I think, since this is my first post for the year 2009, I decided to wish everyone a HAPPY YEAR 2009. May God continue to guide all of us in whatever we do.

On the last day of 2008, I was spending sometime considering about many of the work I used to do.. and recalling the funny orders ever given to me while I was working.. Here are some of the examples

1. Spend 3 Days comparing Open Office vs MS Office, writing about the Pros and Cons of each software (Although the fact of the matter is, we are on MS Volume licencing scheme, which allow us a huge number of Office to be installed for the next few years, and the company has no interest to switch to open office at all)

2. Wrote a long comparison between Xerox Multifunction Vs Ricoh multifunction (Which actually, the winner is the person who give “Freebies” to my boss)

3. Carried 2 19 Inch LCD Monitor from Tanjong Pagar Area to the Raffles Place area by hand

4. Wrote a Tender Proposal in 3 Days, when the person originally tasked, feign insanity and refuse to write it, although he is given 2 weeks to do it.

5. Told to set up a training environment for a ERP training with practically no Hardware, computers and even projectors

6. Made to fire staffs who are in my project team should they give me problems with NO replacement for the sacked team member

7. Perform Image QC of microfilms because someone needs to clock sales figure into the year end profit and to get profit a higher share of the profit sharing.  (Note that the company has NO Image Viewer for me when this order was given, and its up to me to find the reader or to place the films on the fluorescent tube to view the image)

8. Write a long report of Audit just to prove that documents are being destroyed on time. This is done by reading and tracing emails for 3-4 months, and yet other project issues and discussion and emails need to be sent out on time.

I once recall that, when we are given these funny orders, and you try to clarify how the task should be completed. The Boss will just say “I do not know, just do it”. Then when you are unable to finish it, they will give you a bad appraisal and when you give up working, they will claim that you cannot take pressure.

There are even funnier comments that I have received over the years, should you ever try to ask more about the task.

1. ” You are NOT looking at the big picture” (this is spoken by a sales persons whose Big Picture is obviously how much commission he can get by clocking the sales figure)

2. “I am not a technical person, I just do not care how you are going to do it, I am only responsible for bringing in the deal” (This guy clinched a worldwide AD deployment for 7 countries, at a ridiculous price of 30 K, complete with Hardware Delivery and Set up)

3. “This is a matter of principle” (Well, it doesn’t really seem to be a matter of principle when you are tasked with many days of email searching and reading while neglecting your other duties)

Then I was thinking to myself, alot of times, business owners thinks that the only thing they need to do is to SET THE DIRECTION… and whenever they run out of answers, their favourite answer is “I can see the BIG Picture” … Sometimes if you really were to look at the big picture, you will know that it just voice down to how much commission he is going to get.

Lately, when I have a chance to run operations, I realise that many of these business managers will only be interested in a few things
1. The profitablity (Just looking at numbers)
2. Productivity of their hourly contract staff (they never seems to be given any funny task to perform at all)
3. Volume of work done, only when their comissions are tied to it

And most of the time, people on contracts, with No Over Time Pay are made to do ridiculous assignments just because there is no cost involved. If the worker finally is overwork because of too many responsiblities, and quit as the result, he will be viewed as “Unable to take pressure” and “Job hopping”

Such working situation is also the reason why
1. Meetings can go on for hours just to read 1-2 reports

2. Contract workers are made to do report after report, when no one wants to look at it.

3. The smarter workers refuse to do their work, allowing their work to be task to someone else.. just because the business owner wants to see the report, he will force some of the more willing worker to do it for him usually at the expense of their own free time

4. Countless of time is wasted on funny appraisals and goal settings, rather then really doing something profitable.

However as everyone can agree, we are unable to change these following fact

1. Most business development manager are merely sales people who had no idea how much work is needed

2. These people are only interested in numbers, and productivity only when the year end profit sharing or their sales comissions are on the stake

3. usually the workers who tries his best to fullfill the task are viewed as, cannot prioritize (Priority is relative here, depends on who comes to ask the workers for their status report)

4. They love writting outlook task list with percentage completed when there is only 2 percentage to look at, 0% for not done, and 100% for done.

5. Alot of owners just feels that setting the direction means giving vague orders and the technical people will sort it out easily. (Even if the timeline is ridiculous)

Therefore, I am seriously thinking of comming up with a new framework for companies to
1. Reward the staff who really does profit making activity (AKA meaningful work)
2. Make meaningful outcomes from meetings, without bothering to 
compile minutes whom no one actually reads 
3. Identify the business owners who are very good at giving lousy orders and retaining the good workers
4. Idenifying the workers who really loves hiding away from responsiblity and ensuring they are made redundant automatically.
5. Allow easy appraisals and goal settings (Less then a minute)
6. Allow business to identify the people who are really wasting companies resources by forcing good workers to do funny task.

The Basic Idea behind the BIG Picture
1. Abolish the fix salary. The base salary will only need to include the following
       a. Just enough money to ensure
                  a. A worker can travel to the workplace
                  b. Enough to buy a simple meal 
       b. Just have a fix man hour cost for each worker (From managers 
to operators)  

2.  When a worker is hired, besides ensuring that the basic needs are covered, tag his basic responsiblities each with a specific pay amount
        a. For example; If he is a project manager, he will need very specific reports like Project P&L, scope statements, each to be tagged with a pay amount.

         a. EG 2: If he is a business development manager, each of the different reports that the director wants to see, must be define, and tagged with a pay amount.

3. From then on all task issued to the workers must include the following items
          a. The things needs to be done
          b. The deliverable
          c. How much time is needed (discussed between the issuer and the recipient)
          d. Tag each deliverable with a percentage complete
          e. The resources needed for the task, whether it is there or not
          f. The amount of money for this task (the man hours multiply by the hourly rate)

This is good because, the business owner from now on can see how much this business decision actually cost him, then he can set his priorities better.

If the worker willingly take the task, then realise that the time taken is not correct, he can learn how to do it better.. or reject the task the next time

If the worker wanted to run away from that task, he will NOT be paid, hence, he will just be made redundant automatically

4. When the task is complete, the worker only need to rate the following thing
        1. Is the time taken enough?
        2. Whether this order really contribute to the overall profit
        3. Is this task a mere waste of time

5. At the end of the month, near pay day, all the task forms are consolidated and payment is made to the workers

6. From gathering each of the task it is easy to identify
      a. Business development manager who really do not know what he wants to do
      b. Workers who are overtasked.
      c. Workers who really aint doing anything important 
      d. How much money each silly business decision actually cost the business
       e. This framework can also help to give auditors good work to audit many reports

Actually I am still in the midst of thinking…. perhaps some of the readers will like to contribute… I am hoping to make this framework into something more concrete.