Performance Management, the one where we pay lip service to the concept.

The GPARS Performance Cycle At my last employer, there was a focus on “Performance Management”.  I always felt, even as a team leader, that we paid lip service to the whole process.
eg.  we were going though the motions.

Performance Management has many goals.  The primarily one is to ensure that the team is working towards/contributing to the objectives of the business.  The credibility of such objectives would be shot by the employer producing the objectives 6 months into the business year.

It was also shot like a lame duck, when one of our Human Relations people, was giving us a update on the Performance Management programme.  A couple of chaps were discussing a point which was raised by the HR person.

SHUT UP, I’m giving a presentation

bellows the HR person.

I can’t remember the substance of the programme update, but all the attendees remember “Freida Nurk” as the HR person who told people to shut up.

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“The bigger you grow, the more stupider you become”

sailing-to-success

… so writes Scott Barnes over at The MossyBlog Times.

The larger an organisation becomes, the more it’s Mass of Stupidity grows.  Until it reaches critically.

Sure, there are pockets of brilliance in one field or another, but on the whole, once an organisation reaches Stupidity Critically, it’s lost.

Even if the CEO might realise this, and wants to change:

No one person can control Microsoft today, which has been obvious to Gates for at least eight years, since that’s how long ago he put Steve Ballmer in the CEO job. For at least eight years, then, these guys have known that their jobs are not so much to steer the Microsoft ship as to try and keep it from drifting onto the rocks. That’s the way it is with huge and successful companies. At best you can trim the sails, because to come about (to significantly shift direction) is just too dangerous for the money machine.
Robert X. Cringely reflecting on Bill Gates in Go Home, Bill … (my italics)

You can tell that Stupidity Critically is reached when management starts talking about cultural change.

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Corporate Propaganda – FLIC Inc. reaps the benefits of CA UniCentre.

Used to carry this around in my wallet, and whether someone said:
”CA UniCentre is a crap product”
I’d point out that we thought it was a fabulous solution, at one time.

April 2003.

By Greasy Poleclimber

The project was to install the CA UniCentre toolset within FLIC Inc.
Initially this was to an additional 700 terminals that were part of the FLIC Inc. takeover of IJI Insurance, and then to upgrade the original FLIC Inc. CA UniCentre environment totalling a further 3,400 workstations.

The objectives of the project were to stabilize the previous CA UniCentre environment and ensure ITO retained the business against the threat of competition from Microsoft’s SMS for the management of the desktop environment.

The ITO Systems team in Australia, led by Chief Greasy Poleclimber, Solid Worker and Greasy Poleclimber, were engaged to demonstrate to FLIC Inc. the functionality and increased reliability and availability of the latest version of CA UniCentre. This ‘proof of concept’ commenced in May 2002, was followed by a ‘pilot’ and final customer sign-off was achieved in November 2002!  This extended period was due to many problems within the environment and with every new problem that arose CA UniCentre had to be re-proven.

The continuous problems provided an opportunity for ITO to not only demonstrate the robustness, capability and functionality of the CA UniCentre toolset but also the high level of skill set available within ITO – especially from the Systems team and Server Engineering. The competitive solution using SMS was totally overcome and the client accepted the CA UniCentre comprising Software Delivery (USD), Asset Management (UAM), Remote Control Option (RCO) and eTrust Antivirus (EAV) and ITO services as being the best solution.

The client is already appreciating the CA UniCentre tools and gaining immediate benefits including two very recent situations that required levels of urgency and reliability to resolve urgent issues:-
Virus outbreaks in FLIC Inc. seriously threatened their environment. FLIC Inc. urgently requested ITO to upgrade antivirus software to 232 workstations in a remote location. Once commenced, within the first hour, 96% of the workstations had received the life saving upgrade via USD.

A patch was required for in excess of 600 desktops in Oakley:
Once again USD was utilized to easily and remotely implement the patch to over 94% of the desktops with no manual intervention, thereby providing a level of service and response second to none.

