Profiles in Management: The Intrepid Imbecile


We have some vending machines at our office, in a small alcove off the development area — the kind that have the snacks lined up between spiral rods, so when you buy something, the appropriate rod rotates and the snack drops down for you.

Vending machine

This is obviously a horrible design for a couple of reasons:

  1. I don’t want my M&Ms dropped from a height because it breaks them; and
  2. Sometimes the packaging of the snack gets hung up on the rod and the snack doesn’t drop.

When that happens, the victim usually rocks the machine back and forth trying to dislodge the snack. This often works, but not on the first couple of tries.

It also makes an incredible racket.

I’ve heard that vending machines are extremely top-heavy and tip over easily, but so far — despite my fervent hope that someone will be mashed flat as a lesson to other machine-rockers — that hasn’t happened.

Today, a young woman was in the process of shaking one of the machines when our dim-witted Lothario of a CTO wandered by and said, with absolute sincerity:

“Can I help you with that?”


The Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow posited a hierarchy of human needs, in which “lower-level” needs like food, water and shelter must be met before moving to “higher-level” needs like esteem and belongingness.

If we apply this theory to the workplace, I think it’s fair to say that before knowledge workers can be innovative or creative or anything like that, they’ve got to at least be able to hear themselves think.

Thus spoke The Programmer.

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