Strange Things Do Happen
Thursday, May 31, 2007
I replied the email to its sender only, plus "CC" to Mxxxx Ixxxx. M.I. is the highest manager of OHNT at this site, and S.T.'s boss, was on the initial emails "To" list too.
"Who approved T.O.'s writing up this paper? I believe at least he needs the approval of Sxxxx Cxxxx :-). For an article of this scale, covers all D-O-G and future Super." Here S.C. is the highest boss on our client side at this location.
Continue. "In academic world, there are strict rules (if not law), on what you can write, even as a survey of the public domain, one has to extensively references :-).
Please take this seriously, worst scenario, may put persons in legal troubles :-)."
Click "send", it was 10:12am. Let me see how the reat of the team reacts to this "great" news. My office (shared with 5 others, none of them were working on the same D-O-G project as I) is at the west end of the building (with ocean view :-)!), most of my teammates have offices at the east end.
Barely entered one office which occupants are all D-O-Gers, one there told me: have you seen it? When we are working like crazy, those who hardly doing much work were doing this behind our backs. A client side developer there also joined: unbelievable! ... Obviously this person, although not the "congratulations" email receipient, already got the "great news". It is perfectly understandable - they are our clients, but in daily work, they are simply our teammates, we share work related knowledge, good news and bad news, frustration and happiness, ... together everyday. This email is project related, with no any phrase about "it is OHNT proprientary" or "confidential" or whatsoever.
This person continued: some sentences in the abstract is copied from our American Bulldog user manual too! Then showed me the overview section of that manual. These two guys were two of then three main software developers in that project, but the author was not.
Continue: We talked extensively with the tech writer, and collectively came up with the user manual. That's why I remember these sentences ......
The first person: it is not right, I am going to talk to S.T.. ... ---- Remember this name? The one who sent the email, and the manager for all D-O-G software engineers from OHNT.
S.T.'s office was the next door. No need to go there. Our discussions in raised (exciting? ) voices already lured this person at this door.
"It is not right. When we are working like crazy, behind our backs, this person used work time, as work load ......"
"You are not suppose to talk it with our clients! If you want to talk to me, follow me, we find some place to talk ...".
Then I said: you go first. I'll be the next.
Very strange. Someone wrote about our contract project, and the annoucement should be hide from the client too? I really want to find out who is behind of all happened.
Minutes later, S.T. and the engineer came back. Obviously, they did not resolve their disagreement. "You want to tlak to me too? come ...". I followed S.T. to a small conference room.
"Who gave T.O. the right to write this tech paper?"
"M.I. gave the approval."
"So you knew it too?" "Yes."
"Why not all of the team? What about our client side?" " They do not need to know. It is for OH journal. As your line manager, I warn you that you are not suppose to talk it with our client - I heard you and xxxx were talking with them.... " "But it is about the whole team's work, and we are just contractors! Have you seen the email I sent you? ..." "Yes. But M.I. approved it." "That does not make it right." "M.I......"
No need to waste more time: this is a manager who would not talk about law or ethics. What you can hear from this person would forever be M.I. said this, M.I. said that ......
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
There was an attachment to the email. Open it. It was the abstract of this "tech paper", which summarizes the main ideas about a potential super D-O-G. No any phrase about where the ideas come from, no any references, no any words about team efforts, not even a short acknowledgement ... Hope there is no surprise to you, because you have already read about the email body - same style.
I took a deep breath, looked at a calendar (this calendar will be mentioned again later) hanging on my cubicle wall - April 1 is still about 4 months away. So it is not a practical joke!
Let's pause here, and do some analysis about this scenario.
1. All the persons mentioned are O.H. contractors.
2. We are at our client site to work with their own team, and contractors from other companies.
3. Under our client's direct management and supervision, the overall team had delivered several robot guard dog variations: Kunming Dog, German Shepherd, American Bulldog ...(for guard dog lovers, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guard_dog)
4. With the accumulated knowledge and user experiences in the past several years, after many brainstorming sessions, the big team now have a draft or initial blueprint for a super dog project.
5. Now one contractor hardly delivered any major component successfully in the precedent projects, or worked as the architect or chief designer for super dog, used the whole team's work as one's own ---- read the above email content description again if you disagree with me ---"tech paper abstract"?
6. The tech journal is an O.H. publication, you can reasonably think that it does observe the basic publication related laws and ethics - it only needs to have at least ONE O.H. employee as the c0-author(s) per paper.
7. The "congratulation" announcement was not sent to any team member of the client side or other company.
8. The "congratulation" announcement was sent to ALL O.H. contractors at this client site. Majority of them do not work on D.O.G.
9. The person who sent the "congratulation" announcement was an O.H. line manager (who got the promotion the previous day) and a D.O.G. sub-product maintenance engineer.
10. There are the dual-chain-of-command for us: work related orders were from our client supervisors; human resource issues - submit time card, etc., were within the O.H. management scope.
