Corporate phrase: “Crisis Merchant”

Corporate phrase: “Crisis Merchant”


“Crisis Merchant” is the new term that now fills the space historically occupied by “Drama Queen”, “Drama Queen” is now universally accepted as both offensive and misogynistic, but we still need a term for a person who hypes up all issues to the “Crisis” level, takes joy in reporting and confusing issues and generally revels more in the problem than in finding the solution. “Crisis Merchant” fits that role perfectly and is both gender neutral and instinctively understood. 

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.


All columns in a database

This is just an aide memoire for a function I use seemingly every week as part of my data integration work. It’s often easier to work through an Excel spreadsheet when you are doing data mapping rather than a SQL tool, as you can search for text and the like to help find a field.

This is just the SQL for doing that for the major SQL databases that you can come across.

Microsoft SQL

select schema_name(tab.schema_id) as schema_name, as table_name,
col.column_id, as column_name, as data_type,
from sys.tables as tab
inner join sys.columns as col
on tab.object_id = col.object_id
left join sys.types as t
on col.user_type_id = t.user_type_id
order by schema_name,


SELECT *  FROM all_tab_cols ORDER BY table_name, column_name, column_id


Select c.tabschema as schema_name, c.tabname as table_name, c.colname as column_name, c.colno as position, c.typename as data_type, c.length, c.scale, c.remarks as description, case when c.nulls = ‘Y’ then 1 else 0 end as nullable, default as default_value, case when c.identity =‘Y’ then 1 else 0 end as is_identity, case when c.generated = then 0 else 1 end as is_computed, c.text as computed_formula from syscat.columns c inner join syscat.tables t on t.tabschema = c.tabschema and t.tabname = c.tabname where t.type = ‘T’ order by schema_name, table_name


select column_name from information_schema.columns
where table_schema = ‘your_db’
order by table_name,ordinal_position

Management Nugget No 14: “Are you a project Risk?”

Nugget 14: “Think of your actions as if they were a project risk”


When you ask for an admin or non deliverable based task to be done, try and think of it as if it had come from an external party, would you still do it? or are you just banking on the fact that it’s Your team to make sure it gets done?.  The invisible admin tasks that come from internal team management chew up far more time than you would believe, treat all internal and external task as if they were project risks, you will find it really cuts down on the things you ask for.

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.

Stress Tip No. 3 : Guilt Managment

I used to know it as the “Protestant work ethic“, in which you work to keep sin at bay, but looking at it honestly it is merely work guilt, the management of this work guilt is key to your work life balance and success long term in a corporate environment. 

Before we get started, I want to make it clear that this is aimed at what I class as a non timed corporate permanent job, you don’t have clock in and clock out hours, instead you have fluid expectations on delivery, and in certain situations this is what can lead to guilt at work, Also I realise that this is a practical personal way of dealing with the problem, it is not the ‘correct’ way,

I class guilt as a key part of the burnout cycle and it’s application by both yourself and your work environment, often in the form of: “Take one for the team” , “Your letting us down”, and “Don’t you want to succeed” etc etc, it’s something that appears both in a genuinely innocent way and in a hard cynical fashion in nearly every work environment. 

You can receive guilt in lots of different ways and I’m not even going to attempt to touch the ones that involve people’s personalities or good and bad behaviour from managers.

However ultimately it all comes down to the fact that you don’t feel you have done a job properly.

One of the simplest but hardest ways of doing this is to look what you’re doing and allocate how much effort you think is reasonable for your job. then construct a frame work round it that you feel you can mentally defend.

To explain, lets work through an example for a reasonably demanding or technical office job:

You have a standard work week, 9am-5pm with officially 1 hour for lunch, so 7 hours a day. 

We all know that you wont be able mentally or practically to defend working like this in an expectation based role, your reviews and thus any bonuses you might make would suck, and you would stand no chance of progressing in your career, so there would be little point in being in this type of job, move back to a hours based job and remove the guilt.

At the opposite end of the scale, there is what most businesses would love, for you to live only for your job, experience has shown me that that is about a 16 hour work day, maintainable but only at the cost of everything else, true it absolves you of guilt but robs you of a life.

