The Admiral’s Pipe


I was recently reminded of a story one of our development managers told me.  Before he started his career in software he was a sailor aboard a Russian sub.  Inspections by the admiral were a regular occurrence and involved a huge investment of time to clean the entire sub… As you might expect Russian admirals were fairly demanding and always expected to find problems.  In fact they kept looking until they found the problem however unimportant they were.  Apparently the sailors came up with a creative way address placate the admiral.  They would leave one, fairly obvious, pipe un-cleaned. The admiral would find this pipe, insist that it be cleaned and feel satisfied that he found a problem and not dig any deeper.  This practice became known as using “the Admiral’s pipe”. 


 


I will leave it to you to apply this to your work with your own management whether a Russian admiral or IT manager… 


 


BTW, if any of *my* management is reading this, rest assured that this has nothing to do with the executive review deck we are putting together today. 😉

Comments (10)

  1. Prakash Sachania says:

    It is very interesting because a programmer under me was caught one day saying "Oh that bug, I thought of the other". Since then we always joke with him about planting bugs in the code.

  2. C.P. says:

    We’ve done a fair amount of that around here…

    There is this manager, whom I’ll call LR and she’s not satisfied with anything unless she’s had a major hand in mucking it up to suit her own needs. And she’s a micromanager.

    What we’ve found is if we leave the UI eye-candy (naming of the buttons, wording of the error messages, arrangement of the widgets) in a complete shambles she’ll fixate on that. We’ve managed to tackle *major* design problems — finding and fixing them on our own — by keeping her pre-occupied with doily-arranging and picture-straightening tasks.

    Management from below is an art form all its own.

  3. Sean Chase says:

    LOL – that’s hilarious! Especially the "BTW" comment.

  4. jasonz says:

    >> BTW, if any of *my* management is reading this, rest assured that this has nothing to do with the executive review deck we are putting together today. 😉

    See now you just want me to keep digging further 🙂

  5. There’s another Russian military joke that can go with that:

    –What is it? Dirt?? What does THAT mean to you?

    –That a pig will always find dirt, sir?

  6. Rusty says:

    In my previous post as a graphic designer, I took great pride in my "art". I found that clients always had to make their mark but it offended me, after all, am i not the artist they hired? So I’d leave a big red, ugly, obnoxious blip somewhere in the illustration so they would say, "oh, take that out." Today, I often will use an obnoxious bold, red font in the middle of a page to keep focus on something trivial. Management needs to manage sometimes, even if they don’t

  7. ML says:

    What was the guy’s rank in the sub?

  8. One of the core skills of a Program Manager is to build consensus. Microsoft (like many knowledge-worker

  9. One of the core skills of a Program Manager is to build consensus. Microsoft (like many knowledge-worker

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