Six years on:

  • Chief Greasy Poleclimber is in executive management
  • Greasy Poleclimber is a Service Account Manager
  • Solid Worker shunted to another team.
  • FLIC Inc. had a dismal experience with CA Unicentre because ITO failed to support the product properly.  Spreading support staff over multiple accounts meant the product was not being maintained, and therefore unreliable.
  • FLIC Inc. told ITO “If you bid for our business again with CA Unicentre”, we’ll go elsewhere.
  • FLIC Inc. now has Microsoft SMS v4 (aka SCCM 2007)

The moral of the story?  Any product is crap if you can’t be bothered supporting it properly.

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The Bucket Of Water Thing.

emotionsl-investment The humble bucket of water is a simple way to gain work/life perspective.

  1. Fill up a bucket, with water.
  2. Put your hand in it.
    Move it all about if you life
    Notice the waves?
  3. Now take your hand out.

You’ll notice the water has settled.

So what actual difference have you made to that bucket of water.

NOT. A. THING.

If you’re working for a large organisation, you’re doing the bucket of water thing.

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On corporate speak

sailing-to-success I was a new employee trainer for 4 years, which means I could talk about my employers strategic direction and Customer Intimacy programs.

Customer Intimate?  I used to bristle at that.  Customer care, yes!  But I don’t want to be intimate with them.

Towards the end of my tenure, we had a Sailing To Success, and then a Sailing With Success customer culture group think program.

We’re all on the good ship SS Customer Intimacy.  We’re negotiating the rocks (our obstacles to success), and sailing past the buoys (our progress).  We’re racing against the pirates (our competitors) to reach the booty.

– New Employee Induction Program.

I’m glad I’m not part of that anymore.

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This week’s work challenge? – Project Managers!

Project Management - Much work remains remains to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any progress. Project Managers are those people who “”manage”” projects.

Sort of like a “stay at home” mum who organises her children’s day. Except the mum is competent, and the project manager isn’t.

Competency is an interesting sideline in itself. If someone isn’t competent, does that automatically mean that they are incompetent?

Actually no. In “training speak”, they are not yet competent. Sort of like how “deferred success” is the new phrase for “failure”.

Where was I?

Ah Project Managers! I’m working with/guiding four of them at the moment.

The competency ranges from: “oh my gawd, how do you manage to tie your shoes laces?” to “able to form five-word sentences in a single bound”.

The projects being managed are all doing the same thing for different customers, so it will be interesting to see which of the biggest losers will succeed. I’m tipping the cute (female) project manager, as she has nouse.

We trained very hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing–it can be a wonderful method of creating the illusion of progress while creating confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation.

Actually that fellow should work where I do. Two phrases which stop most work requests before they hatch?

“That’s not part of my job description”

and if that fails

“Do you have an expense code for me to charge my work against?”

It’s been that kinda week. Playing a piano in a brothel would be more honest work.

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You’ve outsourced the helpdesk WHERE?

Congested overhead electricity cabling, in India Like many companies, my former employer offshored their Intranet helpdesk to India.  First I knew of this was when I received an email

We’ve reset your password to abcd1234, and we’ll now close your Help Desk ticket

“WHAT HELP DESK TICKET!?!?!”, I exclaimed to myself.

So I ring the Help Desk

CSC India, how can I help you?

“You’ve reset the wrong user account”.  A point which took 15 minutes to sink in with the bone headed Help Desk jockey.  My password was finally reset but it took the best part of the day before I could log in (password had to replicate around the world).

Perhaps it was a coincidence, but a few days later, the Intranet logon page had a new option “I’ve forgotten my password”, which eliminates the need to ever speak to the Help Desk ever again.

The morals of the story are:

  • Offshoring your helpdesk because it’s cheaper and “everyone’s doing it” should not be your primarily motivation.
  • The ability of users to fix their own problems (“I’ve forgotten my password”) is a good idea.
  • If your Help Desk offer such crummy service internally, what will your external customers think of them?

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