Dilbert was right...

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by tindel, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. tindel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
    Why oh why do the bosses always want things faster, cheaper, and better? You can only get two...

    I thought Dilbert was cliche - nope... he was spot on.

    My boss came in today and demanded my card be finished asap... all for the almighty schedule - technical perfection be damned.

    Maybe it's a half-a-fifth of rye talking...

    Talking in cryptic half-sentences... I guess loosewire is my hero.
  2. JohnInTX


    Jun 26, 2012
    Been there, been there, been there again. Not much advice to give except see what the morning brings and try to gently advise (manipulate) the guy towards a good solution. Unfortunately, this seems to be the way things get to be..

    Perfection may be out of reach but see if you can achieve a balance between pretty-good and the schedule.

    I hate it too
    Good luck!
  3. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
    A fan from Denver ,the mile high.........Thanks for the mention...if real.
  4. tindel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
    John in TX - the only thing this morning has brought is a massive hangover so far (due to the aforementioned, self-inflicted, half-a-fifth)... but it's early... I will update...

    Loosie - I'm real... Have plans to meet WBahn one of these days and he can verify. but I guess you still won't know if we are both real. Are you real?
  5. sirch2

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2013
    Watson-Watt the inventor of RADAR lived by his “cult of the imperfect,” which he stated as “Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes.”
    tindel likes this.
  6. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    I believe he was referring to your shoutout, whether it was real or just a figure of speech :p
  7. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    Yeah... I'll bet that trace on your avatar gyrates when you are "speaking"
  8. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
    I'm real ,check out my picture of me swimming in the Bermuda Triangle. No safety

    gear ,no protection from lion and jelly fish. The ocean a real place with a lot of

    danger ,you can drown too. Shark cages are popular in the news now a days.

    That white spot next to me is my dive hole ,I drove off a lobster boat ,I was

    told if I did not surface from the dive....I would be hard to find. You need to be

    on a boat when something goes wrong ,panic sets in and a 4 man crew has to

    content with 20 people not knowing whats going to happen. On a typical day

    the boat is rolling in 10' seas , 15 per hour current.
  9. bountyhunter

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    Dilbert was so dead on that there were several companies out here that instituted security measures to prevent "further leaks" since they were convinced the Dilbert cartoons were about them.
    DerStrom8 likes this.
  10. tindel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
    Well, not a lot changed today. I started wrapping up the card with my layout guy, and we plan on reviewing it next week.

    I realized today that I did something yesterday I might live to regret. I told my boss yesterday that I don't care about the schedule... which is partially true... I don't care about it until he comes in yelling at me. I'm a board designer - I'm going to put as much effort into the design that I can, making it as good as I can get it. At some point someone will have to tell me to stop, and he did. All is right with the universe... I just wish I had more time to put on the finishing touches.

    Maybe this is a bad attitude.
  11. JohnInTX


    Jun 26, 2012
    Nah. I learned this from my wife who retired as a senior manager at at Fortune 10. She often counseled me working in my contractor-space. Any immediate superior should act as a buffer. Your report to him is a consolidation of everything you have on your plate (which may include issues like your own subs or just the everyday engineering process). You SHOULD be able to be honest with your super and that person should be able to filter out the noise and provide direction / correction to you and then report the problems/solutions and any impact to his superiors.

    If he comes in screaming, he's a bad manager. Period. Personally, I would appreciate your candor. It would be a signal that all was not well in Tindel-world and that, as a manager, I should take your pulse. Even if your problems were with me, I'd like to know. Sometimes I can fix it. If not, I could at least tell you why.

    Hang in there.
  12. WBahn


    Mar 31, 2012
    To some degree yes, to some degree no.

    People should worry most and care most about those aspects of a project for which they are responsible or they have control over. But, like it or not, that includes things that we impact indirectly, including schedule. Whether we like it or not, schedule is important in most jobs -- critical in some and less so in others.

