Monthly Archives: April 2007

10 Things Your Boss Hates About You

 

Think you’ve got it bad at work? Your boss might have more to complain about than you. Where you may have one person to direct all your angst to, your boss has many.

For the benefit of a healthier work environment, here are some reasons why you might be the source of strife.

1. Lateness

2. Lack of initiative

“Don’t ask me if you should buy lunch for the client, if the client is coming at noon,” said one infuriated manager. “Call up the client and ask if they want lunch.”

3. Too much initiative

4. Bitching and whining

5. Disloyalty

6. Lack of passion. Or interest

7. Trying to be their best friend

8. Petty lying

9. Childishness

10. Wanting their job

The first couple in the list read more like reasons why you should quit your job anyway, while a few are really just reasons why most people don’t like you.

How to stifle your creativity in 10 easy steps

Great post on one of my favorite sites lifehacker:

  1. Be afraid. Be very afraid. There’s nothing like fear to put a stop to any kind of creativity: fear of getting it wrong; fear of what other people may say; fear of embarrassment; fear of change. The more afraid that you are, the less creative you will be—and the less you will act on any creative thoughts that manage to break through the curtain of anxiety.
  2. Remind yourself of all the times that you failed in the past. Keep them fresh in your mind. Dwell on them—the pain, the shame, the hurt, the way others sniggered. Let your imagination go to work and really re-live those cringe-making moments. That should stop you ever trying again.
  3. Never waste time. Stay constantly busy. Never mind what the tasks are, just keep them coming thick and fast. Time is money, isn’t it? There’s no mileage in leaving any moments free from gainful activity—especially for self-indulgent activities like day dreaming or reflecting on what has happened. If you fill every waking moment with busyness, you won’t have to worry about creative thoughts sneaking up on you. There will be no space for them.
  4. Always try to fit in. Be much more than a good team player—be the person who never, ever rocks the boat. Whatever seems to be the majority opinion, go with it. People who have ideas of their own can face suspicion or—horror of horrors—criticism and dislike by the majority. Don’t risk being on the wrong side. The minute that it’s clear what the majority (or the most powerful players) want, that’s where your opinions and thoughts must be.
  5. Stick to what you know. Tried and true is what’s right for you. Change and novelty involve risk, and risks can go wrong. If you give in to entertaining innovative thoughts, you may find that what you’ve been doing all these years isn’t as good as you thought. That would upset you and maybe force you to do something risky, like altering your habits or changing your viewpoint. So don’t be rash. Caution must be your watchword at all times. Whatever that new idea is, let it wait a while—say a decade or so—before considering it seriously. You’ll be surprised how many will go away in far less time than that.
  6. Always defer to authority. The people in charge must know what they are doing, or they wouldn’t hold the positions that they do. It would be presumptuous to inject any of your own ideas, when they clearly have all the answers. Rules exist to be obeyed, not challenged. If you always do exactly as you are told, you won’t ever risk disapproval from your betters.
  7. Don’t ask stupid questions. Best of all, don’t ask any questions. They only get people into trouble. Folk who develop the nasty habit of questioning things may upset the status quo, and that simply causes trouble and disruption. Things are as they are. There’s no point wasting time or effort wondering whether they ought to be different in some way. Only dissidents and weirdoes don’t understand that simple fact.
  8. Always listen to your Inner Critic. It’s there to stop you making a fool of yourself. Whatever it says, pay close attention. It will unfailingly point out how useless, pointless, and silly those creative ideas really are. It will explain to you that they will never work, and how expressing them will only make you a laughingstock. It’s your friend. Trust it implicitly.
  9. Leave thinking to the experts. There’s no point in bothering them with with your pathetic notions or observations. If it was an idea worth having, the experts would already have thought about it. They have all kinds of qualifications and can use long words too. If you think that some change might be needed (and you can’t simply ignore such a disruptive idea), hire expensive, expert consultants to do the thinking. They’ll quickly tell you whatever you want to hear, then add what others are doing, so you can copy them. Best of all, if it goes wrong, you can first of all say that what you did was follow industry best practice (whatever that means); and, if that doesn’t disarm any criticism, you can blame the consultants.
  10. Keep it simple, stupid. The worst thing about creative ideas is that they so often make life more complicated. The best way to stay on an even keel is to keep everything very, very simple. Find one or two rules of thumb and stick to them like glue. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you that there aren’t simple, easy answers to every situation. There are. It’s just that, for some odd reason, they don’t work very often—if ever. Still, persistence is a great virtue. If you stay with these simple, superficial approaches long enough, one or two are bound to work in some circumstance, sometime. Then you can point out to the clever dicks that you were right all along. Why mess up your head with learning? It’s learning that allows creative ideas in the first place. Anyway, learning is for children. Adults like you don’t need it.

