Project ManagementYou Might be Suffocating in a Constipated Bureaucracy If...

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Comedian Jeff Foxworthy is funny because he makes us laugh at ourselves (unless you live in New York or LA; then you’re just laughing at rednecks). Blatantly stealing from Foxworthy’s you might be a redneck shtick, I’ve compiled a list of workplace scenarios that, if true, prove your organization is a constipated bureaucracy.

So, without further ado, you might be suffocating in a constipated bureaucracy if…

  1. It is impossible to obtain a commitment, enact change, or even voice an opinion.
  2. Every project has a schedule before it has a plan.
  3. Your managers hire experts but ignore their advice.
  4. Your boss believes he or she can bully you into working harder.
  5. Employees are treated like second-class retards, and contractors are treated like they have a brain pan.
  6. Your boss looks like John Kerry. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
  7. Your boss has several skincare products on his or her desk but no visible sign of work.
  8. You have the same computer as your boss’ secretary.
  9. Your boss has a flat-panel monitor but you don’t.
  10. When you give your boss an Etch A Sketch as a Holiday present, he doesn’t laugh.
  11. You are toiling away on weekends for free, but your boss waits until Monday to yell at you because you didn’t magically complete the work by his arbitrary deadline.
  12. All the job titles in your department are Programmer I, Programmer II, or Programmer III, and the only tool you’re supplied is a compiler.
  13. Your manager was an accountant in a previous life and believes every problem can be solved with more documentation and more scheduling.
  14. Your training budget is non-existent, so you have never made a fool of yourself at Cheetah’s in Las Vegas during Comdex at the company’s expense.
  15. Your boss has never bought you a “Warp Core Breach.”
  16. Meetings have no agenda and never seem to accomplish anything.
  17. Your boss always tells you about programming with punch cards to prove he used to be a good programmer and therefore knows more about your job than you do.
  18. Your boss has programmed in COBOL.
  19. You are still working on the same code base as the day you started.
  20. The software you heroically wrote earned the company $10,000,000 but you got only a four-percent raise.
  21. All of the best programmers have to get promoted to manager to earn more money.
  22. Managers drive the most expensive cars, and the Saturn-to-sports-car ratio is greater than the programmer-to-non-programmer ratio.
  23. Your last vacation did not involve a plane ticket.
  24. You don’t know in which month Comdex occurs and have never been.
  25. You are definitely suffocating in a constipated bureaucracy if your CIO or CTO thinks you are too busy to join a users’ group—after hours.
  26. UML modeling is considered “drawing pictures.”
  27. Your manager stands at the door and looks at his watch when you arrive in the morning.
  28. You still wear a suit to work.
  29. Your boss thinks a picture of Satan is a nice resemblance to himself.
  30. Your manager is the best looking person on the team.
  31. The company coffee blend tastes like pencil shavings.
  32. You actually have a scheduled amount of break time before and after lunch.
  33. The computer tech gets promoted to director of software development because he looks good in a suit.
  34. You have never seen your boss drunk.
  35. Your boss opens every meeting with golf anecdotes.
  36. And lastly, you must be suffocating in a constipated bureaucracy if video games and instant messaging are not permitted.

What to Do About It

If you find yourself in more than one or two of these scenarios, I encourage you to quit your job. Do something else. Seek happiness elsewhere. Stick your head in you boss’s office and yell, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!” Of course, it is hard to pay the mortgage on an unemployment check, and I suspect your boss knows this.

An invaluable trick I learned courtesy of Uncle Sam and the US Army is to never say no or challenge authority directly; they hate that. Instead, offer a resounding “yes, sir!” and then practice malicious complicity: doing exactly what the boss says even if it means permitting him to shoot himself in the foot. Hey, this is warfare and until you get the respect, latitude, and beer in the break room you deserve, all bets are off.

Now, back to work!


Paul Kimmel is the VB Today columnist for and and has written several books on object-oriented programming, including the recently released Visual Basic .NET Power Coding from Addison-Wesley. He is the chief architect for Software Conceptions and recently has way too much free time on his hands.

If you want to vent, learn about great new technologies, eat free pizza, and you live in the greater Lansing, Michigan area, consider dropping by the Greater Lansing .NET Users Group (, or, if you live a long way away, really impress us by flying in.

Copyright © 2004 by Paul Kimmel. All Rights Reserved.

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