. Unfortunately, it seems to also be among the most common thing people do.

Aeoli Pera said...

It's weird, but I'd never attempted any correspondence between MBTI and SSMV before this discussion. Will have to sperg out a little...

l' Américain said...

"it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference outwardly since the non-Gamma ENTPs will still often put up a front that they aren't wrong, but they will alter their positions after the fact and not hold it against whoever showed them up."

Definitely. I make people work to prove me wrong, but it is not because I want to hold onto the image that I am correct. Being humble and admitting that you are wrong tends to save you a lot of face and actually endears people to you.

I make people work to prove me wrong because that is a way to 1.) see how correct they are and how robust their arguments are and 2.) it tells you a lot about people when you observe them defend their ideas.

Ben Cohen said...

What's the Delta or Omega guy at work like?

I always go to work with the attitude that my employer is my client and I'm there to help him/her succeed and not take anything personally.

Work honestly and hard and go home to drink a beer and watch the giants win.

Koanic said...

If Zuckerberg is a gamma, it is difficult to argue that gamma led technology projects can't succeed.

Aeoli Pera said...

Zuckerberg is a bit of an outlier. I don't think he fits any of the archetypes.

VFM #7634 said...

@Koanic
Facebook is SJW-converged, but unlike Twatter or Wikipedia, it has the huge advantage in that people have to use their real names to use it. An alt-right Facebook fork is much less likely to succeed, since SJWs would be prowling it for badthinkers to dox.

But give it time.

From Chateau Heartiste:
Is Zuckerberg Getting Cuckerberged?
"That body language is horrible. Zuck looks gay sticking his butt out, smiling like a special needs kid, and pecking at his wife’s nose. Chan looks….is repulsed too strong a word? Icked out?"

Regardless, it's safe to say that the possibilities for Zucky are low Delta, Gamma, Omega, and Lambda.

pdwalker said...

Matthew Thomas - see Elocutioner's comment. I cannot explain it better than that.

IrishFarmer - a shame. There have been environments in the past that have not been like that at all. Everyone developer was top notch and more than willing to lend a hand to mentor the less experienced programmers. Unfortunately, the company was "forced to grow" and their hiring standards dropped considerably. Needless to say, they are out of business now. Such a shame.

Slightly more on topic, that place was called Bell Northern Research, the research arm of Northern Telecom. The good managers let the developers get on with their work. The developers would constantly have their code reviewed by the other developers so you had to be prepared to defend and justify your decisions against a group of very sharp people. Were there gammas? Perhaps, but if there were they were put through the same wringer as everyone else and no bullshit was allowed. Working there was probably one of the best work experiences I ever had.

RIP BNR.

S. Misanthrope said...

Facebook may be a special case because Zuckerberg doesn't really fill a leadership role. Given where I live, I meet endless FB employees and none has ever even spoken of him. Unlike employees of Tesla, who are eager to talk about the time they met Elon. Also FB is going to collapse.

When the alt-tech replaces GoFundMe, they should incorporate a SSH test so funders can avoid Gamma-lead projects.

Jackie DeLister said...

They will cheerfully burn the entire thing down at a moment's notice merely because they feel insufficiently appreciated or insufficiently respected, regardless of how bad their performance has been or how poorly the project is doing.

It's funny because it's true

Koanic said...

> Facebook may be a special case because Zuckerberg doesn't really fill a leadership role. ... Also FB is going to collapse.

Legit answer. Thanks.

JCclimber said...

I know someone quite well who is a gamma and also was a very early employee at Facebook. First 30 or so employees.
He couldn't get along with Suckerberg, and has shared some stories with me about it around 10 years ago. If I can recall correctly, working with Suckerberg is exactly as you would expect from a low rank but talented and driven Gamma. Drives himself hard, not terribly socially aware, always has to be right, and has a hard time getting along with any other male who may challenge their secret king status.

Keep in mind that Facebook was underwritten by government spy agencies because it was a great way to get people to reveal things, for free, and without coercion. Still is.

Koanic said...

Zuckerberg seems to prove the rule by caveat-laden exception. I'm comfortable saying that a successful leader is by definition no longer gamma. Zuck is clearly gamma and upon closer inspection not a successful leader.

Post a Comment

NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS.