Archive for the ‘Morale’ category

The Executive Singularity Project Management Methodology

April 24, 2014

Previously, I postulated that my employer had created a new project methodology called the Reality Free Project Management Methodology.  I think I’ve discovered the real project management methodology in use in my company: The Executive Singularity Project Management Methodology (ESPMM).

What is ESPMM and how does it work?

The Executive Singularity Project Management Methodology, at its core, is modeled on the gravitational singularity, or simple terms, the center of a black hole.  Armed with a semester of Quantum Physics (yes, I took quantum physics in college, but only because it was required) and a hastily read article on Wikipedia, I’ll explain how this works…

A Digression

A black hole is caused when a really massive star collapses on itself at the end of its life.  The gravitational force of this mass continues to pull in more mass, increasing the gravitational force.  At some point, the mass reaches a point where a gravitational singularity is formed.  The gravitational singularity is a point that has no volume, but contains the mass of the black hole, thereby having an infinite density.  Black holes also have an event horizon which is the last point before an object is pulled into the black hole.  Eventually, the gravitational pull is so strong that anything that passes the event horizon, even light, cannot escape.  As you approach the event horizon, time seems to slow down for anyone looking at you from quite a distance away, but to you, time continues as normal.  It has been theorized that it might be possible to exit a black hole into a different space-time.

What Does This Have to Do With Project Management?

Management kicks off a project.  They start to apply more and more pressure to the project.  As they do so, more and more requirements are added to the project, resulting in increased pressure.

Looking at the black hole model, one could say that the project requirements might represent the mass of the project, the resources allocated to the project would be the volume of the project, and executive pressure would represent the gravitational forces.

At some point, the executive pressure and the ever increasing number of requirements create what I term an executive singularity.  The executive singularity is a project that has no resources, but all of the requirements, thus achieving an infinite density.  The executive singularity would also have an event horizon which would be the point before something is pulled into the project and can never leave.

Practical Benefits of the Executive Singularity Methodology

From a management point of view, the Executive Singularity Methodology allows an ever increasing amount of requirements to be added to a project.  Once the singularity is created, management could only see anything up to the Event Horizon.  As a result, time would seem to slow down from anyone approaching the singularity which means that they should have plenty of time to deliver all of the requirements.  In fact, to management, far away from the executive singularity, time might appear to stop altogether for anyone trapped in the singularity, thus assuring 100% percent delivery of all requirements.

The Drawbacks to the Executive Singularity Methodology

The drawbacks to this methodology are only apparent to those who have been drawn past the event horizon and cannot escape.  For these unfortunates, time continues to function normally so there really is only twenty four hours in a day and seven days a week.  As a result, they realize that it’s impossible to meet the requirements of the project, but since they’ve passed the event horizon, there’s no way to communicate this to management.  In addition, the executive forces begin to twist and distort the participants.  It is theorized that it may be possible to pass through an executive singularity and come out in a different assignment, but to date, no proof has been found that this is in fact possible.  empirical evidence tends to show anyone trapped in an executive singularity is crushed by the weight of the requirements.   While this is certainly detrimental to the person crushed within the singularity, this is another benefit to management because it means less employees to pay.

Conclusion

I think I may have something with this theory and may look to publish a paper on it; perhaps it might win a No-Bull prize!  I’ll continue to collect empirical data and perhaps I might be able to pass through the singularity relatively unscathed.

I believe this accounts for the real reason why all of our projects at work really suck and no one else can see why.

And Then There Were None…

June 28, 2009

On Wednesday, I got a nasty surprise at my day job.  I went to check my mailbox when my boss asked me if I had a few minutes.  I walk with him to the conference where the HR person is sitting.  I’m thinking we’re talking about training because I had been fighting like gangbusters to get the training I need to do my job.  But that’s not what this talk is about.  I was selected for the Involuntary Separation as part of an ongoing effort of corporate. They politely explained everything to me, led me back to my office where I packed up my stuff and was walked out of the building.  One of my close friends at work had also been the lucky recipient of an Involuntary Separation so we commiserated over coffee.

I have no idea what they were thinking.  There is now no IT at the plant and an ERP and a main system that runs most of production that need support – and no one to support it.  The ERP system was supported locally since Corporate runs SAP and the other system was a Visual Basic system built over 13 years.  And no there’s no one.

I have run the gambit of emotions – anger, shock, depression, relief (today I seem to be centering on depression).  I know that this too shall pass, but it doesn’t make it any easier while I’m going through it.  Mostly, it  makes me feel like wasted four years of my life at a place that obviously didn’t think much of me if they can get rid of IT so cavalierly.  It’s not like my company is losing money – it’s probably a case of not making “enough” money.  Truthfully, I don’t see how they are going to save money and support the business because they’ll have to pay contractors to do it all.