So our min is 7 hours a day our max theoretical is 16, Lets work something out in the middle that feels good in your mind and you can defend.

On a personal physical level 12 hours is about my sustainable max output, above that, I start to burn too hot and slowly damage my self, if the job needs more than that, then I am in the wrong job, don’t feel guilt, look for another job.

Now we are between 7 and 12 hours in a day, look at the work environment around you, what time do the emails start flying by the general team, and what time do they finish, again based on experience, I’m going to guesstimate, between 8:30 local time and 18:00,

So 9.5 hours is the environmental average, that is inside our 7-12 hour window, so valid, but if you did that would you still feel ‘bad’ and not able to relax, if so then add a tiny bit just enough to remove the guilt.

Now a 10 hour day results in me personally being resolved of guilt. If I work properly and do 50 hours of decent value work, Then I can push back on the never ending expectations, I know I am delivering more than the average but not to the point of damaging my self, you may wonder why I don’t mention how many hours are needed to do the job in any of this, and that is because on an expectation based role, there is no upper limit to the work you will receive, there is a quote “if you want a job done give it to a busy person“, it is valid.

Reading this you may think that this is a terrible idea and you should just work what you are paid to work, but I am going to disagree, 1) As I said this is not for an hours based role, this is for an expectation based role and, 2) Its an ultimately honest and self defining way of looking at your work, now you can look at what your ACTUALLY doing in your role and match it against the remunerations and opportunities your role provides, to see if you are valuing your self correctly. 

Your work puts a value on your time, should you not know what that value is your self? and in knowing that value, know you have matched it and can therefore remove this as a point of guilt and ultimately stress.

Management Nugget No 13: “9 Women Can’t Make a Baby in a Month”

Nugget 13: “9 Women Can’t Make a Baby in a Month”


When dealing with senior Management its hard to find a good way of saying “No you can’t have this, No matter how many people you throw at it”

However on Saturday night I was finally introduced to the phrase: “9 Women Can’t Make a Baby in a Month” and I love it, even if I’m late to hearing it.

Now there have been many many attempts to gently but firmly say to senior management, that they can’t have something, no matter what they do. Money won’t fix it, People wont fix it, only time doing a job properly we’ll fix it.

When you got a project like this back in my early programming days we used to call them “Death Marches”, and it was very common for management to try and deal with a death march buy hiring lots and lots of people in a short period. This rarely worked because when you threw such people at a project, they needed training, and that was a drain on the people that could fix a project, so in the end, it didn’t work.

However, I was talking to a programme manager in the gaming industry last night, and she introduced me to this phrase, and its perfect, It’s a hard no and it is a good solid biological hard no at that, that not even the most clever or flippant answer can discount. 

I love days I learn something new.

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.

Stress Tip No. 2 : A Change is as good as a feast

I love this misquote of “A change is as good as a rest”, as I feel it is actually more appropriate.

The misquote originally comes from, My family and other animals by Gerald Durrell. To me, it is actually more realistic. A rest is something deep and meaningful, A solid break. A holiday. It revitalises you all the way down. Whereas a feast gives you new energy and a boost .

But back to the point, for me when I’m dealing with stress, I find that a “feast change” can be something really small and easy to implement. My personal favourite is changing clothes, but also merely moving my desk to a different room or a different area, if only for a couple of weeks will provide enough change to shake me out of my current slump and help with any problems I might be having. It also gives you a slightly different perspective, all of which aid when dealing with stress.

It also has a slight extra feature in terms of dealing with your colleagues/clients/bosses. It provides an indication that all is not as normal with you, you don’t even have to say anything, but suddenly starting to wear suits when you normally wouldn’t. Or suddenly turning up at a slightly different time or a slightly earlier time. Will make any managers worth their salt suddenly pay attention to you, but without making any overt fuss.

Often they will reach out to you to with a query, which opens the gateway to providing a better longer term solution, rather than the stopgap change that you have implemented. So it is truly a win win.

It has the final fun thing when dealing with your colleagues or bosses, In that you have not made a fuss or complaint. You have merely changed something, and that I find in most major corporations provides a far better indication that something needs resolving than all the complaints in the world. Senior managers and corporations deal with complaints in a never ending stream, they’re just part of their lives. Someone fixing or changing things for themselves on the other hand, that’s different, if they can fix things themselves, then they are valuable and valuable people need looking after. 

