Monday 19 January 2004

Ineptitude unparalleled

A manager for the project-ile
You would be forgiven for thinking one has something against project managers. In fact, one does love project managers. Ones that know what a project is and then manage the project properly.
However, one has had a run of unkind fortune with a crop of the sort that defy commonsense in the face of reality and whose balls are too microscopic for observation with a microscope.
Nevertheless, there is a particularly nice person who happens to be yoked to the labour of project management, whose surname would remind you of that man-eating alligator you saw on National Geographic the other day.
His manager is of the view that he has a record of accomplishment of consistently delivering on projects in his care.
The track to ignominy or less
Indeed, he has a track record of delivering because many of the critical ends to his delivery end up on one's desk.
Being one whose personality of extroversion is too intertwined with one's job and professionalism as to be considered unhealthy, these things are done.
One cannot afford to be besmirched by the glowing incompetence of an individual ready to stitch you up for any of his failings.
You have to that one is only a fraction of the majority that cannot stand to countenance the alligator in a professional capacity – or the lack of it.
My civility tested
On more than one occasion, some emails, which might eventually feature as classics of professional put-downs, are cast as pearls to swine to our dear friend without impact; apart from highlighting his tomfoolery.
"This represents that worst set of data one has ever received in relation to data, please sort it out". Said one.
Another said, "We have to work to avoid situations where brinkmanship rules over procedural and methodical processes".
Yet again, "To now foist that error of judgment on me is completely disingenuous. Please reflect and reconsider your purpose and actions".
In a darts competition that would have been maximum points, considering this was circulated to a readership that would have cringed at the bluntness of expression.
Our friend is so thick-skinned he would have prevented the sinking of the Titanic.
I will tell you what is unacceptable
A number of instances have arisen where tin-pot little managers of no importance than heading departments in persistent vegetative state for the lack of creativity and innovative thinking.
Departments populated by a gene pool so diverse from the people who live down your street, it could give credence to evolution – God forbid!
After debunking some flawed and inadequate planning, the reply arrives – "It is unacceptable … Blah! Blah! Blah!
I will tell you what is unacceptable – It is unacceptable that
  • You commit to customers without knowing the availability of your deliverables
  • You leave out core elements of your project resources and then expect a last minute redress to sort out your mess
  • You escalate issues to solve your problems when you should have communicated effectively well before it became an emergency
  • You think you can demand goodwill having used up all political capital in pursuit of unachievable goals
  • You remain immune to knowledge
Immune to knowledge
Some people are beyond teaching or just cannot learn, when put in charge of projects in which one has deliverables, one falls a victim of unparalleled ineptitude.
Time to see the company shrink – I am stressed!

