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VSarkiss (704)

VSarkiss
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I haven't really taken the time to set this up, but you can look at my home node [perlmonks.org] on Perl Monks.

Journal of VSarkiss (704)

Sunday November 24, 2002
11:16 PM

Carpentry and consulting

[ #9131 ]

A couple of years ago, when I decided to strike out on my own and form a product company, rather than the consulting work I'd been doing for more than a decade, I tried to explain it to my father in terms of an analogy.

If this had been 100 years ago, and I was a carpenter instead of a computer guy, I would have two basic choices. One would be what I was already doing: going around repairing broken furniture, and building custom pieces ordered by customers. The other choice would be to set up my own shop, and build furniture or cabinetry the way I think they should be made. Good materials and good craftsmanship: dovetail joints, nice rounded-off edges, and so on. Of course, the danger with the second route is that I would set up shop and nobody would show up to buy what I made.

What I didn't mention is how frustrating the first way -- my existing line of work -- can get. When the customer tells me the equivalent of, "Nail the bed to the armoire". My eyes go wide; and I think, "What??" Politely I ask the customer what they're thinking, why they think that's necessary. The usual answer is, "Aren't you a carpenter? Here's nails and a hammer. Put the armoire and the bed together before the whole project falls behind schedule." I write memos that this doesn't make sense, it's crazy, and am reminded that I'm not the project manager.

Mumbling something about the customer always being right, I nail the bed to the armoire ("Nails. We don't use glue or biscuits here. Nails and brads are our standard.") I even do a clean job at it. Then I stand there looking at the mess and shake my head.

Six months later, the customer complains about the fact that they can't move the bed out of the room now because it's nailed to the armoire: they won't fit through the door. I'm blamed for lack of understanding, and shoddy work. "Well, didn't you know we'd want to move it out eventually? What kind of crappy workman are you?"

Well, I've been asked to do crazy, kludgy things again, and I just know where this is going.... One way or the other, I have to leave consulting and start a product line. I figure even if I starve sitting in my own shop selling my own pieces, I'll never have to explain why the damn cabinet is glued to the sofa.

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