Tuesday, March 20, 2007

March 20 – Random Lessons Learned

Learning from your mistakes is a good but to learn from someone else’s mistakes saves a lot of time. The trick is to find someone willing to admit their mistakes. Fortunately I am secure enough in my stupidity to share a couple of mine.

Don’t be a bonehead. I remember trying to walk through an audit with a project manager that just didn’t seem to be getting the concept of project tracking. Rather than patiently working it through with him I blurted out, “Are you sure you want to be a project manager? We could probably work you back in to a technical field.” That effectively ended the conversation.

Avoid poking dragons. Within our consulting company everyone from newbie to upper management is expected to create a status report. As a member of the Project Office I was tracking and reporting on the number of individuals who where not producing them. During a meeting with upper management someone asked why I thought people weren’t doing it. In response I verbally picked up a stick and poked the management dragons by saying, “it could be because management isn’t producing theirs, either.” Needless to say, the dragons woke up.

Not all hopes come true. I have a good friend who worked as a process and quality auditor in a company that valued process less and less over the years. When her department was outsourced to a process oriented consulting firm her hopes soared. Finally the cavalry had arrived. Unfortunately the cavalry struggled with the same management issues she did. Management was slow to see the benefits of process and always tried to drop it. Rather than despair, the group aimed high, worked hard and lowered their expectations.

If you don’t want to milk cows for the rest of your life, don’t learn how. This was a bit of wisdom my grandmother used to tell my mother. Granted, there are aspects of your job that aren’t enjoyable but still need to be done. However, there are other things that probably don’t make sense for you to take on. SAS programming is a good example. Yes, it is still around. There may be a need for some simple SAS reports, but unless you want to be the one everyone goes to for SAS you might want to find someone else to do it and claim ignorance.

Hopefully you can take these lessons to heart and not have to stub your toe on them yourself.

If you have experience from the school of hard knocks, weigh in with a comment and help us all get a little wiser.

No comments: