Benefits of Six Sigma

Dilbert Six Sigma cartoon They say that Six Sigma was created by a Motorola engineer, who ended up dying in the company cafeteria.

It’s all about cost-cutting.  Sure, there are other benefits such as:

  • Cost reduction (duh!)
  • Culture charge
  • Customer retention
  • Cycle-time reduction
  • Defect reduction
  • Market-share growth
  • Product/service development
  • Productivity improvements

Now I think Six Sigma can work for you, but the two things I personally don’t like about it?

  1. takes too long to run a Six Sigma project.
  2. Six Sigma practitioners are known as "Belts", as in "I’m a Six Sigma Master Black Belt".
    Yes, you do get a martial arts belt.
    All too much wankery for me.

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And not a word of thanks – on re’orgs

CSC Australia - There was a team of folks who worked near by.  They performed Second Level support type work for a large mining customer, and they (the team) were based in Melbourne.

Then, one day, a re-org occurred, and their jobs were shifted to Sydney.

The team members were told that they had to find other jobs or be made redundant.  I suspect the move to consolidate jobs into Sydney was a bit of empire building on behalf of one manager.

The biggest complaint the team had about it all was the lack of “thanks for doing a great job”.

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If you don’t have a Blackberry, you’re a zero – according to ANZ bank exec.

Quote from Qantas Inflight magazine: If you don't have a BlackBerry, you're a zero. … something I wrote in 2007, which has been sitting in the "should get around to publishing" queue.

Kimberley Reid, ANZ Bank General Manager, Human Resources - Asia Pacific "If you don’t have a Blackberry, you’re a Zero", according to Kimberley Reid, Head of People Capital and Communications, Operations Technology and Shared Services, for the ANZ Bank. And it’s changed ""paradigms"" too.

Yes, I’ve been on an airplane again. Reading the drivel which passes for the in-flight magazine.

Management, aka "The Bosses", often come back from a trip with a bright shiny idea. This months? We want to pilot Blackberrys… "Been reading an in-flight magazine, have we?"

Fantales are more popular than Minties!
Allens Fantales I was training some people last week, and part of the training preparation is to setup bowls of lollies for the attendees to munch on.

Fantales are more popular than Minties, by a factor of 4 to 1.

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Some of the things I don’t miss with my old employer

CSC - My job went to India and all I got was this lousy shirt. Some of the things I don’t miss with my old employer:

  • Being “re-org’d” in May 2007 while being at a workshop in England.
  • Going from a non-billable position to being required to be 100% billable.  Found this out via email, my manager couldn’t be bothered telling me this face to face.
  • Bedridden with flu for 2 weeks while on annual leave.  Manager didn’t want to reimburse the leave.  And didn’t.
    This was the straw which broke the camel’s back.
  • Seeing a colleague berated in email by our manager, then the email mysteriously disappearing from the email system.  (no, the email system didn’t have a recall function)
  • Manager passing off work as their own, to senior management.
  • Not a word from my team lead or manager when they visited Melbourne
    eg. not “sorry to see you go.”
  • The last year truly sucked.

On a positive note:

  • worked with some truly great people.
    JT – darn fine Team Lead, who’s now working as a architect.
    The guy from Oklahoma.  His capacity for quality work output amazes me.
  • was proud to have led a couple of great guys.
  • worked with some cool technology.

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21 Things to do when quitting work

RSA SecurID token displaying OFFThis is the list I used when I finished up at my last job. Writing in blue shows what I did/what actually happened when I tried to complete the task. Might be handy for others.

  1. Performance appraisal feedback.  Finish writing feedback for staff who have asked for it.
  2. Print out list of training courses I’ve been on.
  3. Business cards with my new contact details, to hand out to people.
    I used ClickBusinessCards.com.  See this blog post for the why.
  4. Remove all of my property from the workplace.
    Was surprised that no-one asked about my 19″ LCD monitor I had on my desk, which went into the car boot.
  5. Clear clothes locker.
    No, didn’t find any spare charge.
  6. Have security clearances revoked.
    This can take time, so it’s better to start the process early.
    Comment from supervisor: “They were all canceled when we lost the contract”  No they weren’t.
  7. Delete Telephone Teleconference access.
    The company didn’t have a process for this. “”Never had anyone want to do that before.”
  8. Delete Telephone Calling Card.
    same as item 7.
  9. Hard reset of PDA to clear all work-related data.
    And the subsequent re-add of friend’s details took quite a while 🙁
  10. Cancel cell/mobile phones
    The cancellation didn’t go though until the following Tuesday.
  11. Cancel VPN token (Racal SecurID).
  12. Advise support groups that I am leaving and that accounts/passwords need to be revoked.
    “Ummm, why do you need your XYZ account disabled?”  Good security practice for a start.
  13. Send final email to co-workers, saying goodbye.
    Could have done a better job of this 🙁
    A UK based employee wrote this biting email.
  14. Secure format/wipe hard disk, and replace with original disk.  Repeat process.
    Darik’s Nuke and Boot worked well, but it takes hours.
    I had my own hard disk in the laptop as I wanted more space.
  15. Remove password from laptop.
    Laptop had a hard disk and bios boot password.
  16. Clear down Diners Card and return
    I had a credit balance on my Diner’s, which I’m still waiting for Diner’s to refund.
    Diner’s never did refund the money.
  17. Submit any outstanding expense reports.
  18. Claim any outstanding allowances.
    Should have done this, but didn’t 🙁
  19. Return customer security passes and keys.
  20. Advise facilities to revoke all buildings access.
  21. Return staff id and building keys.
    I miss some of the people, but not the employer.
    “Don’t go along to get along; do your best and when you have to, and you will; leave and be something else.”

