Little House In Ise

On Projects and Zombies
November 2, 2007, 08:32
Filed under: Expat, Japan, Work | Tags: , , , , , , ,

When work invades my dreams I take it as a sign that things aren’t going too well on the job. My current project has been turning up mixed with zombies (“28 Days Later” style fast zombies not the lumbering “Shaun of the Dead” kind).

The project itself should be pretty normal if a bit rushed. However, due to a corporate culture of understaffing and over-promising, I am rushing like a high-school kid scribbling a report on the bus the day it is due. There have been some fascinating, to me anyway, little wrenches thrown in to add color to an otherwise drab set of accomplished milestones.

1) A key sales dude in Israel was called back into the army for a couple of weeks but no-one told head office.
2) A key leader in the U.S. quit at what seemed like the last minute (he gave three weeks notice). It turns out that he had a bad case of short-timer-syndrome and had done no work on any of his assigned tasks.
3) A key VP here in Japan promised my customer that they were the most important, bar none, and then pulled senior engineers out of a long scheduled visit to the customer site. The issue to which they were responding was critical but customer expectations had been set too high too quickly.

The list could go on but these illustrate my point: communication failure is the most common problem in a project and it can be easy to correct.

1) The sales guy in Israel was doing his duty and no-one faults him for it. Had he told his co-workers or his boss to notify the head-office, there would have been no trouble at all.
2) Had the manager of the fellow in the US told the head-office not to assign mission critical tasks to him, confidentiality would have been preserved and the tasks would have been completed by someone else.
3) The VP could just stop over-promising but that may be why he is the a VP…

Other than #3 where bad communication may be an element of the person’s position, none of this was necessary. Had it just been a matter of covering for a VPs exuberance I would not be wishing that zombies would come and “save” me from this project.


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