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LotusExcelle
2010-Feb-23, 02:28 AM
Please don't misunderstand this post. I am not claiming abilities beyond the norm nor am I trying to imply I'm above average intelligence.

In my job I've been baffled lately. There seems to be an almost intentional lack of effort and most certainly a lack of learning on the part of... people. I won't go into details but when, time and time again, there is a clear pattern of ineptitude one would think *learning* would take place. There then would be adjustment for new information followed by something looking like follow-up.

It is frustrating. I get paid to be good at what I do. And I am. What baffles me is that people get paid to be mediocre. People with permanent positions. People that don't have to drive 6 hours from home to pay the bills. They are inept and willfully so.

I know this happens everywhere. But here it is just so obvious - so few layers to dig through to see the problems. And the resolutions are so simple.

Vent over.

Jens
2010-Feb-23, 03:12 AM
Not as an excuse, but realistically, the difference between a human and a robot is that we have more complex motivations. Robots are never deliberately mediocre. But we are animals that strive to survive, of course, but we do so in groups, and our behavior also intensely involves issues of obedience, resistance, and stuff like that.

novaderrik
2010-Feb-23, 03:28 AM
for some people, just being good enough to get a paycheck is good enough for them. they go to work because they have to, and do just enough to be able to keep the job at their current level of pay.
right now, i'm in one of those phases- but a couple of weeks ago, i was trying to learn as much as i could about my job.. of course, a couple of weeks ago, i was on track to be the night shift supervisor and they were going to hire more people to work under me.
now, since there is no night shift and they aren't looking to hire any more people any time soon, i'm just another face on day shift.

kleindoofy
2010-Feb-23, 03:36 AM
... What baffles me is that people get paid to be mediocre. People with permanent positions. ...
Tell me about it.

And those are almost always the people who do the most complaining, expect the best pay, refuse to do overtime, and want the most vacation and time off.

The people who really enjoy their work and are good at it are usually different.

As a publisher of scientific literature, I deal with university professors on a daily basis. You'd be surprised how much blatant and openly bleeding, obstinate, unreflected, and undifferentiated stupidy can bear academic titulature.

LotusExcelle
2010-Feb-23, 04:00 AM
Tell me about it.

And those are almost always the people who do the most complaining, expect the best pay, refuse to do overtime, and want the most vacation and time off.

The people who really enjoy their work and are good at it are usually different.

As a publisher of scientific literature, I deal with university professors on a daily basis. You'd be surprised how much blatant and openly bleeding, obstinate, unreflected, and undifferentiated stupidy can bear academic titulature.

The ratio of complaining vs. pay is an interesting one - and I'm glad you brought it up. I do get paid quite a bit more than most people in my position. But to be honest the people I'm speaking of get paid at least 30% more than they *should*. And though that may be a biased statement I can honestly say I've never seen people with so few skills get paid so much. Motivation aside - skills should pay, I feel. And for sure skills coupled with motivation should pay even more. I know that isn't how life works but it is frustrating at times.

I am glad to see I'm not the only one that deals with... issues... at work.

I think of one word when this stuff gets to me: entitlement. I'm not asking for these things - I'm going out and getting them for myself. But when people expect money and greatness for no effort...

LotusExcelle
2010-Feb-23, 04:01 AM
for some people, just being good enough to get a paycheck is good enough for them. they go to work because they have to, and do just enough to be able to keep the job at their current level of pay.
right now, i'm in one of those phases- but a couple of weeks ago, i was trying to learn as much as i could about my job.. of course, a couple of weeks ago, i was on track to be the night shift supervisor and they were going to hire more people to work under me.
now, since there is no night shift and they aren't looking to hire any more people any time soon, i'm just another face on day shift.


Hang in there. And if you do differentiate yourself you will be noticed. Maybe not by who you think or when you think. But it does happen. And it helps you (me) sleep at night knowing.

NorthernBoy
2010-Feb-23, 10:59 AM
It is frustrating. I get paid to be good at what I do. And I am. What baffles me is that people get paid to be mediocre. People with permanent positions. People that don't have to drive 6 hours from home to pay the bills. They are inept and willfully so

The flip side doesn't win you any friends.

After my time at CERN, I switched jobs, and spent a decade assembling teams of hugely driven and able individuals, who then spent twelve to fifteen hours a day trying to make every single aspect of their work better, every day. I picked the best I could find from around the world, and trained them to never accept that the current way was the best.

