Management nugget number 9

Nugget 9: Total time is not the same as work time.

Explanation:

it’s a well-known internet meme that managers will send an email in the middle of the night, then complain that their staff have not acted upon it by 7 a.m., That is time abuse on a basic scale. As a manager dealing with serious projects, you have to deal with this in a larger scale and ensure that you do not inflict it on your teams.

To explain this more, it’s best to realise that such time misuse can be compounded, it happens in multiple ways and in multiple situations, let’s look at some examples:

  • You assume that everybody is going to work 12 or 14 or 16 hours a day to hit a deliverable.
  • You assume weekends and holidays will be cancelled.
  • You assume that the thing that you need doing is the most important thing ever, and even if that is true, you assume that nothing bad or unavoidable can happen to people.
  • You assume that other work functions and other high priority items will not come up.
  • You don’t realise that some items cannot be run in parallel or that some cannot be done at certain times of day and you might have to wait.

All of these add up and stack one on another and you end up thinking, “oh we’ve got a week to do that, that’s tons of hours, that’s 100 hours”, not realising that it really is only 37 that you can rely on, and even then you might be wrong,

Now I know this sounds like just ordinary project planning, but it tends to show up the worst during crisis situations, the worst time period I find is problems that need solving between 1 and 2 weeks, and as the time for delivery gets closer, you will find you become more unreasonable, you end up counting the actual hours left to the deliverable rather than counting the usable hours.

So to summarise, even if it’s a disaster, even if it’s a crisis, even if according to your senior client it is the most important thing in the world, the world will not stop, every hour is not available for you to use, plan accordingly, be honest with yourself and don’t ruin your teams life. 

Disclaimer: As always these posts are not aimed at anyone client or employer and are just my personal observations over a lifetime of dealing with both management and frontline associates.

Management nugget number 8

Nugget 8:  If you are aiming for delivery then sometimes planning to take the blame is a valid project strategy.

Explanation:

OK this is another one where you will have to bare with me to the end. There are some organisations where fear of getting blamed for ANYTHING is overwhelming. This might be about only a single document or the ultimate delivery of the project, but whatever the level, a huge amount of effort will be put into avoiding actually getting something done, because only people who do things can do them wrong.

Such organisations might be Government departments where it is a job for life and the risk of loosing it might be too great, or merely one where things have stayed the same for a long time and any change is likely to be blamed for any bad thing that might happen, but nevertheless these places exist and as someone who is supposed to deliver change and improvement you have to combat it.

Working at multiple corporations and government departments I have found the easiest way of doing this is to take the blame yourself!!,  now you don’t have to do anything actually wrong to take the blame, you really just have to give the opportunity for somebody to blame you for something and then not defend yourself.

My personal favourite way of doing this is when there is a technical documentation delivery needed to get the project rolling, so you do it yourself for a first draught without the help of specialists within the business, this will most likely mean you will get things wrong.

That will give people the opportunity to go for you, the same people who are frozen into immobility will blast you, say everything is wrong and everything is your fault,  BUT it’s not actually a big deal because it’s a small thing at a beginning of the project, and now you have the project moving and you’ve got one more step closer to a deliverable, also these people feel empowered, they stand a better chance of running with the project and doing more, and all you had to do is have some thick skin and take some flak.

Now I know this sounds manipulative and cheap, and that’s because it is!!, but unlike so many other manipulative tactics, no one but you gets hurts and if you use it to get your project delivered successfully, then that is damage I think a grown manager can take.

Disclaimer: As always these posts are not aimed at anyone client or employer and are just my personal observations over a lifetime of dealing with both management and frontline associates.

Management nugget number 7

Nugget 7: Agile is a useful methodology, don’t let it fall into the wrong hands.

Explanation:

The Agile project methodology is one of the best ways for actually getting things done, but like all solutions it is open to abuse, don’t let your managers and project managers twist it to be something it is not, or abuse it to make it fit with their own way of working.

Classic examples I have seen of abusing Agile are:

“Agile reporting”:  Which is just an excuse to get a daily status report while not actually delivering any help or assistance to your team.

“We work in an Agile Way”: Which is often a way of avoiding standards, structure or any kind of safety measures (or responsibilities).

You don’t have to follow Agile to the n-th degree, as that ruins the core principle and just replaces one form of paperwork with another, but try and stick to the basics.

Disclaimer: As always these posts are not aimed at anyone client or employer and are just my personal observations over a lifetime of dealing with both management and frontline associates.

Management nugget number 6

Nugget 6: Personal priorities often cause managers to “Resource bomb” each other, there is nothing actually aggressive or deliberately malicious in this.