Friday 16 January 2004

Report Card - 2003

Excellent with room for improvement
The delivery
The Performance Review day arrived without much event apart from the fact that the initial hours provided scope for anger and resentment, but with a few long deep breaths, one relaxed.
For some reason evident to the boss, he had planned this for 09:00hrs knowing that I am not the best for early starts though I do hours well beyond the call of duty.
The hard feelings exacerbated on arriving just in time to find that he was a bit tardy, sometimes making a statement of principle requires inherent principles for starters.
Beyond all the carping and vituperation directed at the boss and his cronies over the last few blogs, he could at times be quite charming; you would be charmed out of your shoes, just as he could downright nasty.
One gave a general overview of objectives met and achieved with very good results; there was no need to spruce up any of the statements.
Then for some off-sheet accounts, a report of all the activities, achievements and successes for 2003 and then the goals and aspirations for 2004.
The Assessment
So far, the boss was quite impressed with one's performance and said so without noticeable restraint.
However, such assessments are rather two-edged, with proclamation come declamation and one had better to ready for that. It is standard practise to have room for improvement.
Well, nobody is perfect, neither is one, though one tries.
The Proclamations
A great asset to the team who applies meticulous discipline to all activities in which one has influence or input. Having a good grasp of how one's work fits into the organisation. Modesty is a virtue one would covet at this moment.
The Declamations
One does try to make it to work on time and have been on time most of the time. However, there has been occasion when one's presence has been needed earlier in the day and one was yet expected.
Somehow, some team members had turned that into a running joke implying one gets in after 11:00AM. That had precipitated into an assumed reality.
The work one does requires a lot of interaction between core skill personnel in our CIO team. Much of that is done by visiting the personnel at their desks rather than formalising meetings by booking time and rooms.
Apparently, one particular colleague with whom one has no day-to-day interaction had for a while taken a dislike to one's social interactions of which a majority is work-related.
In addition, some others had cited one's visits as impediments to their deliverables. Anyway, that is one area needing a radical character shift.
Finally, one's realism in the execution of projects unfortunately declines to antagonism by people who prefer to execute without weighing the risks. Whilst one is not utterly risk-averse, one only allows risk for the things within one's control.
One will not use other parties' assessment as a basis for taking risk knowing that failure never really accounts for the input of the third party.
True to type
Amongst other aspects, which need improvement, having the personality analysis introduced the boss to a new feature pf personality profiling and the scientific study of the individual as an individual of unique abilities and failures.
What made the most interesting reading was the career report based on the results of the Temperament Sorter analysis.
In producing the report below, one acknowledges the professional expertise of the Advisor Team in producing researched and detailed analysis based on responses to questionnaires that characterise character and temperament traits.
Under the topic of "Choosing the Best Occupation" read, ruminate and laugh – even the boss could not have imagined anyone would be well prepared to debate the declamations.
One would work on improving but not at the cost of personality aversion. That said, these assessments are the best independent analysis of who one is and in most cases rings true.
The Report
Artisan-Performer (ESFP)
Your motto is, "Let me entertain you. Let me make you smile." Bringing playfulness to any situation is your greatest contribution. In your ideal job, you have the opportunity to apply your talent for perfuming-improvising communications so that they appeal to the individuals or groups of people in you environment. You are very expressive and feel stifled in reserved and formal environments. When you are stuck in such environments, you may entertain yourself by playing the "class clown."
Your Ideal Job:
  1. Makes use of your charm and your kindness.
  2. Lets you make a "splash."
  3. Takes place in an expressive, personal setting.
  4. Lets you and the people around you have fun.
  5. Exposes you to a lot of people.
  6. Provides variety in projects, tasks and experiences.
  7. Provides a little bit of drama everyday.
Things you're good at:
  1. You make your workplace more enjoyable for everyone.
  2. You are good at the social aspects of work: interviewing, service, relationship building.
  3. Others recognize and appreciate your kindness.
  4. You can be powerfully persuasive.
  5. You enjoy interviewing, public speaking and other opportunities to represent yourself and your company.
  6. You probably get along with everyone you come in come in contact with.
  7. You are extremely resourceful in times of crisis.
Things to be aware of:
  1. In some arenas, you may not be taken seriously.
  2. You become restless when you have to work alone, with no one to interact with.
  3. Your expressiveness may be perceived as disruptive or "inappropriate."
  4. You have a tendency to play "class clown."
  5. You tend to avoid tedious work.
  6. Socialising at work and your social life outside of work may be sources of distraction.
  7. You may rely too heavily on information you get from people and fail to do your own research or make your own judgments.

