Category Archives: management

Meeting Motivation

Good post by Michael Hyatt that I want to refer to in the future.  I have a business partner who has good intentions but tends to wander off topic.  I’m going to try adding a parking lot for my meetings with her so that the meeting can follow our agenda AND she knows I am not dismissing her contributions.

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Not unexpected, just not what I’d prefer

Change is afoot, once again, in my workplace.

The latest at my company, to transition from an entirely custom application system to an off-the-shelf suite, probably sounds dull to those who don’t work in business applications development or IT.  But it’s a massive effort requiring tens of thousands of hours from a substantial team of people.

The project is undertaken in order to improve scalability and reduce ongoing expenditures.  After this transition is complete, a number of people will lose their jobs.  Most of the development staff, in fact.  Those who will lose their jobs know; the decision was made to share the plan well in advance.  It was the right decision, too.  It’s humane, and it makes good business sense in that those who remain for the long term see that the company is willing to take a risk by being forthright.  That can go a long way toward building a sense of trust.

But as with any such revelation, there are casualties.  It’s not unexpected.  It seems like change in itself introduces a different sort of uncertainty, perhaps a symbol that it’s time for a personal change.  Maybe it’s more philosophic, reminding us of the transitory nature of life.  Maybe it’s frankly pragmatic, that money is money and a sure thing is worth more than a dream.  And so today I received notice of the first such casualty, which was the resignation of someone whom I’d prefer wouldn’t resign.

I always say, change is good.  I believe it too – there’s something beneficial in the act of change even if it’s not immediately apparent.  It’s not often easy, though.  Maybe nothing worthwhile is simple, once we scratch at it and remove a bit of the veneer.

Mistakes were made

Yesterday I made a mistake, by failing to make the right people aware of a problem early enough.

In looking back on the day, I know what I ought to have done, and when. I did notify these people, but not immediately. I made an incorrect assumption as well, and lost some time. I allowed time to slip away by focusing on a particular part of the problem and not ensuring that the communications were clear.

I know I’m responsible and that’s good. It’s a failure I own, and that is the way it ought to be in management. I could blame someone else or focus on how the problem arose in the first place, but what good does it do for me as a manager of people to push it off on someone else? How is deflecting blame or pointing fingers a sign of leadership? Why would hiding from the problem model ethical behavior?

I say all this not to try and create an image of myself to those who might read this as someone who has a strict and perfect sense of honor, but really to remind myself that such mistakes are opportunities to discover something important, develop strength of character, and – most importantly – to learn from the failure in order to achieve success.

A Respectful Distance

Having nothing of interest to write, I have recently written nothing.  However, I’ve noticed that the lack of blogfodder doesn’t often seem to deter many from indulging, and so I have determined that my absence might be construed as a sort of statement that I may consider myself better than others; in an attempt to ensure I am not viewed as an elitist, I therefor set pen to paper (or the electronic versions thereof) and leave my obligatory mark in the blogosphere.

It seems so many of the people in my life are struggling with the question of work/life balance.  Unfortunately, there are also a few who would love to be in the position where half of that equation is a problem, as the lack of the former threatens the existence of the latter.  These are hard times indeed for so many, and I’m in a position where I have to make difficult decisions involving the livelihoods of other people.  It’s a trippy situation for someone who has always enjoyed solving problems, to be in a place where many (including myself at times) would view me as a part of the problem.  I don’t know what to do exactly, except where possible to enable those affected to be treated with some dignity and respect while they remain employed.

This topic receives so much discussion in the press, from perspectives which my mind finds repulsive.  It feels like either the media creates a melodrama, or is completely detached; business is either the Spawn of Satan, or it’s a mindless machine.  As is so often the case, I find the truth for me is somewhere in between.  The dramas of people losing their jobs then their homes is headline-making material, but the interesting parts for me are the untold stories in between of intelligent, capable people whose lives are not destroyed but rather radically altered from six figure combined incomes to barely above poverty level.

I wonder about this, I wonder about how far my own life is from such a change, and then the question becomes, What can I do to fix the problem?  Unfortunately, there’s no bit of code to undo the damage, no algorithm I can apply to reverse the spin of the wheels.

Wait, everyone else isn’t panicking. I can fix that.

The entire department is on a Death March.

My group has worked long hours on the project, and has a quite manageable list of open bugs – some of which are eleventh-hour requirements changes. This is not an ideal project, but the primary team is working diligently to address the hot issues, while I’m behind the scenes attempting to convince our business partners that design changes a month prior to rollout are impractical on a project of this scale.

It’s as well under control as possible.

The executives are beginning to panic, which is unhelpful. Sending 7 emails in one day about the bug list is an undesirable and unproductive distraction; it is similar to a child in a car querying parents incessantly, ‘Are we there yet?’