Hey, I hope you now see what was terribly wrong! Someone, as a contractor, stole the joint-team's ideas, presented to his /her (gender fuzzy) own company tech journal as one's own original work --- "Original" requirement is re-iterated on each and every edition of the Journal. This person's line manager was very happy about it, wanted all O.H. employees at the site to know the good news, but somehow strangely did not want to share the wonderful news with other D.O.G. teammates or those in the project management.
You do not need to be a contractor yourself to understand what is the most important thing for a contractor company: reputation. That's why most contractor companies emphasize very much on the highest legal and ethical standards. Say, would you contract a roof-repair work to a company which has the reputation that its employees steal from the customers' homes? For the same reason, even the calendar we got each year from the company always has the topic of "business conduct".
Thursday, May 24, 2007
"Reality is stranger than fiction" is a well known English phrase. When I google on this phrase, I like very much of this paragraph, quote: " Some stories are just too strange, too incredible to be made up, which is indeed a major limitation to the business of imagining the future. We are often constrained by what's believable, by what's plausible. So more and more I'm thinking about using real life historical tales to stretch people's imagination. "
Disclaim: when I pick the blog "topic", I use "Strange things do happen" instead of "stranger things ..." or "strangest things ...", I meant to give you the hint on what I am writing. If I could only choose one word from two options (reality vs. fiction) to describe what any author wrote about, I would always use "fiction". Anyone knows anyone else who is capable of "reality-writing" :-)?
Return to our story.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Too many strange things did happen. Where to start? Top-down with "long time ago, there were..."? Or bottom-up with "currently, ...what lead us here ..."? Perhaps I could pick an interesting day in between as the start of our story.
Dec. 10th was a Friday that year. Just as many other workdays, I started my work as usual: turn on the computer, check if there are new emails, reply if only need some simple words, then classify the rest (if any) as need more thoughts, or need writing longer answers ... Quick sort.
The real (? don't know a better word:-)) work followed using my development machine. Occasionaly, goes back to check newly arrived emails - no sound card there for audible notifications. Routine.
About 10 am. Check emails. A new arrival turned the day into a very rememorable one, and opened a door to many adventures!
The email subject: "Congratulations to Txxxx Oxxxx".
Hey, good news! Double click - who would not like to read good news ASAP?
No quote here, but mainly: congratulations to T.O.; this person's work status was introduces as OHNT employee and SWE at ENED; A tech paper substract by this author passed OH tech journal review board; its title was "Practical Development of" D-O-G "on an enterprise scale"; full paper will follow. "Well done, Txxxx!". Email sender: Sxxxx Txxxx. Recipients: all OHNT employees at ENED - now you know I was one of them.
(ENED was the name of our contract client site)
*&^@#!$+(<#*(^, how wonderful!
?????????????????, anything wrong?
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Did you see "paid leave"? How generous you think those bosses could be? I actually got it as an award :-). I will explain why it is strange some other day, after telling other stories first. But award is an award, I happily took it as the compensation they owe me.
Now, the most interesting thing for me is blogging. BTW, someone may ask me what is strange in yesterday's picture. Nothing, I just practiced uploading of photos. But on the 2nd thought, is biking at beach rare? That was the first time I saw people do it. I will post more of my "master pieces" :-) here for fun, they have nothing to do with the text part.
Return to the topic. I was told to update my resume, which I did. If you work as a contractor, you know you sometimes would be asked to do that. Surprised to see that I had to write several pagers for the past 5+ years work. You are right if you guessed that the project is about Robot Guarding Dog as in the title! No photos available, but if you saw Sony robot pet dog / cat as toys, you got the main idea and the virtual picture, just need to replace the "wagging the tail, trying to get attention, ..." with "guarding".
Not only that the project is cool, I gave it a cool shorter name too, "D-O-G" pronounced as "Dee-ooh-gee". My previous landlady's family has a very cute cat with the name "C-A-T" (pronunciation "See-ai-tee") - I just copied the pattern :-).
If you are contracted to work with the owner team on such D-O-G pond, you could expect that many funny things could happen - oops, why I use "funny" not "strange" here?
Have just learned and added a SiteMeter to my blog. Also read some experts' advices on how to get good traffic. Content is the most important thing! Need to concentrate on content for the time being. When good amount of contents are posted, could start "invitations" following their advices.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Today is a very good day - I get my blog now! And even better, I know I do have the time working on it :-).
I like to read other people's interesting web blogs. Many, many times, I thought about doing it myself. But I am an after-work lazy bone - "Go blogging could be my next year's resolution...", next, next, next ...:-)
Today, I got unexpected paid leave, thanks to my bosses, then of course, did not make any plan for a trip, etc.. Hey, why not to make it the blog time! Thanks to Google, they make blog so easy!
(My master piece picture: beach, 5-minute drive away from where I am now. Click on it, you can see the full size one.)