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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Career Move: Talk to the Boss

     It was still summer, but for some reason the department secretary asked our city editor whether he was planning to attend the boss’s annual staff cocktail party, generally held in the early fall.
     “No. I’m busy that day,” the guy said.
     “But you don’t even know when it will be,” the secretary protested.
     “I know,” he answered. “I’m still busy that day.”

     The boss – specifically, the top editor of our medium-sized daily – was not a bad person. Kind of distant, though, and committed to a somewhat alien set of standards. I bumped into him once at a big university while I was there on a recruiting trip for reporters and interns.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Are People Around? It's Culture Change, Then

   It was an architect who demonstrated for me the magical power of competent culture change. The newspaper I worked for had decided to install a new technology process that would radically change everything in our department, including the physical layout.  
     The architect was experienced, so I have no doubt he knew pretty much exactly what would have to happen to the walls, doorways, furniture and all when this new process was brought in.    
     Possibly, he knew there could be unique factors in our operation that needed to be accounted for as the place was reconfigured, but he’d done a lot of newspapers and ours probably differed in no significant way.
     Still, he went around, clipboard in hand, to every one of us, and all those people in the departments that interfaced with us. He patiently probed, listened and took notes.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Projects: What Do You Mean, SUCCESS?

     I had this informal document that tracked a software project from first requirements, resource allotments and schedule to final conclusion, triumphantly scored at the end as a success. The lead author and project manager provided it, assuring me of its authenticity. I think she wanted to make a point.
     The document was an amazing string of email messages, periodic exchanges among the remotely-located team members over an eight-month period.
     With an apparent straight face and an utter lack of adherence to reality, the compiled emails reported “progress” as a two-month plan incrementally expanded to seven months, the team handled 130+ out-of-scope tasks and the invested person-hours went who-knows-where.