FASTER YOU FUCKERS - The ILX Work & Productivity Thread

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

probably need a thread about work, productivity etc

― but olives are valuable too (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, June 12, 2013 12:27 PM (2 weeks ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

wanted to start a thread specifically out of things I've been mildly obsessed with recently, very much from a UK, office-based, corporate work point of view - that's not intended to be in any way exclusive: wd like to compare countries around the world, non-corporate work, freelance work etc.

don't know much and would like to know a LOT more about:

the structures and theory of how work should be accomplished: ISOs, PRINCE2 ("used extensively within the UK government as the de facto project management standard for its public projects"), Agile, .

More generally the application of these engineering and software development methodologies to the workflow of human resourcing - or the machine of human resourcing if you like. What effect does this have on people?

Saw an excellent film - Thomas Imbach's [url=]Well Done - a heavily stylised documentary about a Swiss bank:

Inconspicuous gestures, ways of speaking and looks recorded by the camera are woven together in a serial montage portraying a world in which the subtle power of electronic technology shapes communication between human beings and leaves its traces in the most private spheres.[/i]

In this early '90s films the physical structures and requirements of work are the major elements - humans are represented in the process as a necessary but minor element, part of a larger mechanical organism, their work and non-work lives formed around the structures and language of their workplace. Imagining the psycho-sexual transformations in Ballard's Crash, where humans and cars are a single transformed object or a sex-death organism, with workplace structures and processes the mechanism replacing the car. What is our role in these invisible workplace mechanisms?

Even if you don't work in an office, these processes and structures are at work almost everywhere around us - cost-benefit analyses of traffic infrastructure, the execution of colossal public and private projects, processes and analytical tools increasingly becoming part of the education system and what is meaningfully left of the NHS.

How can mechanisms purely devoted to efficiency produce £100 disasters like the BBC's Digital Media Initiative for instance? (£100 million is the quoted figure - in fact if you take into account the endless financial 're-baselining' during the project the figure is much higher).

related - the language used within those methodologies (business speak) - stakeholders, actioning, drilling down, leveraging synergies - you know the sort. Is business speak - as Tom Ewing wrote in a recent article - 'hard done by'? With 'a compact, vigorous metaphoric sense .. that deserves better than contempt'? I'm torn - attacking it as language innovation feels a bit imaginatively barren, and its simplicity provides a useful leveller in the workplace, and the attacking of the language in itself feels unimaginative. It is also a sort of management guild cant - impenetrable to outsiders, with quite formal meanings to what look like anodyne phrases and words, designed to exclude. There can be a touch of superstition about the phrases - if I use this terminology then productivity will magically come about. To what extent is the language separable from the processes it stems from? Are the people who attack it actually correct, despite the usually facile execution, sensing something that is inherently wrong with this language, ie seeing that it is not a language that is able to critique its own system?

arguments around work as inherently virtuous, protestant work ethic or tool of the capitalist system, to be shirked, avoided, subverted, or performed in any way with the idea that your self-worth derives from how much value you can provide to your employers:

[url=]“Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world,” they said. “We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor.”[url]

are people increasingly using the methodologies of their workplace in their non-work lives? I know a few people who seem unable to find repose because their prioritised and comprehensive to do list sees them trudging from chore to chore to tick things off their list. I barely go beyond a shopping list, but there is an increasing availability of personal applications which use workplace categorisation (priority, urgency, people involved, places, splitting it up into further actions etc) to apply to daily life.

[b]are office and work structures inherently designed to continue the historically powerful figure in these organisations - the wealthy, white, older male. to what extent do those structures force people to perform and behave in a manner that is commensurate with that figure in order to succeed?

er, that's enough for now.

quote is from Kingsley Amis's Memoirs, relating a Terry-Thomas anecdote:

[q]'There's a fellow called Telfer who makes more pork pies in than anybody else in the bloody world, old boy. So the Americans went and asked him how he did it - incentive schemes, graduated bonuses, productivity scales, vacation benefits, you know the kind of thing. "No," he kept saying, "no, I never do anything like that, no, I just let 'em turn the bloody things out as best they can. Oh, now I come to think of it, there is just one thing - every so often I goes down to the yard and I bawls, 'Faster, you fuckers!'"'

Fizzles, Sunday, 30 June 2013 21:15 (six years ago) link

well that all seemed to format very nicely.

Fizzles, Sunday, 30 June 2013 21:16 (six years ago) link

i think this is essential:

Mordy , Sunday, 30 June 2013 21:21 (six years ago) link

i've got an essay bookmarked at work about how ever-increasing demands on productivity help to create a society that discriminates more than ever against disabled people but i might have to wait until tomorrow or Tuesday to dig it up

and this is the most essential paragraph:

That Taylorism and its modern variants are often just a way of putting labor in its place need hardly be stated: from the Hungarians’ point of view, the pig iron experiment was an infuriatingly obtuse way of demanding more work for less pay. That management theory represents a covert assault on capital, however, is equally true. (The Soviet five-year planning process took its inspiration directly from one of Taylor’s more ardent followers, the engineer H. L. Gantt.) Much of management theory today is in fact the consecration of class interest—not of the capitalist class, nor of labor, but of a new social group: the management class.

Mordy , Sunday, 30 June 2013 21:22 (six years ago) link

That looks great, Mordy, thanks. Was going to put something about notions of management and workforce.

