Is your job redundant? link

If you’ve seen Office Space, you may recall Tom Smykowski becoming flustered when describing his job to “the Bobs”.  Initially, his job description sounds like some kind of business or technical analyst,  then degrades to courier between the engineer and the customers, and finally, you realize that he’s not even the courier–his secretary is.

How often do you deal with a situation like this:

  • You’ve identified that a certain product needs to be deleted from the catalog.
  • You don’t have access to delete things from the catalog.
  • You’re told that you have to identify what data needs to be deleted.
  • You write queries for the database to identify the data that needs to be deleted, identify how much data will be impacted, and do virtually everything but try deleting data.
  • Despite not being trusted to actually run the commands to delete the necessary data, you’re required to write the commands to delete the data.
  • You send out the commands that should be run, but are told to fill out an online form to have the change made.
  • You are required to get manager’s approval to have them run for you.
  • Someone else runs the commands.

Getting everything signed in triplicate doesn’t really protect us from ourselves.  It just makes those of us doing the actual leg work along the way more frantic and careless about trying to get things done with the added bureaucracy and fixed time to complete tasks.

When the added time required to get something done greatly exceeds the potential time spent undoing whatever mistake can be made, something is wrong.  I understand the use of gatekeepers, but gatekeepers who do none of the analysis of the problem have no vested interest in guarding the gate.  They have fingers to point elsewhere, and at least until the first catastrophe happens, they may just rely on that backup plan.

Meeting double-tax

Everyone’s favorite meeting is the meeting to prepare for a meeting. It’s like a double tax on your already overtaxed time.

When our work is behind schedule, and someone calls a meeting to discuss creative ways to get back on track, why does our team need a meeting to prepare for that meeting?  Because it’s not about creative solutions, that’s why.  It’s about agreeing on who we can blame for sucking worse than we do.

And when the project is done and the project manager schedules a “Lessons Learned” meeting, why does our team need a meeting to prepare for that?  You guessed it … it’s not about the lessons learned.  It’s about being prepared to deflect all criticism and prove that everyone else on the project sucked worse than we did. Thanks, but I’d rather have my time back, so I can do more and suck less!

Here’s the point:  meetings to prepare for meetings always contribute to the suckiness of the workplace. Without them, people would have more time to do real work, and could actually have real discussions in the real meetings.  So please, stop double taxing my time.
Hmmm… reminds me of the Types of Meetings.