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guessing games March 30, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Management.
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CC-licensed photo by Rich Anderson

CC-licensed photo by Rich Anderson

The most famous guessing game at CorporateSpeak happened in early January 2007. I had just rolled out a complete rebuild of our website and there was one feature that the Big Boss was very enthused about, but was not thrilled by the name we gave it. He asked us to come up with a new name. We did, and we submitted it to him.

He said no, and told us to try again.

We tried. We submitted. We were denied.

Three more times this happened until he finally hauled my boss up to his office and said “this is what I want”.

It was, I kid you not, a one-word change from what we originally had before all the changes.

So why couldn’t he just tell us?

Anyway, just a couple of weeks ago, despite knowing how annoying it is when people do it to him, my boss made me play a guessing game. He said “I want some sort of differentiation between the left two columns and the right rail of this microsite.”

Took me three tries to get it right. Of course, had he just come out and told me “make the color substantially lighter”, I would’ve had the change made in about a minute, instead of going back and forth for an hour.

When the good parts of a project are besmirched by nitpicking back and forth, it sullies the good feeling you get from doing a great job. And that causes problems with the already-fragile morale that exists across pretty much all of corporate America. Managers, don’t make your employees play guessing games. It hurts everyone.

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