Linux Documentation: Management Style ;-)

Recently my attention was brought to a small snippet of the kernel documentation which was really funny. It was about “taking the blame”. I then installed the kernel docs of my Linux distro (Ubuntu Gutsy: apt-get install linux-doc) and found the whole document here: /usr/share/doc/linux-doc-2.6.22/Documentation/ManagementStyle.gz

Read it, it’s really funny. Here’s a small excerpt:

Chapter 3: People II - the Good Kind

While it turns out that most people are idiots, the corollary to that is sadly that you are one too, and that while we can all bask in the secure knowledge that we’re better than the average person (let’s face it, nobody ever believes that they’re average or below-average), we should also admit that we’re not the sharpest knife around, and there will be other people that are less of an idiot that you are.

Some people react badly to smart people. Others take advantage of them.

Make sure that you, as a kernel maintainer, are in the second group. Suck up to them, because they are the people who will make your job easier. In particular, they’ll be able to make your decisions for you, which is what the game is all about. So when you find somebody smarter than you are, just coast along. Your management responsibilities largely become ones of saying “Sounds like a good idea - go wild”, or “That sounds good, but what about xxx?”. The second version in particular is a great way to either learn something new about “xxx” or seem extra managerial by pointing out something the smarter person hadn’t thought about. In either case, you win.

I then found out here that it was written by Linus Torvalds himself and as you see, it incorporates the wisdom of a guy who does not take himself or his work too seriously. (I guess it reflects the attitude of a lot of those guys who write open source software?) And best of all, those few lines cover all you need to know if you a) are a manager b) have to deal with them! If you like to read the whole text and don’t run linux, you may download it here. I promise: it’s worth while! :-)

This post is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 by the author.