Every system was examined, all of our numerical and organisational skills were brought to bear. We learned new programming languages when we needed to, taught ourselves new and interesting mathematics, and generally developed every skill that we needed as quickly as we could.

The rare mistakes were noted, analysed, and systems put in place to avoid them happening again. No mistake ever happened twice. When we dealt with clients the phone was answered every single time, and if someone ever had to be passed to another desk we gave them our name and number first, and told them to call us back if they did not get what they needed.

Every day, in every aspect of work, perfection was demanded. We became the best in the world at what we did, and our small group of seven people ended up making several hundred million pounds a year, every year, because people knew that if they called us they'd never need to call everyone else.

As a result, our company was keen to keep us, and gave us a share of the profits.

You'd imagine that this sort of over-the-top attention to detail, drive, and commitment would have people saying "what a good example, working like that for so long, good on them, we should run our factory/school/lab like that", but, of course, that is not even vaguely what the message is. What we are actually asked is

"Why on earth should you earn more than I do?"

Strange
2010-Feb-23, 11:26 AM
You'd be surprised how much blatant and openly bleeding, obstinate, unreflected, and undifferentiated stupidy can bear academic titulature.

Back when I was a lab tech, I showed one of the students a fairly obvious software trick [maybe I should say technique, as "trick" has got a bad press recently :)] for using bit patterns in 2D graphics. Takes about 30 seconds. Student says "cool" and gets on with the project. Her professor comes along and asks how it works. I spend several hours going over it with him and he just doesn't get it. Keeps coming back to ask more questions.

Jens
2010-Feb-23, 11:29 AM
Not to be prying, but that sounds a bit like what an investment banker might say. Am I close, or way off?

Moose
2010-Feb-23, 11:44 AM
One thing I've picked up from my education classes (multiple vectors) is that everybody has three inherent needs: survival (food and water), security (physical, social, and emotional), and acceptance. When any of these things are missing, a whole host of biological instincts come into play. None of these instincts promote complex judgment, learning, creativity, morale, or altruism.

Someone who is hungry or thirsty will spend most of their energy seeking food and water, or at least thinking about seeking food and water.

Someone who perceives their environment as "not secure" in either a physical or emotional sense will be engaging in threat detection, threat avoidance, and/or "fight-or-flight" reactions.

Someone who feels unaccepted will either fort up emotionally or engage in active attention-seeking or passive-aggressive behavior.

LotusExcelle, what you're seeing are symptoms of an unhealthy work environment. There's a problem, somewhere, that may have little to do with their competence or even their performance. It might be something in the group dynamic, it might be a trust issue with management. Workplace environmental issues sap performance in the long run.

GalaxyGal
2010-Feb-23, 12:59 PM
LotusExcelle, what you're seeing are symptoms of an unhealthy work environment. There's a problem, somewhere, that may have little to do with their competence or even their performance. It might be something in the group dynamic, it might be a trust issue with management. Workplace environmental issues sap performance in the long run.

A bad system will defeat a good person over time, every time. (paraphrase of Dr. Edwards Deming) Management is responsible for the system.

My job is performance improvement. I work with the full spectrum of roles, from file clerks, supervisors, managers, directors & senior executives.

My most challenging environment to help improve is not where there's conflict, but where there's apathy. Getting people engaged again and helping them to risk caring about their work....and yes, it is a risk that in most cases didn't pay off for them in the past.

"That they are inept and willfully so"

While often thought to be due to a lack of consequence, is often found to be due to the lack of acknowledgment. If the performance doesn't matter, it squelches the drive for excellence. It's tough to turn around, but it can be done...and it's great to see it when it happens. I'm working with several groups, one in particular was badly broken. Within 90 days, they've transformed themselves with a change in leadership's management style. There are still plenty of issues, but they know how to approach work and issues differently. Former rivals are now fist-bumping in the halls. The C- employee is now considered an A- employee who will soon become an A+ employee. This isn't an anomaly, it's a transition I have the joy of seeing over and over again.

Everyone has skin in the game, but leadership is responsible for creating the environment: and knowing and managing the system in which people are working - including acknowledgment and accountability for performance.

eric_marsh
2010-Feb-23, 01:54 PM
Thinking takes work. A lot of people are just lazy.

