5150 Business Strategy

Life in the Corporate Fast Lane and Still Remaining Intelligent

Archive for the category “Swimming Against the Tide”

Raider Nation – Brand Identity Part 2

cheer4bEarly on I scored several major coups by enlisting the aid of various Raiderettes to the cause of Raider Nation. This drove the competition bonkers as they were driven insane by the very real speed by which Raider Nation was becoming the acknowledged leader for Raider fans on the Internet, and beyond. First they lost the coveted Raider Locker Room outlet by which the image and name of Raider Nation could be advertised daily through a brick and mortar outlet. Then they lost the battle for the very hearts of Raider fans when the Raider Nation moniker started to appear on the backs of cheerleaders – WTF, this is adding insult to injury. It was a brilliant execution of strategy aimed at making the Raider Nation brand well known and adopted as a symbol of Raider fans worldwide.

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Raider Nation – Brand Identity Part 1

vellakat3OK, there may be several teasers to the real lesson of building brand identity. What is undeniable is that a product or service can fail or succeed based upon the image that consumers have in their minds.

In 1996 the internet was secondary to the traditional marketing channels that existed at the time – meet and greets with the cheerleaders!! What was becoming clear, however, is that the internet could spread news and photos on current events much faster and across a much more diverse geographical base. Instead of only fans in the San Francisco Bay Area being able to see the latest news in the local rags there was now the ability to spread this info across the globe. No one appreciated the impact of the internet in this area more than I did when it came to formulating a strategy which would propel Raider Nation to the pinnacle of success.

The photos shown here were all published on the Raider Nation website exclusively and I, in effect, became the official photographer for events that were taking place at John Vella’s Raider Locker Room. The Raider Locker Room and Raider Nation became strategic partners in spreading the Raider Nation brand. Traditional brick and mortar retail was still the predominant method of sales in 1996 but to sell to a global fan base the internet was becoming the preferred marketing and sales channel. The symbiotic relationship between most retail outlets and the internet is taken for granted now, in 1996 Raider Nation was on the cutting edge.

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Because I Can

Tell me how we lost the $1.7 million settlement was the simple question that I asked over and over. The person stammered through several unintelligible answers but finally said the very fateful…….. “Because I Can”. Talk about the straw that broke the camels back!!! Finally, in those three words there was an admission that all the bad decisions and very questionable strategy boiled down to “Because I Can”. Really?

Why were there multiple trysts with government procurement officials… Because I Can

Why was there a million dollar plus loss on multiple projects and consistent profit fade on all the others… Because I Can

Why did we utilize subcontractors that went bankrupt and left us holding the bag… Because I Can

Why were projects underbid to the point where it was impossible to make money without resorting to unethical practices like stiffing subcontractors… Because I Can

Why were safety procedures and protocols not  strictly enforced to prevent unexploded ordinance from being sold to third parties unremediated and causing bodily harm… Because I Can

Why did the senior manager alienate very capable staff to the point that they left the firm… Because I Can

Why were there projects in questionable parts of the world where other firms went to die… Because I Can

Why were bonding companies not told the entire truth about problem projects… Because I can

Why were investors in other assets made to fight for what was rightfully theirs… Because I Can

Why do I focus on WIP when cash is the only reality… Because I Can

When it dawned on me that the investments made in this firm were subject to going poof because of this “Because I Can” philosophy it was time to head for the exit.

Time to cash in my chips and preserve what I could before the head pinhead pissed it away just because they could. Better to get out with what you could instead of sticking around waiting for the inevitable face plants that kept occurring.

There has been a continued brain drain from this firm as it becomes apparent to many others that the firms upper management lacks the ability to lead. It continues to have the self centered “Because I Can” mentality that has it on the Highway to Hell. Multiple lawsuits filed against the company with no end in sight. Correction, there is an end in sight – for the company as an ongoing entity.

Lesson learned: don’t wait until your investment in a firm goes to zero when it becomes apparent that you have placed your money on a losing proposition. Use the “Because I Can” philosophy to your benefit!! I left, Because I can…….

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.

Selling England by the Pound

The key lyrics at this point in my life and career:

I-know-what-I-like-I-like-what-I-know

Having gone through several positions it has become apparent to me that the upper levels of management many times is populated with posers. Imagine if you will a world where what you know matters little to whether you are qualified to be in the “C” suite. In fact, your only qualification for being a so-called executive is because you know how to play the game and have risen through the ranks by dodging positions that require substantive knowledge on subject matters for those which only require that you know how to shine people on. So, a variation – I know what I like and I know I don’t like you. The business world is over populated with those short on knowledge but who possess an abundant amount of shiny sparkly dispositions – shiny happy people.