Fizzles, Sunday, 30 June 2013 21:25 (six years ago) link

ha - should've known any ilx thread about work and productivity would be anti-work and anti-productivity.

balls, Sunday, 30 June 2013 21:30 (six years ago) link

xpost not anti them! even if I once said that I'd rather do nothing than go to work any more.

more, wondering how the formatting of labour affects the labourer, the product of that labour, and the process of labour.

are the work-efficiency systems neutral, or if not what are their politics? in some ways these systems, by anonymising humans into "resources" seem more open to a wider variety of people - to take a positive example. where efficiency is the aim, it doesn't matter who you are as long as you are able to resource the action. does this make these systems a force for good in traditionally gender-biased or culturally exclusive workplaces?

Fizzles, Sunday, 30 June 2013 21:39 (six years ago) link

My office has recently gone from a broadly flexible arrangement when it came to working from home to compulsory attendance. All the tech brought in to facilitate remote working (cloud drives, Skype, etc) and the insane cost of landmark London office space counts for nothing when management doesn't trust people to put a shift in unmonitored. Tbh, they're probably right not to in a lot of cases. It's interesting how many people in relatively senior positions will do next to nothing unless there's someone looking over their shoulder. I'm not sure it's idleness, per se, rather than detachment. German workers may be more efficient because they have more of a stake in the business - both in terms of a formal voice on workers' councils and better rewards.

Inte Regina Lund eller nån, mitt namn är (ShariVari), Sunday, 30 June 2013 21:50 (six years ago) link

what do you mean by detachment, SV?

I ask because I tried to apply it to examples of senior management I have known and came up with the following:

habit of delegation means things get done by others, not them. Leads to uncertainty about what it is they actually do (both in themselves and those around or under them).

same habit leads to lack of knowledge about the specifics of what is being down, who it affects more than one level beneath them etc.

only "upward" looking - their role is to pass on senior level requirements. they don't feed back to that senior level meaningfully.

Fizzles, Sunday, 30 June 2013 21:56 (six years ago) link

Yes, that's the gist of what I was thinking at the senior level. Also the lack of stability, certainly in my industry. Senior managers provide cover for the strategic failures of directors and can expect to be jettisoned if things go badly or jump before they do.

Along with the lack of productivity, there's often an unwillingness to make decisions or take personal accountability. Doing nothing can sometimes seem safer.

Inte Regina Lund eller nån, mitt namn är (ShariVari), Sunday, 30 June 2013 22:11 (six years ago) link

A senior manager at my office did a 'day in the life' blog for the intranet (lol), proudly explaining how he spent the whole day in meetings with people discussing - in the abstract - what would be getting done by some other people at some point. He really thought that this was evidence of how productive he is (and that anyone gave a shit).

They've also decided that doing things Agile is good because they've read a book about it, but have no idea how to actually do it.

Productivity is easy to measure when you are at the lower-end actually ~doing stuff~. Managers are at their worst when they realise that they also need to prove they are producing value. Being seen to be managing becaomes the most important part of their job.

Also related to this topic is the whole concept of the 'right to work' etc pursued by much of the left, especially the unions. I'm much more interested in reducing productivity/making work unnecessary.

oppet, Sunday, 30 June 2013 22:37 (six years ago) link

negative people on the intranet

Nilmar Honorato da Silva, Sunday, 30 June 2013 22:42 (six years ago) link

correlation between rising productivity and global temperatures has me wishing people would chill a little

reggie (qualmsley), Sunday, 30 June 2013 22:44 (six years ago) link

Ive happily forgotten 99% of all the bullshit (and 99% of it was bullshit) a degree in business attempted to instill in me. These names, concepts, they're like the foggy ghosts of strangers. You'll do well managing people if you don't mind bullying them for money. Sometimes you won't have to do that- if this is the case your role is probably unnecessary and you might worry about any audit that could take place.

dj hollingsworth vs dj perry (darraghmac), Sunday, 30 June 2013 23:06 (six years ago) link

They've also decided that doing things Agile is good because they've read a book about it, but have no idea how to actually do it.

This has been my experience of every single "Agile" project I have ever worked on, including the one I am currently working on.

Just noise and screaming and no musical value at all. (Colonel Poo), Monday, 1 July 2013 10:19 (six years ago) link

You'll do well managing people if you don't mind bullying them for money.

not true at all.

Shamrock Shoe (LocalGarda), Monday, 1 July 2013 10:28 (six years ago) link

I've been properly rubbing up against this world – agile, stand-ups, continuous improvement, stakeholders, risk registers, QA, etc etc etc - & it is a fascinating language. I keep meaning to dig around for a load of ISO 9000 (quality management) and 31000 (risk management) pdfs.

I just look at the names of them. MoSCoW Method. PERT (which seems to emerge from weapons development. Do many of these have a semi-military/defence contractor background? It feels like where they should come from)

I am not against this stuff in principle. I mean if we have to get some shit done we might as well try to find an effective way to do it. The ease with which this culture slides into voodoo vocab & self-analysing meta-processes makes it seem like it's fooling itself. And the pretended universality of efficiency culture (anything can be managed more effectively using techniques x + y) is v suspicious, probably evil.

woof, Monday, 1 July 2013 11:14 (six years ago) link

The fat in the system is a necessary component, p much all management/productivity tools dont want to acknowledge this.

dj hollingsworth vs dj perry (darraghmac), Monday, 1 July 2013 11:18 (six years ago) link

They've also decided that doing things Agile is good because they've read a book about it, but have no idea how to actually do it.

This has been my experience of every single "Agile" project I have ever worked on, including the one I am currently working on.

