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Businesses Editorial

Implementing the Bureaucratic Black Arts? 376

bildungsroman_yorick asks: "Many unlucky workers in their careers have encountered the bureaucracy, the careerism, the project death march and the office politics that hold people back from performing to high standards of work. In some office environments that I've encountered half a supervisors workload involves giving your workers room to operate and protecting them from the bureaucracy and politics. I have come to realise that it's the natural way of business culture to behave this way and the only way I can let my workers be productive is to be one step ahead of the politics, even if that means breaking the rules. So what I'd like to ask some of the more savvier Slashdot denizen: What are some of the bureaucratic black arts that you've performed in your workplace to work around the office politics and get your work done on time and to a high standard?"
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Implementing the Bureaucratic Black Arts?

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  • by Knight Thrasher ( 766792 ) * on Saturday October 01, 2005 @12:57PM (#13693720) Journal
    Want your employees to get more work done? Filter out Slashdot on your network proxy. :P

    (Totally kidding!!)

    • Done, and donConnection closed by remote host.
    • The Art of War (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mollog ( 841386 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:34PM (#13693886)
      Holy cow, this is a hot button for me. Re-orgs are a way of life where I work. The directive of an effective manager to his/her developers is "Speed and course." Don't allow the developers to be distracted by upper management churn.

      Don't think you can take the high road and have your career survive. If someone's playing dirty, don't try to overlook it, deal with it.

      When dealing with a boss with a case of NIH, try to make your ideas sound like they were your boss's ideas. Until you replace your boss.

      Perceptions count for a lot. Manage perceptions.

      When dealing with management, be insincere. Tell them what they want to hear. If you have to 'fudge' numbers or gloss over messy details, do it. Don't get sentimental about facts and truth and honesty. If your project is virtually done, don't say it's virtually done, tell them it's done. If a sudden problem arises, don't lose your cool. Gather the facts until you know what the true nature of the problem is before reporting about it. Your job is to deliver results, make sure you don't bring bad news unless you really, really have to.

      If another group is reducing your effectiveness for reasons of overlapping turf, jealousy, history, whatever, try make an accomodation with them, even if it's temporary. (Keep your friends close, your enemies closer). Watch out for the agendas of underlings. If you have a politically motivated person working for you, get them gone.

      Maintain the avenues of communications. Don't allow someone to bypass you in either direction. If someone bypassed you with their idea, either take charge of the project, or end the project.

      Use dog psychology when dealing with people; reward good behavior, punish bad behavior, be consistent.

      Dog psychology; there is an Alpha, be the alpha or chaos will follow.

      Maintain perspective. You may love the work and the project, but to the CEO and his direct reports, you're a liability. Be prepared to move on and leave the work and project behind.

      Life is an adventure.
      • Re:The Art of War (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JFitzsimmons ( 764599 ) <> on Saturday October 01, 2005 @02:08PM (#13694052)
        I admit that you may have more experience than me in office politics, but I can't see how telling management that a nearly-done project is actually done is a good idea. Fudging numbers also sounds counter-intuitive. It almost sounds like you're giving tips on "how to be part of office bureaucracy" rather than "how to release a good product amidst office bureaucracy".
        • Re:The Art of War (Score:3, Interesting)

          by frost22 ( 115958 )
          Thats basically it. The game is petting played anyway. Just be better in it. And keep the greater objectives in focus.

          Where I work we have a saying that things happen not because of processes, but despite of them. Getting things done means having and using a network, having contacts, getting and disseminating information.
          • Re:The Art of War (Score:3, Insightful)

            by chronicon ( 625367 )
            How disturbing. From this thread, it sounds like the Big Brother, Survivor, etc. games really are a reflection of reality. As much as I wish that weren't true.

            "It's just a game, nothing personal..."

            "It's just business, nothing personal..."

            "Just because I lied to get ahead does not invalidate my personal integrity..."

            Business politics simply appear to be more or less an extension of high school politics. I guess I have been right all these years. High school really doesn't ever end...

            Nothing li

      • Re:The Art of War (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 01, 2005 @02:15PM (#13694093)
        Dog psychology; there is an Alpha, be the alpha or chaos will follow.

        A lot of great suggestions, though I disagree with this one. I came into mid-level management at a company a few years, mentoring under a COO/CTO who had learned how to play the Fortune 500 political game rather well. My first six months were consistent with my normal alpha-male approach to things, and nearly got my ass fired.

        I learned there is a great deal of co-opting, passive strategy that needs to be played, and often the foolish alpha male is the one who ends up giving Project Tar Baby a big hug. Instead, show you're an excellent listener to the other department heads (nod, take diligent notes, and then behind the scenes you can slaughter their absurd ideas with carefully constructed, politically correct rejections, if need be) and you'll prevail. Let other departments come to you in this respect and you end up being the decision maker. Instead of coming across as obstinant, you can employ a wealth of "objective feasibility issues" to bury absurd requests.