MAPNUT
2010-Feb-23, 02:06 PM
That's an important aspect, laziness is definitely out there. I'm sometimes guilty of it.

And that stupidy is bad stuff. ;)

Another aspect is accountability. If it's very hard to fire people, many will do as little as possible. That's what my wife has found for decades in her federal government (USA) position. And when you get an incompetent manager who can't be fired, you can even get in trouble for trying to improve things. She stays for the pension, and because somebody has to do the work.

ngc3314
2010-Feb-23, 02:08 PM
You'd be surprised how much blatant and openly bleeding, obstinate, unreflected, and undifferentiated stupidy can bear academic titulature.

No, not after over 25 years in some form of academia, I wouldn't, not any more...

Kaptain K
2010-Feb-23, 02:10 PM
Two words. Peter Principle.

swampyankee
2010-Feb-23, 03:12 PM
Most of my experience is in private industry in the US. Frequently, employees are laid off less because of competence or productivity issues than for the non-work related aspects of the performance, like where they graduated school, or whether or not they play golf. This won't protect a blatantly horrid employee, but it will make a difference on the margin.

Also, a lot of workers simply don't care because they know that there is absolutely no meaningful positive reinforcement. Why work hard when you don't get a raise because the company's not doing well enough, but at the same time the CEO gets a bonus that's larger than the GNP of a small country for his great performance?

Buttercup
2010-Feb-23, 03:26 PM
Some people just need a good swift kick to the backside. An employer does not pay people to slack nor be mediocre. Those same folks would be "entirely different" if the shoe were on the other foot and they were the employer. Everyone deserves their money's worth: Including paying others' wages.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Feb-23, 03:55 PM
Thinking takes work. A lot of people are just lazy.
I'm lazy enough to spend vast amounts of time thinking about ways of making my work more efficient so I have to do less work.

Moose
2010-Feb-23, 07:16 PM
Laziness is one of the Three Virtues of System Administration. It's the virtue that drives a SysAdmin to write and test a two hundred line script to keep from having to type a sixteen character command every day.

kleindoofy
2010-Feb-23, 08:24 PM
There are very good reasons why I chose to own and run my own business.

Many of them have been addressed in this thread.

The Backroad Astronomer
2010-Feb-23, 08:39 PM
Until last July I was one of those who just wanted to go to work and get a pay check. For me it come mostly as a reflection of my thoughts of the supervisors there. They just wanted to show up nine to five and have weekends off. They worried about what the higher ups thought of them and cared little about the rest of the employees. One example was a bathroom light that took almost a year to get replaced, or a latch on a door in the same bathroom that still probably has not been fixed. Plus there were always rumours that it was going to closed down sooner or later.

Larry Jacks
2010-Feb-23, 09:14 PM
The ratio of complaining vs. pay is an interesting one - and I'm glad you brought it up. I do get paid quite a bit more than most people in my position. But to be honest the people I'm speaking of get paid at least 30% more than they *should*. And though that may be a biased statement I can honestly say I've never seen people with so few skills get paid so much. Motivation aside - skills should pay, I feel. And for sure skills coupled with motivation should pay even more. I know that isn't how life works but it is frustrating at times.

There can be other factors involved. For example, the number of skills a person brings to a job isn't necessarily as important as the market demand and profitability of those skills. My wife is a nurse. Many years ago, she worked for two of the top periodontists in town. Her primary responsibility was giving IV sedations but she did a lot more. At the time, she was making about $16 an hour. In the same practice, there were dental hygenists who were making $45 an hour. She thought that unfair until I pointed out to her the fundamental difference: she was an overhead expense while the hygenists were a profit center. The practice charged $75 for a cleaning that usually took an hour or less and paid the hygenists $45 an hour, so those hygenists made money. To the practice, they were worth more.

It's possible those other workers you're upset about have skills that bring in money to the business, perhaps more than your contribution. Or they may just be slugs. Since I don't know you or your coworkers, I don't know one way or the other.

I'm lazy enough to spend vast amounts of time thinking about ways of making my work more efficient so I have to do less work.

I have 3 "Larry's Laws"

1. Laziness is the foundation of efficiency.
2. Anything is possible if you lower your standards far enough.
3. Fashion is for suckers.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Feb-23, 10:13 PM
2. Anything is possible if you lower your standards far enough.
I tend to replace that one with:
2. With the exception of parachuting, stubbornness can substitute for training and talent.

