I find that often with mid-sized businesses on up, there’s a lot of wasted time and lost productivity, mainly due to multiple layers of management and departments. Things like status meetings and conference calls are held to update a bunch of people who add no value and can’t contribue to the process or task at hand. Those very same people don’t understand technical details but insist on being updated on them, even when said details won’t help them in decision-making. I often see excessive micro-management. Or maybe it’s just too much adherence to the status quo and traditional way of doing things in corporate environments. Or maybe it’s just incompetence.
Time Wasted on Useless Discussion
All these useless exchanges of emails, meetings, calls, etc. waste a LOT of time. Time that I’m billing for. Sure I’m getting paid, but I’d much rather spend my time being productive and doing something purposeful. After all, avoiding all this wasted time and money benefits my clients. My glimpses into corporate bureaucracy leave me assured that I want to remain on my current path. I could not possibly deal with that crap day in and day out. Crap like trying to educate a superior so they can make a decision they’re not qualified to make.
Simple Things Get Blown Up
Sometimes, even simple tasks get completely blown out of proportion and out of scope. I’m working on a project right now where I’m building some add-on functionality for a web-based system I developed for a client. In order for me to produce what they want, it requires some action on their end. Sorry for the ambiguity, but obviously I need to keep the details confidential. The actual work involved on my end wouldn’t take more than a day. Yet we’ve spent weeks discussing the project and various requirements when I’ve very clearly laid out a course of action for them to follow.
It’s like when I say “hey I need this and that to move forward” and their first response is always “do you really need that? are you sure?” Then I have to explain why, often over and over again. Then they commence discussion on what they need to do on their end to meet my request. Stop talking about it and JUST DO IT. It needs to be that way – either do it or change key requirements of the project! What’s it going to be?
Just give me what I need and I’ll deliver everything everything in the specs – sounds simple right? That’s what I thought at first. But evidently nothing is simple anymore. Simple issues suddenly turn into big issues as more people throw in their 2 cents. Honestly, I can’t go into details but this project really isn’t complex, it frustrates me just thinking about such inefficiency.
Direct and Clear Communication Somehow Gets Muddled
What they need to do on their end to meet the initial project requirements doesn’t concern me because I have absolutely no control over that. I’m not involved in that internal process. Yet they’ve pulled me into their discussions even though I’m in no position to add input on this subject. It’s out of scope for what I was hired for. I don’t care how you do what you need to do, just make the appropriate changes on your end, so that I can proceed with the project. I like to streamline and simplify things whenever possible; the more focused the objective, the easier it is to establish a game plan for completing that objective. Don’t clutter my job up with irrelevant and unneccessary information.
I’ve made the requirements very clear – there’s no ambiguity. You see, that’s why I tend to write long emails, because I make it a big point to minimize ambiguity. When I’m providing instructions, the more clear cut things are, the less you have to interpret on your own, the better. You can never assume others are thinking in the same mindset as you. But you need to be competent enough for me to be able to hand off these detailed instructions and trust that you’ll be able to follow through and provide the desired result. The thinking has been done for you. Just execute.
Who Are You and What Are You Contributing?
Not only that, there are a few people I work with or report to regarding this project. People that are throwing in their own opinions when I’m in charge of producing the actual deliverables. People I need to clue in on intricate details of how the system I built for them works when they DON’T need to know such details because they add no value to my work. People that think they know more about the system that I built and try to correct me. I keep getting pushback when I point out their mistakes. I have to repeat myself over and over to get my point across. It’s absolutely fraking ridiculous. I really hate having to repeat myself.
This isn’t arrogance – I know the system inside and out because I put it all together. Every time they try to correct me, I spend more time explaining why they’re wrong. Clients need to trust the people they hire – if you can’t, then you hired the wrong person or you’re going about it all wrong. You bring in consultants and developers to use their expertise to help your business solve a problem. Don’t hire someone and think you can do a better job than they can. Because that’s just stupid; if you can really do a better job yourself, then do it already. Why did you need to hire them in the first place? What are you paying them for?
When I was young, inexperienced, and just learning about the business world, I used to wonder why there were all these consulting firms. From small, boutique firms to large, elite firms. I wondered why companies had to bring in outside consultants to basically tell them how to run their business. Couldn’t they hire the right talent? With all the wasted time and productivity I’ve witnessed firsthand I can see why it’s so easy for an outside consultant to come in and advise on significant operational, organizational, and strategic improvements.
Obviously I can’t reveal more details about the situation that I describe but if I were to suggest the things that I’m thinking, in this specific case, it would be overstepping my bounds. You have to choose your battles and opportunities wisely. In this case, it wouldn’t go over well considering I don’t have good things to say about some of the people I’m working with in this project. Thus I watch sadly as my client continues to waste time and money on this project.