Mar 1, 2012

Tell the captain that there is no more power to be given

Captain Kirk was a badass. Anyone who disputes this claim probably jerks off to slave Leia images… well, maybe that happens to most guys, but that’s beside the point. The point is that Kirk was the shizzle. He beat the Kobayashi Maru, he slept with a vast array of space babes, he spoke…. with… perfect….. pacing-because-he-was-so-fucking-cool. But as a boss, he had to sometimes really be a pain in the ass… but every time he asked for more power, more speed or more anything, it was because it was NECESSARY. It wasn’t a whim, it wasn’t bullshit, it was a direct order to avert disaster.

Most supervisors work like Captain Kirk in danger mode ALL THE TIME. Meaning that we need to do everything rushed rush rush so that we can get it all done. They expect quantity results like a sausage factory while constantly changing directives, direction, opinion and priorities.

Your average factory basically takes the process required to manufacture something, analyzes it, develops the ideal strategy to ensure quality and speed and doesn’t mess with it. That doesn’t happen in companies. There is no set process for most things, but the expectations are for people to keep producing nonstop with variable directives, changes in direction and priority changing.

This does not work, but we try and make it work as best as we can.

Think of it this way, you have a factory. You need to produce 15,000 units a day of whatever it is you’re manufacturing. That means that per hour, you need to produce 1,875 units of whatever it is you’re making. You have a set amount of employees working towards this goal. But during the first half hour, you decide to change ingredients to offer a better mix. Now you have to make adjustments, and accelerate your pace. During the second hour, there is a size change in the packaging. Adjust what’s already been done, and work thrice as hard to make up for the lost time of the first two hours. During the third hour, you’re told by the line supervisor that they think there should be a change in the recipe. Another adjustment, another delay, the clock keeps ticking. To cap all this efficiency off, in the fourth hour the department head which supervises what’s being done, calls into question the decision of what was made, calls for a halt in operation, convenes a meeting that takes an hour and when they come back there are new directives to follow.

Sounds ludicrous? Well yeah, but that’s also how most companies work. Clusterfucks don’t happen of their own accord, we have to work hard at having people be behind schedule and all the while, the line workers are angry because they feel they haven’t accomplished anything and because they know they’re going to receive that classic peptalk where we all have to focus our efforts and dig deep just so the supervisor and the Department Head can have a 3 hour lunch and leave work early while people are getting shafted.

In a factory, this is unacceptable, but I really don’t see why it’s believed to be a best practice in any other industry. It’s stupid, tedious, a waste of time and energy and the reality of way too many people in way too many departments at way too many companies.

So what options do we have? Try and make a change, tolerate and sulk or switch ships until we find the USS Enterprise.

As for making a change, it takes effort, risk, and you have to take a couple of hits, but if you manage to fracture a paradigm, other people may follow suit to help you bring it down. Tolerating and sulking prompts you to medicate to nuke the symptoms. And jumping ship is no guarantee that the pasture is as green as the brochure says. But guess what; during all this process… you have the power to decide for yourself what you want to do and how to react.

Have a Kirk wannabe for a boss and you’re sick of them? Then do what you need to do so you don’t end up wearing a red shirt, whatever that may mean in your life.



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