― Just noise and screaming and no musical value at all. (Colonel Poo), Monday, July 1, 2013 10:19 AM (9 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Is this a thing though where a system that is widely used by high-profile successful companies is also used by companies who don't want to put in the money and time to properly execute its mechanisms? ie a culture of efficiency systems meaning that those systems are used poorly in many places

wd definitely second LG's point about management. Good managers find ways to protect and promote their staff, if they can finding ways to develop their skills, as well as looking at how best to execute the requirements of the company. A good manager can't necessarily do that in a company that is run badly or which is viciously rapacious, but they can minimise the effect of that to a certain extent. Tho that never stopped me feeling complicit in the near criminal behaviour of the senior management (in one case).

The language! The language is amazing (and sometimes terrifying). Here's some of my favourites from PRINCE2

accept (risk response)
A risk response to a threat where a conscious and deliberate decision is taken to retain the threat, having discerned that it is more economical to do so than to attempt a risk response action. The threat should continue to be monitored to ensure that it remains tolerable. [this first a great example of 'normal' language having a formal meaning within the system - dangerous!]

agile methods
Principally, software development methods that apply the project approach of using short time-boxed iterations where products are incrementally developed. PRINCE2 is compatible with agile principles.

A statement that is taken as being true for the purposes of planning, but which could change later. An assumption is made where some facts are not yet known or decided, and is usually reserved for matters of such significance that, if they change or turn out not to be true, there will need to be considerable replanning. [one of main areas that answer my question about how models used purely for efficiency can go so badly wrong, I think]

All the systematic actions necessary to provide confidence that the target (system, process, organization, programme, project, outcome, benefit, capability, product output, deliverable) is appropriate. Appropriateness might be defined subjectively or objectively in different circumstances. The implication is that assurance will have a level of independence from that which is being assured. See also ‘Project Assurance’ and ‘quality assurance’. [lol v reassuring]

The right to allocate resources and make decisions (applies to project, stage and team levels).
The point at which an authority is granted.

Reference levels against which an entity is monitored and controlled. [see the re-baselining that goes on in a lot of projects - basically 'ok ok, let's ignore the bad shit that went before, we fucked up, let's start AGAIN, it'll be better this time]

benefits tolerance
The permissible deviation in the expected benefit that is allowed before the deviation needs to be escalated to the next level of management. Benefits tolerance is documented in the Business Case. See also ‘tolerance’. [can be p damned tolerant]

Business Case
The justification for an organizational activity (project), which typically contains costs, benefits, risks and timescales, and against which continuing viability is tested. [always wrong and expected to be wrong - usually just means 'get funding by hook or by crook']

Change Authority
A person or group to which the Project Board may delegate responsibility for the consideration of requests for change or off- specifications. The Change Authority may be given a change budget and can approve changes within that budget.
change budget
The money allocated to the Change Authority available to be spent on authorized requests for change.
change control
The procedure that ensures that all changes that may affect the project’s agreed objectives are identified, assessed and either approved, rejected or deferred.
[a whole world of pain, changing expectations and rising costs]

A team-level, time-driven review of progress. [time driven!]

Something that is held in reserve typically to handle time and cost variances, or risks. PRINCE2 does not advocate the use of contingency because estimating variances are managed by setting tolerances, and risks are managed through appropriate risk responses (including the fallback response that is contingent on the risk occurring). [lol]

cost tolerance
The permissible deviation in a plan’s cost that is allowed before the deviation needs to be escalated to the next level of management. Cost tolerance is documented in the respective plan. See also ‘tolerance’. [note sensation of infinite regression built into a lot of these systems - like the notion of continuous improvement for instance.

An outcome that is perceived as negative by one or more stakeholders. It is an actual consequence of an activity whereas, by definition, a risk has some uncertainty about whether it will materialize. [lollo]

DSDM Atern
An agile project delivery framework developed and owned by the DSDM consortium. Atern uses a time-boxed and iterative approach to product development and is compatible with PRINCE2. [O_O]

embedding (PRINCE2)
What an organization needs to do to adopt PRINCE2 as its corporate project management method. See also, in contrast, ‘tailoring’, which defines what a project needs to do to apply the method to a specific project environment. [the project systems are self-preserving and have inbuilt defences against their dismantling]

A situation where it can be forecast that there will be a deviation beyond the tolerance levels agreed between Project Manager and Project Board (or between Project Board and corporate or programme management). [see the world of projects that meet none of their benefit expectations and cost billions - possibly business process at its most dangerous: an innocuous word used to describe something that has an elastic quality allowing almost anything to happen, an excess to be ignored, because of the judgment deranged of the stakeholders]

governance (corporate)
The ongoing activity of maintaining a sound system of internal control by which the directors and officers of an organization ensure that effective management systems, including financial monitoring and control systems, have been put in place to protect assets, earning capacity and the reputation of the organization. [governance really important. i [i]think
within this definition staff belong as 'assets.' I'm assured by a friend who sits on Quaker governance meetings that their governance is excellent, and they are often used as consultants by top organisations. began writing governance documents for my previous corp, included lots of radical stuff culled from ilx feminist and other threads. sadly got taken over before we could establish a millennial reign of radical perfection and absolute virtue, the nouvelle Heidelberg of the 21st C]

inherent risk
The exposure arising from a specific risk before any action has been taken to manage it. [sometimes i just try and apply these terms to The Thing or Day of the Dead]

wait... i've only reached 'i'... gotta eat and get ready for senior management meeting tomorrow.

Fizzles, Monday, 1 July 2013 20:07 (six years ago) link

italics an important part of business management tbf.

