Times are, at present, particularly difficult at the SaltMinesLimited.
It’s coming up to End Of Financial Year and it is pretty clear that the major target for the year will not be met. Actually it has been pretty clear for a good many, many months, but KingLear will not hear it or allow the target to be revised. So now everyone is very fighty indeed and the scent of impending witch-huntery is in the air.
In addition to that horridness and angst, we have Attempt 4 at new computer system, which of course was doomed from the get-go. The people who decide these matters at SML appear to be taken in by any and every passing snake-oil merchant (those who express any kind of reservation or question the strategy are clearly Negative and must be Managed). The usual result is that $10M later we delivered with whole lot of nothing and continue with the system we’ve used since 1996.
Because of the preposterous and unrealistic time-frames involved (this is another recurring theme in these IT projects) there is not a whole lot of development time left before delivery of the second (and final) phase – so the massive de-scoping has begun. Until yesterday I had been extremely fortunate to have had limited exposure to the project, but I have heard Very Bad Things from those more heavily involved.
Unfortunately my serenity was rendered un-serene yesterday, which saw a 1.5 hour meeting at lunch. I had heard that these meetings were adversarial, but I was utterly unprepared for exactly how adversarial it would be. The MO appears to be calling a meeting at short-notice at an inconvenient time (usually over lunch – so you are hungry and weakened by the end), refusing to issue an agenda so that you are unable to adequately prepare and then bully, belittle and insult you and your work until you succumb to their demands. Other techniques include presenting options at a highly conceptual level and refusing to discuss or explain how these concepts might work in practice, misdirection and totally playing the man (not the ball).
Quite possibly the highlight of the meeting was the lead developer loudly stating that I clearly did not understand maths, because obviously there would be no remainder when equally apportioning monetary amounts into hypothetical buckets. There was agreement from many of the other participants. Wait? Wut? DishyBoss, AnxiousMum and I felt like we were in some sort of alternate, very frustrating, universe. $10 into 3 buckets goes how exactly?
Another highlight was my very calm statement that, “You are completely misrepresenting this process which is outside of requirements and which works perfectly to meet our needs. Why are we spending so much time on this? Could we please just move on to the many issues we have with your design?”. Which they naturally completely ignored, but it made me feel better to have it out there. And yay(!) for personal development and getting my (future) managerial on!
I held my own for a very good while, but finally could take it no longer and walked out in fury just before the end (boo(!) for losing the managerial). Then I sat at my desk, called Don1 and cried and cried. My cube neighbours were all “now you know what we have been put through in these meetings, try not to let it get you down, you’ve got no hope”.
Afterward, I went to escort our wonderful auditor (a Partner whom I adore and who appears to very much appreciate my m4d sk1llz) from the building after he’d completed some work for us. Co-incidently he’d been in the next room from the meeting from hell. He told me could hear most of what went on (walls are paper-thin), saw me exit in fury and he remarked that they sounded like a utter bunch of tools. I, in my chatty, friendly way, explained precisely what had been going down with the system development. He remarked that it was fortunate that I’d mentioned these issues, because his firm was going to be auditing the new end-to-end process.
As for management? They appear to be complicit in the whole process. Our new Evil Overlord (previously my manager in Dept cool-until-you-are-in-it) was present and sat passively by and occasionally joined the pile-on (but she has a very, very long history of not taking me seriously – which is a lengthy post for another time).
Unfortunately I’ve been letting this cloud my THREE DAY WEEKEND! The blogging, it has been cathartic. Hopefully we can move on from here.
1who suspected I might have been over-reacting until I arrived home and re-enacted highlights of the meeting for him.