Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Micro-Manager Man!!

I had a bad flash back today to my Navy life.

Then: Captain #2 onboard the USS Reeves was one of those screamer type Captains. His middle initials were AC, so we would call him "Anti-Christ" when he wasn't around, or "all chuckles" when he was. It was a form of code the junior officers would use.

I had several jobs onboard the Reeves, but the worst job I had was First Lieutenant. 1LT in the Navy isn't a rank, it's a position. It's the officer in charge of the Deck Division and responsible for the care and maintenance of the outside of the ship, the anchor, the small boats, stuff like that. And my Commanding Officer's philosophy was that a ship was judged by how it looks and how it communicates. And since how it looks was my responsibility, I got a lot of quality time with the CO where he would indicate additional opportunities for me to excel. (and if you didn't get the HEAVY SARCASM in the last sentance, read it again until you do)

So after the perpetual beatings I would recieve, I developed a split personality: the Captain's Whipping Boy, or (cue Superman music) Micro-Manager Man! I've come to save the day by telling you exactly what to do! Hooray!

I would shuffle through the wardroom and one of the JOs would ask who I was that day and I would stand dejectly with my shoulders down and say with a sigh, "The Captain's Whipping Boy" or if I was in an almost good mood, I would stand up straight, chest out, and say loudly, "I'm MICROMANAGER MAN!!"

The CO was just so good at just piling crap on me. And as a defense mechanism, I came up with the daily list. It was a list off all of the things my division was working on and how many men were what things. So when the CO would track me down to complain about something, I would turn to him and say. "Yes, Sir. That's a problem. I've got 3 men in the paint locker, 4 men over the side painting forward, 4 men over the side painting aft, 3 men up in the bosun's locker, 4 men cleaning berthing, 4 men doing maintenance on your gig and the motor whaleboat, 3 men doing maintenance on the anchorwindless, 5 men chipping up the worn non-skid on the helo deck, and 2 men supporting a working party for the galley. If this needs to be done now, please let me know what you don't want me to do today, and I'll have my men work on this instead." He hated me when I did it. But more often than not, he say: "It needs to get done." And I'd say, "Yes Sir, I'll add ito the list and we'll have someone start working it tomorrow."

Now: Another ugly telecon with my customer. Conflicting guidance. Accusations about what we are doing. We're not fast enough, good enough, etc. You can't build a house in a day to go back to my earlier analogy. And you'll never build anything if you can't actually do the work without getting redirected on a daily or sometimes hourly basis. He kept pushing me to give him information that I couldn't without guidance from him first and he just wouldn't give it to me. And then he would ask a question. I would answer. Then he would ask the SAME question again and I would provide the same answer. And I could tell he was getting mad. But if I'm not answering the question the way you want the question answered, then give me a hint as to what you are really looking for. And I'll admit that I can get pretty f&*king stubborn some time. So I wasn't backing down and he kept asking questions that he knew we weren't/couldn't answer. And then it all came down to, you've got X number of people, what are they all working on? AGH!!!!!

Let me tell you, I've got electricians, plumbers, guys who hang dry wall, architects, heating and airconditioning guys. They are all trying to build the new house you just asked for (the one with no roof, no doors, and no windows but hey it's what you want) as well as renovate the house you already have. The one with all of the loud complaining renters. The ones you told us to keep quiet. Electricians can't hang dry wall. Plumbers can't design a house. If we had . . . . . . wait for it . . . . . .wait for it . . . . a PLAN then we could figure out when we need what type of person and get it done. But that's just not going to happen.

Well I think I've effectively beaten that analogy to death. And it's not very pretty, isn't it.

Oh well. In better news, my sister comes into town tomorrow night. So that's cool.


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