Speaking Ill of the Dead

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these ideals with a sense of respect for other peoples work. If there are valid reasons which can be demonstrated and add value to the team or the business then they should be greatly encouraged. But they should be encouraged for those reasons, and not with the idea that the previous work was sub-standard.

Again, the idea that different business drivers result in different projects and different results should be illustrated. If there is any engineer that can look back at the end of a project and not do something different based on what they've learned during the course of that project then they may not be looking hard enough.

However, it isn't just up to the leadership team to promote these values and discourage negative behaviors. It's up to each member of the group to realize how they contribute to the culture of their own team. If they would work in a top notch team and be respected by their peers then they must encourage respect for their coworkers, both past and present.

Rich, whom I've mentioned several times above, kept his behavior up for a little over a year. He cost the company time and money, and cost the team he worked with in numerous ways. In the end, he burned out; unable to keep up with the standard he had forced himself into with his behavior. As the leadership team pushed the group in a more productive direction, he found that he had painted himself into that corner.

The leadership team of any group cannot allow the blame game to get out of hand for even a moment. Every member of a technical team can corrode personal responsibility by speaking ill of the dead so if you hear blame from yourself or others, remember to keep the past in perspective: It's nothing personal.


About the Author

Jonathan Wiggs has been working in the software industry for over 15 years working with the latest technology. He has held roles from being an individual contributor on research and development projects to leading shipping products as a Vice President of Technology and Engineering. Jonathan brings his passionate approach and diverse experience to many companies both large and small. In recent years he has focused on launching technology endeavors at startup companies; and brining his expertise in security, .Net, and database technologies to his writing and his teaching. Currently Jonathan is the Principle Engineer and Architect at Jott Networks Inc. (jott.com). Jonathan can be reached at Jon_Wiggs@yahoo.com for correspondence or comment.

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