This will be long so some may want to skip it, but I’ll try to write it so it’s an easy read.
After close to 20 years in corporate jobs (not counting one decade in local government), I think my patience with corporate inefficiencies and shenanigans has run out. I’ve noticed that in my last few jobs, it only takes me two years now to start seeing the silly games and get frustrated with them and then burned out because of it. I have a very low tolerance for stupidity.
I’m the kind of person who sees someone doing something unnecessary or that causes someone else extra work and asks why, and tries to diplomatically propose solutions. You always hear that you should never complain about something without suggesting a solution, right? In my experience nobody wants to hear your solutions either, so just shut the hell up. As best I can tell people perceive this as either telling them what to do, implying that they are the problem, or just being a busy body.
There was one job where the engineering team half-developed a software product for a specific purpose and didn’t document it. I was asked to implement it for an external customer. After struggling to make it work for several weeks (including using the debugger because I actually thought there was a bug in it somewhere), only to finally learn that someone on another team had the same exact problem I did. When I finally got the bastard working (it was a design choice, not a bug), I made a few suggestions to the engineering manager: please document the details that we were tripping over (because THEY knew what they were and just didn’t feel motivated to tell us apparently), or really just make the document explain how to install and configure the thing right the first time. No dice, suck it up sistah.
Much later, I finally - FINALLY - learned that the main reason this engineering team didn’t finish their half-done products or document anything was because they didn’t have a budget. Yeah, WTF! Basically they worked on things they were asked to for a very precise and limited amount of money and when the money ran out, they stopped working on it.
Another thing about process improvement is that if your suggested solution causes the other team more work they’ll be reluctant to accept it. But in my experience, even if the solution causes them no additional work at all, or no changes to their current work, they still don’t want to hear about it. Case in point is the time I did a lot of work to identify, write up a justification for and get implemented, a way to sell new maintenance contracts to external customers. It would bring in $15,000/customer/year additional revenue. Caused nobody any extra work because I would be the one doing the maintenance work. I even wrote up the marketing “collateral” that the sales guy could simply hand the customer and say “hey, give this a look see”. Nobody would sell it. Just not interested.
Oh well, maybe one way to suggest process changes is if someone in upper management solicits ideas, right? Think again. At the current gig, our executive director paid for us all to attend onsite training for two days. The first morning, and the last afternoon, he interrupted the class to give a little speech. The speech was a pep talk about the importance of innovation and how critical we all were to the future of the company. He said both times that he wanted us to think of things we can do to move the company forward. No idea is stupid, no idea too large. If we thought of any good ideas, just let him or our managers know.
So I thought a bit and decided to propose that we implement formal project management. We currently have silo’ed development where the business team does requirements and the IT team develops solutions. But there are no project managers tying the two together. Which results in things like what happened to some of my projects: a project nearly launched before the executive team even signed off that it was a good idea to move forward with it; IT doing development, moving the code to QA and then doing a code freeze because in their eyes it was done when the requirements weren’t done yet. My proposal to implement project management? No interest, dead on the vine. So much for the pep talk.
I’m starting a work from home entrepreneurial thing. Hopefully it will launch well enough that I can retire from corporate life soon. I don’t expect it to be 100% roses and rainbows but if my job and company consists of only me, then I won’t have to tolerate anybody’s stupidity but my own, and if I see processes that need to be fixed, I can just do it.