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Date:   Sun, 25 Oct 2009 16:54:29 -0700
Reply-To:   Sierra Information Services <sfbay0001@AOL.COM>
Sender:   "SAS(r) Discussion" <SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From:   Sierra Information Services <sfbay0001@AOL.COM>
Subject:   Re: How can we stop the "do nothing data step"?
Comments:   To:
Content-Type:   text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

Jack Hamilton write, in part, to my previous post on this subject:

< snip > By the way, in my earlier email I didn't mean to imply that someone who has been using SAS for 30 years knows more than someone who has been using SAS for 3 years. Possibly the veteran hasn't learned anything new in 25 years, and the newcomer's program will be much better. < end snip >

Yes, I could not agree more. In 2005 I was hired through a training broker to give an intro to SAS programming class to a group of mainframe programmers in the IT function at a large county government near Washington, DC. As it turned out, I was in DC when the broker called me about the gig, so I arranged to meet him and the manager of the programmers who would take the class in a few weeks for a pre- class conference where we would discuss course content, timing, etc. As a trainer, I've always found that a "pre-class conference" like that helps smooth the way towards a successful training delivery.

Shortly before the scheduled meeting time the broker called me from his cell phone to say he was running late, and to start the meeting without him. So, the manager and I sat down in the manager's office and starting chatting. He first said that he knew nothing about SAS but he had a "SAS expert" on his team who did all the SAS programming in the department, and that she would be joining us shortly to help us understand what the upcoming class should cover and how SAS was being used in the department.

She was responsible for generating a series of reports from the county's HR data bases (all on DB2 on the mainframe) using SAS.

After a few more minutes of chat the "expert" shows up, clearly angry and exuding hatred towards me and her manager.

She was carrying a Version 79 SAS manual that looked like it would fall apart at any moment. It was literally held together with rubber bands and tape, and the spine was all but gone. Trying to defuse the situation I said "oh, you've kept your copy of this manual, too!" She then glared at me and said in a nasty tone: "this is the book I use every day. If it is not in this book we don't do it!"

Needless to say, I startled by her comment. I repllied, "well, you know there have been several major new releases of SAS in the past 25 years, including Version 82, Version 5, Version 6, Version 8 and now SAS 9...aren't there potentially any new things you might want to try using in the more current releases of SAS?," I asked. She continued to glare at me and said, "no! those new books have too many words in them...if it is not in THIS book then we don't do it here!"

Things quickly went downhill from there. She started screaming "I know all there is to know about SAS, and no one else here needs to know SAS. Why is my boss trying to take my job from me by teaching others how to use SAS!" I looked at the boss for some help as she continued her tired. Finally she stopped and stormed out the door. I looked at the boss and said "I honestly don't know how to deal with her," I said. "Is she going to be in the class?" I then asked, with great dread.

"I don't know what to do with her either," the manager said, "I inherited her when I came to the county IT shop a few years ago after being downsized from a local bank and our HR department says it's cheaper to just let her work her for another five years until she retires than to try and discipline her. She's like this to everyone. She won't be in the class, but she's one of the reasons why I want the rest of our programmers to have some familiarity with SAS tools, since we have a number of jobs running off our mainframe that use SAS."

Greatly relieved, I came back a few weeks later to give the class. To this day, I wonder how many other "SAS experts" there are coming to work every day whose knowledge of the product has not advanced much since the V79 (or even V82) days.

Thanks for letting me rant for a bit....

Andrew Karp Sierra Information Services

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