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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Unauthorised changes – or simply put, chaos

Change is good. Change I consider to be progress. I like change and in engineering it is our life blood. It has to be structured, it has to coordinated, people have to be accountable, and therefore audit trails are critical: Most of all, there has to be leadership that is clear, decisive and transparent.

Some consider it only to apply to those they report to above in the chain of command and are happy to let their teams work on in blind ignorance but still have the audacity to tell them they screwed up and it is actually their fault for not knowing what is happening.

So, when different groups are left to casually do what they want and deliver what they feel they can get away with, a recipe for disaster is the resultant brew; and everyone suffers, right from the lowly designers, through the engineering disciplines, the project managers, project directors and the heaviest player in the game – the client, who pays for us all.

Hard earned experience

From early on it became apparent that the customisation of this blended software had not been done. When I raised this issue I was ignored. No matter how explicit I was in arguing my case I was just knocked back and told use it.

I asked many times for the project handbook or company guidelines – that should exist and should describe the anticipated working practices, but nothing materialised until a casual conversation revealed it did not exist.

Jumping ahead a little, and this is the nub of my problem, when other senior people had to acknowledge my sentiment about this and a lot of other related issues, it became clear that, on the whole I was correct. BUT by then the damage had been caused as I had slowly became persona non grata and by some not worth the salary I was earning.

Daily life in a design office

The design process relies on good, open, honest and straightforward discussions so the object under consideration can be ‘designed’ with the input of all disciplines. I spoke with a chap who was instrumental in the bid process to check what we had to deliver: it was 2d drawings in PDF format. Nice and straightforward, just new software to contend with.

Suddenly it became a 3D project … No allowances in the budgets for this new style of working were included, and after many discussions it was stated by the Project Manager it was going to happen and the managers would simply have to take the financial hit.

No problem there then I thought, I am not involved with that side of the equation but expenditure was set to exceed income from day one.

The software we are currently using is a blend of two packages very nicely merged into the organisation of the data and then its creation and maintenance. It is good, very good, but not perfected. A major part of the process happens in the background. Provided a range of tasks and design relationships are understood by the team

We are now working in a shared networked based 3D model where geospatial accuracy is critical. The upside is it releases far more information earlier in the design process, but the downside is far greater amount of upfront work is needed at an earlier stage in the design process as well as more technically demanding drafting – modelling now.

We have our teams split into a number of regional offices who, including us, are new to this particular software blend. So I expected a bumpy time as coordinating the 2D work was something I have done many many times and would not cause me concern, but 3D is different, partly because new modelling techniques were required by me but primarily because the seven out of the eight regional offices were new to this blended software approach and there was no budget for it!

The situation is …

It is not unreasonable to expect a certain level of professionalism from an engineering department of a large company. Many of the staff have professional qualification and have codes of ethics they are deemed to automatically adhere to.  Even those people who are not members of professional organisation pride themselves of a professional attitude and most people share that professionalism in their own lives away from their companies.

While it is in vogue for a company not to give references to employee’s, the lost sentence on such a letter ‘… is honest, reliable and trustworthy’ is sorely missed.  Perhaps it is an indication that people are truly not honest, not reliable and are untrustworthy, (or any permutation) and claims to the contrary are simply un-defendable.

So, now having been through the last six or so months it should not have been a surprise to find characters that should not be given a reference for their own well-being.

Perhaps I trusted people too much. Its in my nature to trust until proven otherwise: so I got caught, and it had catasophic implications for me.  Not in the sence of truely life threatening but mentally. My core values – honesty, relaibility and trustworthness have been called into personal doubt. Why should I trouble with these when this is the outcome. Should I just abandon them? throw them to the wind and see how I fare.

My solution was, to withdraw, not partake, avoid the architects of my downfall: But only after I passed a brink or realisation that I was being royally stuffed by people who I trusted.

It changed when

When a new project arrives into a design office much work has already been done. It is a complex process of preparation. The brief has to be understood explicitly, the deliverables have to be identified, skills gaps identified and programmes created to hit the target dates. Without being churlish the cost to client is needed and often a commercial department will cast its eye and bend the cost according to the prevailing financial constraints of both the market and the company along with risk aversion considerations.

At the point of handover a gap analysis is done to identify any changes so the deliverables can be reassessed and where necessary new budgets or early warnings can by issued. All this becomes the embryo for the designers to work from.

Work can start as everyone knows what is expected of them, where they fit into the scheme of work, what they have to produce and the design relationship their work has with other designers to ensure coherent delivery.

If any of the above is not in place, or people are not informed at the start or, the real killer, not informed of changes along the way then the tower will crash.

In my experience only lip service is paid to spirit of teams and what they have to offer so the order of the day is to look after number one.

Time to reflect

For the over two years now I have been involved with researching and implementing a new method of work that is to become the norm in my industry. Having discussed what I was trying to implement with a number of well-informed people out side of the company I work for, it has been suggested that my plans are about two years ahead of what our competitors are doing.

As such I feel quite warm in the knowledge that I am at least on target if not more.  This is a good place to be!

I have received praise from a good number of people I have worked for over this period as I have had to fight tooth and nail to get my perspective on the future across. Where the light-bulb moment happened in various places it was felt a benificial approach was there and should be adopted. However, there is still reticence towards my view of the world.  I can live with that as I just remind myself that it took a lot of debate to convince people the earth was not flat.

This worked finished and I returned to doing ‘normal duties’ but still developing my thoughts etc.

Enough rambling, now …

I have set the scene that I am in and will now deal with the gritty details.

I want to do this as I believe I am not alone in what I think is invidious persecution of people who have served companies well only to be shafted by people specifically brought in to rape and pillage whatever they see with impunity.

Some people not only have to win …

‘It is not good enough to win, everybody else should lose’ is the unstated mantra of a new manager. He is quite happy to ride roughshod over anyone provided the mayhem and debris he creates does not impeded his vision of what success actually looks like.

Many people have been forced to deliver sub-standard work simply so his group can say we crossed the winning line first.  If we can do it you can.

It’s not all about me

I have recently been diagnosed with PTSD after I was involved in a car accident five months ago.  It has taken all that time to develop into a stage where I need counselling.  For two and a half months I carried on not really knowing there was a problem.  Yes, I was sad, yes, I thought about the event everyday and dependent on how busy and what I was concentrating on it waxed and waned.  It did not really get in the way until the natural pressure of work on a new project built up and new managers came on the scene.

Suffering at the hands of …

I am sure I am just an average person, married, 2.4 children and a dog, nothing special at all. I fit into life and on the whole was happy. Hmm! I hope you noticed ‘was’.  All changed recently and I have become a tinder box at work that does go off.  I am just the fuel, others ignite me, for what has been suggested by others in the company are hidden reason.

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