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If you want to drive me completely bugfrak crazy, here’s what you do:

  1. Set me the task of fixing a system I know nothing about.
  2. Give me just enough time to analyze the system and get to the point where I juuuust barely understand it.
  3. Let me find the flaw in the system, and get an inkling of a solution.
  4. Take me off that task and set me on another.
  5. Repeat.

Do this enough times and I abso-effing-guarantee you I will go completely postal and do something rash. Like…I don’t know…make hum-bao from scratch. Or apply for a transfer to another group. (Trust me. In my case, that’s rash.)

I mean, seriously now, how hard is it to plan resources three weeks in advance?? (more…)

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Obey the Kitty!I’ve spent some time on this blog bemoaning the flaws and poor implementations of Agile methodologies so, to be fair, this isn’t about that. I cannot blame Agile for the problems currently weighing on me at my Monkey-Boy-Day-Job. These problems go much deeper. It doesn’t matter what methodology you’re using; you can’t fix stupid.

Like most people, I want to succeed at my job. I want to do well and contribute to good outcomes. I really hate being set up to fail. But management-types don’t seem to grok that concept. So they do things like this:

  1. Create a situation wherein you need to do six months of work in six weeks.
  2. Ensure that the situation requires something you haven’t done before.
  3. Set people to work on it, but
    • Don’t give them details about what it is you want.
    • Pick people who don’t know the systems involved.
  4. Once underway, dribble in new and changed requirements.
  5. See what happens.

To quote Jayne Cobb, ” Where’s that get fun?”

k

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Obey the Kitty!I’m going to say it. Kids today…

When I began working in IT, men wore ties to work. This wasn’t back in the Don Draper Days…this was only a couple of decades ago. The corporate culture was professional, dignified, and respectful. Not that I’m a fan of neckties—far from it—but they were an indicator of how we treated one another, and how we thought about ourselves. We were professionals, and we were adults.

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Obey the Kitty!Sorry, but this is another of my rants against the Agile methodology.

The concept of “teams in the workplace” is a good one. I have worked in teams before, where we all knew what we were all doing and we all swapped roles as required. But Agile drives this down to the sub-floor and then keeps going, shedding all concept of organization and efficiency in its goal to push all functionality down to the “team” level. This idea that “all decisions are made by everyone” takes egalitarianism to its ad absurdum point, and creates an atmosphere where you intelligent, capable, professional people are treated like 5-year olds at a picnic. What the hell is wrong with delegation? Why is even the hint of a hierarchical structure so antithetical to “team”? Don’t real teams have coaches?

Here’s the deal. Someone “on high” has decided that we (our team) needs to have a quarterly plan and commit to what we can deliver in the coming quarter. (How they reconcile this with the concept that we only commit to what we can deliver one sprint at a time is beyond me, but hey, that’s senior management for you.) So, instead of delegating this task to a small group who have the best overall view of what needs to be done and how all the pieces fit on a macro scale, they’ve decided that we all have to travel to corporate headquarters for an all-day, face-to-face meeting, so that we can all agree on all decisions. So now, instead of just wasting the time of say, five people for a day each, we’re going to waste the time of 20 people for a day each, plus the family time lost by those of us who have to travel to CorpHQ, plus the expense of paying for that travel and putting people up overnight (since the all-day session starts at—get this—7AM).

All so we can all feel good about our decisions.

Bollocks. This is just another example of management pushing their job down to the worker bee. Now, instead of management actually managing the resources and workloads, they push that task down to the teams. The teams now have to manage their resources and workloads, the teams now have the responsibility, and management can just sit there and prime their muzzle-loaders, preparing to take us down should we miss our goals.

Making each team member an active participant in every decision means duplicating effort and wasting resources. I have been a project and team leader in the past; I can do it, and I can do it well, but I prefer to be down in the weeds creating solutions to problems rather than higher up wrangling priorities and schedules.  But why should I be required to do both? Especially (and this is what really steams my clams) when we have people who are paid to do it! All those folks with “lead” and “manager” and “director” in their titles? Why aren’t they leading, managing, and directing?

Blankity-blank.

k

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I'm Melting!!Is every corporation in America as Meeting-Happy as mine?

Recently, my we implemented a new methodology: Agile. We’d already been using it, here and there, but this was an across the board mandate, so that we were “all on the same page.” To be honest, I wasn’t a fan, since after 20 years in IT it was perfectly obvious that this was nothing new; we’d been “agile” back in the 90s and all these guys did was change the jargon. One thing I do like about it, though, is its enforced honesty about how you spend your time.

I just calculated the hours I’d have available for this next 3-week “sprint” (see what I mean about the jargon?). Out of 84 possible productive hours (14 days @ 6 hrs a day), once I take away all the meetings I have scheduled, I have a grand total of 37 hours to apply to actual work. Reduce that by the number of hours I expect to spend handling on-call issues (15) and I have 22 hours of work, or 26%.

Best case scenario, that means I’m spending over half my time in meetings. Planning meetings, “Backlog Grooming” sessions, demos, “retrospectives,” reviews, etc., etc.

No wonder IT has a rep for never getting anything done (or done well). After spending all that time in meetings, we don’t have time to do quality work! We slam it all together in the remaining 25% of our time and hope for the best.

Agile has some good points, but its enforced egalitarianism, born of today’s “Everyone’s a winner!” mentality, is stupendously inefficient. Divide the work, and you get more done faster. If everyone has to be present for every activity, we just get bogged down.

k

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