March 28, 2008

Is everything okay at my workplace !!! (Part 1)

It's almost end of the day and I have not been able to think how to convey the things and activities [which can be least but called chaotic] at my work place. It would be a little difficult to comprehend for a reader if you have not faced, heard or gone thru it before at your work place.
It all begin about 2 years back then it was being managed fine by set of people who can be described as mediocore but were passionate about work and hungry to succeed. I would not be taking any names as world is a small place and specially so in the IT[Information technology] world. The guy leading the organization about 2 years back was some one who had joined the organization as the smallest ranked soldier and had grown up there after as the department had grown over time. This department had grown really fast and with it few people grew very very fast and most of the guys who were there at the inception too grew considerably. Now for last 1+ yrs there has been no growth in real sense. He joined the organization when it was being conceived. It was started with about 5-6 people then nearly 5 and 1/2 yrs back. I joined the department when it was about 25 people team in the begining of year 2003. He was leading the department in background even before formally being announced as the director of our department in year 2005. He was not a junior person in terms of experience but since it was a new department just formed he had hands on experince with all the jobs that is done in the department even today on day to day and regular basis. This allowed him to feel each and every movement in veins and nerves, he was able to feel the pulse of the department as it was growing. He along with his direct reports use to tweak the governance model of the department as required based on the need of the department and the environemnt in which department was serving the bigger behemoth conglomorate. This is a place where intra department cannabalism is rampant. This means if the guy steering the department is not alert entire department would vanish in few months. Talking about present - there wouldn't have been the problems that the department is facing if same team would have continued to manage the department or at least a slow transition in the departments management team.
Before I get into present state of sad affairs of the department and I guess I will be more critical about the present mainly because I am not a person who believes in making castles from thin air. Let me tell a bit more about the set of people who were running the department earlier. They were not master planners and had not charted the course for the department for too many years or even months in future. Most of the decisions taken by them were improptu based on the prevailing circumstances. And as per me 70% of these were turning out as winning decisions. As I had mentioned the work place is such, if you draw long term plans your existence is at stake. Investment into anything for each dollar is counted on paper and yes on paper only. If you present a solid plan which shows that any of the project executed by the department would be delayed by 2 more month and it will need XXX $$$s. You[Department] are out of the project. Another team will promise that delivery would be done 2 months before need date and at lower $$$s. This attitude and behavior has led to projects over running twice of the estimated schedule and cost over running 3 times at places[2 times was the norm]. So this team leading this department too had mastered this art of over promising as this was I think the key to survival for the entire depatment. I guess some where higher up[2/3 ladders up] cost and schedule was still being met or may be exceeding their expectation. Anyways what was the result of this environemnt - this had led to no documentation of the any of the things that was being done on a day to day basis. It was all in the minds/actions of the person on job. Every time a new member joining the department had to learn things when the problem[mishap for non techies] had happened and he/she would fire fight to resolve it and in the process learn about it. Even in the good days days a team of people were always on stand-by for the fire fighting.
Things changed when entire organization I mean the "behemoth conglomerate" faced credit crunch. Stocks of the company listed in the US started plunging. Board started questioning the day to day operations of the company. Rising operating cost but falling revenue generation comparted to operating cost. This all was the state when the entire world economy was sanguine and ASIA in particular was shining bright with China and India leading the pack. What did this do the department where I work - Some one up[CIO of the conglomerate] decided to change the way the department was operating and align it in as per new line of thought. Reasoning was that this mehod had worked well in the NA[North America] region for years. These biggies[CIO/MDs/EDs] could not see that the conglomerate is in poor financial health because of poor performance of the NA region. They decided to split the department including other departments in the conglomerate in ASPAC[Asia Pacific] region on the same lines as the setup is in NAIT unit. Director of our department was adamant and against this move. He was given the marching order and as I had told resource canabalism is rampant in this conglomerate. Competition with in the conglomerate is so strong and stiff that social responsibilities and ethical professional behavior can take a walk when work is on mind of the people. These things comes to mind of executives and managers only when they are not working together. Ya so our director was immediately gobbled up by NAIT[North America Information Technology] unit along with a promotion to MD[Managing Director]. I guess the main reason for this was that NAIT and our department had worked very closely in past and NAIT guys had seen the managerial acumen of our director. In the mean time not just our department but entire ASIAIT unit had started falling apart. CIO had resigned and moved on leaving the mesh behind in ASIA which he had exported from America. I guess main reason that this model had failed in ASIAIT is because of the cultural difference between NA and ASIA. I strongly feel that cultures affect the behavior of the people at work too. A working model and setup has to suit the culture and the environment in which it is being applied else it is bound to fail in absence of proper conditioning while moving to a new model. For ASIAIT unit new model had been forcibly thrust upon. New CIO had been appointed in Newyork. There was a big time shuffle between MDs/EDs by this new CIO. He had made a young guy in charge of the entire ASIAIT unit. This guy[new ASIAIT unit head] was no one but previous director of our department who had a meteioric rise because of the success that our department had achieved. He had left the department long back in good hands of the new director who had recently moved to NAIT unit.
Many of the old timers in the department like me are familiar with this old wine[our new ASIAIT unit head] in new pack. He is such a good marketing guy and has so much focus on the financial numbers. He only thinks of present and TODAY and for him TOMORROW NEVER COMES. It is widely believed by many of the us[department old timers] that under the great package in which our department was presented to all when he was moving out things were not very rosey in the department in terms of day to day operation. Thanks to our new director that he had taken charge unofficially and things had started to fall in place. I guess it takes different traits for starting/setting up a shop and running a shop when it's of significant size. Our current ASIAIT unit head[old wine] is very good at starting things but does not seem equally adept at running a bigger unit smoothly. He still is hell bent on meeting his financial numbers and may be in doing so there will be no ASIAIT unit. It might be broken up and packaged to individual Biz units at country level. It is just a question of time when entire company will come to know of and demand it if the purpose for which the department was created will not be met. This time our man[ASIAIT unit head] has taken over some thing which is already has rust and if not handled carefully will certainly fall apart.

Note: It's becoming too long. Continuation of this post can be read by clicking on Is everything okay at my workplace !!! (Part 2)

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