        One of my favorite methods for handling worthless busy-work requests from service departments was what we called the YES* approach. The technique relied on the "cost center funding" challenge some departments will encounter (a cost center is a part of a company, like the human resources department, that does not generate revenue but instead generates costs. It is there in a service role to support those that produce the revenue and usually has much less political clout because it doesn't pay the bills, but rather helps spend the money).

        For instance, when I'd get some unfunded mandate from HR like a new training requirement, or employee review process where HR wanted my managers to fill out weekly management reports on each employee to be used by HR for some unexplained reason (probably to put in their file cabinet and demonstrate they were actually doing something more than surf websites all day - we had our own review system that worked fine), I'd evaluate the time required of a manager, multiply it times the costing rate and the total number of affected managers, and come up with an annual financial impact. Then I'd send a financing memo back to the HR lackey who sent the mandate telling them we were excited about the program and would only need the CFO's authorization to transfer the referenced amount of money into our budget to cover the costs of administering it. I buried a pathetic revised employment contract that demanded my guys assign all their off-work inventions (including open source work) to the company for a dollar consideration in the same manner. "Great idea guys. It'll take $20,000 for legal to assist is in evaluating the impact of this contract. Please go get the budget transfer authorization from the CFO for me and we'll get right on it."

        In case you're not familiar with what happens next, the poor HR staffer (who works for a cost center, mind you), has to decide whether to go piss off the chief financial officer to spend even more money chasing unproductive ends. The CFO is usually a tight-assed person and doesn't throw money around without good justification, At a minimum, he's going to have a pile of busy work the HR lackey will have to complete just so he'll spend the time to review the proposal. Since these cost center people almost never actually plan their mandates out, they don't have the documentation necessary to cover the funding and the "mandate" dies an anonymous death.

        Here you're not seen as opposing anybody's efforts - if anything, you play up the enthusiasm for their proposal. I should also note that this doesn't work very well when the requesting party is a profit center you're supposed to be supporting and can demonstrate direct linkage to revenue generation and their request. Opposing these kind of requests is dangerous - the CFO (and other top management) will regard you as an obstacle to that revenue dollar they expect.

        The other major recommendation I'd have for young alphas up there who're moving
        • Re:The Art of War (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Gonarat ( 177568 ) * on Saturday October 01, 2005 @05:06PM (#13694748)

          Great post! Definitely one to keep in mind when dealing with other departments. I am currently working in the QA department. We are a new department in our division of the company which was set up to meet Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. We are currently fighting the battles that I.T. traditionally fought, the worst one being sales people promising products to clients on a certain date without consulting the developers.

          In the past, this ended up causing I.T. to work overtime and weekends to get a product developed on time. Because of the lack of time, most testing beyond unit testing was skipped, and the product was put into production with fingers crossed. Any problems were fixed on the fly.

          We have been trying to change this culture without much success -- until the last few months. Our ally has turned out to be our parent corporation -- they have sent in auditors to review the process. They have the clout to force changes that will improve the process, and we (QA) don't have to step on any toes to get it done. The best part is that we were programming before moving to QA, we have been able to get I.T. to buy into the QA process. It is nice to work with I.T. people who care about what they write.

        • Scarp Machiavelli, go for the original : []

          SUN TZU is a great reading when going to the cubicle battle, and you will find lots of insights ...
          • SUN TZU is a great reading when going to the cubicle battle, and you will find lots of insights ...

            You know, I wonder if Machiavelli or his contemporaries were even aware of Sun Tzu.

      • Re:The Art of War (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MooseByte ( 751829 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @03:24PM (#13694369)

        "When dealing with management, be insincere. Tell them what they want to hear."

        All other of your points I generally agree with (good stuff), but on this one I have to differ.

        I've always dealt straight up with management for two reasons:

        • 1) It covers your ass. Don't think for a moment you'll avoid being the fall guy unless you have a paper trail detailing the actual facts *and* your efforts with the upper tier to address them.
        • 2) In the longterm (and you should *always* think longterm) it leads to a level of trust and competency in your judgements. Management may not be hearing what they want, but they are probably hearing what they *need* to in order to fend of disaster. And while it may lead to shortterm pain, in the longterm it pays off extremely well.

        The caveat is that you have to start this from the very beginning. You can't lie about status and then 'fess up at the end after it's gone all furball on you.

        That has paid off very well for me in my career. Of course you can't be a whining ass hat about telling the truth. Be tactful, stick to the facts, and focus on freakin' solutions to the actual problem(s) , not pointing fingers.

        Nearly everywhere I've worked I've acquired a reputation as a straight shooter who simply solves problems. Early on you may take a few hits from the weasels, but it's like investing - small consistent gains leading to longterm wealth, as opposed to trying to strike it big with shortcuts and shenanigans.

        Playing the weasel's game just adds to the noise. In time I found I could just bring up a topic and share my thoughts, and the things I'd addressed would be handled.

        Not only that, but the weasels no longer bothered when in my turf. They learned it was wasted effort since they couldn't get away with it, plus that I wasn't going to stab them in the back. I'd be happy to stab them in the chest, mind you! But never in the back. ;-)

        Which brings up the issue of effectively sticking up for yourself and your people. Like you say, "being nice" is like having a big target on your back. "Being nice" and being professional and constructively forceful ("rabid yet friendly") is the only effective route. When people see that heads roll when they screw with your crew, they tend to leave your crew alone.

