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Chapter 12. Chaos Manners > Work and Play

Work and Play

Consider this scenario in an archetypal Pacific coast company drawn from real experience. You enter the lobby to find the phones being handled by a bearded, middle-aged guy who turns out to be the veep for R&D. You tell him you are a GUI consultant and he waves you down the hall to the left. Ducking a barely subsonic frisbee that sails past, you try to find someone in charge. No luck. Recognizing a screen on a workstation in one office, you approach someone who is browsing through a familiar class library and turns out to be the receptionist. But conversation becomes increasingly difficult as the pace of the hallway frisbee game picks up. A couple of programmers, who are busy debugging work-arounds to an operating system problem, holler for quiet but end up getting drawn into the melee of flying discs. Soon the entire department has adjourned to the adjacent parking lot for a furious five-frisbee tournament.

To a casual observer, it may look like bedlam or kindergarten, but during this particular frisbee game a couple of programmers get inspired by the pattern in which the group keeps multiple frisbees flying without interference. They devise from it a novel solution to a nagging problem in the groupware that the department has been developing. Was it dumb luck? Were they just fooling around on the job? Impossible to tell in such a group. Work is play and play is work. Is the receptionist a software engineer? You never know.


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