Fizzles, Monday, 1 July 2013 20:08 (six years ago) link

No CRITICAL PATH, no credibility!

xyzzzz__, Monday, 1 July 2013 20:19 (six years ago) link

Is this a thing though where a system that is widely used by high-profile successful companies is also used by companies who don't want to put in the money and time to properly execute its mechanisms? ie a culture of efficiency systems meaning that those systems are used poorly in many places

This is exactly it. Why is that Japanese car production line so efficient? I don't know, but let's take one aspect of how they control robot welders and apply it to human beings.

oppet, Monday, 1 July 2013 20:27 (six years ago) link

Can't remember why I thought it was a good idea to make my ilx login the same as my work one. Drunkposting to this thread could destroy me.

oppet, Monday, 1 July 2013 20:29 (six years ago) link

oh man, CRITICAL PATH, yeah. oppet, don't worry:

This is the evaluated likelihood of a particular threat or opportunity actually happening, including a consideration of the frequency with which this may arise.

of course:

An outcome that is perceived as negative by one or more stakeholders. It is an actual consequence of an activity whereas, by definition, a risk has some uncertainty about whether it will materialize.

Fizzles, Monday, 1 July 2013 20:49 (six years ago) link

Great SWOT analysis.

My favourite piece of terminology is either 'backlog grooming' or 'planning poker'.

oppet, Monday, 1 July 2013 21:03 (six years ago) link

lol the wiki photo of a daily scrum meeting

oppet, Monday, 1 July 2013 21:04 (six years ago) link

Everyone in that photo looks hungover. Or just devoid of a will to live.

10zing blogay (seandalai), Tuesday, 2 July 2013 01:02 (six years ago) link

it is the endgame of human potential that we overwork ourselves on meaningless projects

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 2 July 2013 01:11 (six years ago) link

apparently, it's a vuca world

woof, Tuesday, 2 July 2013 11:44 (six years ago) link

such strange metaphysical structures!

Fizzles, Tuesday, 2 July 2013 11:45 (six years ago) link

but we have the answer

woof, Tuesday, 2 July 2013 11:48 (six years ago) link

VUCA is another example of terminology lifted from the military, isn't it?

Inte Regina Lund eller nån, mitt namn är (ShariVari), Tuesday, 2 July 2013 11:49 (six years ago) link

iirc you need to be antifragile to thrive in a VUCA environment.

Inte Regina Lund eller nån, mitt namn är (ShariVari), Tuesday, 2 July 2013 11:50 (six years ago) link

i think within this definition staff belong as 'assets.'

putting a Dilbert strip in this thread or anywhere else on ILX is most likely an instant sirens-go-off game-over move but I couldn't let this go by without pasting this:

slippery kelp on the tide (a passing spacecadet), Tuesday, 2 July 2013 12:09 (six years ago) link

wiki on vuca has one of the most impressively concentrated passages of ManLang that I've seen:

The capacity of individuals and organizations to deal with VUCA can be measured with a number of engagement themes:
Knowledge Management on Sense-Making
Planning and Readiness Considerations
Process Management and Resource Systems
Functional Responsiveness and Impact Models
Recovery Systems and Forward Practices
At some level, the capacity for VUCA management and leadership hinges on enterprise value systems, assumptions and natural goals. A "prepared and resolved" enterprise[2] is engaged with a strategic agenda that is aware of and empowered by VUCA forces.

woof, Tuesday, 2 July 2013 12:18 (six years ago) link

I have a worse problem than oppet since this my actual full name, so I won't be on here much, but couldn't let this go past:

I've been properly rubbing up against this world – agile, stand-ups, continuous improvement, stakeholders, risk registers, QA, etc etc etc - & it is a fascinating language.

Dude, QA is not an arcane managerism, QA is how you make sure that the tires don't fall off when you turn the ignition key!

Andrew Farrell, Tuesday, 2 July 2013 12:57 (six years ago) link

ha, fair enough; with QA it's the creep of it that was bothering me - I'm on a 6-month editorial job along with another editor; she uses QA as a verb where I'd use check, edit, copy or proof - 'And we need to QA each other's work', 'Should one of us QA that?'

woof, Tuesday, 2 July 2013 13:10 (six years ago) link

i have andrew's problem. real name as login, day job in QA at a company which adopted agile about 2 years ago. for now, suffice to say i hate the living shit out of agile. any efficiency app which demands at least an hour a day of your time just so that you can RECORD THE IRL TASKS YOU DID needs to diaf.

Thelema & Louise (Jon Lewis), Tuesday, 2 July 2013 15:18 (six years ago) link

processes become the end product.

it can feel like sometimes. and wrt QA - it's the (scope?) creep of engineering or software development structures and terminology into non-engineering/dev areas that feels culturally significant.

it's not entirely/all bad either. I'd like to into it more but I've just come out of a five hour management meeting and desperately desperately need a drink.

Fizzles, Tuesday, 2 July 2013 17:39 (six years ago) link

At this point I'm fairly sure Agile just means "we make shit up as we go along"

Just noise and screaming and no musical value at all. (Colonel Poo), Tuesday, 2 July 2013 18:58 (six years ago) link

I am on a scrum team

mh, Tuesday, 2 July 2013 18:59 (six years ago) link

how does that work for you?

