Doing more for less…

… seems to mean doing less.

Over recent years, economic troubles, and focus on the bottom line, I’ve heard wide mention of the phrase “Doing More for Less.”

Everywhere I look where people claim to be “doing more for less”, all I see is doing less.

(Although making sure you look busy while doing less seems to be the most important “quality”).

Has there ever been a time where so many people have been so focused on the short term, today’s budget, what just needs to be done “for this requirement only”?

Or so little care about whether it will be still standing tomorrow, whether it’s good value, or the right way to do something?

It’s a checkbox world.

Box ticked? Check! Move on to the next one!

In my day-to-day IT role, I seem to have regressed recently to only having one line changes to make.

One line changes which take ages to test.

Is it the cheapest change to make for the requirement?

Check!

Are we slowly making so many cheap, tactical one line changes such that system just becomes too convoluted, the cost of testing changes vastly outweighs the cost of making the code change and it starts to look cheaper to start again than to make any more changes?

Check!

But I’m not just talking about IT.

After the recent cold snap in the UK, there have been potholes in the roads everywhere.

Last week a couple of the biggest, most alloy-threatening down my lane had suddenly been filled in.

Had they been filled in properly?

Of course not.

Was it a proper repair, properly sealed that stood a chance of lasting another bout of the cold stuff?

Of course not.

Had it just been filled and compacted in the cheapest way to meet the immediate requirement? Hole filled?

Check!

But I can push the edges of the repair with my finger and it starts to crumble!

At the gym this week, I was chatting to one of the instructors.

The local place had a reputation of having one of the best line-ups of instructors in Europe requiring several years of experience, sports science degrees, etc.

She was bemoaning the cost-cutting which had resulted in several very experience and motivating instructors leaving and the general trend of moving away from instructors with significant years of experience and sports science education towards using far less experienced instructors working to prescripted classes detailing the precise times to shout specific motivating phrases.

You could go to any of these guys and their wealth of broad knowledge would be evident when telling you what was probably causing a specific problem or suggesting a change to a specific routine, etc.

Same number of classes?

Check! (but shorter)

Short-termist?

Of course.

This years budget reduced?

Check.

Are punters leaving because of the poorer service?

Check!

Politics has always been notoriously short-termist. But in the UK so many of the actions are targeted towards just winning the next, imminent election, not doing what’s best for the deficit, the long-term future of the country, etc.

And just look at the state of people’s pensions with the actions on dividend tax relief when Labour first came to power, etc.

Tax raised?

Check!

Long-term financial security and state independence undermined?

Who cares.

I don’t like talking about politics. But what about the deployments of underequipped armed forces? Defence budgets cut? Check! Armies deployed? Check!

Look at the big banks. Saved by taxpayers billions? Check! Now inappropriately making billions of short-term profits based on QE and paying huge bonuses? Check! Move along! This isn’t the contrition and long term thinking that you were looking for.

I used to think that so many of the things which annoyed me were IT specific and the result of, for example, poor interpretations/implementations of “Agile.” (Mind you before that I was incredibly frustrated by the blind adherence to Waterfall – Analysis done? Check!)

But I see so many tangents in so many unrelated areas.

And everywhere I look (not just IT) there seems to be an abundance of managers (Managing? Check!) and a void of leaders.

It’s a funny old world.

Where are the last bastions of doing things properly?

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10 Responses to Doing more for less…

  1. dombrooks says:

    It’s a funny thing this post.

    It doesn’t help that I’ve had to buy four new front tyres in ten months due to pothole damage.

    But I think it was all kicked off by some privileges I was trying to get on a production database – dramatic summary:

    Me: Can I have execute on dbms_workload_repository so that I can run AWR reports on this newish (to me) system that I’m working on?
    Them: No.
    Me: Can you expose a wrapper for just dbms_workload_repository.awr_report_text and awr_report_html?
    Them: No.
    Me: Why?
    Them: Because the automatic security/audit policies state that no non-application database user can have execute privilege on anything.
    Me: What about the vast list of execute privileges I’ve got already because of execute privileges to public?
    Them: Tumbleweed

    Don’t get me wrong.
    Not a personal criticism of “Them” whatsoever.

