I'm not very ambitions in career, indeed some of my mates are already occupy very prestigious management positions. Normally, I'm trying to avoid responsibility I can't control. I believe that most of people in top management NEVER control things, they are responsible for. But believe that I can do better then they is really phenomenal.
Story begins in that nasty autumn day when manager said that we supposed to keep all tasks estimated planned for release in order to improve our proximity.
Looks pretty simple for project you might have been working on, but I would like to bring your attention to terms marked in italics.
Keep estimated doesn't mean to estimate just once: it means everyday estimations should be file.
Release means not just single iteration, but all bunch of tasks from all iterations we planned or even didn't yet planned.
Proximity? I actually didn't catch what the hell is that ...
My answer was very rational, but disappointed manager quite hard: he told that I should elaborate way to define alternative approaches and insisted to have meeting dedicated to my response where I should have explained situation to the team leads. Actually my first response provided certain kind of workarounds for this: we can make releases shorter or we can make full estimation just once and then concentrate on support tasks. Otherwise we spend more than 20 hours a day just for estimations.
I have conducted the meeting, but and made the same conclusions about situation, all other team didn't have so many issues, they were incoherent and releases where much oftener, but they supported my points and we closed the meeting.
I was very surprised when suddenly I saw meeting invitation regarding proximity in my calender scheduled to 6 PM. Oh, God, did you forget how much time I spent on this?
The meeting was eye-opener for me about how projects within our corporations are evaluated by customer. You know once per quarter we have so called evaluation questionnaires, where customer put marks from 1 to 5 to 8 different nominations. Proximity is one of those nominations and we get awful mark (2) for it. 2 means less then expected, so our proximity was expected to be better then it is.
Team was very curious about this issue (in fact we had no other choice) and kindly asked departments head who also attended this meeting what is going on and how do we measure proximity?
Well, we were explained that main goal of our meeting is to collect ideas how to improve it and our manager has already requested from customer explanation why proximity is was estimated so poor. Here is the letter:
Thank you a lot for filling evaluation form of our NTSR project!
Could you please give us explanation what is proximity and what team is responsible for reducing proximity ...
If you give us more extensive information we will put our efforts to find out why proximity is so poor and elaborate plans how to improve it.
PM of NTSR project
Ok, people, so what we can do with it? Donnie's reply was quite obscure, so it doesn't help us very much. Let us thing about this.
Well proximity in Wikipedia gives us certain answer: proximity is ...
Wait, wait, wait, wait! Do we really have no perception what the proximity is? Evaluation form is standard for all project in our organization! And it's not a first time it was introduced to the customer! Actually our customer put marks for proximity already several times ...
Our manager was on top: he used so peculiar phrases to explain how important and difficult his job is. But, how about the result? We have no information about thing that has major influence on our project! We have nothing else that has such significant effect on the project destiny.
Suddenly I realize that anyone can be not worse manager for our project than Julius: he has the same idea about evaluation as we all. Only difference is that he new about them and finding out how those measurements have been performed is primary task for any manager.
Now I don't believe in managers and believe that if we got mark for any other nomination (tolerance, productivity, proactivity and so on) the reply would be the same: Dear Donnie, we are to stupid to understand what a hell that is. Teach us and hope that we will do better next 3 month.
Meeting show me how deep problem was. In fact I'm quite anxious about 2 things:
- getting me to find out what are all those values in evaluation table
- requesting what else our managers have concealed that can be strike us so badly.