As 2018 closes out and the past fades further into the rear view mirror, here are the other things which I don’t like:

  • Senior executives who dally with contract procurement officers and other government officials.
  • Senior executives who dally with employees where the amorous adventures lead to human resource issues.
  • Whacked out senior executives who speak authoritatively on subjects for which they have not a clue what they speak of. Tell me again how you think WIP is calculated and how it causes losses on a project.
  • Senior executives who play fast and loose with the money invested in a company and obviously are not qualified to be making the decisions they make. Tell me again how you can lose a million dollar settlement and still want me to roll the dice on the historically bad decisions you have made in the past. Uhhh, no.
  • “Consultants” whose only claim to fame is in their past and, many times, that past is less than stellar. Yes, they have convinced everyone that they are the speakers of the truth and holders of wisdom.
  • Those in decision making positions in all areas of business that lack the critical skills needed to make those decisions. It has become all too common to have some pinhead pontificating on why things should be as they say they should be. When pressed for substance one finds there is none. Scary that they can alter the course of a business with their ill advised “knowledge” of what should be.

So, onward into 2019 with not much optimism that the wrongs of the business world will change. The very best that can be hoped for is that you steer clear of the posers, wannabees, and holders of the “truth”.

Lesson learned: stick to your inner path and take comfort in the knowledge that there is satisfaction in knowing what you like and liking what you know.

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.

Animal Farm

Let’s all put in $75,000 to purchase a building and share in the wealth as the building appreciates in value. What a great idea and at least several of us thought the idea was worthy of investing in under those conditions. Little did we realize that those making the proclamation of equality, as in Animal Farm, thought equality meant something different based upon who you were.

Almost immediately Napoleon tried to change the terms under which the investment group was formed. No, I don’t think the original $75,000 was completely invested by the LLC members. It comprised $35,000 from the operating company which needs to be paid back. WTF, are you on drugs?? That was never the case as it was understood, and documented, in the LLC documents that the source of the entire $75,000 was from each individual member. No, no says Napoleon, all my minions agree with me that the LLC was formed for the original founders primarily and those who came along afterward are not of equal standing. Really? Now that was news to me and, as it turned out, to the attorney brought in to kick some pig ass. Indeed, this was an egalitarian investment group until some saw an opportunity to exploit other members. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs – except when one group decides to define needs in line with their own self interest with no regard to established contracts and agreements. Just as in Animal Farm there was a hierarchy, albeit unknown, that all animals were created equal, except that some were created more equal to others. Unfortunately for those trying to exploit the “minority” they failed to realize that even the “minority” were able to hire pit bull attorneys that could eviscerate them and serve them up as pork chops, LOL.

This same scenario played out in a variety of different transactions. Do as I say, not as I do was the golden rule with this group. Being egalitarian only meant something to the chosen few and everyone else be damned.

Let’s build a warehouse for the operating company and then deduct the value from the LLC partnership members accounts. Why, you might ask. Well because the operating company majority owners wanted to pass the expense on to the LLC where they had less of a financial interest and, therefore, essentially see a greater profit for the operating company. Of course this neglects the fact that the operating company was the driving force for building the warehouse. Again, all animals are created equal, but some animals are created more equal than others. Except for the fact that this foolishness was squashed before it could gain momentum.

Then there was the ad nauseam open proclamation of the senior manager that the LLC investment should not benefit all equally. There was no explanation as to why they felt this could be supported, only that it was the way it should be. Funny how the value fell along the ownership percentages of the operating company – the greater ownership of the operating company, the greater your “equality” in the LLC regardless that all members in the LLC were legally equal members.

There was a universal deceit by senior management that sought delegitimization of the equality of members in the LLC. It came in the form of outright declarations and in the form of subtle intimidation. To the point where telling the truth was, indeed, a revolutionary and noble act. Animal Farm as a parable which is played out daily in the business environment is as valid today as when George Orwell wrote it. Sadly the masses of men continue to lead lives of quiet desperation and religion, and one could argue equality, are the opiates of the masses. There are those who utilize the utopian promise of equality as a way to divert attention from their ultimate goal – to prove that all animals are created equal but some are created more equal then others, and they just happen to be more equal.

