Archives de la catégorie: Vie des entreprises

Pensées Dilbert-comme

Hard Work

One argument for big bonuses is that the executives work hard for it and earn it fair and square. It is true that some of these executives spend enormous amount of time (up to 10 à 14 hours a day, according the AIG executive under the spotlight here). Mais, do long hours and hard work automatically make us “those who deserve the best in life,” as Tracy Chapman puts it?

I have met taxi drivers in Singapore who ply the streets hour after owl-shift hour before they can break even. Apparently the rentals the cabbies have to pay are quite high, and they end up working consistently longer than most executives. Farther beyond our moral horizon, human slum dogs forage garbage dumps for scraps they can eat or sell. Back-breaking labour, I imagine. Long hours, terrible working conditions, and hard-hard work — but no bonus.

It looks to me as though hard work has very little correlation with what one is entitled to. We have to look elsewhere to find justifications to what we consider our due.

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Bonus Plans of Mice and Men

Our best-laid plans often go awry. We see it all the time at a personal level — accidents (both good and bad), deaths (both of loved ones and rich uncles), births, and lotteries all conspire to reshuffle our priorities and render our plans null and void. En fait, there is nothing like a solid misfortune to get us to put things in perspective. This opportunity may be the proverbial silver lining we are constantly advised to see. What is true at a personal level holds true also at a larger scale. The industry-wide financial meltdown has imparted a philosophical clarity to our profession — a clarity that we might have been too busy to notice, but for the dire straits we are in right now.

This philosophical clarity inspires analyses (and columns, bien sûr) that are at times self-serving and at times soul-searching. We now worry about the moral rectitude behind the insane bonus expectations of yesteryears, par exemple. The case in point is Jake DeSantis, the AIG executive vice president who resigned rather publicly on the New York Times, and donated his relatively modest bonus of a million dollars to charity. The reasons behind the resignation are interesting, and fodder to this series of posts.

Before I go any further, let me state it outright. I am going to try to shred his arguments the best I can. I am sure I would have sung a totally different tune if they had given me a million dollar bonus. Or if anybody had the temerity to suggest that I part with my own bonus, paltry as it may seem in comparison. I will keep that possibility beyond the scope of this column, ignoring the moral inconsistency others might maliciously perceive therein. I will talk only about other people’s bonuses. Après tout, we are best in dealing with other people’s money. And it is always easier to risk and sacrifice something that doesn’t belong to us.

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How Much is Your Time Worth?

I recently got a crazy idea. Suppose I tell you, “I will give you a ten-million-dollar job for a month. But I will have to kill you in two months.” Bien sûr, you will have to know that I am serious. Let’s say I am an eccentric billionaire. Will you take the ten million dollars?

I am certain that most people will not take this job offer. En fait, there is a movie with Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando (IMDb tells me that it is The Brave) where Depp’s character actually takes up such an offer. Twenty-five thousand, Je crois, was the price that he agreed upon for the rest of his life. For some of us, the price may be higher, but it is possible that there is a price that we will agree upon.

Pour moi, my price is infinite — I wouldn’t trade the rest of my life for any amount of money. What does it help me to have all the money in the world if I don’t have the time to spend it? Mais, this stance of mine is neither consistent with what I do, nor fully devoid of hypocrisy. Hardly anything in real life is. If we say we won’t trade time for money, then how come we happily sell our time to our employers? Is it just that we don’t appreciate what we are doing? Or that our time is limited?

I guess the trade off between time and money is not straight forward. It is not a linear scale. If we have no money, then our time is worth nothing. We are willing to sell it for almost nothing. The reason is clear — it takes money to keep body and soul together. Without a bare minimum of money, there indeed is no time left to sell. As we make a bit of money, a bit more than the bare minimum, we begin to value time more. But as we make more money, we realize that we can make even more by selling more time, because the time is worth more now! This implicit vicious circle may be what is driving this crazy rat race that we see all around us.

Selling time is an interesting concept. We clearly do sell our time to those who pay us. Employees sell time to their employers. Entrepreneurs sell their time to the customers, and in deploying their businesses. But there is a fundamental difference between these two modes of selling. While employees sell their time once, businessmen sell their time multiple times. So do authors and actors. They spend a certain amount of time doing whatever they do, but the products they create (book, business, films, Windows XP, songs etc.) are sold over and over again. That is why they can make their millions and billions while those who work for somebody else find it is very difficult to get really rich.

Les e-mails de navet — Exemple A

Votre courriel a révolutionné la communication d'entreprise dans la dernière décennie. La plupart de son impact a été positif. Un e-mail de la big boss à tous @ yourcompany, par exemple, est un substitut juste pour une assemblée générale de la communication. Dans les petites équipes, email sauve souvent des réunions et augmente la productivité.

Par rapport à d'autres modes de communication (téléphone, la messagerie vocale, etc), e-mail a un certain nombre de caractéristiques qui le rendent particulièrement adapté pour la communication d'entreprise. Il donne à l'expéditeur la bonne quantité de la distance du destinataire se sentir en sécurité derrière le clavier. L'expéditeur reçoit suffisamment de temps pour peaufiner la langue et la présentation. Il a la possibilité d'envoyer des e-mail des destinataires multiples à la fois. L'effet net de ces caractéristiques est que l'âme normalement timide peut devenir un formidable personnage email.

Une âme normalement agressif, d'autre part, peut devenir un expéditeur odieux de ce qu'on appelle les navets. Stinkers sont des emails qui sont destinés à humilier.

