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consolidation works! June 16, 2009

Posted by That Guy in A Stunning Example of Synergy, Success Stories.
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In the old days, if there was something I didn’t know how to do, I had one of two choices:

1. IM the people in my position at other offices and see if they could help.
2. E-mail the one developer in my division of CorporateSpeak and hope he could find the time to help me.

And then my boss — and all the webmasters — in my division were fired, replaced by a centralized web development group led by the guy in #2, who now is the manager of this new group. Of the 25 webmasters that were fired, seven of them were rehired into the new group (two others were not fired because they weren’t technically webmasters).

There was much consternation about who would be doing what on the web, especially at smaller offices. But yesterday I learned that the new centralized system works.

I was working on a project that involved a Twitter feed for one of our clients, and importing it into their CMS (which is not the CMS that we offer to all our clients, but a homebrew that they insisted we use). The code I have requires dependencies in our CMS that doesn’t work outside the system, and I didn’t know how to hack it because I don’t speak jQuery.

So I e-mailed the group.

Ten minutes later, four people had responded, and of those four, the guy in Des Moines had the best, easiest-to-use solution — he’d used it before and showed me an example.

One hour later, I had built the Twitter applet for the client and given them instructions on how to integrate it into their CMS. They were very happy.

The system works!

So, here’s the scorecard:

LOST — 18 employees, with salaries ranging from $40,000 to $90,000.
MOVED — 7 employees, same salaries, now working for an entirely different branch of the company.
GAINED — a team at corporate, equivalent to the group that services the largest branch (whereas my branch is the smallest), with specialists in .NET, Flash, JavaScript, CSS, HTML, and database development.

Photo by Flickr user thetruthabout.

Photo by Flickr user thetruthabout.

This is the way consolidation should work — it should consolidate a disparate group of people into a smaller, tighter-knit group that can focus on providing solutions. Now, the guy in Des Moines doesn’t have to call me and ask me for CSS help, or hope the one developer at corporate is available; he can talk to Melinda from Kansas City (for example), who is a CSS expert. And when I need help with Flash, I don’t have to hope that Tim in Seattle is available to help me; I e-mail the group with a request and Tim puts it on his list, which consists of only Flash projects.

I was worried at first, but it turns out that this is for the best. Finally, something has.

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Success Story #1: The New VP September 22, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Success Stories.
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Occasionally, something awesome happens at Corporatespeak Headquarters, and when it does, it is up to That Guy to chronicle it.

This, my friends, is a story of awesome management.

We had a product scheduled to launch at noon. I was not involved; I was merely in the room. Anyway, the project manager for that entire line — who reports to a VP, who then reports to a General Manager — noticed that the product was not running as quickly as it should be. That manager tends to be a bit excitable, and as per usual, he slammed his palm on the desk and shouted, “come on, guys!”

The VP happened to be walking through the room and looked at the product, then at a couple of competitors’ websites we happened to have open to see what they would be doing as we launched.

Then she said, “look at this! No one else is doing this! We’re the only ones!”

She completely and utterly spun the manager’s anger into something extremely positive, celebrating the company’s successes instead of getting upset about our failures.

This VP has only been here for a couple of weeks and already she’s working to change the way we think about things. I’m sure, when applicable, she gets angry and even occasionally yells, but in my time at Corporatespeak I have never — ever — seen a VP in this company celebrate a success in such a way that it completely shut down the protestations of a project manager.

She came to the company highly-touted. Apparently this is one of those intangibles that the corporate office was talking about. And everyone in the room — with the exception of the project manager* — took notice.

* Okay, that’s unfair. I’m sure he did notice. But he’ll probably talk to her in private about why he got upset. He’s actually a very good manager too.