Fizzles, Tuesday, 2 July 2013 21:57 (six years ago) link

employ yourself, once you have enough money for rent and food, stop working.

i guess i'd just rather listen to canned heat? (ian), Tuesday, 2 July 2013 22:07 (six years ago) link

I have to start working soon, like full-time. And I'm no closer to being qualified for the kinds of things I want to do, which at first I blame myself for--why didn't you start writing sooner? Why didn't you work harder at publicizing yourself to non-profits? Why didn't you volunteer more??? but jesus, it's been like rediscovering myself to just slow down for the last 4 months.

Unfortunately what I discovered is that I don't want to work more than like 20 hours a week unless the "work" is pretty fun and I can ride my bike there.

Tottenham Heelspur (in orbit), Friday, 12 July 2013 17:12 (six years ago) link

An Economic Calculation

For A., college is an endless series of competitions: to get into student clubs, some of which demand multiple rounds of interviews; to be selected for special research projects and the choicest internships; and, in the end, to land the most elite job offers.

As A. explained her schedule, “If I’m sober, I’m working.”

In such an overburdened college life, she said, it was rare for her and her friends to find a relationship worth investing time in, and many people avoided commitment because they assumed that someone better would always come along.

“We are very aware of cost-benefit issues and trading up and trading down, so no one wants to be too tied to someone that, you know, may not be the person they want to be with in a couple of months,” she said.



educate yourself to this reality (sunny successor), Friday, 19 July 2013 22:15 (five years ago) link

Thread needs a trigger warning now with that scrum meeting photo

Elvis Telecom, Friday, 19 July 2013 22:41 (five years ago) link

disbenefits is v much a thing I'm afraid. can someone explain to me what a scrum meeting is please? I have a bucket handy.

Fizzles, Sunday, 21 July 2013 10:29 (five years ago) link

no journeys

woof, Saturday, 31 January 2015 17:18 (four years ago) link


Mis-read that as clusterfuck but then if you knew where I worked you'd be automatically making that substitution with all kinds of words all the time.

You are swimming in spaghetti. Without a paddle. (snoball), Saturday, 31 January 2015 17:57 (four years ago) link

Born: October 27, 1963 (age 51), Belfast
Height: 1.60 m
Spouse: Gina Crossan
Licensed Sobriquet: Mad Dog

the prefects of the spirit world (nakhchivan), Saturday, 31 January 2015 18:02 (four years ago) link

one month passes...

No need to bother w/this work suff anymore yes!

xyzzzz__, Friday, 20 March 2015 12:39 (four years ago) link

How much it (work) matters may not be quantifiable, but in an essay in The New York Times, Dean Baker, the codirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, noted that there was

a 50 to 100 percent increase in death rates for older male workers in the years immediately following a job loss, if they previously had been consistently employed.

One reason was suggested in a study by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990), who found, Carr reports, that “people were happier, felt more fulfilled by what they were doing, while they were at work than during their leisure hours.”

We should test this reasoning here!

the gabhal cabal (Bob Six), Friday, 20 March 2015 13:46 (four years ago) link

three months pass...

Been talking to a colleague - pretty much the only person who I've met in my line of work who loves scrum.

Got introduced to it in the military (lol I guess) but has used it in successful IT projects - gotta say the way he talks about it does make a lot of sense as a way to run specific areas of work.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 17 July 2015 10:01 (four years ago) link

our team of 5 or 6 is responsible for the customer facing bits. we scrum together despite working on 6 different projects. it doesn't make a lot of sense, really - we are effectively giving progress reports to the team lead (who oversees all 5 projects) whilst the other 80% look on bored.

koogs, Friday, 17 July 2015 11:11 (four years ago) link

You do scrum on one single project. So that sounds like its not being done the right way. #scrumPartyLine

xyzzzz__, Friday, 17 July 2015 11:14 (four years ago) link

i guess the alternative is 6 scrums of 2 people each.

to be fair, occasionally one of us will chip in with a solution to other people's problems. but that mostly happens in a skype window.

koogs, Friday, 17 July 2015 11:17 (four years ago) link

two months pass...

nuh-uh in print compounded by the fact it's in a british paper is making me ia

you too could be called a 'Star' by the Compliance Unit (jim in glasgow), Thursday, 15 October 2015 16:17 (three years ago) link

“Jeremy has led the party off into the wilderness and then taken a hike in the Highlands,” lamented the reliably oppositional MP Simon Danczuk on hearing the news.


xyzzzz__, Thursday, 15 October 2015 20:01 (three years ago) link

three months pass...

My workplace bought into this management consultant team who has brought in this whole spiel based on... Transactional Analysis.

I find the whole "bring in elements of therapeutic technique to the workplace" tedious at best and utter spurious wank on the whole.

I don't really know how to engage with this kind of discourse. In therapy settings, it's fine to say "I don't find this helpful, can we try another paradigm" but when it's enforced on you as part of your job... Ugh.

(In another part of my life, someone keeps trying to talk to me about "enneagrams" and seriously, I don't even know how to begin with that, except maybe to counter "well, you're a Sagittarius so you fall for every wank-word bingo going, but I'm an Aries so I tend to be slightly more sceptical about personality tests based on numerology and mysticism." Which would be extremely unhelpful.)

Möbius the Stripper (Branwell with an N), Tuesday, 2 February 2016 08:35 (three years ago) link

for most places this is a terrible idea, but my office genuinely does need therapy.

if somebody started talking to me about "enneagrams" i would make them listen to egg.

diana krallice (rushomancy), Tuesday, 2 February 2016 11:03 (three years ago) link

It's annoying because really, there are totally such a thing as dysfunctional workplaces. (Ironically, this is one of the least dysfunctional places I've ever worked.)