Lesson learned: beware of claims of equality from those who have much to gain by diverting your attention from the dangers of them being more equal and feathering their nest at your expense.

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.

Moral Compass

 

Can you really trust a senior manager who has no moral compass?? Who has no problem acting in an unethical manner both in their personal and business life? Those without a moral compass take the Adam Smith philosophy to extremes by acting in their own best cheatself interest to the detriment of all others around them, including family. Working for this type of management is just waiting for the hammer to drop on your head. I sat in so many meetings where there was a litany of pronouncements about how the manager wanted to screw over somebody because of some self centered logic. Didn’t matter if the terms and conditions were established at the beginning. All it took was for the situation to present itself for this person to benefit more if they made things happen a different way. Essentially, let’s look for ways to screw the other guys/gals out of what is rightfully theirs.

What should have made it a clear cut conclusion for me was the fact that the person saw no problem in having multiple “business” hookups on the side, if you know what I mean. Eyes wide open I stayed in the company but with a level of pessimism which served me well when I finally did leave. There was nothing the person could do which I had not anticipated, and I anticipated the worst given what I had seen over the years. Out and out lies about events that took place, digging up dirt when necessary, back dating documents, and convincing others to join in whatever the next grand lie was to be. The person was actually in their element when they were rounding up co-conspirators to spin things their way.

This manager took glee in being able to pull off the grand deception as it meant they got away with it once again. A serial hookup artist who you could not trust given it was a matter of time till you became their victim, but only if you allowed them to get away with it. I can imagine when I left the company the directive went out as it always did when someone left the fold – find me some dirt to use. How many times I had been asked to look at timesheets for perceived abuses, examine expense reports, and corroborate stories about events which never happened as the person described them. “You saw how they spoke to me!!! It was insubordination. Grounds for dismissal, let’s look for other reasons to terminate them.”, was the usual dialogue. All the while the senior manager went about rounding up the other stooges to do their bidding.

Moe, I want you to talk to George, Larry you talk to Ben about the deal on the investment. Tell them what a great deal it would be to take a third of the value of their investment. Yessiree, whatever you say. We got you covered as usual was the reply from Moe, he of the famous nickname, and Larry, he who scratches his nether regions. Ignore the fact that such a ludicrous offer flew in the face of the agreement made when the deal was first made years ago. Bwaa Haa Haaa, and then they had the gall to get upset because attorneys were called in to halt their imbecilic actions. That’s not nice after we have been friends all these years!!! Why can’t we all be friends? Let your guard down so we can screw you over like all the others, LOL – I don’t think so dragonlady. I can hear them now, “After all we did for him and he treats us like this”. Those who act like these senior managers really do not see their shortcomings as they are truly C level players. It is always someone else who is to blame. Some other cosmic curse of the universe which made them do what they did. Yeah, I don’t think so. It is called lack of a moral compass.

Playing out concurrently with the separation from the other investment some were trying to extricate themselves from stock investments in this firm. In another brilliant stroke the senior managers broke from the customary practice of buying out shares upon termination. Instead I can imagine the backroom machinations – let’s just not pay him for as long as we can, not at all if we don’t have to. We do have the “option” to purchase his shares, not the absolute obligation. They were smirking like Linda Blair in the Exorcist about how devious a plan they had devised.

Whoa, hold on a minute Skippy. What is this shareholder loan on the books. WTF, you mean he owes us more money than we do him for the stock! Bwaa, Haaa, Haaa call this checkmate mofo’s!!! Remember I told you I anticipated their worst possible moves – WTF, that ruined our entire grand plan. They were so predictable in all the actions they took. Predictable because they had done it to others over the years and gotten away with it. Their time was up.

Here is where the lies and deception got more exaggerated. What? We did not authorize any shareholder loan. This is embezzlement, we need to look at all the transactions over the years as I am sure he stole more. That’s when emails are produced where the senior manager was in the conversation regarding shareholder loans. Oh shit, how could he have this documentation that refutes our lies!! You mean we can’t lie at will knowing he can’t refute our contentions, LOL. So, they try the tact that we did not have a majority vote on this loan. Unfortunately they forgot that they NEVER took a vote on any major disbursement. Kinda blows your logic out of the water, nice try though. Again it was check and mate you numbnuts, you must think I am as stupid as you are, LOL.

NO MORE WIRE HANGERS – as the senior manager went over the edge once again.