    Think of it as someone that is going to hold his daughter's wedding in their backyard and hires a landscaper to do some work. He gets bids from several companies and chooses one that is not the cheapest because they have a reputation for doing good work on time. They say they will have the work done in two weeks and he has them start two months before the wedding. Life is good. Two weeks before the wedding, the work is only partially complete. What's done looks wonderful, but he is concerned that it won't get done on time. He complains to the manager of the landscaping company whose says they will get it finished. The manager reminds the job foreman that there is a hard deadline on this job and that they are already late on delivery. The foreman encourages his workers to try to speed things along, but doesn't want to make them feel too pressured since they are doing such fabulous work and it is obvious that they aren't slacking off -- in fact, the workers have really taken this job under their wing and want it to be truly magnificent and are putting in extra unpaid hours on it. They've met the duaghter and the her fiance and they know what this means to them and want to do only their best work.

    A week before the wedding, the father still agrees that the work is beautiful, but has no confidence that it can be finished in time and can't put off making decisions any longer. Since there are guests that have made long distance travel arrangements, he makes alternate arrangments. Because of such short notice, he cannot book any nice venues at a price he can afford nor can he find a place that is suitable for most of the items that were being made specifically for his back yard location and can't get permits for any area parks because they all require a 30-day lead time on requests. So the wedding ends up taking place in the basement all-purpose room of a neighborhood VFW post and the father still has to pay for all off the items that were ordered whether they could be used or not.

    The work in the back yard is finally completed two days after the wedding and is truly prize-winning, quality work.

    Should the father pay the landscaper for the work?

    Does the landscaping company deserve to have it's reputation tarnished?

    Did the manager do a good job?

    Did the job foreman do a good job?

    Did the workers do a good job?
    Georacer likes this.
  13. Georacer


    Nov 25, 2009
    I couldn't agree more with WBahn. It's one thing to have a pet project that accompanies you for all eternity, but another thing to sell something to a client.

    When you make a deal with a client, it goes something like this:
    Client: I want this service. When can you have it done and how much will it cost?
    Salesman: It will cost this much and it will be ready by then.

    The salesman will have broken his word not only if the product doesn't meat the specifications, but if it's delayed or is produced at higher cost. All three conditions are equivalently important to me.

    Sadly, Greek craftsmen and salesmen usually violate all three conditions. This is what you get for being a generally relaxed people.
  14. tindel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
    John in TX - candor - yeah, I have plenty of that - for better or worse. Some people appreciate candor, others don't want to hear it. I mean no offense when I tell people the way I see it... usually I'm asking for help or pointing out a wrong that needs fixed, in my eyes. My wife (also a manager, though not of a fortune 10) said she would have killed me if I told her I didn't care about her schedule! Good thing she's not my boss! Ha! Oh wait...

    Wbahn - I'm not sure how to answer your questions about your scenario - I suspect they are rhetorical questions. I do get your point. Schedule is important in most jobs, including mine... and if the wedding can't be held - was it worth the cost and sacrifice to begin with?

    I did apologize to my boss yesterday for our heated discussion... and he accepted my apology. He understands the schedule pressures on this program very well. I did tell him that I wish I had more time to put on the finishing touches. He agreed that it would be nice, but thinks that we need to move on and felt that it was low risk to the program. To which, I agreed with him.

    I also reminded him that in the 15 years I've been in this industry that I've never missed a hard delivery date. I may have missed some of the intermediate dates (which are usually bs anyway - without input from the people doing the work), but have never missed my 'wedding day'.

    He's also trying to get me some help on some things that aren't critical that I oversee. I've worked nearly 70 hours the last 4 weeks, and am treading water, but need some help, and he sees that. He is actually a pretty good manager, better than most I've had. Thank God I get paid for most of my OT. I don't think most engineers do these days.

    Anyway - off to work - thanks for letting me blow off steam!
  15. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    There are many aspects of a project that at first look don't seem to be "technical:"

    Cost. Size. Weight. Color.

    Schedule? So many things depend on the schedule. It impacts every other aspect of the job.

    "technical perfection?" I guarantee there is nothing in the specification or job order that requires perfection.

    I will state as fact there is a ship date commitment in there somewhere.

    I have a little book hidden in my desk where I write down items about my people. Name, date, and a little note. Comes in handy at review time when you review contemporary notes instead of "I kinda recall..."

    If one of my guys told me he was late due to "technical perfection" there definitely would have been a line in my book about this. Along with some follow up retraining.