Explanation:

It often seems as if some managers are attempting to hog all the resource in a project, and you often see what I call “Resource bombing”, which is when one manager uses their position or the fact that their project is flavour of the month, to rob another project of resource to try and get their deliverables over the line.

For the most part there is nothing deliberate or malicious in this, they are not trying to hurt the other project they are just trying to deliver and feel they don’t have the resources to meet management expectations.

Often confronting them directly and explaining the harm that they are doing to your project will get them to either back off or enable you to manage it between the two of you, then you can both deliver with the limited resources you have. At worst formally talking to them about it shows you are trying to work as a team player,  and give a paper trail that allows you to justify part of your non delivery because you have had resources taken off you, 

This is a situation where you need to solidly try and fix it not just for your own delivery, but for your team so they are not painted as people that can’t deliver.

Disclaimer: As always these posts are not aimed at anyone client or employer and are just my personal observations over a lifetime of dealing with both management and frontline associates.

Management nugget number 5

Nugget 5: Sometimes doing nothing is the fastest and most efficient way of solving a problem

 

Explanation:

Now I know that sounds like a stupid and very Zen thing to say but bear with me.

There is a movie theory that says that in Raiders of the lost ark,  Indiana Jones had absolutely no effect on the movie at the end, The Nazis would have still got the Ark and still died when they opened it, This same theory can be applied to a lot of management work.

let’s take a theoretical problem, Something has gone Bang, There are 5 people who would normally be your go-to people to fix it, An email is sent to them but only two respond, The other three are currently busy and not reading emails, The management all get over excited because their email has not been immediately acted upon, They send chase emails, They have individual meetings with each other, They call multiple meetings with all of the 5 people who can fix the problem and by the time they reach all of these 5 people and get them all into concert, they finally get a solution.

Now step back from this, Let’s say that the management had done nothing after they sent the original email, The five important people are already busy, chasing after them doesn’t actually get them any quicker, When they finish their current work they go and have a look at the email, One of them has a solution to it, Provides the solution and then the problem is solved. This normally happens in just about the same time frame as the management running around and doing all the meetings, They haven’t actually made the problem go away any quicker, All they’ve done is waste their time and the time of the few technical people they could get hold of.

So the moral of the story is don’t do knee jerk reactions when your immediate needs are not pandered to, particularly if it’s something that is not immediately costing the company money or can wait a few hours, better to have control than a panic attack.

Disclaimer: As always these posts are not aimed at anyone client or employer and are just my personal observations over a lifetime of dealing with both management and frontline associates.

 

Mobile Painting Pt 2: Decent Light

As I built my mobile paint station, one of the most pressing issues was a decent light, I think this might be due to my age but without a harsh white light, I have a devil of a trouble picking out details, I have tried a load of lights and by and large found the modelling ones to not work for me, they simply are not bright enough.

My solution was found in the movie industry who not surprisingly have amazing kit, and the one that turned out perfect for me was from Aputure in particular the MX series

This mini beast has 120 LEDs rather than the 8 or so you get on hobby or normal USB lamps

and also has a full set of controls where you can alter the hue and brightness

So good and powerful is it that in combination with a normal desk lamp arm (with a standard camera screw attachment) that it has become my desk lamp.

and for travel I use a “JAWS” flex clamp (you can get these under a number of brands including GOPRO

I hate rambling reviews so lets go with pro’s and cons.

PRO’s

  • Amazing bright
  • Highly portable, on battery power it lasts between 1 and 3.5 hours of painting, and you can just take any USB power bank and recharge it on the go with no outage.
  • Uses a standard camera mount so you can find a wide variety of stands and mounts to suit your personal taste.
  • Looks so Cool.

CONS

  • Far more expensive than a normal hobby light.
  • The front feels very fragile, the LEDS are exposed and the magnetic plastic filters don’t feel like they can take much grief, so a good travel case is essential.
  • The included case feel very cheap, I opted for a small neoprene camera case as an alternative.
  • Buttons are small and not what you would consider “Everyday use”, but this feeling soon wears off and you get used to them.

All in all the perfect hobby and desk lamp, I now use it for everything, but I do have to be careful and sooner or later I just know I’m going to damage the fragile front.

Management nugget number 4

Nugget 4: Late night management emails are not an attack.

Explanation:

For once this one is not aimed at managers, it is aimed at the Techs and Frontline associates, I used to hate receiving management emails late at night or at the end of a Friday or the weekend or something like that. It put me under stress, it was uncomfortable and I thought they were watching me and wanting me to work the hours they were, But it turns out this is not always the case, If you’re stuck in bloody meetings all day or constantly on chat being chased for deliverables email takes a second place, and the only time you can sit down and deal with it (Other than the Odd Crisis Email) is when  everybody else has stopped working and therefore stopped chasing you, The reason that management do emails late at night and at the weekends is because that’s the only time they can try and clear their inbox, it’s not a personal thing, they just know that they won’t have a chance to send it during the week.

