Monday 16 November 2009

Lies, damned lies

I’m spending a little too much time ‘task switching’ as opposed to ‘task doing’, but I suppose it’s better to be too busy. I like busy. Being able to see the value in your work helps, but it's not that way for everyone.

I have a developer friend who was once tasked with consulting and updating reports for another department of his company. It was all for a good cause, to determine their internal efficiency. Unfortunately it turned out the department had been taking the term ‘internal’ all too literally and, as if unaware of the outside world, managed to cut the customer out of the equation. Imagine your job is to take data from a customer, manually process the data and then hand it back. Not surprisingly the company want to know how efficient that process is. But the department doesn’t have the tools to record the time taken for data coming in, processed and returned to the customer on the same day; it does however have a tool that records the amount of data waiting to be processed that came in on a specified day.

Oh dear. The department reasoned there was no cost to queuing data coming in and queuing data going out, no internal cost anyway. Hence there was no need to ask for any engineering resource. When the company asked how long it took to process an item they may have meant ‘how long until the customer gets their data back’, but what they got was an answer to an entirely different question. How many customers did they lose? We’ll never know; my friend doesn’t work there any more. Very few people do.


  1. was this developer friend rakishly handsome?

    or just rakish?

  2. He spoke with one of those funny continental accents. Si?

  3. oh...los interesante gringo!