Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Know I Didn't Say Anything

Once upon a time I had a daily engineering meeting at 8:30 every morning. After that, there were other meetings but none of them could be called "daily", really.
This is no longer the case.
My manager added a 9am daily meeting to address the items on a spreadsheet numbered through Each item has a due date and each item must be updated in terms of progress every single day, verbally at the meeting and electronically by close of business.
And I'm late to this meeting every morning because it follows my 8:30 engineering meeting.
Five or six people from my area attend along with three Project Managers and someone from the administration department who updates an electronic copy of the spreadsheet while we scribble notes on the multiple pages we each have to print out each day now.
Part of me is sad for the trees who gave their lives for this project. It is the same inner Lorax which cringes each time I pass another palette of paper headed for the copy room or making its way out of the building to be shredded off-site at our secure shredding facility.
But the point is this:
Our manager said this new meeting was in response to someone having told him that they didn't know what was going on with the project. Someone carelessly cost me 110 hours in meetings if the project finishes on time. If the project is delayed because of all the meetings, there are even more hours I'll spend in those.
The fact that I don't know who went to a manager with an "I don't know what's going on with the project" is, in short, the only reason they haven't found a project plan scratched into the hood of their car.
People should always ask a coworker first. And before going to a manager they should spend a few days just trying to act like the people around them. Opening the same spreadsheets and updating the same forms. They end up looking busy and possibly the whole thing will click on some level and the question will go away.
This morning I have meetings until 11am, straight through, and another at 3pm and over half the time will be spent in regular scheduled "status" meetings which by their very nature can be replaced by an email.
As a further update: Those patches and the imaginary testing and unreasonable deadline which wasn't our responsibility and then was mine and then went back to the original owner? It is mine again. I made some progress with it, but it stalled out after the last meeting about it.
Over the weekend the people who normally patch the systems broke a bunch of stuff so they gave the task back to me.
There is another lesson there. If you don't want to do something, screw it up a few times so badly that everyone else agrees with you.

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