The problem is, that approaches that are suited for helping dysfunctional people do not always work for dysfunctional systems. Even though systems are made of people, totally well functioning people can create really dysfunctional systems, and dysfunctional people can create and use perfectly functioning systems.

Möbius the Stripper (Branwell with an N), Tuesday, 2 February 2016 11:25 (three years ago) link

four months pass...

excellent series of tweets here:

(1)Some 19th century work abuses that are back:

(2)"travelling time": then-19thC miners only got paid when they got to the coalface, not when they crawled to it through tunnels

(3)"travelling time": now SportsDirect staff didn't get paid while they waited in the warehouse queue for security checks

(6) in 19th Century many workers had to buy from over-priced "Company Store" (like in the song '16 Tons'). Was outlawed by the 'Truck Acts'

(7)SportsDirect staff had to use overpriced cash card and terminals from firm to get their wages - for a fee - a modern 'Company Store'

(9) "The Pen" "The Call On System".In 19th, early 20th Century jobless would gather in a 'Pen' for possible hiring (eg docks).

(10) Zero Hours contracts, with hire-by-day-by-text wait-by-the-phone are a modern "pen" for day- hiring at the gate.

(12)Specific older laws like the Truck Acts were repealed because nobody thought employers would be so bad again (!)

(13) "The Sweating System" or "Piecework" 19th Century home workers were paid by eg each shirt they stitched. Caused grim exploitation

(14) Modern 'piecework' like pay-per-parcel delivery jobs are often nominally 'self employed ', but "sweated" below minimum wage rates

(15)finally, a 'Middle Class' 19th century labour practice. 1880s teachers were "paid by results", with wages set by class exam results

(15) teacher 'payment by results ' creeps back, even tho' 19th century system abolished as it caused cheating, ignoring weaker pupils etc.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 8 June 2016 10:18 (three years ago) link

Good stuff.

Larry 'Leg' Smith (Tom D.), Wednesday, 8 June 2016 15:43 (three years ago) link

Yeah very neat

The Brexit Club (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 8 June 2016 17:21 (three years ago) link

Case closure rate up 50% this month tho guys

Daithi Bowsie (darraghmac), Wednesday, 8 June 2016 22:40 (three years ago) link

seven months pass...

this all seems pretty nightmarish (though some ppl on twitter were questioning whether the badges could really do all the things claimed in the article and suggested that some of this might just be the Humanyze guy talking up his product?)

Employees of at least four British companies, including a major high street bank, are already carrying “sociometric badges”. The credit card-sized badges are worn around the neck and include a microphone for real-time voice analysis, a device that tracks the wearer around the workplace, a Bluetooth sensor to scan for proximity to others and an accelerometer to check physical activity.

Brauer said the next development would be “biometric CVs”, with job applicants required to present evidence from monitoring to show they are biometrically qualified.

“The basic premise we’re working from is the augmented human being,” he said. “That will be the optimal productivity unit in the workforce.”

soref, Monday, 16 January 2017 00:52 (two years ago) link

🤖 optimal productivity unit 🤖
That's good fodder for

Rimsky-Koskenkorva (Øystein), Monday, 16 January 2017 14:28 (two years ago) link

eight months pass...

Sometimes completely separate passages in books you're reading obliquely illuminate each other. Over the last few weeks I've had Michael Powell's autobiography - wildly titled A Life in Movies - and Diane Coyle's history of GDP - equally capriciously titled GDP - on the go.

In GDP Diane Coyle writes that before the second world war GDP was a gauge of the national economic output, a set of statistics collated in part to analyse the great depression. what wasn't included in this was government spending on welfare and armaments, which did not appear as part of the productivity figures but as depletions.

The Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply, established in 1941, found that its recommendation to increase government expenditure in the subsequent year was rejected on this basis.


The first American GNP (gross national product) statistics were published in 1942, distinguishing between the types of expenditure, including by government, and permitted economists to see the economy's potential for war production.

The economist Kuznets - who had argued that GNP should represent national economic welfare rather than just output - said that this method 'tautologically ensured that fiscal spending would increase measured economic growth regardless of whether it actually benefited individuals' economic welfare'.

Nevertheless as it was in governments' interests in the US and across Europe Kuznets lost. A complete statistic understanding of productivity was an outcome of the second world war - maybe it's best embodied by Keynes' How to Pay for the War.

He fulminated in this about the inadequacy of the statistics available to him for calculating what the UK economy could produce with the available resources, what would be required for mobilisation and conflict, what would be left over for people to consume - and how much their living standards might need to fall.

There's nothing wrong with this sort of analysis, but as Diane Coyle makes plain, the perception of GDP as the main useful method of measuring a nation's worth, dangerously loads policy against things that are not accounted for in it, and can ignore the fact that GDP is not welfare.

I thought all this very interesting. I've got a very tenuous narrative that's intended to lead up to the current FASTER YOU FUCKERS business methodologies, which includes the use of statistics in 19th century French medicine, and Benjamin's observation about the death of experience in the first world war, and how statistics was able to replace experience, with good and bad consequences. But one thing I've never been able to bridge is why we didn't really see the application of the statistical world to business - scientific management - until after the second. The great depression, the revolution in measuring productivity, and the second world war are a set of dots which help join the gap.

Michael Powell describes the film I Know Where I'm Going, made during the same few years as the changes to GDP, as in some way a farewell to a pre-war world. One which was less materialistic than the post-war one - he may not say materialistic, I can't find the quote, but the sentiment's similar. The representative of this world is Catriona, played by Pamela Brown.

