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it’s your job November 18, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Management, Pictures, Seen Elsewhere.
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cs_reportWhile this is generally true, there are times when delegation of reports can be a good thing. My old boss asked me to start doing monthly reports for the sales staff and the executive team, and I figured, why not? I’m good at research and I’m always interested in how we’re doing as a company.

Turns out that I was not only way better at it than him, but I could get it done faster because I didn’t look at it as a chore.

However, it’s highly likely that when you’re asked to put together a huge report, it’s because it’s something your boss should’ve done but is just too lazy to do right. And it totally resonates; why else was it a major point in the first Harold & Kumar film?


the more they overcomplicate the plumbing August 20, 2009

Posted by That Guy in A Stunning Example of Synergy, Technology Trouble.
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In Star Trek III, Mr. Scott said of the U.S.S. Excelsior:

The more they overcomplicate the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.

James Doohan as Captain Montgomery Scott

James Doohan as Captain Montgomery Scott

Monday morning, my co-worker Bill had to transfer a video from DVD to our proprietary system. Now, when Bill used to work in Jackson, MS, he could pop the DVD into a DVD player, press play, and press record on the computer system. It wasn’t a perfect system, but the quality was good and it took him all of five minutes for a four-minute video.

Bill and I both work in a major city now — you’d know it instantly if I named it for you. You’d think that when Bill got here things would be at least as easy.

You’d be wrong.

Here are things we don’t have here:

  • A DVD player hooked up to any computer system anywhere in the building. (DVD players in PCs notwithstanding.)
  • A connection from the DVD player to the video editing suite. (All of our mega-awesome video editing software is in a single suite.
  • A connection from the video editing suite to any network drives Bill can access from his desk. (He has to edit the video, then export it and send it to himself via FTP.)

So here’s what Bill had to do to obtain a four-minute piece of video that someone sent us on a playable DVD:

  1. Put the DVD in the DVD player.
  2. Find someone who can let him into the server room (our keycards don’t work; only IT’s do).
  3. Find someone in IT who can cross-connect the system in such a way that the DVD player is spliced into the internal CCTV network and the internal CCTV network is sent down to the video editing suite.
  4. Go to the video editing suite (on a different floor than the server room) and reboot the computer he needs (because it’s ancient and needs to be rebooted before each use).
  5. Start recording from the CCTV network, wasting hard-drive space.
  6. Go to the DVD player and press play.
  7. When the computer finishes recording the footage, edit it down to remove all the useless parts.
  8. Export the footage in a format that his computer can read.
  9. Upload the file to the FTP.
  10. Go to his desk and download the file from the FTP.
  11. Put the file into the Flash component where it’s going to play from.

Total time spent: one hour. For a four-minute piece of video.

This is why we tell our clients to upload the video to our vendor FTP.

The more your company overcomplicates the plumbing, the easier it is to kill productivity and lower employee morale. When employees like Bill come to the big city after working in smaller cities where everything works — not perfectly, but efficiently — they get discouraged and their productivity as a whole slows down. That extra 45-50 minutes Bill spent getting the DVD player to play in the video editing suite could’ve been spent responding to e-mails, or planning out new projects, or coding, or eating lunch. With the amount of meetings and e-mails the average employee has to deal with each day, every productive minute counts, and wasting that much on a tiny chunk of video that’s less than 10 percent of the entire project is extremely disheartening.

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make some mo’! July 22, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Free Food!, Seen Elsewhere.
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In a strange piece of serendipity, three things happened yesterday:

  1. My co-worker LR complained that, for the third time in a week’s worth of work, the person who finished the coffee did not make a fresh pot.
  2. In the sci-fi novel I was reading, an ensign’s internal monologue said, “realizing he finished the last of the coffee, he knew he would have to brew a fresh pot”.
  3. Another co-worker happened to be playing a Terry Tate, Office Linebacker video on his computer.

You may have seen this before:

It is only polite to refresh the coffee pot when you finish it off. Now, odds are good the coffee will go to waste, but then, that’s why the company provides you coffee, right? So you can make a weak pot of the cheap stuff and if someone like the coffee snob shows up and sniffs it, s/he will simply pour it out and make a pot of the good stuff.

Which you can then go drink.

See? The system works, as long as when you kill the joe, you make some mo’.

a miracle of planning July 15, 2009

Posted by That Guy in A Very Corporate Something, Experiences.
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My branch of CorporateSpeak is shooting a commercial in a few weeks. The premise is a complete rip-off of the Verizon “all those people are your network” spot. This is an example of one:

Apparently it’s been decided that these commercials are so effective that we have to do our own version. Okay, fine, I get it: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Just one problem:

It’s been abominably hot in parts of the United States this summer, including the state where I live and work. The summer heat is the worst during the middle of the day, just after noon, and stays ridiculous until about 6:30. The commercial shoot has been scheduled for 1:30pm (be there at 1:15pm) in the parking lot.

Which is outside. In the heat. In the sun. Surrounded by trees, so there’ll be less wind.

Oh, and the shoot is an hour and a half in length.

Now, I know why they planned it for that time: it gets the most people in overlapping shifts to show up and pretend to be part of a network of people that are working for you. However, it’s going to be ruinous out there. I guarantee at least one person passes out from heatstroke. I guarantee sunscreen will not be provided. I guarantee refreshments will not be provided. Our company — locally and nationally — is hemorrhaging money. I don’t know where they found the money to shoot and produce a commercial.