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“I came up with it all by myself.” – on theft of ideas in corporate life.

Dilbert Boss Stealing IdeasSeen this twice in my 20 years in IT.  This being the theft of someone else’s ideas, and claiming them as their own.

First time I saw it was in the Northern Territory, with the Government’s IT arm, NCOM.

An IT Director published an draft e-Government proposal, lifting large slabs of the text from the ACT Government e-Government documents.

Having been a keen student of e-Government, I remember seeing some of the phrases used in the NCOM report.  A short Google time later, there we go “it’s a copy of the ACT e-Government report”.

The second time was with my last employer.  A colleague, rather the Powerpoint Guru, created a presentation for a Manager.   Manager presents Powerpoint Presentation to Director and Vice-President of my division, to much acclaim.  Much like the Dilbert cartoon excerpt, “I did it all by myself” claimed she, the Manager.

All well and good to try that on, but perhaps next time remove the Red Powerpoint Star from the bottom right corner of the slides you copy.

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Some quotes I’ve gathered

The idea is not to create a crisis and then thrash about to solve it – its to avoid the problem in the first place with the best possible planning in the circumstances, as those circumstances continue to evolve.
Simon Hackett

(in a mailing list discussion "please don’t send me these emails" message message)

To expand on your car analogy, we note that even the lowliest, most basic car comes with a manual. The problem before us is that, without exception, the manual for the car is located inside the car. Now, without commenting on the mental dexterity of the complaining members of the community, I have yet to be shown their ability to open the car door without simple, direct instruction.

This itself should not be a large problem, since the procedure for removing oneself is the same for everyone. What we don’t realise is that the people wishing to be removed are no longer reading the emails because these are the very things they are complaining about. It is impossible to tell someone something if they wont open their ears, or in this case their mail.

I am sure that if we all devote our huge collective intelligence to this problem, we can come up with a solution that the people can both understand and implement without our constant supervision.
As for quotes from Hamlet, I think the following is more appropriate :
          "Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
          Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgement."
    Act I, scene 3
– Simon Wright

A player who makes a team great is much more valuable than a great player. – John Wooden

Sacrifice of others:
"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." – Winston Churchill

A battery hen only know’s it’s small cage, and thinks that is all there is to the world.  If you try and put a free-range chicken into a battery cage, it will SQUAWK loudly, as it knows the world is better than a cage.

– Terry Pollard, February 2005

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Beware the Evangelists, or people with a vested interest.

antispyware07box CA PestPatrol is a dog of a product.

And it probably still it, I’ve not looked.

Why do I call it a dog?

It’s supposed to be an anti-spyware product, but when I evaluated it against Ad-aware and Spybot-S&D, it came a distant third. 

And why?  Well it was sold as an “enterprise class product” but couldn’t:

  1. remove/cleanse the registry of known spyware entries.
  2. ditto for spyware files.
    “… all anti-spyware products have difficulty …”
  3. couldn’t be managed from an enterprise console.
    “… the next version allows enterprise management …”
  4. Anti-spyware detection was not as good as Spybot-S&D and Ad-aware.
    <no comment received>

Now our internal IT team were really keen for PestPatrol, by the way, their comments in blue, and it was fairly obvious it was going to be selected.  And why?  Well we could get it for “free”, which was the motivating force.

And you thought I was going to say brown paper bags didn’t you 🙂

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Knowledge transfer

*ring* *ring* goes the phone.

“What do you know about the ‘letsrebootthepcandreallyannoythecustomer.exe utility?”

First written in 2005, by Mahatma Coat.  We tried getting some modifications to it.  We were partly successful.

“Who looks after it?”

Try Mahatma, his boss and the generic “Desktop Engineering Team” mail box.  You might have some luck with those.

Letsrebootthepcandreallyannoythecustomer.exe was created to manage the “can we reboot your PC Mr. Customer?” issue we were having.  Our customers wanted to see:

  • our company logo on the prompt
  • the option to delay the reboot
  • the option to not even install the update.

So one of our programming remote desktop engineering folks created it.  It suffers from a couple of issues IMHO, and they are:

  1. developed by a novice desktop engineer, which brings in all the mistakes novices make in programming code.
  2. Used Visual Basic 6, a product long out of support, and which no other desktop engineer uses on a regular basis SO we can’t easily modify it.
  3. If we have the source code.  We don’t.  The Remote Desktop Engineering Team keep their source code to themselves.

If I ruled the world, I would either a) buy a Commercial Off The Shelf product and ask the vendor to customise for our requirements, OR b) re-write it in something “better” than Visual Basic 6.

Knowledge transfer, or getting to the point of this post.

Back when I was a spotty computer operator, working shift work, the importance of “shift handovers” was drilled into me.  “Shift handovers” was a semi-formal process where we told the next shift team and the issues we had on shift, and the ones they needed to manage on their shift.  Other professions do it.  Nurses for example.

On a grander scale, what is your organisation doing to manage the loss of knowledge which occurs when one of your employees leaves the company?