You'll get it done in the end if you're willing to repeat doing it until it's done right.

GalaxyGal
2010-Feb-24, 01:53 AM
Sounds like we have the classic Theory X vs Theory Y (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_X_and_theory_Y)....and Theory X is ahead in this thread.

Theory X, which stated that workers inherently dislike and avoid work and must be driven to it
Theory Y, which stated that work is natural and can be a source of satisfaction when aimed at higher order human psychological needs...or
Theory Z (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_Z) an offshoot of Theory Y and the Japanese mgmt movement from the 80's. While there's not a letter assigned to it, I have my own Theory GG, which is a variant of Theory Y.

I've found repeatedly that when:
management sets clear and unambiguous expectations, supports workers by acknowledging their output and listening to them....and respects their workforce by holding bad apples accountable, (up to and including dismissal)
AND
workers are both empowered AND accountable

productivity & quality soars, turnover drops, job satisfaction improves, costs stabilize or improve. It's not magic, but it requires tremendous self-discipline on the part of management.

Employees deserve to know their value to the company and their direct or indirect contribution to the bottom line. But that requires a greater level of transparency on the part of the organization than is comfortable for most U.S. companies. I'm in a support function, 100% overhead, and I know it. It keeps me on my toes.....and my fellow overheaders crisp in our functions; but we know how the company is doing....and how we're doing.

We don't feel like we have the Sword of Damocles over our heads....anymore than anyone else, but we do feel a strong sense of responsibility to contribute and give our best. It's a great part of our corporate culture.

LotusExcelle
2010-Feb-24, 03:06 AM
Man alive these are some fantastic posts in here. I really like the different perspectives you've all brought it. I'd like to try to address many of the different posts at once here:

Jens - if you were asking if I'm an investment banker (not sure who you were asking) the answer is no. I'm a master/senior diesel technician.

Moose - it is indeed an unhealthy work environment. In this case its a chicken or the egg kind of thing. The fault now, in my opinion, lies not with either group but rather with both. And it the issue is systemic within the company not just the one location I'm referring to in my OP. When a C grade tech gets A tech pay and doesn't perform C level work to par - there are issues. And they are ignored systemically.

A friend and coworker of mine once said to me that a genius can hit a target no one else can see. And in a sense that is what is going on here. We are so far beyond the capability of even upper management that they are unaware that there is even a difference at all. They can't see it. And while I'm not claiming genius status I am saying that my abilities, in this case, are orders of magnitude beyond anyone I've come across on my travels to different locations.

Its a complicated problem to resolve but it must start with management demanding more from their workers and backing that up with actions to support that requirement. Even if its brutal. There are a few people that are understandably worn down. I get that. Some have resorted to sabotage even.

I really resist going into details but for various reasons it is near impossible to let the underperforming or even dangerous (let me tell you about the time my Toughbook took a 300A hit through the USB port) workers go.

GalaxyGal
2010-Feb-24, 03:39 AM
Sounds like your management needs a wake-up call. Not uncommon to take the path of least resistance and let the poor (and potentially dangerous) employee slide. But they pay for it dearly in the performance of the dept, absenteeism, employee injuries and the retention of the top contributors.

I've had managers stunned to learn that their staff would rather work short-handed than work with an incompetent and/or slacker. Not knowing their own business well enough to recognize your exceptional capabilities is unfortunately, not uncommon. They're missing out on developing your full capacity and leveraging your individual potential to raise the bar for everyone.

Human Resources needs to back the manager when they make the tough call to discipline or dismiss a bad employee.....at every level.

Jens
2010-Feb-24, 03:52 AM
Jens - if you were asking if I'm an investment banker (not sure who you were asking) the answer is no. I'm a master/senior diesel technician.


Sorry, it wasn't clear. I was asking NorthernBoy. I thought my message would be right after the message I was responding to, but Henna got his message in first. I should have quoted.

NorthernBoy
2010-Feb-24, 12:43 PM
Not to be prying, but that sounds a bit like what an investment banker might say. Am I close, or way off?

I work for a bank, yes, but I am not paid to gamble. I sell tailored solutions to companies who want to reduce their risks, and so am not involved in "playing with" customers money, and my company pays me the minimum that they think that they can get away with.

One of the things that makes me enjoy finance so much is that each person is expected to contribute, and that it is never acceptable to just turn up, go through the motions, and expect to progress.