    But security/audit by checkbox, without understanding.

  2. Statistique says:

    So true… so sad but so true. Humans are going DOWN !

  3. Tim Hall says:

    Birmingham City Council are currently reclassifying all “Exercise to Music” presenters as part of the their “Single Status” policy. As a result, many of these presenters will be earning between 1/3 to 1/2 of what they did before the reclassification. I can’t imagine many people wanting to stay in the industry when they can earn more money on the checkout in Tesco. Not good!

    Of course, it will save loads of cash. Trouble is, there will be no classes to attend, so there will be nothing to make money…

    Short sighted… Check!

    Cheers

    Tim…

  4. Doug Burns says:

    I have a personal catch-phrase I use for this, but have only ever said it to myself and was planning to blog about it one day.

    The Tyranny of “Efficiency”.

    Efficiency should always be in quotes.

    Tyranny because the world seems obsessed by quick as we can, just enough to get by and hang the consequences. The mere suggestion that you might do something the longer way, the more expensive way, but the better way seems ridiculous these days.

    I’m glad it’s not just me.

    • dombrooks says:

      Is age a factor?
      I mean is this just a case of getting older and grumpier?
      You know, the old “By ‘eck lad, that’s not how we did it in my day!”

      I don’t think it is but maybe I’m not in the objective position to judge that.

      • Doug Burns says:

        I think about that constantly. I think it is something that afflicts those who are older (although how can we ever judge that) but that could just mean that things get progressively worse all the time! LOL

      • Centinul says:

        I don’t see age as the main contributing factor. I think it’s a quality ingrained in the individual.

        I consider myself relatively young and I share the sentiments of your blog post as well as the responses provided by you and Doug.

        It’s as if people have completely thrown “Quality” off the list of the “Project Triangle.”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_triangle

      • dombrooks says:

        Centinul,

        I think you’re right and it is just a defining characteristic of the current era.

        I’m pretty sure it’s not an age thing.
        However, that is something of a paradox as we must be comparing things to how something else was in the past.

        Thanks for stopping by.

  5. chet says:

    I don’t think it’s an age thing either…it’s a people thing.

    During all my “travels” over the last couple of years (3 companies I think), the attitude is pervasive.

    I don’t work for my boss, I work for the company. I try to do what I believe is in the best interests of the company, both short and long term. The occasional one-liner is OK, if the idea and the desire is there to change that at some point in the future. Possibly (hah!) one reason I’ve had so many jobs recently is because of this…I say what I believe. Doesn’t usually go over well especially with those who have been there for awhile (and probably those who have built said system).

    It’s everywhere though, you are right. To the vast majority of people, it is just a job. They don’t necessarily care about personal pride as long as they continue to get a paycheck. From the top to the bottom this exists in every industry. Without strong leadership and great communication, I’m not sure this can be overcome.

    chet

  6. mwidlake says:

    It isn’t just age Dom :-) I think it is more down to having seen the right way to do something and being exposed presently to more and more of the wrong way to do things.

    Everything seems to be geared to “get it done now, fulfill the stated requirement and move on”. Even if “fulfilling the stated requirement” is filling the hole as opposed to making a long-term fix to the road surface.

    I’m having a bit of a rant (mostly with myself and a couple of friends, but it has spilled out onto the blog) about the lack of ERDs and proper design at the moment. When was the last place I went somewhere and they had ERDs or process diagrams or data lifecycles or any of those boring, rigid, non-dynamic “tell you what the hell is going on with your DATA” things? It was a long time ago. But everywhere I have worked in the last 3 or 4 years has had “get the job done NOW” as the major driving factor…

    And by Rigid and Non-Dynamic I am being ironic. It seems that such things are now regarded as not being in-line with Agile or Rapid Application Development or Extreme Programming or whatever. But I strongly feel that for those lean-fast approaches to work, they have to be hung on something, well, decent in the first place.

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