Deadline, Chapter 16

Tompkins is now struggling with the air traffic control project in addition to the original 6 projects. Tompkins is relieved when some specs for existing radio systems are given to them hoping that they will aid in the making of their own radio system. Even as more work keeps piling up they stay positive and aim to do all of it.

“”We take on too much,” the voice said, “because we are terrified of too little.””

Meanwhile, Tompkins is informed that a manager for the PMill A team has been very strict lately. He goes to check on him. There, he meets with the product manager. Tompkins finds out that the reason why the manager is angry is probably because of the way Belok acts. Belok must have a reason for being this way, he isn’t doing any good by giving orders. Anyways, this goes to show how an aggressive boss can lead to an aggressive manager. The anger flows through the hierarchy. Also, while reading this part I came across the terms project manager and product manager, these are terms that I had heard before and I knew were different but I never gave it much thought. I looked into it and found that a product manager does things like talking to customers to find their insights and setting business objectives, while a project manager does resource planning and risk management.

Tompkins decides to read the radio system spec sheet and doesn’t really understand anything. He talks about it to the others, but he kind of pretends that he knows what it’s talking about, he just needs more time to read it. Belinda makes him admit that he didn’t understand a thing. They come to a conclusion that the spec doesn’t really specify, which is its main purpose. The spec is very ambiguous, which makes Tompkins think about how did that spec ever get approved or why did other people never question it. People just tend to think that they are less intelligent than others and they have to make up for it with hard work. They never admit that they don’t understand it, instead they think everyone else understands it and think they have to work harder in order to understand it.

Another question puzzled Tompkins which was why was something like that spec ever approved in the first place. A spec has a list of input and a list of output and a way to transform the input to the output. Sometimes, the transformation part, which is the most important part, isn’t even explained. Belinda’s explanation for this was that when making a spec, especially one of the scale of the radio system, many parties are involved. These different parties all have different wants and needs, the people making the spec don’t really want to choose a side and end up writing ambiguously. I feel like if this is the case, try to make different specs so you can at least specify stuff, which is what you should be doing. If you can’t do that, maybe don’t make the spec in the first place and use that time for something more useful because that spec is surely not going to be useful to others.

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