Thursday, 23 February 2012

Tell your boss your work is ROT! and survive.

As promised here is how to tell your boss they are talking ROT and leave their office with your job and reputation in tact.  I allude to this in the blog The Logistics of Toothbrushing with 2 Year Olds but a recent lunch with Nigel of X Leadership led me to think that maybe more people need to be able to confidently show their bosses where the ROT is setting in.  If you are reaching for the quarter of whisky in the top draw to steel your nerves or you haven't read through this fully and have already emailed the boss to tell them they are talking rot....well I can't help you now.

NB:- None of this constitutes career guidance or mentoring: should you walk into your bosses office yelling ROT the risk is entirely yours.

"The DST triangle"
Resource, Objective and Time are like the Speed, Distance and Time of mathematics.  They form an interrelated triangle in which you can work out the value of the third for the other two.  For those of you who were daydreaming at school or more fixated on what might be for lunch.  The opposite diagram (often known as the DST triangle) is an aid to later in life learning.  

Well I borrowed this and added my own letters, replacing speed and distance with resource and objective.  I am not sure whether this represents original thinking or just an new presentation of an age old principal but I know that I regularly see people and have even managed people who tell me something can't be done but can't tell me why.  I needed a tool to help folk work out what their operational problem was which didn't require them to find the value of "X".

I believe and I lead The Logistics Project in the belief that anything can be achieved as long as one of these three parameters is infinite.

Resource:   The amount of money, manpower or equipment you can throw at a problem.

Objective:   The amount to which you can change the goal......does it really need frills and automated coffee
                   brewing facilities

Time:          Yeah.......I don't need to explain that one do I?

I guess I am trying to narrow down the weird assertion that an infinite amount of monkeys on an infinite amount of typewriters with an infinite amount of time would eventually write the works of Shakespeare - or the equally bizarre line that an unnamed RAF Officer used to regularly use in the drinking establishments of Hitchin. "In an infinite universe, somewhere there is a right time for you and I so why not here and now": - ladies of Hitchin thank you for the humorous responses which I still treasure today.

So here is where you get to march into the Big Cheeses Office yelling ROT.  A project is given to you which your gut tells you is simply .....shonky.  The objectives are woolly or excessively detailed, resources are in adequate or budget is spent out and it has to be completed before the file hits your desk.  So how do you apply the Resource, Objective and Time principal.  Effectively you need to break things down into metrics because this remains a mathematical tool;  O=R*T.

Resource may need to be broken down into different metrics to show that several permutations don't work such as man hours, money for outsourcing or extra labour or number of shiny new pieces of equipment.

Time is best broken down into traditional chunks, days, weeks, months but if you are confident feel free to freestyle.

Objective...don't be fooled into thinking the objective is the objective quite often it is the objective + personal preference, personal ambition random items that were in the intial spec that weren't actually necessary.  Break the objective into achievable chunks against time so in logistics terms (although this works in almost any field) - Free on board - Landed at Port of destination - Cleared or whatever bite size chunk you choose.

My advice is play around with these chunks now until you get as close as you can to the full objective inside the right amount of time but have a couple of back ups which cover off the other priorities....... once you have them..... take a deep breath and start shouting ROT and take your arrayed lumps of resource, objective and time to your bosses office.  Now put the problem in their hands, show how the equation doesn't work with the fixed parameters you have been given and then go on to give your selection of  3 solutions that prioritize each of  resource, objective or time and ask which one they prefer in a calm soothing tone of centred confidence.  If needs be talk them through the ROT equation not forgetting to mention how you never read blogs in work was out of hours research.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tips and knowledge as always! Will keep all this in mind someday (but I might just say that I learned it all from a very knowledgeable logistician instead of hours of research!)