Wait a minute, here are credit card charges for unauthorized items – now we have him!! Here we go – a charge for lunch with staff, office supplies, and some online services. These all seem suspicious to us and you need to pay them back. Really?? Wow, this is the best you can throw at me. Let’s forget about the senior managers through the years putting personal expense items on their business card conveniently using it instead of their personal card. Oh, I used the business card by mistake – it just flipped itself out of my wallet into the hand of the clerk, LOL. Yeah, I believe that the first time but when it is the 100th time you tell me that it strains credibility. More likely you are trying to cover your trail from a suspicious spouse if you ask me!!

Unfortunately, they forgot to read the emails sent to them regarding these expenses. I guess they thought they were unimportant, LOL. The emails documented every business expense in question and in the long run they had to run away from their accusations with their tails between their legs. Another victory for being one step ahead of these conniving bastards.

Lesson Learned: those lacking a moral compass see you as the next target, not as a valued compatriot in their evil doings. Never let your guard down.

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.

Stranger in a Strange Land

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.. 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.

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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. 993B7CBD-B3F6-4781-B668-62014D6746A3Talking 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.

63778A36-C55E-4596-935B-37F47A46BBF1More 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 A6A222AB-8F97-4156-83B3-7B22168A8CCBof 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.

No More Wire Hangers

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As things started to spiral out of control at one firm the powers to be became increasingly unhinged. The typical reaction was completely expected, lowering “business” decisions down to a personal vindictive level.

No more snack boxes for staff, let’s discontinue employee benefits, and meetings with all key outside relationships will involve the unhinged senior management. The refrain was in line with No More Wire Hangers – it was No Lunches without senior management involved. “You will involve me in all meetings, in all discussions, and in all your potty breaks, LOL”. It became a comedy of epic proportions starring senior management.

Devious management will many times concurrently have secret discussions with outside counsel to lay traps or to circumvent legally established agreements with staff and business partners. None of this should be unexpected and every move that this type of management takes can be anticipated. No more wire hangers, indeed.

These types of moves are completely vindictive for this type of management as they do not like continual questioning of large losses being incurred by the firm or questioning their inability to formulate a cohesive logical strategy. The outcome of years of bad decisions finally coming to a head eventually leads to erosion of support for  a senior management group which continually teeters on the brink of failure.  Dysfunctional behavior common for this type company becomes too great to be ignored and competent staff leave before the ship sinks. What is left behind are the “C” level players who have risen to their highest level of incompetence and have no other place to go. They stay with a mother ship which protects the incompetent as the bar used to measure competency is so low they are seen as superstars. As the song goes, “I have been down so long it looks like up to me”. Without a doubt Moe, Larry and Curly are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Let’s look a little closer at some of the actions these types of companies take:

  • Snack boxes delivered on a monthly basis get cut as an employee perk. All is well until senior management decides to halt the deliveries under the guise of cost cutting. The cost cutting is asinine in the context of the larger issues that should be addressed. Ignore million dollar losses due to failed strategies but let’s cut a $75/month benefit to staff. NO MORE WIRE HANGERS.
  • Likewise,  low cost term life insurance for employees is not seen as a benefit. It is the lowest cost benefit that can be included in a comprehensive benefit package. Senior management, for some ill conceived notion, believes these costs are unnecessary. Of course, when things become vindictive this is an area that senior management cuts. NO MORE WIRE HANGERS.
  • The finance department is pivotal in the formation of banking and bonding relationships. Of course, senior management is always involved in discussions and meetings with key institutions. In what can only be described as selective memory, senior management becomes delusional regarding these meetings. Paranoia sets in, “You must include us in all meetings and communications”. Not a big deal as they always are. NO MORE WIRE HANGERS.

Imagine a road trip with the bonding agents and this type of dysfunctional senior management. It would not be uncommon for things not to be disclosed to the financial or bonding agents regarding key projects and financial metrics heading in the wrong direction. The bonding agent might try to corner the finance guy repeatedly during these types of trips to get updates. The finance guy has to play the equivalent of hide and seek to avoid having a definitive conversation on the projects in question. The natural course of things transpire and with any luck the new bonding request will be rejected.  Not without justification, as firms like this that are not being forthright about bonded projects should not be allowed to continue with this bad behavior. Finance and Accounting should not be complicit in spinning a positive tale on projects that are being so poorly managed. NO MORE WIRE HANGERS

Recall from above that this type of senior management undertakes legal discussions and this necessitates radio silence over some period of time before they spring their trap.  This radio silence works against them in so many ways but is completely inline with the juvenile and vindictive manner in which this type of management acts.

