Managers, Experts and Masturbating Monkeys

As I go through my everyday work life, I often get figuratively kicked it the nuts. If you're a guy, you already know that even a metaphorical kick to the groinal area can be very very painful. And this happens every time I have to deal with people at the workplace, who do no work.
No work at all.
I'm not talking about people who take multiple breaks for coffee, walks, smoking, blogging (*smirk*) and downloading Sarah Palin posters. Even the most compulsive break takers do some work. I'm talking about people who do NO work.

Many experts fall into this category as well. You know? Experts? The guys who have not done anything useful for at least the last 7.3 years. They are still basking in the long faded glory of this one product he designed using techniques that are outdated, that introduced features that are today routinely found on (or in) toilet bowls, and fulfilled a market need that can now be successfully addressed by Chinese made cigarette lighters. Some of these experts have actually not even done that one product, however long ago. These guys have just read up everything available on a a very narrow area, and avoid helping budding engineers by answering questions with incomprehensible blather like "Given the thermal geodynamics of the varying nature, if you're really interested in using the winged schema in your product spec, you should look at the drive architecture of the compounded spoilage in our last generation product."
They never actually do anything except pretend to advice. They sit in on review meetings and ask irrelevant and inane questions so that they can get their name on another patent. And whenever I have to deal with one of these guys my scrotal contents cease to effortlessly swing about and commence to shrink violently into tiny pain points.

Obviously many senior managers, directors and presidents fall into this pain causing category. They are supposed to manage, direct or preside, but there's a bunch of these guys who do nothing but postpone decisions till only one option remains open. They play a sick version of "passing the parcel" whenever something actually lands on their table so that every request becomes intertwined with so many departments that nothing will get done. And if all else fails they will create a board or a committee or a task force and get their rocks off by reviewing actual work done by others Whenever I have to deal with one such management flunky, I feel like I just got kicked in the you-know-where with a steel toed boot. You could replace these kinds of managers with bald masturbating monkeys. Same effect as the erstwhile manager - a disgusting display of flailing arms and self pleasuring.

But the most magnitude of pain is caused not by Experts or Managers. That happens when I have to deal with Expert Managers.
People who used to be good at something as an engineer, line employee, or supervisor, and have now been unfortunately promoted to manager, but have refused to give up their expertise in one or many technical area. They not only want to retain their expertise, but they also want to continue to be seen as the big dick expert in whatever area they used to be the expert in. These guys continue review the tiniest detail, ask questions about the most irrelevant aspects, and sometimes even take over interesting assignments to execute themselves. They impede the progress of projects and development of their staff, and are the worst possible kind of expert and the most ineffective manager that you can find.

At least the monkey works for peanuts

Busting Monopolies

Have you ever seen somebody who loves their IT support?
How about somebody who can’t stop praising their HR?
Or somebody who would give their right leg for their facilities maintenance team?

I’m guessing the answer, on average, is a resounding “fuck”
You know why?
Because these centralized support functions are lasting political monopolies.

By lasting political monopoly, what I mean is that these organizations have been placed in a position of a monopoly without having earned it, and have no specified limit on the time for which they are allowed to function as a monopoly. Unlike, for example, a patent, which is a Limited Apolitical Monopoly where the owner earned the patent, and has a time limit imposed on the monopoly powers it gives him, the DMV, is a Lasting Political Monopoly, where from now until the end of time, only the DMV has the power to issue licenses to drive.

And these lasting political monopolies are terrible things. Generally they will result in
1. Higher Pain: Either in pricing, or in cases where pricing can not exceed a certain threshold (like in our centralized support functions), in the actual experience, the monopolies will create excruciating pain for most customers. Badly designed databases, insane forms, irrelevant categorization procedures and labyrinth-like procedures are all signs that your support group does not care about you.
2. Lack of Innovation: Monopolies don’t need to innovate. The market is their slave. They laugh at innovation. Even in creating horrible customer experiences, they will not innovate. They will do it the same terrible way every single time.
3. Inefficiency: Without pricing pressure and competition for their business, the monopolies become inefficient, sloth like, and apathetic. With time, these monopolies get infested with incompetent employees who can not so much as understand your problem, much less actually solve it. I think that in a few years, all support functions will be staffed by comatose people on life support systems. And whats more, nobody will notice the fucking difference.
4. God Complex: These paragons of inefficiency eventually realize that their customers have no power over them. As soon as that happens, these bastards will start bossing they customers around, telling them what they can do and not do (You can not use a taxi if the travel company is not authorized by me), telling them what they can have and not have (You can have a pen to take notes, but you can not have a black pen), and telling them when they can have it (The lead time for getting a hall organized for your team in 145 days), and finally, telling the customer what is wrong with them (Why don’t you invite ME to your review meetings. Maybe the perspective I have gained by my years of experience ignoring your requests for service will add value in a discussion about cloud computing)
And in companies in India that are remote sites or development centers for their parent companies, this situation is made worse by the fact that more often than not, the heads of these support functions are placed at an organizational level that is a few notches higher than the heads of their customer organizations. In addition to that, their American or European overlords more often that not do not care about little manifestations of the bigger problem. And even if they do want to talk about it, they are easily slowed down by the monopolies by throwing some region specific sand - like legal and regional compliance directives – in the overseer’s eyes

So is there a way out?
Is there something organizations can do to prevent their support functions from turning into torture chambers for the rest of us?

For starters the regional support functions should be clearly told that they are accountable to the regional business unit managers.
Second, for every regional support function, one business unit manager should be assigned as the outside reviewer to review progress and performance on at least a monthly basis. And this manager should change every year. This has two benefits. Not only does the support function get reviewed by a customer, the customer gets a feel for what the support functions need to be successful. (Coz lets face it, not all customers are right all the time either. There are incompetent bastards among all of us)
We’re trying this in our business. I’ll let you know if things change.

If any of you have any other brilliant ideas, lemme know!

Moving on after Bombay

It feels odd to begin posting about random and minor aggravations after what has happened in Bombay, but I guess we can't stay stuck on that forever. The part I am struggling with though is that all of us try to move on individually, the society moves on as well, and then what happens to the focus required to systemically prevent such attacks?
The media will move on,...
I was glad to read - in the front page of a daily "newspaper"- that Brad Pitt is shocked at the events in Bombay, and that "full service was now available at the Bangkok airport" - Happy ending anyone? And many TV channels continue to claim inane non-events as exclusive news, and I'm as sick of Darkha Butt being touted as a great reporter as I will ever be.
The politicians will move on...
RR Patil (Deputy CM/Home for Maharashtra) was sacked or resigned, claiming moral responsibility. Shivraj Patil (Home for the country) was sacked or resigned, claiming moral responsibility. And Deshmukh (CM, Maharashtra) was sacked or resigned kicking and screaming, on the principle of acconutability (whatever the hell that means). I guess only Manmonia Singh does not have any moral responsibility or accountability in this matter. The buck stopped somewhere on the way to his desk... Everybody that comes to replace those poor bastards will probably begin with frank and open statements about admissions of failure. They will because none of that failure will mar the crispness of their white politicians garbs. PC has already begun by admitting intelligence failures. The question is, will these new guys do anything significantly different?

But move on we must.
To maintain our sanity.
To maintain our illusion of safety.
To maintain our ability to function.

It would be nice if there were one guy who was tasked exclusively with the dual tasks of apprehending the bastards responsible, and fixing the system. That one guy could give the country an update every week in the beginning and then every month or so. That way, the focus would remain. People could move on, snug in the belief that someone somewhere is working to keep them safe. But for some reason I do not think that anything remotely like that is going to happen here.