Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Work, Work, Work...


As some of you may (or may not) remember, I work for a defense contractor. Considering the amount of money the Pentagon pays for weapon systems and such, you'd think we'd all be driving one of these -


Nope. Not even close!

There are times when I wonder where all that money goes. $4000 toilet seats? $250 hammers? Nope.

Meetings.

Meetings and "process".

There are folks where I work who do nothing (it seems) but go to meetings. Where (and I'm not kidding) they spend time planning their next meeting, or series of meetings. Where they discuss flying out to meet with the customer. In order to discuss the agenda for their next meeting.


I try to avoid meetings. I have had to actually hold meetings from time to time. As they were my meetings they were always an hour or less.

One guy told me that sometimes meetings had to be longer than an hour.

I said, "Never. If it lasts longer than an hour it's a conference or a seminar. And the company best plan on providing food. And coffee."

I have been known to get up and walk out of meetings that were one of the following:

  • boring
  • stupid
  • a waste of time
  • all of the above
It costs a lot of money to tie down 6 to 10 engineers and a manager (or three) in a meeting for an hour. So it better be worthwhile.

We have a bunch of folks where I work whose job it is to make sure we "follow the process". Actually what they view as "process" we view as capturing "metrics". Ya know, bean counting. (I think one of the "metrics" they feed into the "process" is how many meetings the team holds each month. There might even be a quota.)

So yeah, the glamorous world of defense contracting as a software engineer.


Hey, it's a paycheck. And every now and then I actually make a difference.

Just not today.

Sigh...

12 comments:

  1. DDG-1000 In the "Link" trainer.

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  2. I once worked for a guy... my commander at the 2119th Comm Sq, actually... who held his staff meetings standing up. No chairs, just a long conference table where all the branch chiefs, the First Shirt, and the boss stood and said what we had to say. Most staff meetings were a half hour or less as a result. THAT was a frickin' brilliant strategy and one I tried to implement in a later life, semi-successfully.

    I think I told you about my strategy at my last gig... I'd go off to a meeting and tell my shift supervisor if I wasn't back in half an hour to come get me. So, after a half hour he or she would stick their head in the door to the conference room and say "Buck, we need you in the SOC, please." I'd excuse myself, leave, and never come back. The idiots never did catch on.

    I hated meetings.

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    1. Different version of this line, but Goodbye speeches in the squadron were getting too long, so the Sq Commander, got an ice bucket and filled it with ice and water. Speaker could talk for as long as he wanted, but he had to keep his hand in the submersed in the bucket while he spoke. Pulled it out, speech over. Worked like a charm!

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    2. Buck - I remember your strategy. Haven't had a chance to use it. In my own case, getting up and leaving works too.

      I had one guy ask me "Where are you going?" My answer? "To the head, I need to urinate. Why?"

      Word got out, people seldom ask now.

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    3. Juvat - that sounds like a CO who knew his stuff. Frozen hand technique!

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  3. Like Buck I saw impressive meetings. There was a daily one first thing every day at JTF A where the Army 3 star stood and was briefed by his staff with a quick roundup of the game, the real world, the weather, future ops, schedule. Since he stood so did the 2 stars, the 1 star and everybody else except little old me. I had the watch and the only chair. My meetings were brief and very brief. The only long ones I ever tolerated were those for things like a bid proposal or spec development or... nope, that's it. OK, Till near the end when some of our meetings with our own 2 star were interminable and went on and on and on and on. They were usually VTCs so we'd freeze the screen and leave the room whenever.

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    1. Freezing the screen during a VTC, brilliant.

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  4. The whole world seems to be divided into those of us that actually produce things, and those that have meetings to justify their existence!
    Me: "I've got deadlines - send me a memo!"

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    1. I think you're on to something Timbo. The memo thing works for me.

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  5. I see you got the cover sheets for the TPS reports.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)