Monday, November 14, 2005

A Brave New World

I recently changed jobbs again, or well not so recently it's been allmost 4 months now.

Am now working for Process Research & Development trying to spend a shit load of the companies money on fancy new equipment (and a nice coloured floor with matching tiles on the walls)

A week or so ago an internal memo, which is published on the intranet, comes out about how the SET (OK for newbies to WOBB: Senior Executive Team, the suits way above the suits that sit upstairs from you right now) wants to present a new initiative that is going to make the whole R&D organisation a more focussed unit with a clear vision of the future... ah you get the picture.

We used to try and work according to something called "best practise". This basically means that within a large organisation you set up "best practise" groups which figure out what the best way of working is based on what everybody does today.

All very nice, but the SET thought this just wasn't good enough... so they come up with the new credo "New Practise", oh how novell...

Gone are the days of best ways of working, welcome to the era of new ways of working. Forget what you used to do, and find a new of doing it instead... allrightee, thank god for that, so now I can do everything the way I want to, and forget all the halv-assed solutions others have thought up before me. Brilliant! Thanks SET!

Thursday, July 07, 2005


I mentioned the whole thing about the requirment of renewing permanent residency permits for EU citizens in a previous entry.
As the time is comming for me to the start this process I tought I'd have a look at how to go about the whole thing, what forms to fill in etc...
Found out that you can actually do this via the web now. No more paper forms, just fill in the webform and click send. Had a quick peak at the form, and OK even though it is devided in 6 steps it actually looks user friendly and straight forward...
So what is this? A step forward? A reduction in WOBBing? Or is it just a 21st century version of the same WOBBing? A WOBBer with IT knowledge, taking it to the next level?
Thinking about it, the WOBBer in question might actually have realised that the whole thing might be in danger if too many people get annoyed, so instead of reducing WOBB he/she just made it more user friendly... hmmm... if the process goes smoothly and is actually as user friendly as it looks then I'm inclined to believe that this is the case...

Monday, July 04, 2005

The anti-WOBB part one

When you enter a corporate already widely infested with WOBB it seems impossible that there is any hope what so ever. That it's a case of 'join or be-gone'. I don't believe that WOBB can be removed when it gets past a critical level (I'll get back to this later in a later part), but it can be dealt with effectively if it is recognised in good time, and the problem is acknowldged by management. Here I can hear you think: "Hopeless then, as WOBB is usually started by management..." This is true, but not entirely hopeless, the expression "if you can't beat them, join them" comes in here. You see if WOBB is in it's early stages (usually in small companies) then working your way up to management (using WOBB techniques obviously) is the best way, you can then influences the company and lead them back on to the straight and narrow. If you don't succeed in doing this, then well, at least you're in a cushy management jobb, with healthcare and a nice pensionplan if you did it right...
So how do we get rid of WOBB? Simple, use it! Start a CIP with a set of clearly defined E&E benefits. Convincing the rest of your management team buddies that the way to fame and fortune is through simplicity, as few words on paper as possible and easy to follow procedures that even your 80yr old dememented grandmother can follow.
You will either be rewarded for your brilliance, with a fat salary rise, stock options or something the like and live long and prosperous. Or you'll be laughed at and thrown out, in which case you refer to paragraph 14a of your contract in which are stipulated the details of your parachute-deal in case this happened, and you still live long and prosperous (see how WOBB can work for you?).
The first of the outcomes is obviously to be prefered and the one you should aim for as it benefits many others... but the most important lesson to be learned before tackling any WOBB situation is similar to one you hear everytime you get on an airplane:
"When assisting other passengers with fitting of oxygen masks, make sure to apply own mask first", aka "take care of yourself before taking care of others", when you're down yourself, you can't help anyone else...

Friday, July 01, 2005

WOBB certificate of excellence

I get annoyed by WOBB, well OK I should really say that I get annoyed by WOBB that gets in my way...

This means that if WOBB suits my purposes or enough others (see I'm not all selfish...) then I'll quite happily let it exist, support it or even help it proliferate! This is especially true for MITP (see future lessons).

It really annoys me though when it serves nobody's purpose other then providing a couple of people with jobs. Here I'll pick an example from outside the corporate WOBB. Here's how the residence permit system works for EU citizens within Sweden...

The basics about the European Union: Brilliant! I can work pretty much anywhere within the EU being a Dutch citizen. So I move to Sweden because I want to work there.

Fine, sure, no probs, but please apply for a residency permit.
Yes, every person wanting to settle in Sweden has to apply for a residency permit.
But I'm a EU citizen, I don't need one!
No, you don't need a work permit, you do need a residency permit. But don't worry you get one automatically because you've got a job, even better you get a permanent one!

