13 thoughts on “Dilbert on Spreadsheets

  1. He’s not a real manager if he’s using formulas. A true manager will calculate things on a handheld calculator and type the results into the cells.

  2. A true manager never touches a calculator! He requests for a screenshot of spreadsheet so he could “audit the report” before approving!

  3. Doesn’t a real manager get his secretary to do the data input for him?

    In my previous career, I knew things were REALLY bad when I read Dilbert in the morning, and realized that it described what had happened the previous day!

  4. No, it’s really bad when you read Dilbert in the morning and then realise it’s describing today!

  5. Jan…Thank you for sharing that little “gem”.
    I hadn’t seen it before and(sadly?) I understood almost every line!
    An enlarged copy now adorns my office wall.
    (My manager does not understand it, but is impressed!)

  6. I’m having trouble with this entire concept. Do managers actually know how to turn their computers on and open the spreadsheet program?

  7. Real managers here in Czech Republic are aware, that spreadsheet is very dangerous piece of software – because it enables people to see real results of business. Therefore they do not use them and prefer using SAP and Business Inteligence and Management Information Systems etc. The benefit is obvious – nobody never knows results and nobody is never responsible.

  8. I could tell stories.

    Once a summer intern wanted a larger hard drive for his computer. He swapped his for the manager’s. When confronted, he said, “That computer hasn’t been turned on all summer!”

    The manager couldn’t rely on the admin for help. Her monitor was surrounded by sticky notes with cluse like “Copy – control C”, “Paste – control V”.

    The manager and the admin could never find the files they wanted. I taught both to use a directory structure to replace the old “Word Files”, “Excel Files” system they’d been using. I believe there was a refresher course every half year for a while, until the concept stuck.

    The boss knew I was good at Word and Excel, but when I showed him how to write a formula to sum a column of figures (so he didn’t need the calculator), he decided I was brilliant.

    In fairness, the manager and admin came from earlier times, when computers were used by few people and letters were typed, printed, and filed in cabinets. When the entire company was migrated to MS Office and training was provided, both adapted well. The manager was smart about the technologies we were developing (it was an advanced materials R&D group) and he was pretty good at handling the members of the group, even me. (I’ll admit that I’m harder to manage than a herd of cats, which might explain that I’m now the sole employee in my present company.)

    Another manager at another former employer would play solitaire while talking on the phone, then would get ticked when we showed her no respect (IMO she deserved none). I was not allowed to install some modeling software, even though the other folks in similar roles could; instead I was supposed to have another engineer run my simulations for me. Since I couldn’t convince him of the value of running simulations of the lab experiments I was doing, it never got done. Then I wrote an Excel app to extract process data from text files on the network so we could plot press cycles flexibly (the VB programmer had a simple app that plotted one curve at a time, so you had to hold papers up to the light and hope the scales were compatible), and all the engineers were using it. When the VB guy learned about this, he changed the network directory where the files were stored and improved his program to allow (inflexible) plotting of up to half a dozen curves.

    Later I got in a fight with the VB guy because he instituted a system in which the engineers had to enter data not only into the factory database, but also into an Access DB he’d cobbled together. I balked at the doubling of work (when meanwhile they’d laid off so many engineers that we were trying to do three people’s jobs), and told him to mine the data directly from the factory DB. Well, he couldn’t do that, the factory DB was inaccessible. No it wasn’t, I told him, the telnet prog we communicated through had a VBA interface, and I could talk to it using Excel. He had a glassy stare, so I said he only had to set a reference to the telnet library in VB, then refer to the telnet prog’s VB help files, which actually were pretty good. Then he brought up the fact that the telnet data was not delimited into fields and so forth, but jumbled together in whole lines of text. Well, I said, any programmer should know how to parse text. This was in front of the director (or should I say duh-rector) of engineering, so the VB guy was very upset, but for once the duh-rector seemed to think I was on the right track. Of course, I was laid off a week later (and I’m surprised it took them so long).

    Maybe I should write a book instead of boring all the Daily Dose readers.

  9. Jon,
    Here are some prospective titles for your book.

    – The Exciting World of Metallurgy and Excel
    – Excel gives me the Sheets
    – Farhenheit C451
    – Pivot This!
    – Chicken Soup for the IT Consultant’s Soul

  10. Go ahead “manage” those spreadsheets, what is he going to do when they don’t obey his commands! The spreadsheet’s comment will be your managerial skill don’t work on logic based template, now what foo!

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