I’m not Surprised

from Seth’s Blog

I walk into a hotel in the United States and find myself near the ballroom where a trade show is being held, I can tell, without being shown the room, exactly what the trade show is going to look like. Layout, booth styles, what the attendees are wearing… If I walk into a certain kind of italian restaurant in most cities around the world, I can tell exactly what is going to be on the menu and approximately what each item is going to cost. When I sit down on an airplane, I know exactly what the flight attendant is going to say, and when. When the phone rings and it’s a person trying to sell me financial services, I know what she’s going to say… (and you can probably guess the rest of this paragraph).

There’s nothing wrong with not surprising people. In fact, most of the time, you don’t want to surprise people. I don’t want to be surprised when I use an electric drill, and I don’t want to be surprised when they’re doing surgery on me.

But if you want the word to spread, if you expect me to take action I’ve never taken before, it seems to me that you need to do something that hasn’t been done before. It might not feel safe, but if you do the safe thing, I guarantee you won’t surprise anyone. And if you don’t surprise anyone, the word isn’t going to spread.

Suggest Blowing Out the Dust

Microsoft’s Raymond Chen tells the story of a customer who complains that the keyboard isn’t working. Of course, it’s unplugged. If you try asking them if it’s plugged in, “they will get all insulted and say indignantly, ‘Of course it is! Do I look like an idiot?’ without actually checking.”“Instead,” Chen suggests, “say ‘Okay, sometimes the connection gets a little dusty and the connection gets weak. Could you unplug the connector, blow into it to get the dust out, then plug it back in?’

“They will then crawl under the desk, find that they forgot to plug it in (or plugged it into the wrong port), blow out the dust, plug it in, and reply, ‘Um, yeah, that fixed it, thanks.’”

Many requests for a customer to check something can be phrased this way. Instead of telling them to check a setting, tell them to change the setting and then change it back “just to make sure that the software writes out its settings.”

Start Performing

When do people perform best at any task, from sport to nuclear physics? When they’re relaxed, intent on what they’re doing and more of less oblivious of everything else. When they’re having fun. So loosen up and enjoy your life.

  • 1. Stop hiding who you really are
  • 2. Stop following the rules.
  • 3. Start scaring yourself.
  • 4. Stop taking it all so damn seriously.
  • 5. Start getting rid of the crap.
  • 6. Stop being busy.
  • 7. Start something.
  • 8. Don’t worry what others will think about you.

Strategic Inertia

A strategy is, at its core, a guide to behavior. A good strategy drives actions that differentiate the company and produce financial success.

A lot of strategies, though, are simply inert. Whether they are good or bad is impossible to determine, because they do not drive action. They may exist in pristine form in a PowerPoint document, or in a “strategic planning” binder, or in speeches made by top executives. But if they don’t manifest themselves in action, they are inert, irrelevant. They’re academic.

Railroad

Does the statement, “We’ve always done it like that” ring any bells?

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches.
That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

Because that’s the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built
the US Railroads.

Why did the English build them like that?

Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the
pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.

Why did “they” use that gauge then?

Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools
that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?

Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would
break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because
that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads?

Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England)
for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads?

Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the
original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

And bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse’s ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman army
chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses. !

Now, the twist to the story

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.

The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains.

The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel.

The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track,
as you now know, is about as wide as two horses’ behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse’s ass.