Saturday, December 21, 2013

Debacle at Work

The day started well, swimming in the early morning at the gym, afterwards sweating in the steam bath, then coffee and my usual breakfast of yogurt, boiled egg and green tea plus some chocolates and cookies left over from yesterday’s sharing event. After working on a few things, getting to my cube half an hour late, I received a chat message from a customer representative regarding a matter in the warehouse, so I walked to the delivery manager and discussed the subject, but unfortunately, he was busy fighting raging fires like the rest of his team here in the front office and back in India, addressing an avalanche of problems that tumbled out of a major piece of software delivered to production recently. All hands on deck, everyone except me and a few colleagues spared from this debacle, the development and support people working late into the evening and during weekends to fix multitudes, painstakingly one by one, the unsung heroes of the technology world, striving to solve the technical crisis, stretching their mental prowess (or more like hitting their heads against the wall) while their western overlords long gone to their huge homes, talking about the setback existentially as if it does not concern them.

Amid this backdrop, I walked to the area manager’s office to talk about my concern that the delivery manager is fully booked, unable to work on other problems like the warehouse boo-boo to the consternation of the customer representative.  But I walked straight into a witch hunt with me as the scape goat. A project I worked on has just been completed successfully, and the final milestone meeting was completed in the morning. But a crucial piece of the software was not delivered despite continuous assurance to the contrary, the area and project manager looking like fools in the committee meeting, emerging angry and looking for someone to blame and here I come, the analyst of the project ready to be slaughtered.  Why did I not test the software fully? Why did I not alert them that more time was needed? Protesting I said they rushed the project to completion, trying to achieve a year-end success, cutting corners everywhere so testing quality suffers. At the end of the day in my view, it was a failure of management; I think they realized that there was no escaping responsibility, with myself sharing equal blame but these two stooges, bereft of any decent backbone to accept their end wanted to put everything on my shoulders.

Nevertheless, I did keep my cool, exchanging barbs and accusations, trying to rise above the petty finger pointing and be a man, which I think these guys can never be, rather mediocre like those overlords shifting blame and hard work to the poor peons of the world. It was not a good way to start the Christmas holidays, so we spent a couple of minutes trading barbs, discussing shortcomings and lessons learned, that we finally ended the close door meeting, emerging with the feeling that I have lost respect for these guys.  I think I have done well in the verbal exchange, able to say my piece and give my opinion. Now one needs to be mature and get on with the work. I kept cool after returning to my cube, mildly surprised that I was not seething; remembering the outcome would be different in my youth especially with the coarseness and stupidity of the exchange, but instead focusing on completing the work for the day. At noon, I had lunch with a nice French colleague, exchanging views on Europe, America, French leaders and history plus French food; enjoying the banter in the gleaming new modern canteen. I realized it was better to talk to expats than overlords engrossed in their exceptional ism.

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