This is maybe drifting away from my point a little, though, which was that if you take two people, one of whom seeks every day to do the job better, always looks to improve, and puts in whatever it takes to get there, and one who watches the clock, resents the people who work harder, and does as little as they can get away with, then they don't have very good grounds for complaint when they fall behind, but that they will still complain anyway.

It would drive me crazy if reward in any career became dissociated from effort and results, but I think that in some places it has.

eric_marsh
2010-Feb-24, 02:03 PM
I'm lazy enough to spend vast amounts of time thinking about ways of making my work more efficient so I have to do less work.

But that's not really laziness.

Larry Jacks
2010-Feb-24, 02:41 PM
Originally Posted by Larry Jacks
2. Anything is possible if you lower your standards far enough.

I tend to replace that one with:
2. With the exception of parachuting, stubbornness can substitute for training and talent.

You'll get it done in the end if you're willing to repeat doing it until it's done right.

My Law #2 is based on years of observation. It's cynical but accurate, IMO. Lower the standards far enough and you can declare anything a success. I've seen this many times in my experience in academia, the military, and as a defense contractor.

Strange
2010-Feb-24, 02:52 PM
My Law #2 is based on years of observation. It's cynical but accurate, IMO. Lower the standards far enough and you can declare anything a success. I've seen this many times in my experience in academia, the military, and as a defense contractor.

On the other hand, that can be an essential project management tool: knowing what features of the product (or whatever) can be dropped in order to meet timescales or costs. (And, just as importantly, which ones can't - as in, if it doesn't have feature X then there is no point finishing the project.)

Larry Jacks
2010-Feb-24, 03:10 PM
As an example of Law #2 in action, a failing school district can raise their low graduation rate by lowering standards for academic achievement. The students do little or nothing but have 4.0 GPAs. Then, those that go on to college have to take memedial classes for a year or more to learn the things they should've learned in high school.

eric_marsh
2010-Feb-24, 03:49 PM
[I]Originally Posted by Larry Jacks
Lower the standards far enough and you can declare anything a success. I've seen this many times in my experience in academia, the military, and as a defense contractor.

Better add politics to that list.

samkent
2010-Feb-24, 04:10 PM
Efficiency can bite you in the rear.

Assume your job involves a task that normally takes x amount of time and you have y number of these tasks per day.
If you create scripts that shorten the time it takes to accomplish the same tasks by 20 % in the day, you could be seen as wasting 20% of your day.

eric_marsh
2010-Feb-24, 04:14 PM
Efficiency can bite you in the rear.

Assume your job involves a task that normally takes x amount of time and you have y number of these tasks per day.
If you create scripts that shorten the time it takes to accomplish the same tasks by 20 % in the day, you could be seen as wasting 20% of your day.

That points out the difference between good management and poor management. Poor management would see you as someone to keep an eye on for wasting your time. Good management would see you as someone to keep an eye on as a candidate to move up the ladder.

Larry Jacks
2010-Feb-24, 04:29 PM
If you create scripts that shorten the time it takes to accomplish the same tasks by 20 % in the day, you could be seen as wasting 20% of your day.

Human beings make typos, that's just a fact of life. The more times someone touches the keyboard, the greater the opportunity for error. A script, once properly written and debugged, will perform the same way every time. This results in fewer errors than typing the same instructions over and again. A good manager should recognize that the script not only increased efficiency allowing the person to accomplish other tasks but also reduced errors.

GalaxyGal
2010-Feb-24, 05:48 PM
Efficiency can bite you in the rear.

If you create scripts that shorten the time it takes to accomplish the same tasks by 20 % in the day, you could be seen as wasting 20% of your day.

If you have poor leadership, yes that could happen.

You also make another key point - frontline staff often already know how to improve efficiency and effectiveness, but they need to be heard by management...and not punished for speaking up.

As an 'efficiency & effectiveness geek', when we help employees save time, we also help them craft their message of how that saved time will be used. Often folks forget to fill in that blank, and it may get filled in for them. "Hey...we cut 20% of our work out and get 1.6 hours a day to slack off now", isn't the right message.

Fill in the blank of how that time will be used - 'we can accomplish other tasks' ...flesh that out, make it specific and measurable: improving the quality of the output, quantity of output, less overburden (improving safety, reducing risk/liability), cutting response time to customers, etc.

have witnessed areas that have claimed efficiency gains "saves us X hours a week", but their productivity, staffing, quality, satisfaction ratings, etc haven't changed. Plenty have bragged about doing a task better, that shouldn't be done at all.

