"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman

:malicious user:

Friday, January 23, 2004

trax d'jour:
cul de sac - ecim
carl palmer - working live
jade warrior - jade warrior
larry coryell - barefoot boy
__________

one of my favorite tenets of product development is that there is, for any given project, a constant k, such that

k(deadline, quality, functionality, resources)

or, as i like to say,

deadline, quality, functionality: pick two.

since lord knows we never get more resources. so why is it, if this is a building block of project management, that managers never remember it? i think it's because the peter principle is stronger than the k factor. the peter principle states that in any organization an individual rises to his or level of incompetence. thereafter the person can no longer deliver at a level worthy of promotion, so he or she flounders away the rest of his or her career in a miasma of poor performance.

those project managers that are strong enough to defend the k factor throughout a product's development, by fighting for extended deadlines (or realistic ones to start with), a realistic level of quality, a deliverable set of functions, or - wonder of wonders - more resources, inevitably get promoted to bigger and better things. their shoes get filled by peters. who stay there, filling the years with deathmarch projects.

one of the best bosses i ever had admitted he was a lousy manager. "i don't manage," he said, "but i do lead." and he did. he never gave deadlines, only asked us for our own. what he did give was inspiration, direction and purpose. i learned a lot of positive examples from that man. i only wish i was organized enough to put them all into play at the same time.

at the other end of the spectrum . . .

at the other end . . .

there was . . .

bruce.

bruce was my manager for the brief time that i worked at an OTC drug and cosmetic company. we started working at that company on the same day. in the nine months i endured the asylumlike conditions there, i witnessed bruce (1) stride through the lab trailing toilet paper from his waistline, (2) almost poison an entire department by leaving a gallon of ether uncapped in the middle of the lab, and (3) have a full-blown panic attack upon hearing that the FDA had arrived to perform an inspection.

i had a minor role in bruce's crowning moment, for which i still carry nary a twinge of guilt. my job involved hand-filling various cosmetic packages - jars, tubes, bottles - with the intended products. the tubes (think toothpast tubes) are filled from the bottom and then heat sealed with a hand crimper.

sometimes the crimps aren't very secure.

the products i filled were, as i stated, cosmetic in nature. body wash. shampoo. conditioner.

depilatory cream.

on the day that the company president visited our site, bruce was standing by my workbench area when mr. big walked through the lab. as the bumper sticker says, jesus is coming: look busy. so bruce quickly grabbed a filled tube from the bench.

mr. big walked right past bruce. i guess bruce got nervous.

he squeezed.

pop.

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i used to be disgusted. now i try to be amused.
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