Friday, July 17, 2015

The Poo-shoe Effect

I've had enough questions and references to this that I need to explain this odd effect with the fashionably Asian-sounding name, which is being mentioned in boardrooms and team rooms all around the earth today.

It's not from any Asian language.

It is "poo" (such as you might unhappily find on your lawn), and "shoe" which you might happily purchase for your feet.

The poo-shoe effect is when you stepped in something, and it stuck to you so that you will have to work long and hard to rid yourself of the stink of it.

Now, this doesn't refer to bad choices or acts of temper or moments of ill-will or malfeasance that will be remembered. That is simply "bad reputation" and is a component of social justice. That's not worthy of being considered an instance of the poo-shoe effect.

Nor is it about the honest or unintentional kind of mistake or accident that can mar ones reputation "oh, yeah, he's the kid who peed his pants in third grade."

For the poo-shoe effect to be realized, you have to have taken "temporary" responsibility for some job or area of work that has never since let you go.

Think about the poor dev who decided to fix the build system. That character dreams of the day when she can return to normal, everyday coding and maybe get back on the path to Sr. Architect. But for now, she's the go-to person for every little makefile/ant/maven/whatever that anyone ever experiences.

Or the guy who decided to figure out how to use chef to set up the virtual machines, and whose brilliant testing career now consists of configuring virtual machines for the 200 programmers on his current project, while he dreams of someday doing some good, old-fashioned creative, destructive testing again.

How about the person who figured out how to use Jira? Poo-shoed?

The team lead who once developed some charts with metrics? Poo-shoed.

Some poor soul wrote some vim macros to make editing gherkin files easier. Poo-shoed.

Have you seen this effect at work? Are you suffering through the endless pains of being poo-shoed yourself? Drop me a note. I probably can't fix it, but I can certainly honor your example by making your story a warning to future generations.

Temporarily, that is. I mean,  I don't get stuck with having to document them for the rest of my career.