Efficiency is only part of the equation...and I'd argue it's not even the most important. Effectiveness is the more critical. One axiom I use is "Direction is more important than speed."

Just my 2

NEOWatcher
2010-Feb-24, 06:18 PM
I have 3 "Larry's Laws"

1. Laziness is the foundation of efficiency.

Similarly, years ago, a coworker and I were working under the statement "Efficiency is an advanced form of laziness".


But that's not really laziness.
That all depends on what you do with you freed up time. ;)


A script, once properly written and debugged, will perform the same way every time. This results in fewer errors than typing the same instructions over and again.
True, but all it takes is that one typo on an untested script to really mess things up big time. (I've done that one before, luckily I plan for disasters)


...have witnessed areas that have claimed efficiency gains "saves us X hours a week", but their productivity, staffing, quality, satisfaction ratings, etc haven't changed.
I've actually been part of using that to an advantage. We wanted to start up CAD design (construction industry). We were able to justify hundreds of thousands of dollars by saying the foremen and workmen would save 1% of thier time because the plans would be easier to read.

I was astonished to see upper management swallow it.

Larry Jacks
2010-Feb-24, 06:43 PM
have witnessed areas that have claimed efficiency gains "saves us X hours a week", but their productivity, staffing, quality, satisfaction ratings, etc haven't changed. Plenty have bragged about doing a task better, that shouldn't be done at all.

That's an important point. Is the task even necessary in the first place? If it isn't done, what are the consequences (if any)? If the task results in a report, who actually reads it?

One trick for determining who is actually using an unmarked data line is to shut it down and see who complains. If, after some time, no one has complained, the line wasn't needed. Likewise with tasks, if no one has a good justification for performing the task, shut it down.

NEOWatcher
2010-Feb-24, 06:52 PM
One trick for determining who is actually using an unmarked data line is to shut it down and see who complains.
...and applications, reports, etc.

My last employer's position was that it's not costing anything to keep it running, and shutting it down has the potential to cause a major business disruption.
They didn't seem to understand that it could be restored in just about no time, or that modifications to a system will require time to at least investigate that code to see if it was affected.


Likewise with tasks, if no one has a good justification for performing the task, shut it down.
Yep, that to. We've had reporting systems grow almost exponentially just because one person needed a different piece of information, but it wasn't needed for others.

LotusExcelle
2010-Feb-25, 03:25 AM
On efficiency in my field: My group can perform a 20 hour warranty repair in 8 hours. And a 10 hour in less than 3.

Some more specifics as well - we are the only crew that ever made money (warranty repairs are paid back to the company by the manufacturer - all other techs are a cost and no other techs are allowed by the manufacturer to perform warranty). Some real numbers on the subject are that we could net the company over 300 dollars per day per person. That may not seem a big deal but considering our expense... and let me just say that if you said I'd ever make this kind of money to do something I love I'd laugh at you... 300 per day per person in the black is pretty good.

My favorite side note to that is that one of the things we do that is under warranty would pay for itself in less than 90 days in fuel costs alone if it were an expense. Being under warranty on top of fuel costs multiplied by the number of repaired vehicles... Its pretty absurd. And what drives me crazy is that I know those numbers by hearty and no one that I feel should know them has any idea what they even mean.

mugaliens
2010-Feb-26, 01:38 AM
???

Accomplishment is a mix of attitute and aptitude. I've seen those of intense attitude make up for a serious lack of aptitude.

And vice-versa.

LotusExcelle
2010-Feb-26, 01:39 AM
And when there is neither?

GalaxyGal
2010-Feb-26, 02:33 AM
And when there is neither?

Entropy wins

mugaliens
2010-Feb-26, 09:33 AM
Entropy wins

Bingo. And heat death, although in the business world, it's another sort of death.


On the other hand, that can be an essential project management tool: knowing what features of the product (or whatever) can be dropped in order to meet timescales or costs. (And, just as importantly, which ones can't - as in, if it doesn't have feature X then there is no point finishing the project.)

Sounds like more a subfunction of marketing that project management. Sure, PM's need to be aware of these issues, but their primary function is to manage the project, not second-guess the decisions of the experts whome they're managing.