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Category Archives: Corporate Organizatorium

I heard a story the other day, about a guy I know. He and I have crossed paths several times through the years, over golf and business and car shows and more business – you know the way it goes. This guy had been at IBM Canada for a long time – more than a couple of decades. He served loyally, and now, not too far from retirement, he’s been offered a package to leave. So far so good! I’ve seen lots of people very happy to be in this position. A decent severance package can be something you were hoping for, or jostle you out of your rut. It can make a nice bridge to retirement or to a mid-life career shift. So what’s making me Always Grumpy? The package they offered my friend sucks! Read More »


(With apologies to John Lennon & Paul McCartney, to the tune of A Day in the Life)

I saw a note today, oh boy…
the author’s writing, it was horrible.
And though the note looked rather sad,
well I just had to laugh;
it’s just another gaffe.

No one seems to care any more about literacy, and boy does it make me Always Grumpy! Here’s what that note looked like: Read More »

“It’s new and it’s shiny! I want some! The cool kids all have it!” Unless you’re not yet quite six, hearing this kind of thing sets off all sorts of alarm bells. For me… well, it’s just another thing that makes me Always Grumpy.

Over the past week or so it’s occurred to me that some of our corporate decision-makers might have become infected with the Agile bug. It’s a horrible thing! Like some plants (or people) it’s exactly what you want in one small part of your metaphorical garden, and a noxious weed everywhere else. Read on, there’s a song coming up!

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Once upon a time I wrote something on my whiteboard. I wrote it there because I really wanted everyone to see it. I repeated it in advisory councils and technical presentations and executive briefings, in staff meetings and vendor negotiations and user groups… and I still do. It’s a lesson that bears repetition. “Faster, Better, Cheaper. Pick One. Sometimes Two. Never Three.” People who try to ignore this make me Always Grumpy.

OK… if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: I shouldn’t exaggerate. It does happen – rarely – that you can get two of these benefits in one swell foop. And once in a blue moon you might even get all three. But don’t let on, or your boss will expect you to do it three times before breakfast, and that’s on Sundays. Most of the time, any change you make will give you one, usually at a cost in both of the other two. This is called a trade-off. Read More »

That’s “ineffectual communications”… if you use your spell-checker and maybe, just maybe, engage your brain.

Earlier this week I rejected a document at work. I rejected it because the grammar and syntax, the spelling, the punctuation and the general composition were so poor that I had to struggle to guess what the writer meant. So what am I, someone’s fourth-grade teacher? No, I’m just Always Grumpy.

That’s right, it’s me; I’m back after a long summer hiatus: Frequently Happy, Sometimes Sneezy, Often Dopey, Rarely Bashful and always, Always Grumpy.

As a cube-dweller in a sometimes sensitive position in a large corporate environment, I review documents all the time. I reject them when I feel I need to. When I do, it slows people down, delays their projects and makes them work harder. Read More »

At least once every few weeks or so someone trots out a certain old saw that helps keep me Always Grumpy. “You can’t measure what you can’t manage,” they’ll say. I ran into it most recently just this past week, in a presentation on computer systems measurement. To be fair to the presenter, in that context it was exactly appropriate: he was talking about computer systems management, for which the measure of success depends largely on computer performance measurement.

But I hate this adage with all my heart! Many bosses and bureaucrats in all walks of government, industry and academia use it in all sorts of inappropriate ways. They use it to proliferate processes and drive busywork to collect useless numbers; they hide wrong-headed and often preconceived decisions behind statistics that are often only tangentially relevant at best; and worst, they sacrifice good management practices on the altars of mediocrity and/or self-interest.

Up until a few months ago, I used to curse W. Edwards Deming whenever I heard this phrase misused Read More »

Flabbergast!  What’s a Gasting Flabber?!?

I was in a meeting recently, having to do with a project I’m working on. It doesn’t matter what the project was about – it was I/T but it could just as easily have been building construction or political nominations or charity volunteer co-ordination anything else at all that involves several teams co-operating on a complex interwoven timeline. The point is that something came up that makes me Always Grumpy. So of course I have to write about it here.

For several days before this meeting I had spent a significant portion of my working time keeping up with our progress on this project. I read boring e-mails and wrote some of my own. I reviewed minutes and timelines and charts, oh my! I flipped through presentations and combed through spreadsheets. I invested a good deal of mental effort to make sure I was up to date, as one of course should.

The meeting was small and brief; just three of us including the chair, for only a half-hour to review a specific set of material. As the meeting started, our chairperson started reading aloud from one of my e-mails about this topic. With our short time in mind, I interrupted to say we didn’t need to hear him read my boring e-mail verbatim… but he responded that he needed to read it to review the material. Really!?! Read More »

I don’t understand why people and organizations sometimes stop thinking halfway through a problem. We see something that costs money and we avoid it even though we know it’s needed. Or we get rid of it without wondering why it was implemented in the first place, then have to replace it with other, less effective tools and processes that cost more. I’ve done it myself – remember, I’m Often Dopey!

But it’s one thing to make a mistake and another to wilfully look the other way when we know that a decision that’s good in the short term or narrow view is bad in the longer term or broader scheme of things. We should all expect ourselves to place the long-term good of society above that of the enterprise, and of the enterprise above the division or department and so on down the line. Whatever level we work at, we should expect our managers and leaders to do this even more as they rise in responsibility and seniority. The more we move up the organizational ladder, the more we should be expected to demonstrate breadth of vision in both time and space. So it upsets me when I see any organization make a decision that is good for one area or the short term, but bad for the larger enterprise or the longer term. Sadly, it happens all the time in governments and corporations and even homes. And people wonder why I’m Always Grumpy.

Chargeback, or cross-charging, or internal billing if you prefer, is one of those things. Read More »

So there I was recently in a confidential vendor briefing being presented with an upcoming product that promises to be the Holy Grail to systems capacity planners for all platforms. It was an interesting session but it’s a good thing it was in the morning: after lunch I’d have been Quite Sleepy. Doesn’t matter really, except for one little piece of one particular slide, which reminded me, as often happens, that I’m Always Grumpy.

The slide in question used a bunch of little click-art people in various roles to illustrate how much better a place the world will be and for whom, once we all just buy the vendor’s product. There was the Capacity Manager and the Service Manager, and a bunch of other people. Second from the left was the Cloud Admin. “The what?” I practically shouted it aloud. Here’s what that little piece of that page of the presentation looked like: Read More »

This gem arrived in my poor, stuffed e-mail inbox the other day from our friends at IT World Canada, reminding me that I’m Always Grumpy:

Chief Mobile Officer: A job title now timely? With staff increasingly using smart phones and tablets, CIOs should urge their organizations to designate a CMO to create an enterprise mobile strategy, says Forrester.”

This is getting silly! Creating an enterprise mobile strategy is a job for a systems architect and her boss to do with approval from the real C-level execs. At this rate the most senior secretary (sorry!) will soon be the CAO, or Chief Admin-Assist Officer. If we take this suggestion, among the proliferation of C-level titles I offer the following: Read More »

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