Let’s say that the marketing person comes into your office wanting a signature for a new bid bond for a proposal in a far corner of the world. Would you not expect to ask the usual questions for these types of proposal bonds?  One, in particular, is whether the bonding agent is aware that the bond might be needed in this remote area by a certain date to meet a bid deadline. Let’s also say that the marketing person, being relatively new, is not able to answer the questions, and given radio silence by dysfunctional senior management,  up to date info on what was going on with the proposal is not available. Would it not make sense to go to the bonding broker and ask a question that is simple enough – are you aware of the need for this bond and could it be delivered on time? Second, are you up to date on the issues regarding the currently bonded projects? Let’s suppose the replies are Yes and No  – informing them that there were problems on projects that were being resolved is the proper thing to do, don’t you think? Not a big deal, or so one would think, but not when senior management has become completely unhinged.

Imagine the reaction of Joan Crawford to NO MORE WIRE HANGERS, LOL. Senior management can become so detached from reality that they regress even further into illogical and self defeating behavior. Cut off internet access, remove access to all company servers, there will be NO MORE WIRE HANGERS. Insanity can be unleashed and there is nothing to counterbalance the insanity. Senior management spun out of control. Paranoia reigns and what you might hear is – They are trying to get our bonding revoked, they are trying to destroy us, blah, blah, blah. Really? A simple call to make sure a bond will be delivered on time and clarify project status turns into collusion with the Russians, LOL. NO MORE WIRE HANGERS.

Needless to say, you should avoid getting to a last day at firms like this as they could be very eventful with the NO MORE WIRE HANGERS management – you could be taken out and shot. The repercussions could last over several months as further shenanigans by senior management takes place to prove Russian collusion, LOL. There must be NO MORE WIRE HANGERS – it is the height of groupthink and example of senior management not being in touch with reality.Stooges

Something learned over the years at these types of firms is that there is no such thing as transparency and, worse yet, honesty in how senior management deals with situations. Whatever you are told needs to be dissected to make sure there are no ulterior motive that are intended to serve only the select few at the expense of everyone else. This experience and knowledge will serve you well when leaving a firm like this. Being two steps ahead of your opponent and questioning their every move by not taking things at face value is the secret to success when dealing with these types.

Lesson learned: stay two steps ahead of those who are not transparent with their motives, it will serve you well in the final analysis. When management becomes unhinged you need to protect your ASSets by not taking anything at face value.

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.

Is That WIP or WHIP Part 2 – Manage Projects, not WIP

Too many hours of my life have been wasted in meetings with senior level management who were clueless about the nature of WIP. One such manager truly believed that managing WIP would insure that the project was managed profitability. They would grill the project manager for explanations on why the WIP on a project, and their office, was being managed so poorly, from a previous post – dumbass. Everyone understood the futility of the exercise except for this completely clueless senior manager. Of course no one wanted to tell this senior manager the futility of the exercise since they would then be subjected to a string of personal invectives intended to stifle questioning.

When this manager was asked about the concept and mechanism of how WIP worked in various circumstances they could not answer. Yet they were comfortable in speaking authoritatively on what WIP should be and how to insure that it was accurately calculated. Call them clueless……321C6CEB-DD6D-48A6-9EA3-6137542A06C7

Really, you mean to tell me that reversing the prior month WIP and then entering the current month WIP is the way you record the effect of WIP in the current month?? WOW, I did not know that. Really? You are expounding on the importance of WIP and how you need to manage it which is, first, incorrect as you should “manage projects, not WIP” and you don’t even know how it is calculated. You don’t even understand that it is the incremental difference month over month which affects the income statement!!!! Puhleez, why are you wasting everyone’s time?? I can imagine this same exercise in futility continues to this day with this senior manager, clueless.

StoogesCombine this with the other senior managers who were incapable of independent thought and you have the making of an epic comedy. Moe falls all over himself trying to walk and chew gum at the same time. Duh, whatever they said I agree with, please don’t yell at me. Someone get this guy a new hairdo, LOL. Curly, scratches his balls and continues to stare down at the table so he doesn’t have to contribute anything intelligent to the analysis, which he is incabable of doing. Larry makes some cute remark which is how he starts every conversation to ingratiate himself with the senior manager. Something witty and ass kissing that keeps his nose firmly planted up the senior managers ass, LOL. No need to change this process, just humor the senior manager and let them think something is being accomplished, LOL. Another two hours of my life that I will never get back……….

