IBM’s CEO delivered what is being described as a company-wide reprimand following its earnings statement. What I’ve seen wasn’t that bad, but the news coverage made me think of something I once heard from an executive.

I had my company president tell a room full of technologists “Shame on you!” for not spending the day riding along with the people using our product. Now, I can totally see the reasoning behind wanting to see how its used, but the delivery left me on the verge of walking out. Considering I was 3 feet away from the guy I elected to not do that.

However, all I could think was, no, shame on YOU! Shame on you for not understanding what our day to day struggles are. Shame on you for not providing us with what we need to get the job done, and then reprimanding us for the effects of your decisions. Shame on you for not focusing efforts on a stable product over new features, for not addressing the technical debt that is preventing full focus on real innovation.

I love the idea of shows like Undercover Boss, but they just won’t work for my industry. How many CEOs could step in as an admin, developer, qa engineer, release engineer? Even so, they should see what its like. They should watch streams of error logs from production servers, hear the regular chime of alerts from the on call phone, read the number of hours burned on issues that have been around for years but that the business considers lower importance than the new wizzbang spinny whatever.

If you want to move fast, you can’t be standing on a foundation of crap.