Objection, Your Honor
by Brian Dunning
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all met Him: the No-it-all IT manager with the massive key ring
(and pager and cell phone and Leatherman) hanging from His belt.
His role in life, as in business, is to feel important by using
any and all authority granted by His superiors to refuse and deny
every request made of Him. The purpose of the large, highly visible
key ring is to shout His authority to the world: to remind everyone
who looks at Him that He literally holds the keys to their environment,
that He and He alone is able to provide Ethernet cables, Post-it
notes, and bathroom access. Plus a lot of other keys that He just
threw on there to make you wonder what other mysterious realms
He has control over.
His favorite luxury to deny is Apple Computer and all of its
subsidiary products, like FileMaker Pro. Here He has the natural
elements working in His favor: Apple is a tiny minority in the
business world, not generally accepted and widely maligned.
Here is a bandwagon which He can easily jump on and be lauded
as correct and knowledgeable and "having displayed brilliant
foresight" with little effort on His part.
Should you encounter this anomalous being in your daily business,
you may need these tools. He will, as usual, inevitably excrete
one or more of the following objections, telling you why FileMaker
Pro is not allowed in His department. Here are some responses
to fling back at Him, compiled and refined through years of
laborious strugglings with such personages.
FileMaker Pro is owned by Apple, and Apple went out of business
The first thing to understand is that it's pointless to argue
with Him. For starters, forget the fact that Apple has enough
liquid cash on hand that they could sell nothing and lose $100
million each quarter for the next ten years and still not "go
out of business." Behave as if every word out of His mouth is
a Heavenly nugget of golden angelic wisdom, and thank Him profusely
for the black volumes of foul misinformation which He vomits
all over you. Only thus will you win His favor and hope to have
Him listen to you.
It's always well to ask His advice on matters and treat Him
as if He is the oracle of wisdom He imagines Himself to be.
So ask Him, "Since they're out of business and not publishing
it anymore, is it in maintenance mode? Are they still supporting
it?" He will never look dumbstruck and confounded; He will always
quickly invent an answer for any question. So He will probably
say yes, no, or come up with something clever like they contracted
support out to some third party, etc.
The point is to drill down to His specific objection, which
will probably be something like the company will not allow software
to be used unless paid support contracts are in place and current.
Find out what the penalty is for a violation. He'll come up
with something. Then compile a list of software applications
that are unlicensed around the office (be sure to include mission
critical programs) and include FileMaker on the list. Show it
to management, get specific approval to run the programs on
the list anyway (or at least authorization to purchase support
for them) and then you're in the clear.
FileMaker Pro is not relational.
Never disagree or argue with Him. You will never be in His
favor if He perceives that you have any knowledge of anything.
Sing His praises whenever you can. Do not wrinkle your brow
at this bizarre objection. You will only be waving a red flag
at the bull.
Instead, act relieved at the revelation. "Oh, sir, I could
never use a relational database. They're much too complex."
He will smile pleasantly as a father does when His child has
learned to count to three. Assure Him that He is regarded as
the only One capable of operating a relational database, and
add "We need something amateurish for us beginners to use, without
wasting your important time." You'll get to use it.
FileMaker Pro causes computers to crash.
Darn it, He found out about that pesky Set Crash Mode [On]
command that someone snuck into a script. Or did He discover
the skeleton in FileMaker's closet: that the program itself
is dangerously unstable, and cannot keep itself alive in any
environment? He may have called 60 Minutes and reported this
scandalous release of software...where Darren Terry dresses
in a trenchcoat and meets reporters at midnight in a Santa Clara
parking garage and reveals in a scratchy voice: "FileMaker Pro
crashes people's computers!"
"Good," you should answer. "We're working on a crash detection
and recovery routine. We need a program that will crash for
testing purposes." You'll get to use it.
FileMaker Pro is not supported by this department.
I always wanted to know exactly what "support" means. Do they
withhold charitable contributions to FileMaker Inc.? Do they
refuse room and board to FileMaker employees? Exactly what type
of support don't they give? And why does this mean I can't use
FileMaker software in the office?
I would ask this guy what program He does support. "Microsoft
Excel," He'd probably answer. What is the specific nature of
this support? Does He paint "Cheers for Excel" on a sandwich
board and parade up and down in front of city hall? Does He
paint His face, doff His shirt, and drink beer in front of Microsoft's
Headquarters pumping His fist? Exactly what kind of support
must a company provide to software before its employees are
allowed to use it?
Simple answer: "That's OK, FileMaker provides the support."
FileMaker Pro allows users to create their own databases.
Don't immediately answer "Duh! That's why we want to use it."
Instead, analyze why He brings this objection. It's because
He doesn't want anyone to be able to do anything by themselves,
He wants everyone to rely on Him for everything, He wants to
remain important. You may suspect that a solution would be to
frighten Him with the amount of work you're going to need Him
to do if you can't do it yourself. If this is what you think,
you are mistaken. He has no intention of doing the work Himself.
He'll tell you that you can't do it yourself, but rather must
"Put in a request." Any such requests merely disappear into
His file of things which He keeps to remind Himself how important
Propose a way to sing His praises. Pretend to have suddenly
struck a great idea. Propose that everyone who uses FileMaker
Pro to create their own databases will wear a little badge boasting
that they've met His tough standards and are authorized disciples
of His; privileged appointees who are trained and deemed worthy
by Him to use FileMaker. He'll think you're all His adoring
little children and will proudly ordain as many of you as He
Macs are not supported by this department.
Ah: now we see the wisdom of His judgment, the method to His
calculated doctrine. If it works on a Mac, it is tainted and
must not be used in this department, not even on Windows: because
even that would imply support for that A-word company which
"went out of business years ago."
Never mind that you're advocating FileMaker Pro, not Macs.
Never mind that this objection is completely meaningless and
irrelevant; you will hear it anyway, sooner or later. Act really
disappointed (you're giving Him what He wants) and say "Oh,
so I have to order a Windows program?" He'll answer yes, and
then you can order the Windows version of FileMaker.
Nobody uses FileMaker Pro.
This is the classic "Everyone else is jumping off the cliff,
so we should too." This is His philosophy, so it should become
yours as well. Ask, in all humility, what specific level of
general acceptance is required for the department to adopt a
program. He'll probably say that it needs to be part of the
Microsoft Office suite of products. Look really confused until
He asks what's wrong. Show Him FileMaker's statement of Office
This probably won't get you anywhere, but it will be fun to
watch Him stammer and backpedal, and the excuse He comes up
with will be really entertaining.
We only allow Microsoft products in this department.
Find out what the penalty is for a violation, and then send
a list of all managers who have Acrobat Reader or Netscape on
FileMaker's stock is really low right now.
Believe it or not, I Hear this with startling frequency. FileMaker
is not publicly held, therefore it has no ticker symbol, therefore
its stock cannot possibly be low. Before you chime in with the
reminder that Apple's stock is low and Apple owns FileMaker,
let me state that not one person who has made this objection
has ever known that Apple owns them. If they did know that,
when they claim that FileMaker's stock is low, I would quickly
ask "Really? FileMaker has its own stock? I thought they were
owned by Apple."
Before the conversation goes too far, remind Him that Microsoft's
stock is also at its lowest in years. Except phrase it "Visual
FoxPro's stock is really low right now."