To Fire or Not to Fire

JJ Hicks
2 min readJun 24, 2022

It built to a head. I was saddled with an old system that could not do the what the business wanted. It was a recurring theme that I’ve seen and encountered many times in my career.

The other department heads were clamoring, frustrated, accusatory. I didn’t know of another way to explain that the system didn’t do what they wanted it to do. It simply was not possible.

Then the day came. The owner whom I had only ever seen from a distance and met only in passing scheduled a meeting with me — just me.

He was amiable and kind. He was a master of his style. He put me at ease until the time came for the true purpose of this meeting. I was sweating, nervous, anxious. I couldn’t find a comfortable spot on my chair.

Then he laid out his ask. A complete rewrite of the existing system. A new order management system, a distributed and centralized system, an accommodation of international business and currency. He encouraged me, challenged me, appealed to me.

My clothes were damp. My breathing shallow. My heart darted like a rabbit in my chest. I saw my job unspooling before my eyes. I may have taken a deep breath. Then I said.

“You had better fire me now. What you are asking cannot be done with this system. It was not designed for where your business is now, where it wants to go. It was not ever architected to be what you want it to be. Two of the three legs of the system are at end of life. The software company isn’t even supporting them anymore. I have two developers. Two. And you want what would take an entire department of software engineers, Business Analysts, Project Managers, Quality Assurance testers to execute.

“If you force me — us to the do this you will not be happy with the outcome. Primarily because it cannot be delivered. I can hang on and try to please you knowing that failure is the only outcome.

“It would save us both time if you just fired me now. Then you could do what I’ve been recommending for the last year. You need to replace the system. You need a system that can grow with the company. I can do that or you can find the next person to do that. They will say the same thing.”

He looked at me as if he was trying to decipher an optical illusion. His eyes narrowed. His head tilted slightly. We finished the meeting cordially.

A few days later he came to the conclusion we needed to do what I recommended.

Then, after it was all done successfully three years later, after all the #chronicstress he fired me. #theleadershipdeception

JJ Hicks

JJ Hicks is an author in the wee-hours of the morning and an IT Leader by day. You can find out more about me at