Uhhh, OK, weird, but I fill in a relatively simple form, send it off, and yes, a couple of weeks after arriving in Sweden I get this little white card in an envelope: Permanent residency permit valid until Jan 6th 2006.


Uhh, hold on, permanent and then valid until in the same sentence??? What the? Time for a phone call...

Hello, sorry to bother you, but I don't get the meaning of the word permanent on my residency permit.
Well how can it be permanent and then only be valid for 5 yrs?
Oh that is standard, just to ensure that your status hasn't changed so that you might no longer be eligible for permanent residency.
Uhh, but as an EU citizen, you can't throw me out of the country after I have resided in Sweden for more than 2yrs, no matter what I do, job no job, sick or healthy, thief, murderer or law abiding citizen, it doesn't matter.
That is true, but you still have to renew your residency permit.
Uhh, why? Or actually never mind that, what happens if I don't?
Well we assume you have left the country and remove your personnummer (social security number) from our system.
Annoying (you need the damn number for pretty much everything in Sweden) but that also means I wont be paying taxes anymore either or?
*Laughter from the other side of the phone* Well no sir, the tax people keep their own records and it's actually your employer who pays the taxes on your behalf. But you can't claim any back if you've paid too much, for that you need to be registered with us... (at this point I can hear a hint of satisfaction in his voice)

So it basically comes down to this: This brilliant WOBBer at the immigration office has created a loop in the system which keeps him/her/them in a job indefinitely, and there is no legal way or even easy illegal way of circumventing this persons brilliant application of WOBB. If it wasn't so damn annoying I'd congratulate the bastard who came up with the idea and shake his hand, now I just want to break that same hand so it's painful for them to pick up the renewal form...

The final stroke of brilliance: you do not get a reminder, nada, niente, niks, noppes. So after 4yrs and 10months you have to remember this piece of plastic you long ago chucked in some dusty file cabinet. Figure out who to call, and what papers to fill in and renew, or else...

One little silver lining: the whole thing doesn't cost me a penny, not a single ├Âre... no surcharges, not even a stamp to post the form.

Lesson to be learned about WOBB: Working within government agencies you can use laws to create an almost unbreakable chain of WOBB providing you and you colleagues with employment well past your pensionable age...

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Lessons in WOBB part one: Introduction to Acronyms

If you want to start a WOBB culture within any company you will have to start with using common WOBB acronyms, once you have mastered these, and made them common language you can progress on to the next level: making up your own.

Now it's tempting to jump ahead and start creating your own, but this is not good practise. You see, you might actually come up with a new valid acronym... not good, better to have good working knowledge of all the existing ones, and then recycle them for your own (obviously much more valid) use of the same letters. This way you can claim to be recycling, thereby assisting in the achievement of the SHE departments environmental targets, and your own personal MITP target* (if you ask which target then you're a rookie, but OK: the one about improving cross functional cooperation), thus increasing your bonus!

But I digress from the main subject, acronyms. The classic signs of emerging WOBB culture is when someone comes up with idea of creating a glossary containing all acronyms commonly used wihtin the company. Conformation of a WOBB culture is when this glossary appears on the company's intranet (extra points for a fully equiped search engine) and a site manager actually mentions this proudly in his anual pre-summer letter to all the employees...

Here some classic acronyms:

SOP - Standard Operating Procedure
SOI - Standard Operating Instructions
SHE - Safety Health & Environment
DDS - Demand Driven Supply
RFT - Right First Time
JIT - Just In Time
EPS - Earnings Per Share
CIP - Compliance Improvement Plan
E&E - Effectiveness & Efficiency

And some less classic but more WOBB ones:

ACT - Architecture Challenge Team
ECT - Effective Communication Technique
MITP - Management of Individual and Team Performance*
PDP - Personal Development Plan
EOP2 - End Of Phase 2 meeting

If you haven't got good gripps with the basics, grab your average anual report from any random major coorporation and open a business dictionary on the side, and start reading. With a bit of practise you can easily combine the top list into one single paragraph!

* A seperate lesson in WOBB will appear on this subject.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Before I start this (what I hope to be) long list of examples of WOBB, I should mention that I'm gonna do my best not to divulge any information about what company I'm working for. Here's how much I'll reveal:

Big manufacturing company, as in multi-national big, 50000+ employees, most of which (as you might expect) in sales & marketing. Lots of quality management and quality control, and quality systems. And to make sure everybody knows what they have to do: a huge selection of internal guidelines, policies, SOPs, rutines, forms and miscellaneous other documents (just in the dept I work for currently >2000! There are 15 docs just talking about how to handle the electronic document management system in which all of them are safely tucked away).

I contribute hapily to this WOBB management system as a project manager working for quality management system on a combined CIP and E&E project... (for those of you not at home in WOBB acronyms, see next blog entry...)