I also see this happening from the other side of the tracks, a change in a team member can signify unhappiness that they don’t want to make a fuss over, and being awake to this can prove to people that you think of them as people and not just a project resource.

Management Nugget No 12

Nugget 12: When demanding truth of people who work for you, consider how much truth you give your boss’s.


Another really obvious one. But watching the puzzlement on people’s faces, particularly relatively senior management, when they don’t get completely honest and open statements from their team members, when they themselves guard and only pass out limited information to their own boss’s or bosses bosses really shows that people don’t think this way.

As always with this kind of thing, it’s quite simple. Just put yourself in someone else’s position. If you will not tell your boss or your boss’s boss the complete and open truth. How can you expect your team members to do that for you? What makes you special?

Don’t think that suddenly you are one of the gang. or are somehow exempt from human behaviour. It only takes one rant, when you’re having a bad day or one act of taking it out on someone else. and suddenly you’re a boss and you’re a boss forever.

You can’t get it back, so if you want total truth from the people who work for you you will need to either PROOVE you are someone that can be trusted, or be as truthful to others as you want them to be to you.

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 : Updates for the Day: fans in an heat wave

Today’s painting update is a battery powered desktop fan

USB powered fans have come on a long way since they first came out, and these are not the noisy things that drive you crazy and don’t put out any draft, these have a good nine inch set of blades and shift a lot of air. Their battery power is 10,000 milliamp, they charge off 2 different USB port types and they run on full blast for about six hours or 24 hours at lower level, which is good, as even in the heat wave that we’re having in England at the moment, bad moon cafe is packed. We had found that it was actually a little bit warm in the café area even on a normal day. So invested in a couple of these and they are just perfect to keep us cool and able to concentrate for the full day. they are easy to adjust with good strong clamps that hold them on the top of the painting case. Totally recommended.


Stress Tip No. 1 : The Classic Sunday Nap

Something that I used to do back when I had the purple patch office was have a Sunday afternoon nap on a Sofa.

It felt like a stolen guilty pleasure. but it wasn’t till I lost it, that I realised quite how valid it was as a weekly reset,

Those 60 to 90mins, Once a week, closed off one week and got you ready for the next one. My wife has known the value of a good nap for as long as I’ve known her. If you had what I would call a ‘traditional English upbringing’ you will already know about the Sunday afternoon matinee nap, taken after the large Sunday dinner and during the slightly boring Sunday afternoon movie on BBC 1. But we have lost them. I feel that in the new modern world, we should take them back.

They feel good because they are a bonus to the minimum sleep a modern life gives you, and in addition they genuinely feel like a different form of sleep. I don’t know the science behind it if indeed there is any. The only thing I know is you must have them in a different place to your normal bed, on the sofa, in a garden or park, just somewhere where they feel “stolen” 

Disclaimer:  I am fully aware that these are privileged stress tips. I’m aware that they’re not helpful to people whose life is a never ending hard grind, where no time is rest, But if anyone gets any joy or help from them then they’ve done their job.

Management Nugget No 11

Nugget 11: Negotiating only works with the correct sort of deliverables, otherwise it can do more harm than good.


It is an automatic behaviour in a lot of managers to negotiate any quote or estimation of work, in a misplaced belief that all things can be dropped to their lowest ‘price’ and that this shows somehow that they are in ‘charge’. however as I have discovered in many a project, particularly those centred around internal systems and data with unknowns, that it is a misplaced economy, you may think that when you’ve negotiate a project down from 12 to 8 months you are getting the same product in a shorter period of time, but you are not, with a lot of such projects the quotations come from a technical source, which means that the quote is an honest belief in how long it will take to produce a quality product, knocking this down and making it faster doesn’t mean you get the same quality product, it means you actually get a rubbish product and long-term you have actually hurt the project far more than allowing a delivery in a reasonable time period, when you are dealing with both internal business and/or technical staff please be aware that the people might not be trying to make a profit out of you, they may just be trying to do a good job

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.