Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ethics and Money


[Note added 07 Oct 2008] I received several questions about this rant. Most of them saying something like, "What the heck was that all about??" So, a word of explanation: Many of my friends and business contacts consistently look for the "financial bottom line" for a project. Nobody outside of academia does anything without money being attached and, even then, even they have to pay the rent and utilities. There is a passage in the Bible that says, "No one can serve two masters for he will either love the one and hate the other or hate the one and love the other. You cannot serve both God and Mammon." In the same vein of thought, you cannot serve both the client and the vendor for their goals are different. The vendor is there to maximize the profit meaning that they will provide the least expensive consultant and charge for a higher-priced consultant. This has always been so and so it will always be. The only solution is a "Guild" of programmers who can ensure that an IT professional is exactly what is expected by the client.

Part Two: What if you are organizing a "technical" conference and you have various levels of sponsors, each of whom wants to present a talk. Presenting a talk is not the problem - it's a good thing to have a vendor present a technical (not a marketing) talk for the attendees. BUT, if you give preference to a vendor and allow that vendor to present a non-technical talk just because the vendor is helping to sponsor the conference (especially if the vendor is a Diamond level) then you have violated the spirit of the conference. Now, back to the original rant an, hopefully, it will be more understandable:

Here's the problem: You need income, you need money to feed your family (who depend on you as the "bread winner" in the group) and you need to "do the right thing" at all times where "failure is not an option." What do you do? The answer is simple: Do The Right Thing!

Second problem: What is the right thing? If you have rules, then follow the rules or change the rules. If they rules cannot be changed then the rules must be applied to all concerned with the same degree of firmness. And, here's another point on that subject - you can NOT change the rules once they have been established for an event (for example, a conference) or a meeting or any other gathering of like-minded persons half-way through the setup and organization.

If you have a rule that a presentation MUST be technical, then it has to be technical, not a marketing piece on the wonderful advantages of doing business with that company. It cannot be a fluff piece on some aspect of a product that is not technical. It cannot be many things; it must be technical.



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