There's a scene towards the end where the main character - Joan Webster - asks her 'If you're saddled with responsibilities that you can't get rid of, why don't you sell Erraig (her house) and Torquil could sell Kiloran? Then you could do what you like.'

Powell was renowned for not wasting film, so the fact Pamela Brown's answer 'Yes, but money isn't everything' took an unprecedented 22 takes for Michael Powell to be satisfied drew a huge crowd into the studio.

Of course, what was wrong was not the way the line was being read by Pamela: it was the line itself. When Wendy said: "You could sell Erraig and Torquil could sell Kiloran," Pamela should have answered: "Yes, but then we'd only have money." See?

When, many years later, I told Pamela this, she hit me.

Michael Powell was in love with Pamela Brown, and Emeric Pressburger felt it skewed the picture. Powell was forced to agree, both feeling that her performance was 'too romantic', so a load of footage of her ended up on the cutting room floor. This is completely f'ing heartbreaking, because i would watch I Know Where I'm Going over and over again just for Pamela Brown.

I had made it visually clear that Catriona had been in love with Torquil ever since their childhood together. This subplot had to go. No doubt people who loved the film, and who have seen it many times, will howl with anguish when they learn what they have missed (yes). But Emeric was firm and I have to admit that he was right. One glance from those great eyes of Pamela's early in the film told the whole story rather better than I could, with all my shots of her among the heather and the lochs. And yet, I wonder...? One still photograph survives from this whole sequence, and it was taken by me. It shows Pamela in the Castle of Moy, as she watches Torquil read the Curse upon the stone. It has an eerie power.

This counterfactual, this still that was never part of the film, like the counterfactual unspoken line 'yes, but then we'd only have money', seems to express a different, a similarly counterfactual world, or one that still exists, available but unavailable, outside of the grip of the productivity and statistical evaluations of worth.

(i'm aware this sort of romanticisation can be immensely bogus, but Pamela Brown ffs!)

incidentally she suffered painfully from arthritis all her life, which led to a slightly odd gait, which Michael Powell first noticed at the theatre.

Specialists persuaded her to take the famous, or infamous, gold treatment for arthritis which consists of injecting gold into the veins. The treatment gives you a fighting chance if you are prepared to suffer tortures.

A grotesque version of the analogies above. More Pamela:

Fizzles, Monday, 2 October 2017 19:53 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

amazing staff meeting today at work as the head of our business gave a talk about some of the changes happening to a group of people, some of whom had recently seen colleagues lose their jobs in a round of off-shoring. tin-eared management speak to a large group of young, immediate post-university staff. started talking about how why automation and industrial change happened at them. one great woman stood up and asked him not to explain capitalism to them. he responded by saying it was nothing to do with capitalism, and that it was the way of the world, she said that it was capitalism, but that didn't matter and that she, among others, was just asking him to listen to people who were saying they were worried about their jobs. he went on to explain that 'history and industrial revolutions or evolutions' lol were based upon standardising and automating that which could be standardised and automated. another person responded by saying that their jobs hadn't been automated, they'd been off-shored, and off-shored badly (true and often seems to be true) and he responded by saying eventually all their jobs would be automated and this was inevitable.

he genuinely couldn't see outside his tiny technocratic, managerial head, i mean it was totally blank to him that capitalism could be seen as a thing. i think he felt he was being 'courageous' by being 'honest' and not showing any sympathy. it was all fascinating. and all very very bad obviously. woman got a round of applause tho. scenes.

Fizzles, Tuesday, 7 November 2017 21:12 (one year ago) link

lol when is his job being automated? I am pretty sure it could be successfully done (unlike many other jobs).

And all in this in the anniversary of the October revolution too.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 7 November 2017 21:17 (one year ago) link

the demand for thoughtful, capable managers greatly outstrips the supply.

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 7 November 2017 21:19 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

day 1 of 2 done for prince2 practitioner and its such wordbollocksy sham

ɪmˈpəʊzɪŋ (darraghmac), Monday, 11 February 2019 17:05 (five months ago) link

he went on to explain that 'history and industrial revolutions or evolutions' lol were based upon standardising and automating that which could be standardised and automated.

I can just see this man reading some MBA textbook or popular management book that offers this pearl of wisdom and him thinking, 'why, this explains quite a lot!' and then, because he has only room in his head for one explanation, it quickly morphed into 'this explains everything!'

A is for (Aimless), Monday, 11 February 2019 18:41 (five months ago) link

this is excellent news: please report back from the front darragh (keeps autocorrecting to “farrago”).

i keep meaning to revive this thread, sort out the OP formatting, and pull together the various faster u fuckers stuff lying around in my bookmarks.

Fizzles, Monday, 11 February 2019 22:10 (five months ago) link

Is that the Irish version of PMP? Which is the biggest waste of time and money I (er my employer) ever spent. Fucking racket, these certs.

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Monday, 11 February 2019 23:09 (five months ago) link


as far as i can glean

is something the british govt came up with then privatised

pmp calls for aiui hundreds of logged hours of proj mgmt, this calls for to to remember the interlinking jargonomics of several roles several themes several products and several processes, each of whom ought to have been ambushed on the road to st ives imo

ɪmˈpəʊzɪŋ (darraghmac), Monday, 11 February 2019 23:12 (five months ago) link

i actually see a bit of value in the dept/service having one understood and defined method its just pointless when i know from experience that it will all be fotd upon first contact with the enem user

ɪmˈpəʊzɪŋ (darraghmac), Monday, 11 February 2019 23:13 (five months ago) link

It also requires that you pass the most jackassed of all exams, which I say as someone who has taken all manner of jackassed exams in multiple fields.

