Pythonize Me

Of late I have been coming to terms with the need to educate myself in programming languages. An almost declining fad nowadays is the infamous Python, which has become the not-so-new girl in town in my work environment since a bunch of young and enthusiastic data-oriented analysts have joined. Over the past few weekends I have started to teach myself the language, which I have to admit is quite fun. However, for a long time I resisted the idea.

If there is something consistent throughout my entire professional life has been the need to know more than I do. What has also been rather consistent is the failure of any person singing the praises of new software skills to efficiently help cut back the amount of time it takes to do what should be easily transferrable or “automation-friendly” tasks across his or her department. You may ask why? The main reason I can identify is mostly a lack of resources.

Companies in the modern world need to be lean and well-supplied in order to deliver the goods profitably, no matter if we are talking about a logistics warehouse or a law firm. Lean, smart and fast are always an added value as they contribute to the bottom line in more ways than one. However, because companies are made and run by humans, inefficiency is usually lurking around the corner, not so much because people are lazy but because they are not being supported and they do not understand the reason to implement changes whose time/reward ratio they cannot visualize. If you buy me an expensive machine I have no way or time to learn how to use, the purchase has become a cost and my risk of being perceived as a liability increases. So why would I want any of that?

If you ask most business leaders to tell you what they would like to have more of in their company, they would probably say “time and data”. First and fast movers in a company (inwardly and outwardly) tend to be highly rewarded, to a large degree because they can voice their ideas and sell them well, mostly as part of their career-oriented push to conquer. In general, high management tends to be divorced from the middle or lower ranks that produce the output and goods sold in their companies, so when an executive rising in his/her rank proposes to buy the panacea to all their woes and train the soldiers in the field to use it, management jumps to adopt their guidance.

Once the cost has been sunk and the mandate to apply X, Y or Z platform throughout the team is enforced, the ones who emerge victorious and will benefit the most from these sweeping changes were those who proposed it and the big fish that are given preferential treatment for the vaccine and 24-hour support. If you look close enough, you will realize those people were already on the radar, with a big enough revenue line or workflow that guarantees them a direct line to management. The rest will find themselves putting a much larger amount of hours to the task without enough resources, which they lacked even before the data magicians arrived to disrupt their peace. Nothing material has changed for them, except the additional responsibility and time investment to test a remedy aimed for the wrong organ. In the corporate ladder, there is always someone holding it at the bottom and they are usually the first to pay the bill of process improvements.

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