Print Story It has to be done
By Merekat (Tue May 10, 2011 at 04:37:55 AM EST) (all tags)
I must complete the transition to the dark side.

One of the things that has always intrigued me in my career is the number of times I get to a point where the senior, more experienced people should be able to provide support/help resolve an answer but they can't. Either they suggest something so banal I've tried it about 4 iterations ago or they suggest something so unrealistic it has no possibility unless cloning is invented. Each time I have resolved this by bootstrapping myself to another level.

The questions that I have are not normally ones that can be solved by off-the-shelf answers. I'll often have tried those. But to innovate something, you have to know the fundamentals reasonably well. I always think of Les Dawson's off-key piano playing. To break the rules of music so fundamentally successfully, he had to be a good musician in the first place. So to break the back of the work challenges I currently face, it looks like I am definitely going to have to get an MBA. And possibly one of the annoying 'executive' style ones. That can maybe bootstrap myself to the point where I can communicate with these people who have 30 years more experience than me and no damn useful ways forward.

And with that - yet another 6 hour videoconf.

< There was, once. | Coda. >
It has to be done | 22 comments (22 topical, 0 hidden)
Masters by Phage (4.00 / 3) #1 Tue May 10, 2011 at 05:01:31 AM EST
Resistance is futile.

Incidentally for my M.Comm I proved (statistcally) that senior management strategic decsions have little effect on business outcomes.

When I look around the world by marvin (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue May 10, 2011 at 11:44:37 AM EST
It often amazes me that anything gets done correctly at all. How can the person who cannot even count change at McDonalds be from the same species as the designer of the bridge I just drove across on the way to work today.

And given the stunts I've seen contractors pull when they think nobody is watching, that the bridge is still standing is a bit of a surprise.

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I strongly suspect by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #14 Tue May 10, 2011 at 12:17:07 PM EST
that in practice it is more like cathedral design. Build it like the ones that stayed up. For that matter, build it like the last 10 the workers built or they will insist you keep coming onsite in the middle of Montana to explain how to build it.

McDonalds takes credit cards and has change machines for three reasons: customers don't carry cash, McEmployees can't count change, McCustomers (and too many fed customers as well) can't count change.

I've had to deal with McDonalds's stores (mostly through managers). The level of stupid makes it rather convincing that Roy Crok was still right: they are a real estate company, not a hamburger company. If their GIS systems guys had *any* control over their POS systems (and related McStore IT), they are in big trouble.


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s/fed/well fed <no toast> by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #20 Tue May 10, 2011 at 04:40:03 PM EST

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That's cute by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #21 Wed May 11, 2011 at 03:36:24 AM EST
I wonder if that is a good or a bad thing and where the root cause is.

Looks like starting 2012 is the most sensible option. Gives me time to research programmes and cut back to 80% employment etc.

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Root cause by Phage (2.00 / 0) #22 Wed May 11, 2011 at 04:43:48 AM EST
Was the irrationality of markets, inertia of the company, and the influence of institutional investors.
Where were we ?

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The risk of high-tech by kwsNI (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue May 10, 2011 at 07:41:20 AM EST
Sometimes, technology moves faster than experience.

exactly by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #3 Tue May 10, 2011 at 07:53:16 AM EST
So you've got to be as flexibly innovative with the business processes side of things as the technology. It won't look after itself.

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The only way to communicate with them by marvin (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue May 10, 2011 at 09:32:38 AM EST to become one of them. Then you will be left in a position where all that you too can provide are banal or unrealistic solutions.

For the sake of your team and your project, best train a staff member up to take your place before the brain transplant is complete.

perhaps by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue May 10, 2011 at 10:18:45 AM EST
But at least then I'd have an insight into the why it has to be banal and/or unrealistic.

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Start by using stupid analogies by Herring (4.00 / 1) #6 Tue May 10, 2011 at 10:49:23 AM EST
Software to manufacturing/engineering is a popular one. Having worked in both areas maybe I can suggest something.

I remember something about when you are making a part, 98%(?) of them will measure as +- 3x the standard deviation from the mean. That means that if your tolerances are tighter than this, you're on to a loser. So, if you take the number of bugs in every piece of software you produce, you can calculate the mean and the standard deviation. This should give you a measure of process capability and therefore set the limit for the number of bugs that is likely to be in the next piece of software.