Here is what a typical Q&A session might be like with the likes of Moe, Larry, Curly and Jane…

812BF21B-8D9D-4414-8922-8ED9AA1E6494– OK guys how many of you know the difference between positive and negative WIP?
Jane: Oh, Oh, me, me, me Jane stammers expressively jumping up and down with arms flailing in the air.
– Yes Jane, you go ahead and tell us the difference.
Jane: Easy peezy, positive WIP is when the positive ions outnumber the negative ions and negative WIP is when negative ions outnumber the positive ions!! She does the superstar cheerleader stance with smug satisfaction.
– Are you shitting me, this is your answer after I have explained it a million times before. You are truly clueless. Moe, what is the correct answer?
Moe: I agree with Jane on the positive negative thing. Is that OK?
– Again, are you shitting me, are you totally spineless? Wait, I already know the answer to that, LOL. Curly, what is the correct answer?
Curly: Mumbling, grumbling, and gurgling sound…. Uh, scratching his balls and rearranging things in the nether region and then he states, “I am opposed”.
– WTF, what the hell are you opposed to? That was not the question.
Curly: I don’t care, I am opposed.
– Jesus, this is great. Larry, what is the correct answer?
Larry: Well Jane you are looking very chipper for so early in the morning, did you smoke some meth before you came in this morning? Yuk, Yuk, Yuk….. Maybe the coffee has some extra caffeine in it, Yuk, Yuk, Yuk. Anyway the answer is whatever Jane says it is!
– Great, all of you are totally worthless.

E2C93CCA-761A-4050-9AE1-E079E59B5904This is a journey to the dark side of the moon where there exists a vacuum between the ears. A black hole from which no intelligent thought escapes. A time warp in which meetings repeat themselves month after month, week after week and the same non-results are celebrated as progress!!! Yet, the profit fade and poor project management never change. There is consistency in the fact that nothing changes – poor estimating and project management are the rule, not the exception.

Managing your project effectively means monitoring and changing the following as things change over the life of the project: Contract value, Change Orders, Original estimate, and Estimate to complete. If you maintain realism of these items the beneficiary is the WIP. The WIP does not drive project profitability, your actions on the project do. Those who say they don’t know how their project is doing because the WIP is incorrect are simply wrong. They don’t know where their project is because they have not managed their project. The following statement will never ring true, “if it wasn’t for my WIP I would have made my margins on this project.”. WIP does not drive project profitability, it is a byproduct of good project management. MANAGE PROJECTS, DO NOT MANAGE WIP.

Lesson learned:  Oh clueless ones, Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool than to Speak and Remove All Doubt

 

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.

Pedigree Can’t Cure Ignorance

 

I used to make the assumption that if someone had a first class school on their resume that it meant the person was an extraordinary talent. Unfortunately, some of the most ignorant senior managers, many in the “C” Suite, I have met in my career have had “A” list educations – Berkeley, Cornell, Stanford, MIT, etc. Continually amazes me that what I was told early in my career consistently plays out as true – all an education tells you about an individual is that they know how to jump through hoops. They are able to navigate through course requirements to get the degree. It says nothing about their abilities or capabilities in managing a company.

For instance, let’s bid jobs at 7% when our overhead is 21% and then can’t figure out why there is no profit, dumbass. Better yet, let’s underbid jobs in regions while concurrently ramping up overhead costs and then not perform on those jobs to the underestimated margin, dumbass. Simple math eludes even those at the top levels of management, otherwise known as dumbass.

Whacky math that you would have thought an education would make a difference in. These same dumbass managers, however, belittle those who possess greater knowledge as if to justify their ill conceived ideas. One of the better business minds I have met was an engineer who started a business and ran it very successfully. I will never forget the asinine behavior of one senior manager towards this successful business owner. Not only was it embarrassing but it exposed the insecurities this other manager had regarding their very own lack of business acumen, dumbass. Of course, this same manager was responsible for multi-million dollar losses, it was their only claim to fame, dumbass. Actually they had a bigger claim to fame but it was not something to brag about……

Imagine a company where the entire upper management is composed of such dumbasses!!! They are rocketing on the road to nowhere. A cover band masquerading as the real thing – capable and enlightened management. Unfortunately, this is much more common than one would believe. Spans all industries and all size companies.

Stooges

Lesson learned: ignorance knows no bounds and exists at the highest level of some organizations. A dumbass is a dumbass regardless of education or title.

 

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.

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