Compte tenu de l'importance de la communication électronique de nos jours, vous pouvez vous trouver séduire par le charme sombre de navets. Si vous faites, voici les premières étapes de la maîtrise de l'art de fabriquer un salaud. L'astuce consiste à développer une attitude plus saint que toi et assumer un terrain moral. Par exemple, supposons que vous êtes contrarié avec une équipe pour leur travail bâclé, et que vous voulez mettre en évidence le fait pour les (et à quelques personnes clés de l'organisation, bien sûr). Un débutant peut être tenté d'écrire quelque chose comme, “Vous et votre équipe ne savez pas squat.” Résistez à la tentation, et de conclure que la recrue email. Beaucoup plus satisfaisant est de composer comme, “Je serai heureux de m'asseoir avec vous et votre équipe et partager notre expertise.” Cette composition rusé montre aussi subtilement votre connaissance supérieure.

Les e-mails peuvent être encore plus subtile. Par exemple, vous pouvez doucement avocats votre patron au sujet de certaines question comme, “Pas la peine de se précipiter là où les anges craignent de marcher,” et le plaisir secret que vous avez réussi à l'appeler un fou sur son visage!

stinkers Counter sont doublement douce. Tout en s'engageant dans un e-mail duel, votre meilleur espoir est de découvrir une inexactitude dans le navet. Bien que vous êtes tenu par l'honneur de répondre à un navet, silence peut aussi être une réponse efficace. Il envoie un signal que vous soit trouvé le navet trop peu important pour répondre à, ou, pire, vous avez accidentellement supprimé sans le lire.

Méfiez-vous des pièges puantes. Vous pouvez recevoir un courriel vous invitant à travailler sur un problème avec une offre généreuse pour aider. Dites que vous prenez l'aide d'appâts et demande. Le prochain email (copié à pratiquement tout le monde sur la terre) peut lire quelque chose comme, “Si vous pris la peine de lire le message précédent,” (se référant à un email envoyé il ya dix jours à 17 autres et deux groupes de messagerie) “vous sauriez que…” Notez comment il est facile de laisser entendre que vous ne savez pas ce que vous êtes censé, et que vous avez l'habitude d'ignorer les messages importants.

Nous n'avons pas de défense sûre contre les pièges puantes autre que de savoir l'expéditeur. Si un expéditeur est connu pour son caractère de navet-heureux, traiter tous ses ouvertures douces avec suspicion. Il est peu probable qu'il ait eu un changement de cœur et a décidé de vous traiter civilement. Beaucoup plus probable, c'est qu'il est vous mise en place pour quelque chose qu'il va profiter un peu plus de vous!

A la fin de la journée, ne vous inquiétez pas trop à propos de navets si vous vous trouvez à l'extrémité de réception. Garder un sourire sur votre visage et de reconnaître les navets pour ce qu'ils sont — voyages ego.

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Geeks

I have been doing a bit of geeky stuff lately — writing WordPress plugins. Okay, it is because I’m suffering from a terrible writer’s block.

You see, I’m supposed to be working on my next book. I foolishly promised a couple of chapters of The Principles of Quantitative Development to my commissioning editor at John Wiley & Sons within a month; now I find myself writing everything other than those darned chapters! Including plugins. Coming to think of it, writing those chapters wouldn’t be any less geeky, would it?

That made me wonder… We all started off as geeks, didn’t we? No use denying it. Remember how our teachers loved us, and the sexy cheerleaders, well, didn’t? Later in life, due to exigencies of circumstances, we may have tried to lose our techie halo and simulate a managerial posture. But, in our moments of panic, we go back to our geek roots. At least, I do.

You think you don’t? Well, check out these geek jokes. If you find them funny, chances are your roots are not too different from mine.

Heisenberg was driving down the highway when he was pulled over for speeding. The officer says, “Do you know how fast you were going?” Heisenberg says, “No, but I do know where I am!”

Two Hydrogen atoms walk into a bar. One says, “I’ve lost my electron!” The other says, “Are you sure?” The first replies, “Yes, I’m positive…”

Geek Pickup Lines:

  • Tell me of this thing you humans call [dramatic pause] love.
  • If you turn me down now, I will become more drunk than you can possibly imagine.
  • They don’t call me Bones because I’m a doctor.
  • Your name is Leslie? Look, I can spell your name on my calculator!
  • What’s a nice girl like you doing in a wretched hive of scum and villainy like this?
  • You must be Windows 95 because you got me so unstable.
  • My ‘up-time’ is better than BSD.
  • I can tell by your emoticons that you’re looking for some company.
  • Is that an iPod mini in your pocket or are you just happy to see me.
  • Want to see my Red Hat?
  • If you won’t let me buy you a drink, at least let me fix your laptop.
  • You had me at “Hello World.”
  • Mind if I run a sniffer to see if your ports are open?
  • You make me want to upgrade my Tivo.
  • By looking at you I can tell you’re 36-25-36, which by the way are all perfect squares.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: “This is the geek you’re looking for.” [Waves hand]
  • You can put a Trojan on my Hard Drive anytime.
  • Have you ever Googled yourself?
  • How about we do a little peer-to-peer saliva swapping?
  • With my IQ and your body we could begin a race of genetic superchildren to conquer the earth.
  • What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this when there’s a Farscape marathon on right now on the Sci Fi channel.
  • I’m attracted to you so strongly, scientists will have to develop a fifth fundamental force.

What Makes 100%?

What does it mean to give MORE than 100%? Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? We have all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%. How about achieving 103%? What makes up 100% in life? Here’s a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these questions:

If:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z are represented as:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

then H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K = 8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

and K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E = 11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%

but A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E = 1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

and B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T = 2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%

but look how far ass kissing will take you.

A-S-S-K-I-S-S-I-N-G = 1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that While Hard work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, it’s the Bullshit and Ass kissing that will put you over the top.