It makes me mad for all of the middle of the night trips I made to get systems up so that production could continue, the working on Christmas holiday so that payroll could get processed and financial closing could complete on time – all obviously meant nothing in the end.  It’s an object lesson to me about trusting any corporation – all they seem to want is to suck out your knowledge and time and when you become inconvenient, you are jettisoned.  And this isn’t a “if we don’t cut people, we declare bankruptcy” kind of decision – this is a “we’re not making enough money” decision.  That I can only hope hurts them in the long run…not that I’m vindictive or anything…

So after having a pity party for myself, I’m redoubling my efforts on my business in hopes of finishing my product this summer and starting the search again.  The last time, it took me over a year before I found this position and the economy was better.  I don’t like my odds this time…

As someone said to me recently, God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle – sometimes, I wish God didn’t have so much faith in me.

I Fought The Law…

May 4, 2009

Well, I did it. I talked to my manager today about how unhappy I am in my job, particularly about the lack of training. Before I tell you how it went, a boring digression: 

One thing I neglected to mention in my previous post is the gradual erosion of IT resources since I joined almost five years ago.  Towards the end of my first year, my manager (who also did IT project work ) left the company…and they didn’t rehire anyone to fill the role in IT.  I’m sure the headcount where somewhere, but I don’t know for sure.  Then, three years ago, my co-worker was outsourced to another company.  He’s now responsible for the PC’s, servers, and network (for which he was already the primary support person) and I inherited about 40 % of his job (and got rid of precious little).  So I now have the work of two people.    Then, to top it off, I have now been asked to answer any PC related questions if someone calls/pages me instead of calling the Help Desk (that we pay for with each PC).

Not getting my training and hearing that someone else was approved for elective training made me blow my stack last Friday.  Fortunately, I didn’t talk to my boss because I was VERY angry.  So after committing myself to do it in the blog last night, I had the discussion with my manager today.  I let him know I was very upset about what I found out on Friday and said that as a result, I felt like what I do must not be valued and that I felt set up for failure (I had said this to him over a year and a half ago).  He dismissed how I felt, but miraculously, the money has been approved.  I don’t have the actual training yet because I’m having problems getting hold of the vendor (curse you companies that refuse to put phone numbers on your websites!  People still need to TALK sometimes!), but it’s going to happen.

I feel a little better because it’s off my chest and I’m finally getting the training.  But a part of me knows that nothing else is going to happen and I’m still going to feel unvalued and set up for failure.  I was thinking today that if I was a manager and one of my reports came to my office and said what I said, I would be floored and try to move heaven and earth to get to the bottom of what’s happening.  I’m making a vow that if I ever am successful enough to have my own company (because I’m sure not getting  a promotion here), that I would listen to my employees and at least consider how they feel.  If someone is that unhappy, something is seriously dysfunctional…which is a good description for how things are.  I’m sure this will come back to haunt me in my performance review, but I had a very small win today.

Sometimes, that’s all you can expect…

Crisis of Confidence and Motivation

March 25, 2009

“You fall for reality,
You’re bruised and defeated,
Then you learn to fall in love with yourself.
That’s motivation”

“That’s Motivation” – David Bowie, from the movie “Absolute Beginners”

It’s been one of those weeks where I feel I’m tottering between brilliance and stupidity.  This is one of the hardest parts of being a solitary developer.  One minute I’m feeling great because I’ve done something I didn’t think I could do, the next, I can’t figure out something that I should easily figure out.

Although I’ve been developing for 13 years now, I’m old enough that I missed out on object oriented development in college and I’m now trying to play catch up.  In my own development project, I’m working on a basic Windows application talking to a database.  It should be straight forward, but I seem to be complicating it for myself.  And I find myself constantly rethinking what I’m doing  – should I use the basic DataConnectors or should I look at making it object oriented?  Should I be doing Object Relational Modeling?  Should I use Access, SQL Server Compact, or Sqlite for the back end database?  All the while I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and redoing work I’ve already done.  Or spend a lot of time on something and scrap it and take a different approach.

This is one of those times when I desperately wish I had an other developer as a reality check and guidance.  So when faced what seems like an endless task, how do I get enough gumption to get going on my development work?

Here’s how I do it:

1) Blog about my troubles– If I get my troubles and feelings down in actual words, they stop rattling around in my head and distracting me like shiny little toys.  Also, feedback from the blog might also point me.

2) Step back and break what I need to do down into tiny tasks – My biggest problem with this step is having enough continual time to look at what I need to just build a to-do list that I can whittle down to nothing.

3) Let it simmer and come up with “brilliant ideas” in the shower and the drive to work – I sometimes comes up with my best ideas here.

4) Just keep swimming – Dori’s mantra from Finding Nemo is a good plan.  You got to keep moving because stopping can be death, especially in development.  Keep moving.  Keep trying something, anything.  Eventually you will figure out what works for you.

So I’m going to make some definitive choices (at least for now) and break this project down into bite sized chunks.  I think I’m overcomplicating things and I really should just evolve back to the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) method.

Wish me luck!

“I’ve nothing much to offer,
there’s nothing much to take,
I’m an absolute beginner,
but I’m absolutely sane.”

“Absolute Beginners” – David Bowie, from the movie “Absolute Beginners”