Weird.

Disclaimer: As always these posts are not aimed at anyone client or employer and are just my personal observations over a lifetime of dealing with both management and frontline associates.

 

Painting Guide – Necromunda Bases

Painter: Stickfight

Model(s): GW Necromunda Bases (all sizes)

Paint(s): Leadbelcher , Chaos Black , pro acryl: Bold titanium White , Iyanden Yellow , Dirty Down: Rust , Abaddon Black , AK – Streaking Grime , Munitorum Varnish , Scale Colour – Metal n’ Alchemy – Speed Metal

Method(s):

  1. Base coat with Chaos Black, then Leadbelcher
  2. Paint the raised areas you want to hazard stripe with pro acryl: Bold titanium White
  3. Then paint the raised areas you want to “hazard stripe” with Iyanden Yellow till nice and yellow (may take multiple layers)
  4. Cut thin strips of FrogTape masking tape and place over the yellow areas you want to keep yellow.
  5. Paint the remaining exposed yellow areas with Abaddon Black
  6. When dry, CAREFULLY peal the masking tape off to expose your hazard stripes.
  7. (optional) if you want rusty pipe areas, first paint them with Scale Colour – Metal n’ Alchemy – Speed Metal till shiny.
  8. (optional) Then use Dirty Down: Rust to make them all rusty again.
  9. Varnish the bases with Munitorum Varnish as AK – Streaking Grime is oil based and will eat your paint.
  10. Dab AK – Streaking Grime generously all over, particularly in corners.
  11. leave for AT LEAST 30 mins, then rub the areas you want to still see metal through gently with a lint free cloth (the cheap glasses cleaning cloths are my favourite).
  12. when happy with the effect, re varnish with Munitorum Varnish to set everything,

Paint Time: 1 hour end to end (quite a bit of drying time)

 

Management nugget number 3

Nugget 3: Office working is far more productive than remote working when dealing with human interaction, but its a mistake to assume it can be maintained at that level forever.

Explanation:

Even before the pandemic, there was a debate over office working vs. remote working and the thing is that both of them are productive in their own way, but after 5+ years of hard remote working and learning to deal with it on a large team scale I think I’ve reached an epiphany.

Day to day working is more efficient from home, you can actually get on with working, you  are actually more productive in completing tasks (providing you actually spend the hours working that you would in an office) as there are far less distractions, Plus there is the absence of Lost time from travelling, but that doesn’t mean that home working is always more productive. For example workshops or large meetings particularly those that involve forms of conflict are far far more productive in person, as sales people have known forever.

But one thing that seems to have been forgotten, particularly by older generations of senior managers is that this kind of productivity cannot be sustained day after day after day, so in my opinion the new hybrid working model is the best, I personally go in for one day a week on a Monday to kickstart me into the work mentality.

But also I have seen the one week workshop where everyone comes together to solve a major goal, get tons done and deliver massively finish with a senior manager saying that we should work like this all the time and this is why being in an office is better,

NO! it’s not, everybody is mentally shattered, such work should be consider a sprint, and while its attractive to think such a pace can be kept up, it cant and should be used now as a usefully times tool to resolve issues or reconnect humans with each other

Sorry if this nugget got turned into more of a rant but it’s something I feel quite strongly about at the moment.

Disclaimer: As always these posts are not aimed at anyone client or employer and are just my personal observations over a lifetime of dealing with both management and frontline associates.

 

Painting Guide – Asphalt Bases

Painter: Dultoriminis and Stickfight

Model(s): Ebay Tiny Wolds  “Round Urban Rubble Resin Bases”

Paint(s): Chaos BlackCorvus BlackMechanicus Standard GreyDawnstone

Method(s):

  1. Base coat with Chaos Black
  2. Dry brush only the top with Corvus Black
  3. Without cleaning the brush, dry brush the top with Mechanicus Standard Grey
  4. Again without cleaning the brush, dry brush the top with Dawnstone
  5. Then do your road lines, White with pro acryl: Bold titanium White , or Yellow with pro acryl: Bold titanium White and then a layer or 2 of Iyanden Yellow

Paint Time: 15 mins per base

Notes: This kind of dry brushing is easier to do by starting the brush movement lightly back and forth THEN bring the model up to be in contact with the brush, if you are naff with straight lines like me then I recommend using thin strips of FrogTape to outline your area to paint.