[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Friday, 2006-12-15

When you hire an expert, listen to them

Filed under: Software — bblackmoor @ 22:24

M.A. is one of the world’s foremost experts on neural networks. His undergraduate specialty was artificial intelligence, his master’s thesis was about genetic algorithms, and his doctoral dissertation covered evolutionary programming. Such an extensive computer science education opened up a wide range of career options, ranging from a professor at a university to … a professor at another university. When someone outside of academia sought out his expertise for a project, he jumped at the opportunity.

The company that wanted to hire M.A. was a small programming firm that developed and maintained software used by the Bureau of Water Management. They were recently awarded a large contract to redo a rather inefficient part of the system and were convinced that implementing a neural network was the way to go. After the initial interview, M.A. told them that a neural network was the wrong tool for the job and that they should use a traditional approach. Management disagreed with his assessment and insisted that he come aboard to help rebuild the system. Had they not offered such a generous salary, he might have recognized this as a first warning sign. […]

(from The Daily WTF, No, We Need a Neural Network)

Go read the whole thing. Don’t worry, it has a happy ending. I am tempted to hand this article to every client I have from now on.

Hats off to M.A., though. He told them the right way to do it, and then did what the client wanted instead. And then three years later, he told them the right way to do it, and then did it. That’s a professional. I want to be like this guy.