Posts Elon & Twitter: How NOT to manage a software company

Elon & Twitter: How NOT to manage a software company

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According to sources: Elon Musk is asking software engineers to print out the code they wrote during the last 60 days for review! this comes after reports that he threatened he will fire engineers if they don’t develop the new paid verification program.

When an organization treats its employees as dispensable slaves that does more harm than good, first of all it pushes talented employees (who always have a high sense of dignity) to start searching for a new job. talented employees are the real engine for any company, not just because of the quality of their work, but because they become role models for other employees in the company who learn from them and thrive to become better.

This treatment also pushes other employees who have no immediate option of leaving to resort to patterns of behavior that save their jobs, but destroy the company. The sort of behavior leaked today by a Twitter employee (who might be ex-employee soon) in a podcast in the New York Times (timestamp 20:40) of “people throwing people around them under the bus”, examples of “people claiming code was written entirely by them and not crediting people who collaborated with them”. These patterns of behaviors create a toxic environment that eats the company from within.

According to the Twitter whistleblower what the management is reviewing is the volume of code produced during the last 60 days, not the quality of code. This one is not new, I remember reading this blog post in the about the development of the original Macintosh: -2000 Lines of Code. This post describes how management thought of tracking progress of software engineers in the Lisa Team by asking them to report each Friday how many lines of code they wrote during the week. The sort of idea that can only come from a manager who never wrote code or understood software development. A brilliant Bill Atkinson (Author of Quickdraw) reported in the first week of imposing this rule that he wrote -2000 lines of code, he was not lying: he optimized an algorithm he had written before, making it simpler and more than 6 times faster than the original algorithm.

Another whistleblower in the same podcast describes how ridiculous timelines are set for new ideas, which also can contribute to the toxic work environment: “One of my co-workers put it as Hack Week, but with a gun to your head.”, he said, adding “Think about it, if you present him an idea and he thinks it is cool, he wants it done like within a week, and you basically just sacrificed every team around you”!!

We are witnessing the work culture that was portrayed by Donald Trump in the famous (and toxic) The Apprentice Show. Of course a manager has the right to fire employees if they are not performing or producing output, but expectations should be reasonable, and firing people should be done with dignity, terrorizing people to perform will only cause chaos. The only reason I can think of for treating people this way is ego, Investors might have just financed the USD 44 billion purchase of Twitter just to make Elon Musk feel more powerful, destroying the platform in the process.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.