Posts Tagged ‘business’

Blinded By Science

April 6, 2009

Now, being a management gonk, I do also pride myself on having a fair-to-middlin’ grasp of engineering, math, and other similar weapons of the Devil.  But there are some times when you can’t rely on cold, hard facts…

Like many dysfunctional high performance organizations, my business group will seemingly randomly occasionally embrace the latest bullshit touchy-feely self-help tool*.

You may have heard of some:

–  some are for use at the organizational level—Total Quality Management (TQM) and Six Sigma for example.

–  others are more attuned to improving performance of the employees by enhancing their personal understanding of interactions with other human beings—Meyers-Briggs, for example**.

While this sounds noble and proactive on the part of our leadership, there has consistently been a lack of consistency*** in the application of these new methods.  More often than not, the initial excitement of promised improvements gives way to the reality that “this shit takes work to keep going and we’re not seeing much benefit”.

While we haven’t suffered enjoyed just such an opportunity to excel at improvement of late, a recent organizational meeting gave us a new chance to try the latest smoke-and-mirrors improvement tool*.  And, as I type this from home, for the life of me I can’t remember what the hell it’s called (thus showing just how big of an impact this made on me.  But…

The huddles worker masses assembled, the leadership designated guru of this new process pontificated on its glories.  Basically, this new method requires us to take a survey to subjectively determine what our strengths are (from a list of some 20), the goal being to maximize our strengths, not try and “teach up” our weaknesses. I was actually intrigued by the possibilities here.

Being as how this was subjectively surveyed and applied, that intrigue was shattered, sending me back into an abject funk, by the guru’s statement, said with a plastic smile:

“The results are calculated on a computer, so you KNOW it’s scientific.”




…next guru, please…


*hur-hur-hur…i said, “tool”!

**ISTP…yep, you heard me right…ISTP.

***…if you’ll forgive the non-redundant redundancy



August 27, 2008

I’m a tired puppy. One of my roles in my job, which I’m currently deep in the midst of, is to be a facilitator for project teams coming in for assistance. For those who don’t know what a facilitator does, they are a combination meeting lead, mediator, consultant, and twit.

As a meeting lead, I’m in charge of keeping the team on track to both the schedule and to the meeting objective. Sort of like herding cats, you’re always on the move to pull folks back to the topic at hand and moving them along so they don’t get chatty.

As a mediator, I have to keep an eye on each of the team members. I have to make sure those that have something to say get a chance to do so, while quieting those who don’t have a damn thing to say but like hearing their own voice. Figuring out which is which is not always an easy task.

As a consultant, I have to have some level of expertise in the topic under discussion so I can provide my glaringly amazing input to quickly knock down roadblocks, solve world hunger, and otherwise be the answer guy to any questions. Needless to say… well, okay, not so needless since most of you don’t know me from Adam… much of this part of the job involves me exercising my acting skills and downright pretending to know what the hell I’m doing.

And, finally, my favorite part of this role is “The Twit”, for which I’m uniquely predisposed to play. I get to be nasty and rude, all in the name of accomplishing the other three facilitator roles already mentioned. I can tell people to shut up without feeling guilty. I can sidetrack inane conversations by telling people, “That’s not important right now” while sneaking in my own irrelevant story. I can declare victory in the face of utter defeat just by saying so. Somehow it all works out.

Wearing so many hats and dealing with so many people is draining on me. Still not sleeping that well, it becomes extra tiring. But, I can’t let a little thing like getting a Divorce get in the way of keeping the job which will be funding The Wife’s alimony (ooo, did I just sound a wee bit bitter there?). But, still, dealing with and controlling 5 – 20 distinct personalities, many of them Type A asses who demand their moment of glory, is very tiring.  Especially today when I thought for a bit that two of them would come to fisticuffs arguing over some petty little problem… 

I believe I will take on a facilitator role for myself here in this blog, tell myself to shut up, declare victory, and head to bed.


July 28, 2008

A side track from… or confirmation of (?)… “Who needs soap operas when you have real life?”

The GnuKid’s credit card was scammed.

No, it wasn’t The Spousal Unit. No way she could have… or, honestly, would have… acted that fast or vindictively.

Living here in the Wilds of Ohio, and for the past week in the opening round of a divorce, I got a call from a credit card fraud alert firm. Seems that my credit card was used five times at Wal-Mart to buy stuff… lots of stuff… in Florida.

For those geographically challenged or just unfamiliar, the purchases were made some 700 miles from where I live and work. About as far from London to Madrid… or Johannesburg to Cape Town… or Sydney to Adelaide…

Ah! I hear the Sally Sleuths and Doug Detectives amongst you saying, “Yes, but GnuKid has a pilot’s license and could get there in just a few hours!”

Damn, I would have gotten away with it were it not for you meddling kids…

Okay, not really. Besides having multiple witnesses in The Wilds of Ohio of my whereabouts throughout the day, I also have the credit card records showing I made purchases here as well. The point is, I’m not trying to scam the system… someone scammed me.

The weird thing, and the caution to you gentle readers, is that the credit card was swiped in Florida… no, not “swiped” as a synonym for “stolen”. “Swiped” as in a credit card was actually run through a card reader machine to make the purchases. Whoever did this had a duplicate card.

Yes, I checked that I still had my card in my possession. No, I don’t know how “they” [ominous music plays] got my card information and made a new card. No, neither does the fraud alert agency, though she did use the word “clever” in describing the perpetrators. No, neither does the credit card agency know for sure how this happened. Wild speculation is that there may be hand held card readers that can scan and store information just by brushing up against pants or purse (Yeah, I carry a purse… what of it?).

In other words – – – “Wah!!”

So, yeah… emotionally drained from the initial salvos of a divorce and I get to add this to the list of stuff to take care of…

Consider this a cautionary tale to any and all of you who have credit cards. Keep your eye on the bills, as the fraud alert folks don’t always. Be ready to cancel immediately if there are problems. If you do get scammed, put a fraud alert on your credit via the credit report people so that no one else can open an account in your name. Drink heavily and often to shield yourself from the reality of the shitheel assholes in the world who would steal.

And, yes, for those who are wondering… the main story line of my true-to-life soap opera continues on… check back…