DEADLINE, chapters 8 & 9. If nobody notices it will be fine.

At the start of chapter 8, Lahksa and Mr. Tompkins were wondering what the optimal way of performing the management experiments would be, how would they measure which methods are more efficient? They didn’t know how to answer such a question, but they knew who could be able to.

Dr. Hector Rizzoli was an important personality in the field who had run several controlled experiments in the past. Thanks to Lahksa’s shenanigans, the doctor was tricked into staying in Morovia for a few days. Mr. T took this opportunity to get his help for their big experiment.

“Experiments” flickr photo by r i i d o shared into the public domain using (PDM)

Belinda, Dr. Rizzoli and Mr. T decided the main structure for the projects and their teams. Each of the projects would have three different teams working on different instances of the same product, every project would try to prove or disprove a particular effect set by specific learning goals.

Dr. Rizzoli and Mr. Tompkins got a chance to talk just the two of them. Mr. T told the doctor that even if they had three teams for each project there was no guarantee that any of them would create good enough products. He was scared of failing even if a lot of learning were to take place. This led to the two topics that Mr. T included in his journal:

First, productivity improvement. When Tompkins asks for a way to improve productivity in the short term, the doctor clarifies that there’s no such a thing. Productivity is improved by investing for the long-term. When I googled “How to improve productivity” all of the first results were articles with titles like “15 EASY ways of improving productivity in the workplace”, and they all seemed somewhat sketchy. After that, I googled “How to improve employee productivity” and found this article. At first, it looked just the same, but once I read it thoroughly I kept finding very good points. Right at the end there was this quote that pretty much states the same thing as Dr. Rizzoli:

“Put in some time and effort in the coming months, and you’ll start to see employee productivity on the rise.” 

“2019/365/124 Go Up” flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using (CC0)

The second topic was risk management. Dr. Rizzoli backtracked all the way from undesirable outcomes to risk detection when Mr. Tompkins asked what ‘one thing’ would he do to ensure success. Several points from this specific topic made it to Mr. T’s journal. I had previously shared this website in one of my entries, but I feel like it’s relevant enough to bring it up once again. One of the sections, importance, explains the benefits of risk management with similar points to those of Dr. Rizzoli. Risk avoidance, one of the mentioned approaches, has an objective that also resembles Mr. T’s.

Mr. Tompkins got what he wanted and Dr. Rizzoli eventually left Morovia.

In chapter 9, Belinda and Tompkins continued to conduct interviews, but this time the NNL was accompanying them. They can either have a third opinion on every candidate or can work separately to cover more ground faster. The NNL disguises himself to avoid being recognized, and I think that the idea of Bill Gates wearing Groucho glasses is very funny.

“skull with Groucho glasses and yarmulke” flickr photo by lisafree54 shared into the public domain using (CC0)

After hiring some manager that wouldn’t stop praising his team, they went to the office of the next candidate: Gabriel Markov. Apparently, he was the only of the ex-generals that decided to stay in Morovia after the NNL acquired the country. He stayed to work as a manager and was in charge of everyone who wasn’t assigned to any of the six main projects.

Ex-general Markov had a ton of experience managing great amounts of people because of his prior position. The ex-general’s empirical knowledge could be very useful for Mr. T, so he didn’t hesitate to offer him the job right then and there. When Belinda asked Gabriel what the most significant lesson he had learned was, he answered with what Mr. T would then write in his journal.

Cutting your losses. Ex-general Markov states that maybe a quarter of all projects never deliver anything, are cancelled or deliver a useless product. I looked this up and found this very interesting article. According to its sources, 14% of all IT projects fail, but 31% didn’t meet their goals, 43% exceeded their original budgets and 49% were late on delivery. That’s much higher than I expected. The article also lists nine reasons for why this happens. Number 5 involves risk management and has to do with another thing that Gabriel said: it’s important to know when to terminate failing efforts. This website contains some information about that process, as well as some reasons that support what Markov said.

Most of the other points made are related to team-making. They are simple, yet effective: use teams that already exist, keep good teams together and think of forging a good time as one of your goals.

The last point made in the chapter is a quote that seemed too good for being original. I googled it and apparently the author DID come up with it:

“There are infinitely many ways to lose a day . . . but not even one way to get one back. “

“Passing Time. Christchurch NZ.” flickr photo by Bernard Spragg shared into the public domain using (PDM)

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