    @tindel: Now can you tell me again what inspired you to anger the guy who determines your salary review?
  16. Metalmann

    Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
    "When you make a deal with a client, it goes something like this:
    Client: I want this service. When can you have it done and how much will it cost?
    Salesman: It will cost this much and it will be ready by then."

    That's the way I always looked at it.

    Running emergency work at all hours, required that attitude.

    There's money in them thar emergency repairs/fabrications!;):D
  17. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
    I manage the interface between business mgmt/R&D(design)/customer.

    When we calculate the profitability of a project, we have to estimate how much the design and process setup is going to cost - essentially our investment. If the profit is too small, or the profit will only come slowly, it is not worth our time or effort.

    I don't want four people working for 6 months ($400k development costs) on a project that is only going to have $300k in net profit (selling price minus raw material costs).

    An employee's time is expensive. It is not just your salary but 30 to 35% for benefits, 10 to 20% for bonus, office space, computers, software licenses (very expensive if they have SAP access and a full design suite), training and travel. We also have to put a risk factor into any project because not all projects come to a profitable conclusion. $200k per year on R&D/Design time is not unreasonable. That is about $800 per working day. Travel and training days are not very productive so projects get billed at $1000/day per person.
  18. bountyhunter

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    When I worked at national Semi, the schedules were a joke. None of the people who actually knew what was going on had input into the creation of the schedule, managers just made up a number and forced it onto the development teams. In 20 years, I don't believe I ever saw a project finished "on schedule".

    The problem is that when nobody has any input into the schedule, nobody buys into it since we all knew it was impossible to begin with. It sets everybody up to fail from the outset, and the only question is how much you will fail by.

    The product line director Dennis Monticelli had a "fix" for that. At one meeting where he apparently forgot there were a few worker bees in the room, he pontificated this: "People will always find a way to fail if you let them. You have to make the punishment for failure so high that they won't keep doing this."

    To that end he came up with a plan: our annual raises would be tied to the "on time" release of development projects. On time, you got 100% credit. Within one quarter of schedule, 50%. After that you got zero. So the result was that when projects slid past the point of redemption, the guys working on them would dump them on the back burner and try to salvage some other project that still had hope of getting into the cash window. Good job, Dennis.

    The key word is control. The way Nat Semi got around it was to make it "all for one" team punishment as if every member had some way of fixing any problem. It didn't matter why a project was late, everybody failed and everybody got zeroed out as if the people who do the data sheet after product release have any way to fix the design problems that had the project stalled for a year.

    I once told my boss: suppose you build a new room on your house.... the concrete guy pours the foundation, the wood guy frames it, another guy does the sheet rock, the electrician wires it and then the painter paints it. But they forgot to install the bay window you wanted.... so you decide nobody gets paid because the "team failed"..

    How fast would they drag your backside into court for their money?

    True story: the director of the entire design group (Tamas) did the reviews for the designers and everybody got hammered for any late projects..... but on his own review, he weaseled out of it and didn't get any dings for his failures to deliver on time products. I remember somebody fed that back to the designers and it ended up going in front of a VP who told tamas that the same standards have to be used for all reviews.... and he was not happy about that.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013
  19. tindel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
    Strike a nerve did I?

    Few things
    1) Some industries do require 'technical perfection'. Mine is one of them... I don't get a second chance and I don't get to rework or fix after it's delivered. I do actually have a requirement in my specification for technical perfection... although it's called something else.

    2) I have NEVER missed a delivery date - ever. Have I been late to interim dates? Yep. I've always found a way to make up the time and deliver on time. I'm still batting 1.000 - I don't intend for that to change.

    3) If my boss had a hidden black book to remind him of anything I said and docked my salary because of something I said out of fatigue, frustration, and honesty (partially due to decisions he's made) after I've spent 50-70 hours a week for the better part of a year doing everything I can for him so that he looks good and he pulls out that book and says "you remember that one day you said... " during my yearly review - I'd be livid and sending out resumes within an hour! I've got a family too - I've been loosing precious time with my only child to make the boss a success. If that's the kind of thanks I'd get, I'd be gone quickly.

    The problem with this is that I don't think most managers have the stones to call their employees out (maybe you do, I don't know you personally). The decisions regarding salary increases are always made behind closed doors where I work... The little black book would remain locked away in the bosses drawer and I would likely never know that this even effected my merit raise.