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It wasn’t me… it was the one armed man

So this post was inspired by a Twitter conversation with @BrentO and @Peschkaj.  Brent was laughing about how he’s going to install Quest Performance Analysis and that it’s going to come back and tattle on him for all of his bad TSQL code.

I jokingly said “Hey all you need to do is change the creator in the comments section to someone who has left the company and call them a bad coder and offer to fix “their” mistake”

@Peschkaj then replied saying that he was going to change all his bad code to have @BrentO or @SQLAgentMan as the developer

We all had a good laugh but then it gave me an idea for a blog post around a topic in the same ballpark.  Inheriting and accepting responsibility over someone else’s environment/world.  In every environment I’ve worked in there are always problems that comes up and the blame ends up being put on a guy who left the company (for the sake of this post we’ll call this individual Leaving Larry)… so Leaving Larry has left the company and YOU have inherited and taken over all of Leaving Larry’s old work.  Let’s call you Savior Sam.

So here’s a (fictional) story about Leaving Larry and Savior Sam to help illustrate my point…

Savior Sam is now responsible for Leaving Larry’s stuff… Leaving Larry has cross trained Savior Sam and now Leaving Larry is gone.  As time goes by Savior Sam notices some inefficiencies or problems in some of Leaving Larry’s work.  Someone asks Savior Sam… well whose code is it?? Savior Sam immediately throws Leaving Larry under the bus and everyone has a good chuckle about how Leaving Larry is the worst coder alive.  Savior Sam says wow… that was easy and decides that he has found the scapegoat of his dreams… he can just blame EVERYTHING that goes wrong on Leaving Larry.  The day comes when a major emergency/problem/outage happens and Savior Sam is brought into his manager’s office and is asked why this happened.  Savior Sam reaches in his pocket and pulls out “Damn Leaving Larry… this is all his fault”.  The manager then reminds Savior Sam that Leaving Larry left 8 months ago and this is now Savior Sam’s responsibility.

OK well that was kind of an “Afterschool Special” for the IT Pro but from what I’ve seen in my experience this type of behavior is very common.  If you’re in Savior Sam’s position as time goes on problems become less and less a Leaving Larry problem and more and more a Savior Sam problem. 

At the end of the day (unless you’re designing/supporting a brand new environment) you’re always going to be inheriting someone elses work and in doing that you should NEVER take ANYTHING for granted.  If you’re responsible for something, you are responsible.   

If you buy a used car and don’t change the oil in 2 years and your car dies… do you blame the previous owner?

Anyways just something to think about


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One Comment

  1. Brent Ozar says:

    Ha! Yeah, I’ve worked in shops where after somebody left, we told their replacement that they had 90 days to blame the last guy. After that – it was the new guy’s fault!

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