How to deal with a meatball of a manager who issues an edict that makes no earthly sense? Ignore it.
There are valuable contributions that management can make to the design process. Let me get back to you on that later.
Every engineer at some point in his or her career has heard a martinet of a manager say something along the lines of: "I'm the boss, so I get two votes"; or "It's not a democracy around here." Not exactly the best way to rally the troops.
Here is my advice on dealing with a meatball of a manager who issues an edict that makes no earthly sense: Ignore it.
To wit, earlier in my career I was hired as an ARM specialist at a midsized company. My job was to design a new system using a 32-bit platform. The company's legacy, 8051-based products were based on code that was ghastly, having the appearance of generations of legacy maintainers.
The concept of spaghetti code had just been elevated to new heights.
All variables were Globals, declared in a single header file. Scarce comments showed many dated from 10 years back.
Yet this particular manager issued the following instructions: "This code is field-proven over more than 15 years. It is completely bug-free and is the result of 15 years of development. Do not change it! Re-compile this C program to the new processor and keep it exactly the same."
In the first week alone I discovered at least three serious bugs and learned that units in the field suffered from the same defects. At that point I stopped following the no-change order and simply enumerated all the vulnerabilities and most severe software design flaws in that product line.
I ended up designing the new system from scratch. The product served for more than 10 million hours in the field over the next six years with zero firmware crashes.
— Jonny Doin is now CEO of GridVortex Systems. He has over 25 years experience working with embedded systems R&D and hardware/firmware design. He has worked on medical, broadcast video, industrial, and energy applications and founded GridVortex in 2012 to design and deploy IoT intelligent networks for large-area urban projects and embedded micro-clouds.