Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Little Something New

Just a little something I've been working on. This is a larger version (than the preview) of a t-shirt I created for I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I Have Problems. I Can't Tell You The Details But Could You Fix Them?

We have a sales director where I work that insists on sending an email to the company president about how much GroupWise (an email system) sucks. He usually waits until something goes wrong (yesterday I didn't get 20 messages), polls his people for their problems (without any detail) and then sends our president an email. He makes no effort to tell the IT department any details about the problems. His emails contain such helpful statements as (not exact quotes ... just examples):

"This thing simply isn't working."
"GroupWise sucks."
"Why can't you get this thing working."
"I didn't get 20 messages that I was supposed to get yesterday."
"If we were running Microsoft Exchange Server it would work."
"It's working great now but yesterday it wasn't working right."

An average user might find the above statements helpful. Let me tell you why they aren't:

  1. There are no details. If you can take the time to copy the company president you think you could say what messages you didn't get giving details such as email address, time it should have been received.
  2. Saying something sucks is not constructive. There is usually a reason why a business has chosen a particular product to use (cost, ease of use, fit with business objectives). Until you know the reason why a product has been chosen just saying it sucks is not what I would call "constructive criticism".
  3. The comments lack evidence. Simply saying that another product would work better without evidence is like saying a certain make of car is better without looking at crash, safety and maintenance statistics.
  4. You went above my head without giving me a chance to fix your problem. This sets the tone of the conversation. I'm already on the defensive and I probably am not feeling like having a constructive dialog with you.
  5. Saying things like, "Why can't you get something working?" immediately puts someone on the defensive. They are no longer in the mood to talk with you ... much less solve your problems.
  6. If you tell me that it's working great today but you didn't contact me when there were problems will NOT help me solve your problems. When you have issues ... COMMUNICATE. I probably could help you at that point. Now it is too late.
The upshot of this is there are two types of conversations we can have ... constructive and nonconstructive. By communicating with your IT professional in the manner you are setting yourself up to not be helped. There are limits to what someone will do for an individual that treats them in this manner. It may not be right but let's face it, you will go the extra mile for a person that treats you with respect and professional courtesy. For everyone else ... you're just going to do the bare minimum required to keep your job. Having any other kind of expectation is as silly as expecting someone to solve your problems without any supportive details.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Every Dog Gets It's Day

Another new shirt design. This one has a happy ending ... for everyone but the dog.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Little Lighter

People at Threadless say that my t-shirt might be a little too dark. I have created a lighter version just for them. I hope they like it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Smart People Don't Follow Advice

I was talking to my president today and something unremarkable happened. He once again did not follow my advice.

Just to preface, my president is an incredibly smart and accomplished man. I have nothing but respect for him and like him in general. He does however get trapped by the Labrea Tar Pit I see smart people fall into all the time. He doesn't follow advice by a topical expert and yet still expects good results to follow.

Every 3 months he comes to me and asks why his mail is running so slow. I go up to his desk and run his email. I see anywhere between 6000 - 10000 messages in his inbox. I always tell him that he needs to move all but 500 - 1000 of these messages into folders. I further tell him that having that vast quantity of messages is slowing down everything he is trying to do with email. His mail client takes forever to come up. Why? The thousands of messages in his inbox.

His reply is always the same, "It didn't used to do that." He doesn't bother trying to take my advice. He just falls back upon his intelligence which tells him that computers are automata and should always work the same way. Never mind that he's installed 10 programs this month and that we've upgraded his computer 5 times since the moment when, "It didn't used to do that."

Personally, if I hired someone for their expertise I would hope that I would at least try to follow their advice. I hope I would but I probably wouldn't.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

New Threadless TShirt

Well, I'm at it again. I'm trying to get a design accepted for Threadless T-Shirts. I hope that the design is original enough to get passed through. I guess time will tell.