I've been consulting for the past several years. The dot com boom hit, I have certain problems mentioned earlier that limit me, I'm not the most highly desirable employee anyway, so it was not by choice. Working at Mayo Scottsdale, we were a rogue branch, sort of, and we got stuff done. The beaucracy and general sloth of HQ served as a counter example, so we avoided the various technical and social tarpits just by taking the options eliminated by them. Motorola was a study in turning intelligent, ambitious geeks into worthless quivering masses. But that's all backstory.
I recently started working at a real company again. I interviewed here a year ago, and it seemed like a really laid back, mellow, pragmatic place. I went out for drinks with the team after the official interview process (and everyone was trying to talk me into moving to LA and liking LA), which impressed the hell out of me. They flew me out and the charming HR lady quickly had my flight changed so I could go out and still get flown back. The company had recently been bought by a major German company and I was told that they were just getting over the shock and getting back to work and starting to feel confident that their startup atmosphere was still intact. It didn't go -- they hired someone who was local and were going to try to snap me up too but ran into budget stuff and I jumped on the next project that came up, needing the money. A year later I was back begging and they dished out this time.
Enter "SOX", or "Sarbanes Oxley Rules". Reportedly created in the wake of Enron, it was explained to me as thus: no one is allowed to perform any task themselves but must instead have it delegated to them. When I heard that, the programmer-logic part of my brain engaged like the clutch in an antique teletype when the start bit hits and I thought, hey, that's indefinite recursion! That means no one can do anything, because as soon as it gets delegated to them, they have to delegate it to someone else! How utterly, patheticly right I was. I spent most of today trying to get my badged activated again and then most of the rest trying to get access to the developmental database servers. Anyone, when asked to do anything, does one of two things: sizes you up to decide if you're "cool" or if you're a spy, tells you it'll be taken care of in an hour, sends you off, and does it when no one is looking -- or else they stammer, and invoke "SOX compliance", and then fumble through their brain for someone else who might be qualified to do it. In the latter case, you generally get directed towards the top of responsibility for any thing, hit it, and start getting sent back downwards again. Hopefully people will realize how silly this is and then rebel before complete organizational paralysis sets in, but right now, trying to *do* anything is like trying to buy a bag of weed in that donut shop by the highway with all the Caprice Classics out front. The problem partially takes care of itself because people redouble their efforts to get stuff done in the face of adversity (Douglas Adams wrote about the future of TV where armless, legless mountain climbers were filmed by parapalegic camera man, whereas today it only seems as if TV is shot that way... badly paragraphsed and spelled). Not me. I don't slack either -- which I guess is the next most common reaction. Me, my frustration goes through the roof. This is my first quiet mumbling... hey, I'm not sure, but I think that king dude's junk is hangin' out.