So, when you produce that software, just fix than number of bugs and it will be fine.

The great thing is that you don't have to care whether you're developing an online banking system or an Excel macro, the method still works just as well.

Throw in some Greek letters too.

Oh, and grinding is at least an order of magnitude more accurate than milling or turning. That's important too.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

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Add some buzzwords for the dissertation by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue May 10, 2011 at 11:03:06 AM EST
Lean paired programming, Extreme Six Sigma, Total Bug Quality

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Hardly by marvin (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue May 10, 2011 at 11:34:31 AM EST
You will have become part of the collective, merging with the hive-mind shared by MBAs around the world.

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You seem like a pretty intelligent person by tuscoops (2.00 / 0) #10 Tue May 10, 2011 at 11:55:15 AM EST
And there's nothing fundamentally wrong with pursuing a masters degree, but if your incentive is simply to understand where upper management is coming from, you don't necessarily need to get a degree in order to speak their language to do so or to get your point across. You just need to speak their language. Also, some of the biggest innovators weren't people who actually understood the system or the product. They were simply managers who effectively collaborated with their intelligent employees.

Again, there is nothing wrong with getting your masters degree. But I also don't think there's any problem with your intelligence or current level of education as it stands.

You miss the point by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #11 Tue May 10, 2011 at 12:00:30 PM EST
It is not about the language. It is about fundamental underlying assumptions and craft (such as there is) to management. I see where upper management are coming from - what I have the problem with is they're then not able to go anywhere with it when confronted with reality and they are the ones paralyzed on decision-making.

I currently do not have any training in financial management, international financial law and a number of other MBA topics required to crack this nut. If I am going to have to engage with it, I might as well get the piece of paper to wave at other people later when it is useful.

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Join usssssss by Phage (4.00 / 4) #12 Tue May 10, 2011 at 12:02:21 PM EST
I have found that as the finance bloke in technology I can bore two different groups of people at the same time !

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Perfect by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #16 Tue May 10, 2011 at 12:22:36 PM EST
I believe this might be quote of the day that utterly encapsulates my goal for this.

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Decision making by tuscoops (2.00 / 0) #13 Tue May 10, 2011 at 12:14:30 PM EST
was the language I was referring to.  If you are able to understand how they decide, then you can figure out how to "confront them with reality" in terms that they can mutually understand and accept so that they are no longer paralyzed. Barriers in intelligence, education, specialties, etc, always exist and yet, it is still possible to overcome those obstacles in order to make the best decisions.

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Decision making is not a language by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #15 Tue May 10, 2011 at 12:19:17 PM EST
It is a state of being. They're not in that state - I am. But I don't possess enough of the variables to move it on. They do.

Hence, deadlock. One of us has to move. I can. I'm not waiting to find out that they can't.

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My mistake by tuscoops (2.00 / 0) #19 Tue May 10, 2011 at 12:30:34 PM EST
It does sound like your issue is education related. Best of luck.

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I don't think it has anything to do with the MBA by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #18 Tue May 10, 2011 at 12:29:18 PM EST
program. Management loves indecision. Indecision implies careful concern about problems, and both allows upper management the opportunity to meddle or not as they see fit (win-win!). A manager is expected to avoid making bad decisions, thus indecision delays any such bad decision until it is too late, making the only possible decision a good one.

There might be a real benefit analysis involved, but I suspect it would be hidden as it would invariably be only to the benefit of middle-upper management, never the owners/mission's benefit.

I suspect that an MBA program deals with a number of methods to optimize decision making systems. I would be rather surprised if they come out and say exactly how to optimize behavior that is counterproductive to profits (or mission), while optimal for maintaining a department's budget.


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Don't listen to the techies. by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 2) #17 Tue May 10, 2011 at 12:26:40 PM EST
In general terms techies can't manage themselves, forget about a group of people, don't understand that technology is only one part of a succesful business and fail to understand why George Soros is going bananas about the behavior of people in financial markets.

The reason you notice more "bosses" are rubbish is simply because they are, they have moved their mediocirty to a different field of expertise.

You are going into MBAhood with the right mental approach, never ever let your better judgment completely kill you cynicism and skepticism.

It has to be done | 22 comments (22 topical, 0 hidden)