Completely missing the point

Sometimes I wonder how on earth I could get my people to understand what’s the real problem. Maybe placing a loudhailer and placing it just inches away from their ears and then hollering it into it may help. Then maybe not.

In a recent exchange of emails where a co-worker has conveniently deposit his work to me before going off for leave, he has the nerve to send me an email before at the end of the day and CC all the bosses.

“Please get the software bugs-free and feature ready by the 28th”

This was irritating. The problem is there I don’t have a list of all the bugs, and the list of features are told to me verbally (when the co-worker came rushing to me one day before his leave to dump them at my table).

The co-worker was responsible for finding crashes and testing, and he somehow got away without doing it. There was a list of missing features, but all he did was to tell me, “Just compare the current version with some-other-stuff-we-did-before and put what’s missing in!”. The testing was incomplete and shoddy too.

No list; no black and white; no documentation, nothing. So I assume I have to do all that. But the final email sent at the end of day triggered my temper. It’s one thing to ask me to cover for you, it’s another thing to tell the bosses that “look, the responsibilities are all his now!”

So I send back something like this, to the co-worker and all the powers-that-be.

“I need to know what are all features and the current bugs before I could promise anything. There is no written list of confirmed features, just your verbal confirmation, and it could be really confusing. The testing was incomplete too”

And one of the bosses, completely missing the point, sent this to me

“Can you give us a timeline as to when you can complete these features and fix the bugs?


What bugs? which features? How on earth do you expect me to come up an estimation for tasks which I don’t even know what they are?

Some people…

You should’ve replied…

“Please get a list of bugs to be fixed and features to be implemented to me a full 10 days prior to the requested deadline.
I am still waiting.”

Ah yes, I have some experience with:

Q. Which of the following is the case: [mutually exclusive possibility a], or [mutually exclusive possibility b]?
A. Yes, that’s right.
Q. AAUGH I HATE YOU SO SO MUCH [I made that part up]


Q. Would you please ask the client for clarification regarding [term that has resisted my most determined efforts to figure out what the hell it means and for all I know they just made up]?
A. Did you try looking in [terminological database I use routinely for everything and was therefore the first place I checked]?
Q. No, I thought I’d harass you for no reason. OF COURSE I DID YOU CRETIN EYE FORK STABBY YOU DIE NOW. [that part too]

I thought bugs were features. :smiley:

No, no, pat. The right line is “there’s no bugs, that’s a feature.”

I feel your pain, matt. That second part was something I never ran into while I was an informal translator, but the first time I actually got a translation job, yep, “have you looked it up?” Yes dear idiot who requires the use of Translation Memories but who doesn’t know what they are for, that’s why I’ve started by saying “I have a couple of possible terms.” Oh, and in that case, since the client was from Spain, the term they’re using is the first one that came up in a dictionary - I swear to Ogette that’s not a term a native English speaker would use.

Speaking of which, why is someone born in Nigeria or South Africa or India or Canada considered a native English speaker, while people like a Welshman who happened to be born in Madrid aren’t? No, I did not make the Welshman up. If I find it irritating to be told I can’t translate into English, imagine his reaction when he was told he had to take English lessons because the job was to be in English and he, being Madrid-born, was not a native speaker. There’s no Welsh School in Madrid, but there are a few that teach the English curriculum. In English.

Boss: You have to do these five documents.
Peon: OK, which should I start with and when are they due?
Boss: Why are you asking me that? Why do you people keep asking me that?
Peon: Eh… because you’re the manager and that’s what managers are supposed to do, manage?

I know exactly what that’s like.

Boss: I need you to send the guys over to X in the truck.
Monkey: Sure, but remember, you have to take a truck down to Florida to pick up the order. Do you want the Ford or the Isuzu?
Boss: I’ll take the white one.
Monkey:…pause…they’re both white. Do you need the one with the shelves or the one that handles larger cargo?
Boss: The WHITE one, now get going.

Boss: Where’s the truck?! I needed that two hours ago!
Monkey: I thought you wanted the white one

You should’ve emailed the person, “I will have that data for you, please email me a list of the bugs in the software before you leave for your Christmas break. Happy Holidays”

See you just shifted the onus onto him

I’ve seen this before and it comes when you take more repsonsibility than the project calls for

I used to run systems for a large hotel and I always took notes and assigned duties to various managers. Then on Monday’s I’d send a list to everyone AND their secretaries with a CC to the Gneral Manager and Regional Director.

This would list the person -> Participation -> Status I’ve received from them

Then I’d say something non-confrontational like

Attached is a list of participants in the project and the status I have on it to this date. Since my participation is dependent on the timely completion of projects please email me the date I can expect to have your portion of the project completed, then I can forward those on to the GM and RD

It doesn’t help you but it shifts the responsibility back. When you manage a project there are always people who want to shift responsibility. You need to make clear what is and isn’t being done.

I used to handle month, and I supplied all the data and month end reports and the department heads, “Director of Sales,” “Contoller,” “H/R Head,” etc etc, would have to read the reports and write a commentary on them. I mean how HARD is this. In every other hotel the heads themselves had to produce the report but I was doing it for them, all they did was have to read it and comment.

Our DoS always waited till the 11th hour. The reports had to be Fed-Ex’d out the 9th of each month, so he’d wait till 4pm on the 9th to give me the 1 page commentary. But I would put out notices on the last day of the month, the first day, the fifth day and the 8th day.

This way everyone knows where everyone else stands.

CrazyChop I am right there with you. I’ve been working on software for over a year. It really should have been in testing 6 months ago.

It is most of the way there, primarily because I have quite a bit of domain experience, but the company refuses to free up time for the domain expert so that he can give me the requirements to finish it. They keep asking for a schedule and I keep saying that if they will give me requirements I’ll give them a schedule.

I’ve been very angry and frustrated for some time now.

No software issues. Just college students:

Me: Here are the detailed, clear instructions on how to do your paper in the right format. Follow them. [Yes, I show them exactly how to do it.]

Students, several weeks later: Oh, I didn’t know it was supposed to be double-spaced/use MLA/not have bullet points/have hanging indents/put the last name first in the works cited/no footnotes, etc.

Me: You had the handouts and the textbook and the guides and the library orientation and the online guides and we went over it and over it and over it in class. I had you write it out on paper and on the board. Your computer’s word processing program most likely has a feature that will help you do it. And there’s EasyBib.

Students: Oh. Could you go over it again?