But I do know this: no matter how great the commercial turns out, the entire company will be hot, tired, stinky, and pissed off that they wasted 90 minutes of their time out in the parking lot, sweating their asses off for a company that just cut their pay by up to 10 percent.

Truly a miracle of planning.

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The Plight of the Fat Guy 4: That Smell July 9, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Observations, The Plight of the Fat Guy.
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Here’s another week on CorporateSpeak: the Plight of the Fat Guy.

First, a musical interlude:

There are two kinds of fat guys: ones who smell, and ones who don’t. And, in the end, it always comes down to how much the fat guy cares about other people.

It’s really hard to write about this because it’s pretty simple: not all fat guys stink, but many of them have That Smell, and many of them wish they could get rid of it but can’t. So there are two options for fat guys:

  1. Stop caring altogether. People will avoid you like the plague, but at least you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
  2. Actively avoid That Smell, spending valuable time trying to be pleasant to be around in hopes that people look past your size and treat you like a human being.

See, that’s what I’ve been getting at this whole week. Fat guys are the last unprotected class, the last group it’s okay to treat like crap. They have trouble being part of a group, they’re often shunned when it comes to going out to lunch or going out after work, and they never, ever complain about it to their coworkers. They just sit there and take it.

When people are upset or depressed, one thing they do is stop caring about personal hygiene*. They shower less. They clean their clothes less. And in the end, they cultivate That Smell and it becomes impossible to shake.

So what’s the point of all this? Simple: be nice to the fat guys in your office. Invite them along. At least try to be friendly. Even if they have That Smell. You could make a difference in a fat guy’s life, and possibly put him on the path to, if not being less fat, at least to getting rid of the stench. And all the other fat guys who don’t stink will appreciate that more than anything else.

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* Or so my therapist says.

The Plight of the Fat Guy 2: Losing Weight July 7, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Overheard, The Plight of the Fat Guy.
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Here’s another week on CorporateSpeak: the Plight of the Fat Guy.

It is the dream of most fat guys to drop the weight and show everyone* that:

  • It can be done.
  • I (that is, the fat guy) can look hot too.

But here’s the rub: when a fat guy loses weight, everyone notices. And then they try to be nice and draw attention to it, as if to say “hey, I know you’re still a fattie, but now you’re trying to look like the rest of us. Isn’t that cute?”

The other problem is that, when losing a lot of weight, there’s pretty much three stages:

  1. The first ten pounds, which usually show in the face.
  2. The next 50 pounds, which are really difficult to get off and don’t show very much, but people still say “oh, good job losing weight” just to seem like they care.
  3. The rest of the weight, which never comes off.

But people who aren’t fat don’t know that. All they know is that the fat guy is trying to lose weight, so they say encouraging things and “notice” how that the fat guy has done so. Except he hasn’t. Not in a while. He’s backsliding. He’s actually gaining weight. And the reinforcement doesn’t help.

Just try saying that, though; the fat guy needs people at work to be nice, and shunning compliments, even well-intentioned-but-unhelpful ones, is always a mistake.

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* Especially that hot girl from high school who never gave you the time of day.

That Guy’s Tips for Faking It: Introduction April 27, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Seen Elsewhere, Tips for Corporate Success, Tips for Faking It, Wasting Time.
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It takes a lot of work to fake it in this economy, but rather than actually working harder, it benefits your huge amount of goof-off time to work smarter. SpikeTV has ten tips; here are some of the best:

9. Plan an Escape Route: This is basically straight out of Office Space. When Peter knows Lumbergh is going to ask him to work the weekend, what is the first thing he does? Plan an elaborate exit strategy. Getting out of work quickly and quietly is more important and more complex than an Iraq exit strategy.

This is vital. Know where the exits are, but better, know the way to walk around the office and stay out of sight. Here at CorporateSpeak, behind the content department’s reception desk is a wall of monitors. I can sneak behind them and get out of here without anyone noticing.

6. CC Ceaselessly and With Impunity: Copying your boss on emails is a good way to let him know you’re active. In Sloane Crosley’s essay The Ursula Cookie, she describes the worst boss imaginable. One of the things Ursula constantly says is that she has no idea what her employee does all day. Well if she got 200 copied emails about the minutia of her day, not only would she know, but she’d likely give her a little space.

The real trick is to make sure your boss is included on every decision you might possibly make. That way, instead of starting your project, you can say “well, I didn’t start because I wanted to make sure you were on board with my plan.” That’ll give you at least half an hour of goof-off time if you play your cards right.

The article also suggests you become a smoker so you can take smoke breaks, but with more and more companies instituting penalties for smoking on the job, that’s likely not your best option. Plus it’s unhealthy, and if you have kids, in some states smoking could be construed as a form of child abuse or (especially in our divorce-crazy country) count against you in custody battles.

For the rest of the week, I’m going to present to you “That Guy’s Tips for Faking It”. Every morning you’ll get a useful tip that will help you — if you’re smart about it — keep your job, look busy, and avoid extra work.

Speaking of mornings, here’s one of my favorite parts of the old Dilbert TV show — which I do own on DVD.

like a boss April 24, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Seen Elsewhere.
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A little something funny for the end of your week. Courtesy NBC/SNL/Hulu.com.

Like a Boss, an SNL Digital Short.

I tried to embed it, but WordPress doesn’t like Hulu’s embed codes. Oh well.