Crash Numbers

GraphAt the risk of making this blog sound like a Facebook page, I am going to discuss something that happened at work today that pissed me off.

The root cause of what really made me angry was a logical fallacy.  The anger in me probably arose from an ethical wrong that was done.  But that ethical wrong and the logical fallacy are really one and the same.

My company deployed multiple changes to our software product last week.  Our software reports back to our servers on whether it crashes or not.  We got the numbers back today and the crashes went up after we deployed.  Not good.

My boss gets real up-in-arms when the crash numbers go up.  Irrationally so.  He came to me today saying that the crash numbers have gone up and the cause was because of one specific change.  This alleged, crash-inducing change was made by an employee that I manage.

My boss had already emailed this employee accusing him of causing this problem.

Regardless of whether the change caused the crashes, my boss should not have undermined my authority by going directly to the employee.  But that is not what pissed me off.

What really made me angry was that my boss made a hasty generalization.  This employee has made changes in the past that has caused problems.  They were made over a year and a half ago.  He has learned his lesson. But my boss can not get over it.

We all do it.  Inductive reasoning.  We look at specific instances of something.  We then try to make general rules that we can apply to future scenarios.  It is fundamental to the scientific process.  And I can not blame my boss for trying to practice that.

But his goal is not to come to a better understanding of the situation.  His goal is to look for confirmation for his own biases. And that really pisses me off.  Not only is he blatantly committing logical fallacies without remorse, he is committing ethical offenses.  There are reasons why people on trial in the USA are “innocent until proven guilty”.

So.  Three lessons learned today:

  1. My boss has got some major problems.
  2. Logical fallacies and moral offenses can coincide.
  3. I get real angry when people are blatantly irrational.

By the way, the change that the employee made was not the cause of the crashes.  It was caused by a different change that went out last week.  And the worst part is that my boss was told that this different change could cause crashes.  He somehow forgot about that.

Photo courtesy of nDevilTV 

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