Tuesday 13 January 2004

The Pen Pushers Posse Pogrom

The equines of time
Pressure at work emanates from a disconnect between what needs to be done and who can achieve it within the strictures defined outside one's control.
Usually, project managers, the harbingers of the technician's heartache, heartburn and consequent heart attack control the parameters of time that have one as bellows in a accordion.
The compression and extension producing melodious music to the ears of kamikaze management promising what they cannot deliver on the blood of their underlings drowns the cries of pain, as the music is the accompaniment to a frenzied foxtrot.
Beaten at their rotten game with integrity
It ought not to be so, just as brinksmanship is used to force the impossible into reality, a master equestrian can arrest the megalomania of micro-project objectives that titillate the Project Manager and redefine in terms that lay bare the achievable over the downright absurd within your timescales.
Except if 12 hours can be wrung out of eight normal working hours, additional resourcing is required the absence of which simply introduces a temporary setback allowing an opportunity to deliver late based on technical reality rather than project idealisms.
I am no hamster
One being at a point of being pressured unduly by escalations of multiple priorities drawing on one's reserves, the flustered man obtained an open cheque to estimate times to delivery.
So one did, liberally and sensibly, to their chagrin. The equestrian's mastery is in understanding the horse so that it does the bidding of the rider without hesitation, in the manner, one played for time and gained the reprieve that put the blood pressure within the confines of health young man.
One would deliver when one can, if needed faster, the Project Manager would have to shop for a hamster in a wheel.

Saturday 10 January 2004

Pirates of the mintrels' art

One is getting rather bored
Lately, the recording and film industry have bored us with the incessant rant about piracy, illegal downloads and falling profits.
There might have been a time when one could almost sympathise and understand their plight; however, they are victims of their inactions, evident in the fact that elephants are not nimble animals.
Just as people do not try to consider the roots and causes of terrorism, the roots and causes of piracy are ignored in favour of attacking the symptoms.
By analogy depending on the species of tree, cutting the leaves, stems or branches might stop growth or kill the tree, but it is uprooting the tree that would ensure the death of that tree.
In the creative wilderness
What is needed by the recording industry is some creative thinking on how to harness the new technologies for the survival of their businesses.
Creative thinking however is something that has been lacking in the industry for a long time. Examples abound of where they have refused genuine artistic license to artistes who do have creative genius for the supposed understanding of what the customer wants.
George Michael suffered a stifling of this creativity when Sony failed to market appreciably his Listen Without Prejudice album, which by all account enjoys critical acclaim.
The reality talent shows like Fame Academy and Pop Idol would make more sense if some of the judges were people with talent who could nurture talent better than thinking of how to deliver the most obnoxious put-down.
It is good to see that some of the manufactured bands are splitting up and the real talent is shining through with solo contracts where the artiste has more control over their material and how it is presented.
Video kills the radio star
It is no secret that the record companies abuse their positions when the transition from vinyl to CD allowed them to charge above the odds for their material. It is interesting to note that piracy was not that rife with the advent of recording devices like the cassette player.
However, the MP3 is a complete shake down of the industry, this made music digitally portable and Napster – a data-sharing software and service – allowed the MP3s to be shared amongst enthusiasts at no cost.
The recording industry went after Napster and close-down the company, but it provided the forum for more Napster-like services which are well within the commonsense limits of a data-sharing service dependent on what the individual wants to share.
A test case brought in Europe came to nought because the judge contended that if a customer has bought their music, they are within their rights to do whatever they want with what is principally their property.
Reckless gambling
Now, the argument for piracy destroying the finding new talent does not hold any water. If the talent were real rather than manufactured, it would show through.
Companies should also properly reward artistes based on their sales and stop front-loading contracts with outrageous sums that amount to reckless gambling.
Maria Carey and Michael Jackson are cases of where companies invested millions on a potential that did not materialise.
Music for all tastes
The focus of industry should also move on from just serving the musical tastes or rather tastelessness of the teenager generation, we need music that is good for listening, good to dance to, rhythmic and sensible.
It is unfortunate that part of this poor music culture fuels drug usage because nominally no one in their clear minds can dance to music played at 130 beats per minute.
Additionally, all this mixing business does not necessarily enhance the quality of the music for the dance floor; there is no good recognition factor for music that has been adulterated with other sounds, which were not part of the creative purpose of the artiste.
Technological advancements
It is clear that technological advancements would lead the curve when it comes to the music industry and it is time for the music industry elephant to re-invent itself.
The common saying is "If you are green you grow, if you are ripe you rot" the rotting smell of denial and lack of visionary drive to capture the technologies for enhancement is pervading the air and suffocating everyone.
Piracy is here to stay
  1. Piracy would not go away, until the industry provides just and sensible reward for the artiste, not every artiste has to be a millionaire and have a wanton and lascivious lifestyle. They are supposed to be people like you and I.
  2. It would not go away until the customer sees music formats as affordable.
  3. It would not go away if the quality of published and produced music were not distinctly better than the Napster-like downloads.
  4. It would not go away if the music produced is so ephemeral and has no enduring quality, which is why a contemporary's greatest hits album is only valuable within five years of their marketability.
Compared to the classics of the 60s, 70s and early 80s, the dash for market share and cash of the 90s has done much damage to the fabric of creative talent.
More people are switching to other non-popular or classical forms of music for entertainment, relaxation and inspiration.

