OT, but I don't know where else to turn. I just got out of one of the most frustrating meetings of my career. I develop test tools (in perl) for a startup company. For the last 3 years, I've been writing tools to automate testing, benchmarking, configuration, and generally make people's lives easier. The problem is that I can't get people to use the tools.

A typical development cycle runs like this:

  1. I am assigned to develop a tool.
  2. I solicit suggestions rom the end users as to what the tool should do.
  3. I write the tool.
  4. I present the tool to the team, demo it, and ask for feedback.
  5. Blank stares and I'm the only one who uses the tool.
I've tried everything I can think of to get buy-in from my co-workers. I tried asking them what they want automated, and got blank stares. I asked each of them individually what tasks they did that were repetitive, and asked if they'd like tools to do it for them. When I produce these tools, they won't use them, and can't explain why not.

Today, I came up with what I thought was a foolproof system to make everyone's life easier. I wrote a tool to install daily builds. All the user needs to do is call it from the command line, and walk away. I estimate it would save each team member 1 hour a day, and I'm the only one who has to do anything. I write the tool, I install it, I configure the servers to accept it. Result: no buy in. Nobody wants it except the team manager and I. I got resistance on every minor point, from using a naming convention for file systems, to having a single repository for testcases. And when pressed for explaination, they'd just say "Never mind" in that "I'm not going to fight you, I'll just not do anything" way. I just don't get it. I'm trying to make their lives easier, and nobody wants to be helped.

I'm in a real Dilbert situation. I'm trying to improve the way we do our jobs to everyone's benefit, and there's so much resistance that I'm having trouble seeing the point in trying. This feels like the moment when Dilbert turns into Wally.

Has anyone else faced this? What can I do to get people to accept better hammers?

"What do I want? I'm an American. I want more."