Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Usually solved by drink

A better day today, due mostly to my headphones. Social interaction is overrated. And the php is progressing nicely. So much I don't know! And what will probably happen is that I'll get kind of good at this and then they'll hire someone who actually knows what they're doing and then I'll never use those skills again. That's consistent with my life cycle so far.

I almost bought the first issue of Scott Pilgrim last night. I feel like I should at least be aware of this thing, but picking it up after the series is done and it becomes familiar to the mainstream makes me feel a little... artificial? I don't know. Would reading it after it became popular lessen my enjoyment of it? I can't be all kinds of nerd all the time, you know.

I probably overthink this stuff. That's why I can't dance, too. Overthinking.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What currency is there other than time?

I said something to a coworker yesterday, and it baffled her. In fact, I think it might have lowered her opinion of me. And this thing I said is central to how I operate, so I thought I'd roll it out here and see if I'm just messed up. Probably.

It has to do with laziness. That's a bad word for it, but it's the word I used at the time so I'll stick to it. My basic premise is that every organization needs a certain amount of laziness in it, to improve efficiency. We have this problem at my company where people do the most amount of work possible because they believe that produces the best end result. This leads to sixty hour weeks, fatigue, poor morale and a functional breakdown of the corporate engine. The quality of work suffers, and in the mean time you've wasted an enormous amount of time getting there.

The problem is that we don't value our own time. It doesn't matter that the company doesn't value our time, because it doesn't, but we as workers don't value our time. So if we get a high quality product by working 40 hours, but could be getting a high+1 quality product at 60 hours, people will put in those 20 hours for that +1.

And I won't.

I imagine this will become difficult at some point. It's built into the system. Here's an example: There was an unreasonable amount of design that had to be done for a project over the course of about two weeks. Many jobs going through the system. And, for reasons that are not entirely relevant, they were all going through a single designer. They tried to get some freelancers in here, but for various reasons weren't able to get people up to speed in time, so we only had one designer on the task. And she worked unreasonable hours. Slept two or three hours a night most nights, and over the weekend before the project was due did not sleep at all. That's correct. She stayed up for 48 hours straight to get the task done. This is what we do to people.

So back to laziness. Any rational person faced with that would say "Sorry, it's not going to happen." and things would fall as they would. We're not talking about putting out a fire or triaging patients, here. We're talking about direct mail. No one was going to die. You know what would have happened if we'd been late on that project? We'd pay rush charges on material delivery to the vendor. But that would cost money and, as previously described, our time is free.

I value my time. I don't look for reasons to work extra on a project. I produce good results in the minimum amount of time, with the minimum effort. If I doubled my hours would my results improve? Probably. But I'd be miserable.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I am not a lettershop

My post count here has dwindled since I added Twitter. It's just easier to snap off a bit of ire there, rather than posting here. Follow me. And if you can't figure out my handle on twitter, then you never really loved me at all, did you?

Work update, I suppose. They aren't going to make us work for free as they had previously announced. New CFO, new income report, I suppose. We're going to be doing a bunch of the printing and inserting for acquisition ourselves this year (and ongoing) so that's going to trim the budget enough. Actually, we have to hire people to run those machines, and apparently that's covered too. So we fired five and a half people and are now hiring...more than that. The exact number is up in the air, but the actual quantity is increasing. I just get the feel we're making up the numbers as we go along.

What troubles me most about it is the direction of the hires. We laid off our entire Strategic Services department, who were tasked with providing data for strategic decisions. Math stuff. Drilling down into our projects to see what is working and why, and how we should proceed from there. Important stuff. So they're gone, and we're replacing them with, essentially, shop help. We're changing the focus of our company from thinking to...well. To production. To vending a product. And it's not a change for the better, because frankly we barely know what we're doing in that realm.

Anyway. Something to add to the list.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The sound of people who are too busy to despair

I really hope you people don't sit around waiting for me to update this thing. I do all my talking on twitter these days, so even if I'm feeling productive you might never see it. But some things can't be properly meditated on in 140 characters, so here we go.

I should start with the cutbacks at work. The firings are officially over, and we've basically been floundering. Like I said, we as a company were working over capacity. People were working ten and eleven hour days on a regular basis. Work quality was suffering because we had too much on our plates. Morale was in the pits. And in this environment, we were still losing money. You see? There's something fundamentally wrong with the way that we're doing business. Our processes, our services, our business model...something is broken. And when you present these problems to management, you get a speech about how great our team is, and how we're going to buckle down and work through this difficult time together. Sorry, kids. There are things that gumption can't fix. And no one here shows any sign of fixing the things that are actually broken. It's a bad culture. That's all I have on that.

Oh, and there are pay cuts across the board. They tried to present it as "furlough" but we'll still be working. You don't know what furlough means. Only you do know what it means, and you just decided to not be honest with us. You tried to spin it. We understand. We know how this game works. Buddy.

Other than that shit, my life is pretty good. We got moved into the rental with little hassle. The dog has acclimated well to the new environment, which is a real relief. We're all on one level now so she can get to us no matter where we are. Still adjusting to her walking into the bedroom at three in the morning. Freaks me out.