The importance of delegation

Delegation is the act of assigning work to other people, generally people who report to you. It’s supposed to be a way to ensure that the right people are doing the right jobs, and that large pieces of work will ultimately be completed. It’s something every manager will ultimately encounter, and their effectiveness at delegation often reflects the performance of a team (or department).

In many ways, it’s more art than it is skill. You have to know a lot about other people: their knowledge, their abilities, their sense of dedication, how much information they need before starting a project, their trustworthiness. It’s not something that comes easily.  

Which leads to a sobering fact: some managers don’t delegate well, or even at all.  

Continue reading “The importance of delegation”

Music industry’s future: Creators and Performers

The music industry is falling apart. Not in the way your under-maintained 1991 economy car with rust spots is leaving a breadcrumb trail of broken parts, but in the way your high school clique drifted apart as everyone got older and started looking for new direction. This is the order of things, both natural and man-made — everything trends towards its own destruction.

Sadly, the music industry hasn’t quite figured this out yet. They’ve been fighting blindly to retain the status quo, and failing miserably. RIAA take note: suing your core audience for using your content, thus alienating them and their sphere of influence from future purchases is not good business acumen. Where did you get your MBAs, from Sally Struthers’ International Correspondance School?

It’s high time you accepted that you are no longer in control of your own future. Your audience is.

Continue reading “Music industry’s future: Creators and Performers”

Which Beatles is better: British Invasion, or Studio?

The other day, as Mark was driving us to work, we were treated to Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da on Radio Dos as we were inching our way through the daily Lindora grind. I’ve heard this song at least 100 times (iTunes reports a mere 43, but I’ve reset the counters a couple of times). I was humming along when I thought of something:  

I’m listening to The Beatles. Studio-era Beatles.

I started to wonder — which I did aloud, as I often do when commuting with Mark — which of The Beatles’ incarnations were more popular? Depending on whom you ask, Studio-era gets more airplay. But does that make them more interesting?

Allow me to dig a little deeper on this one…

Continue reading “Which Beatles is better: British Invasion, or Studio?”

Where Star Trek went wrong

Many years ago, I wrote an article for the University of Waterloo’s student newspaper, The Imprint, where I laid into Star Trek: Generations (page 24) as a not-so-great adaptation of a television show to a movie. To say that I was a tad harsh is to characterise me as a tad off-beat. The fact that I referred to William Shatner as a “carpet head” is now thoroughly embarrasing (I have significantly more respect for him than I did 15 years ago).  

I considered this a bit of a coup, myself. Not the lambasting of the movie — the fact that I managed to get the article into the school’s newspaper which, at the time, had a policy of first-received, first-published. For those of you who won’t know, the University of Waterloo once held the lofty position of Geek Central. (It’s now a trendy school, apparently. I’m having trouble coming to terms with that.) There were more Trekkies per capita at that University than for 1,000 kms in any direction.  

What I didn’t realise at the time was that I’d actually missed something extremely significant about the movie, that would come back to haunt Trekkies and Trekkers alike many years later. Something so important not only to Star Trek, but to the genre as well, that there’s a serious need to retcon that movie.  

Kirk shouldn’t have died.

Continue reading “Where Star Trek went wrong”

Why didn’t I get a promotion?

Aside from “I quit”, the worst thing a manager can hear from someone on their team is: “Why didn’t I get a promotion?”

This is something I’ve run into a few times in my management career, and it’s always a tough one to explain. It’s a tough one for someone to understand (notably if you’re the one asking why you weren’t promoted). That one question exposes all sorts of issues, not the least of which are communication, transparency, process, skill, value/worth, responsibility, and objectivity.

The problem, as a manager, is that you have a decidedly different view on these things than your employee. It’s a point of view that you’ve learned over years of managing, often going through the same pains that you’re now seeing from someone else. You’d think it would be easier to explain.  

You’d think that, right?  

Continue reading “Why didn’t I get a promotion?”

The Failure of Offshoring

A couple of years ago, I engaged in my first offshore experience, when we hooked up with a small company out of Argentina to develop and deliver some additions to a website, including the addition of a simple CMS. It had been a first crack at what would end up becoming a significant change in my career.

At the time, the experience had left a rather bad taste in my mouth, like realising that the glass of milk you’re drinking is a little off. It wasn’t that the experience was horrible, just that it could have been a lot better.  

My experiences continued with other groups, mostly in Central and South America, and also included an arm of one of our regular vendors, who shifted operations from the United States to India. And I think it might have been the point at which I decided that if the opportunity arose, I really needed to find out what offshoring was like, first-hand.

Funny how life works, eh?

Continue reading “The Failure of Offshoring”

Repetition breeds complacency

Last night, I was feeling a little reflective. (That sometimes happens after I’ve had a glass of wine. Or three.)  

It was dark, the lights out, and everyone else already in bed. I stood on my second-floor balcony overlooking the “lago” outside, and looked up to the moon above. Not a full moon, but it cast a bright light. The area around us was mostly silent, except for the odd passing car in the distance. The only other sound was the wind blowing through the palm trees.  

That’s when it hit me. I’m living in Costa Rica.  

Continue reading “Repetition breeds complacency”

Dear Murphy: F*ck off and die!

Yeah, Murphy, I’m talking to you.  

You’ve been dogging me now for 10 months, almost non-stop. You’ve always been there, hiding in the shadows, popping out every so often to cause a bit of havoc only to vanish again.  

Damned if I know how you did it, but you hid in my luggage or stowed away in the stuff we shipped down from Canada, and moved into my closet. And you’ve been there ever since. You’ve come to the office with me every day, haunting my every action, standing over every project. And I’m sure our hellish daily commute is your doing.

Then then you decided to screw around with my family…

Continue reading “Dear Murphy: F*ck off and die!”

9 years … and counting

Today marks yet another notch on the belt of my career. Today, I’ve been at Critical Mass (or within the Critical Mass family, anyway) for nine years.  

It’s weird. Very weird. I’m actually having trouble comprehending this fact. Nine years of my life (1/10th, depending on how long you think I might live) has been with one company. In my father’s generation, that would be considered “getting started”. In my generation, it’s considered “insane” — the turnaround is often two years or less.  

But here I am. Nine years, and counting. If you’d asked me at the end of my first year if I’d still be around eight years later, I’d have said that you were crazy. It’s been a hell of a ride, and at the same time seems almost short, now. But there’s a lot of memories in those years, too.  

Okay, enough reminiscing… I got work to do…

I’m just a “passionate” guy

I didn’t mean to hurt you,
I’m sorry that I mad you cry,
I didn’t want to hurt you,
I’m just an “passionate” guy.
– With apologies to John Lennon

I won’t lie. Things haven’t been easy here in Costa Rica. This is, without question, the hardest job I’ve ever had. (And although I’m sure it’s very naive of me to say this, I hope it remains the hardest.) I’ve had to learn a lot to be able to work well here, not just within the cultural dimensions, but in particular the steps you take to start up a company on your own.

It’s not been easy. And it’s been showing. I’ve shown my frustration, my temper,  and my intolerance. I haven’t shown nearly enough compassion, understanding, or patience.

And it’s been noticed.

Continue reading “I’m just a “passionate” guy”