My current place of work (where I consult, my actual employer fortunately is blessedly free of management consulting shenanigans) is implementing something they refer to as WoW which in their jargon is "way of working" and not what everyone else thinks when they see WoW.

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Monday, 11 February 2019 23:16 (five months ago) link

It is like some unholy amalgamation of agile and POP and Tony Robbins, this thing. God only knows what the organization paid PWC or some other hacks for this thing.

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Monday, 11 February 2019 23:18 (five months ago) link

i would find it hard not to say it christopher walken style like waaOOOuuw

I mean i find it hard not to say wow like that at the best of times but if you wave that second w in my face you best believe im giving it the two eyebrows

ɪmˈpəʊzɪŋ (darraghmac), Monday, 11 February 2019 23:19 (five months ago) link

oh oh can we talk about consultancy firms

when im not studying for a regurgitation tomorrow lunchtime like

ɪmˈpəʊzɪŋ (darraghmac), Monday, 11 February 2019 23:19 (five months ago) link

Oh I'm surrounded by 20 year old PWC babes in the vicinity of my workstation (and they are total babes, totally adorable and lovely) and afaikt they spend their days putting together ppt decks about managing shit when it is clear that they have only ever managed ppt. But it is cute and gross at the same time when they all gather in the VPs office, the VP with the Harvard MBA who has some sort of beardo jeans and puffy vest thing going on. The only shit in his office are a bunch of management books of the kind that make me want to die.

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Monday, 11 February 2019 23:23 (five months ago) link

I should be clear the Harvard MBA beardo 40 something dude clearly loves his PWC babes, when they all come in to his office and show him their ppts.

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Monday, 11 February 2019 23:24 (five months ago) link

iirc a good designer I worked with in the civil service got themselves put through Prince2 training because it gives you the magic words to put on a PowerPoint so that the Excel functionaries shut up and you can get on with making things.

woof, Monday, 11 February 2019 23:33 (five months ago) link

someone left this lying around on a desk at work:
I didn't realise there was a genre of management novels "written in a fast-paced thriller style".

woof, Monday, 11 February 2019 23:38 (five months ago) link

I wish I was efficient and organized. Since age 13, becoming organized was always my #1 goal and I’ve never come close. Every day is a new adventure of scrambling to fix the stuff I put off the day before. But then somehow it hasn’t hindered my life too much? I don’t understand.

Trϵϵship, Monday, 11 February 2019 23:46 (five months ago) link

But yeah, the “PWC babes” sound like people I would be in awe of. Even if the powerpoints are nonsense and my way of working is ultimately more efficient, there is nothing I admire more than colleagues at work who have, like, this appearance of having all their stuff together/following through on a plan rather than improvising all day

Trϵϵship, Monday, 11 February 2019 23:48 (five months ago) link

I feel like i get cut more slack for deadline/efficiency issues than my colleagues because my role is “creative” and I don’t really think it’s fair. Don’t want to share too much about my workplace but, like—too much slack for me, i feel, is part of it

Trϵϵship, Monday, 11 February 2019 23:53 (five months ago) link

i have been project managed by accenture babes of all types and ive been keeping a shiv in my sock two years now in case any of em ever drop from on high at me again

someone left this lying around on a desk at work:
I didn't realise there was a genre of management novels "written in a fast-paced thriller style".

― woof, Monday, 11 February 2019 23:38 (fifteen minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

my dear dad had some shit goin on in the late nineties and after reading the celestine prophecies he insisted that he could see the energy coming out of kindred souls' eyes for six months guys i know ye think im bad but listen im a fuckin success story given the background rly

ɪmˈpəʊzɪŋ (darraghmac), Monday, 11 February 2019 23:58 (five months ago) link

i know i tell a story bytimes but i feel it necessary to confirm yes he actually believed this for six actual months, approached ppl in restaurants and shit when he sensed it had happened etc

ɪmˈpəʊzɪŋ (darraghmac), Monday, 11 February 2019 23:59 (five months ago) link

Ooh i had a friend who used to work for one of those consulting firms. Man, she alwayss seemed so “with it” in college—the exact kinda person who makes me feel like i’m some starry eyed wanderer

Trϵϵship, Tuesday, 12 February 2019 00:01 (five months ago) link

It’s interesting to hear about your father’s foray into mysticism deems. Do you think this explains why—among ilxors—you’re on the rational/pragmatic side?

Trϵϵship, Tuesday, 12 February 2019 00:04 (five months ago) link

my father was a side-order to my mother treesh thats another thread.

the celestine prophecies is a mgmt/life success as novel is all, so it jogged the thought

ɪmˈpəʊzɪŋ (darraghmac), Tuesday, 12 February 2019 00:32 (five months ago) link

Yeah—the mania for efficiency is definitely not disconnected from spiritual impulses—people tryin to reach a higher plane of existence and transcend ordinary human weakness

Trϵϵship, Tuesday, 12 February 2019 00:38 (five months ago) link

its a fuckin shortcut to understanding and/or doing the groundwork ime

ɪmˈpəʊzɪŋ (darraghmac), Tuesday, 12 February 2019 00:49 (five months ago) link

my trial exam is hitting 15/28 if i had a text id be ok i think

ɪmˈpəʊzɪŋ (darraghmac), Tuesday, 12 February 2019 00:51 (five months ago) link

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.