Tuesday 6 January 2004

The bears are a-stirring

Back to work in 2004
Erratic sleeping patterns sometimes makes one consider vying for the helm of the Insomniacs Anonymous.
Where we can discuss all sorts of remedies for sleep or rather ways to occupy one's time once that horrid nightmare or physiological condition has jerked you awake for the fourth time in 3 hours of chicken coup head nodding slumber.
Having no screaming toddlers in the house, the annoying situation of sleep deprivation without external influence hardly prepares one or allows one to empathise in truth with regular parents who incessantly complain of sleepless nights brought on by restless sprogs in the teething stage of life, which lasts for 4 years and then another 14.
Self-medicated slumber
In years gone by in Africa, self-administering Valium as a soporific agent with aplomb raved only to arrive in the West and realise it was considered a social malady worthy of more therapy, sympathy and treatment as an addictive condition.
Sleep whilst it is good for restfulness and restoration has it dangers if one needs to escape from one's dreams. In a drug-induced state, one loses the motor functions to come out unscathed, suddenly sitting upright and breaking out in a sweat to rival Niagara on a wet morning.
Anyway, one was up at 03:00hrs by the captain's log and saw no more respite for the rest of the day. So, starts an early day when some outrageously rude ticket counter attendant tries to impose linguistic superiority on one as one asked for a monthly pass.
Modern Dutch
Dutch is hardly the language of oppression for this age, having given us the word apartheid; the proponents of the 'speak Dutch' campaign at times really expose their inability to speak English ignorance.
Bless their hearts, people need refuge where they are strong, but Amsterdam Centraal Station is hardly the Dutch outback, anyone employed at those counters should be multi-lingual or be sent to tend sheep in the far North.
Beginning the working day at 07:00hrs, two of the early-shifters were already at the call desk, and the chorus of Happy New Year greetings becomes the theme of the day, apart from recounting what one did over the holidays - at least the presentable and decent parts - too many unspeakable secrets in this life to shock the Puritans with.
Caffeine managed
By 10:00hrs, the results of a sleepless night were struggling to gain ascendancy over the awakening effects of caffeine. Caffeine advocacy by intravenous injection is becoming a marketable prospect.
Suppose each office had a Caffeine chair, very much like the chair of American expression - the Electric Chair - only this time one convulses to the influx of caffeine as it hits the heart and turns you into an a hyperactive misfit ready to wreak havoc on the day's duties - deal with the effects later.
Well, gladly the Pen Pushers Posse were not subjected to the caffeine chair, they were just coming out of hibernation, three questions in all with one email requesting information by accusing one of inaction.
Hey! Everyone wants an update, I have been away for two weeks and one is trying to catch-up with the dregs that should have died with the year just dead and gone.
Gladly, one was back home by 19:03 on the bus that detoured because, help me again, they are constructing something on that road that has seen more makeovers than a Dallas belle has.
The first working day of 2004, passed without much event, but I am glad it started with restraint.