Stranger in a Strange Land
.. Or Adios Losers
The best part about banging your head against the wall for years is the fact that it feels so good when you stop.
The magnitude of the issues became clearer the longer I remained at one firm. Continually trying to bring about constructive change was met with such resistance from upper management that the best solution was to exit before the inevitable face plant took place.
With twenty twenty hindsight it is evident that the better decision may have been to let this firm implode from their bad decisions years ago instead of propping up the bad mistakes and poor project management. Looking back there is no doubt that upper management lacked the self awareness to see that they were the problem and, therefore, allowing them to continue on only propagated bad management.
The glue that held the firm together over the years was the finance/accounting function by continually working the banking and bonding relationship in a positive manner. This in spite of the consistently poor project management and estimating.
Such a weight was lifted off my shoulders when the decision was made that the situation was beyond repair – it was FUBAR. You had senior management discussing personal likes and dislikes inappropriately and taking exception to staff performance for no other reason than because they may have been more attractive than some senior manager cared for. One of my biggest regrets is that I participated in the lunacy for as long as I did and allowed, via silence, this inappropriate behavior to go on for so long.
What became clearer as time went on was that the founders of this firm were completely incapable of managing not just the firm but, more importantly, their personal life. As my beliefs diverged more and more from those who sought to “lead” this firm it became even clearer that I could no longer support the insanity. What was insane you ask? Let’s obsess on the WIP calculation as if there was a WIP God that would bar your entrance to heaven if it was off. Of course, forget about the fact that the estimate was whacked to begin with, that no one updated the already whacked estimate as the project progressed, and the fact that the senior managers did not have a clue what WIP represented. This for projects that were already bid so low below breakeven that you had no chance of making enough margin to cover the firms overhead. Then having to sit in meetings where the fearless leaders of the firm would wonder why they could not make any profit. Please put a gun to my head and put me out of my misery. Talking to this group was akin to speaking to a group of remedial students except for one big exception – that being that remedial students had a hope of comprehension, LOL. This group believed so completely in the righteousness of their wrong minded ideas that they would go down in flames believing in them. They firmly believed the earth was flat even though all evidence pointed otherwise.
More disturbing was the cover-up that senior management engaged in once the jig was up. “We expected you to tell us we had a $3 million hole to crawl out of!”. “It is your job to let management know when we are going sideways”. REALLY?? Pull up the last 100 emails that went to your numbnut asses regarding the need to remedy the estimating procedure or the need to close unprofitable regions. Oh, I get it – you didn’t read those since they did not fit your reality but NOW you want to issue a revisionist telling of history which basically states that you were never made aware of these issues! Wankers.
Early on at this firm I treated the original shareholders with deference given they had invested sweat equity into starting the firm. Over time, however, this deference was removed when the dysfunctional behavior and poor management made it impossible to support such behavior. It was not uncommon that new staff would fall prey to the whims of senior management and their juvenile behavior. Going with the flow was impossible unless one wanted to condone unacceptable trysts and borderline illegal procurement practices. The refrain became “well that is just the way management is” or “don’t they know how badly their actions reflect on the firm”. For me deference to such poor management was no longer an option. Chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was no longer an option as I came to realize there was no pot of gold, only an outhouse of manure.
Lesson learned: when you are on a ship of fools it is never too early to abandon ship.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.