        All of that hinges on your reputation as an honest, upfront straightshooter with solutions. Anything else just makes you another whining child on the playground in their eyes.

        And if you have so many weasels in your management chain that this isn't possible, your resume better already be on the streets.

        • Re:The Art of War (Score:4, Insightful)

          by kaladorn ( 514293 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @01:22AM (#13696742) Homepage Journal

          That has paid off very well for me in my career. Of course you can't be a whining ass hat about telling the truth. Be tactful, stick to the facts, and focus on freakin' solutions to the actual problem(s) , not pointing fingers.

          Damn! Wish I had mod points. This is one of my biggest gripes in general in work and especially in bureaucracies. People are more concerned in many cases when a problem arises with assigning fault and blame than with resolving the problem. Fault-finding environments get people to do a lot of CYA (and when doing that, not doing productive work) and it gets them to go full defensive not-my-fault whenever anyone asks them a question.

          I find having to wade through that (by repeatedly beating it into their heads that I don't care whose fault it is and all I want to know is their recommendation for assessing and fixing the problem) means wasting time...eventually, you can get through to them, but it is much nicer to not have to work in that sort of an environment.

          The reality is that the practice of not focusing on the problem gets you no closer to a solution. Most clients I know are more interested in solutions than post-mortem blame. They have a problem, they want it fixed. Fix it quickly, or at least assess it, get them the information, then fix it as quickly as feasible, and you win respect. Problems happen. Most people accept that. The full force push to inform clients and to handle the issue with vigour and efficacy wins you a lot of good cred. Dicking around wins you negative cred.

          Problem focus! Assess, then fix. Then, if you need to do a post-mortem for the purpose of helping to avoid a similar issue in the future (NOT for chopping heads off, which is rarely useful) , then you can do that afterwards (and this is a good idea). I've convinced my company here to do project post-mortems and try to feedback lessons learned into process improvement.

          Ultimately, you want to create a work environment where the people that work with you and for you and that you work for see you as a problem solver. They see you as focused on the problem, not trivia, and they know you won't headhunt but instead will correct and educate. Problems won't get repeated not because you've killed the messenger, but because you've helped everyone get better and avoid a repetition.

      • Other tips (Score:5, Insightful)

        by abulafia ( 7826 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @03:40PM (#13694435)
        • Choose your alliances carefully.
          In a place large enough to support rich company infighting and politicing, you'll have to make some. Think of this as one part parlimentary coalition building, two parts personality cult. You need an effective coalition to show results, and you need to make sure you're teamed with the winning side of any given fight.
        • Get a handle on the culture quickly.
          Some places you'll get fired as an amoral asshole for doing things that are expected parts of proving your value other places.
        • Keep your department loyal to you.
          This should be fundamental, but if you can't keep your people productive, you'll be out on your ear eventually.
        • Make yourself as vital to other managers and execs as possible.
          By whatever means you can. Well placed kindness and help, genuinely forming friendships (to a point), making them dependent on you, etc. If you're in a weak position, offering loyalty to an exec can work, but make sure they're a winner. Frequently, this ends up with you following them to other firms when they aren't, and nobody bats 1000. Make sure you can handle that if you go this route.
        • Make sure the COO and CFO trust you.
          If they don't, you're doomed sooner or later. 'nuff said.
        • Perhaps most importantly, make sure you have the stomach for this sort of thing. If you don't, you will screw up, and then you will have failed at something you didn't enjoy, making for a total waste of time and a career dead end. Politics in some firms gets awfully close to knife fighting at times. Careers are damaged, people's quality of life is hurt, and everyone is under a ton of stress. Instinct, practice, and a little bit of bloodlust are required personality traits at the harder-edged firms.
      • Re:The Art of War (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Luddite ( 808273 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @04:11PM (#13694565)
        >> When dealing with management, be insincere.

        gotta disagree with this one.

        I wrote most a long post and just deleted it. really what it sums to is:

        Be honest

        As long as you are truly qualified for your job, I think honesty is the best path. Own up to whatever mistakes you make and be straight forward about your disagreements. When you've earned management's trust your word will be treated like gold when compared with the coworkers busy shafting one another. When management hands you a job that is not feasible, they'll at least stop and listen to why. Most importantly, when someone tries to push blame on you or your team, you can usually lay it to rest with a couple sentences.

        Nothing beats being trusted.

      • He was looking for ways around the problem of office politics, not a beginers guide participating in them--and half your suggestions are just that. Specifically:
        • Don't lie. It will always bite you in the end.
        • Don't try to manipulate people. That just starts an arms race that ends in madness.
        • Don't think in terms of Alphas and all that crap. Figgure out what your goals are and focus on them. Unless "being the alpha" is your goal, in which case you shook seek help.


      • Re:The Art of War (Score:5, Insightful)

        by QuestorTapes ( 663783 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @05:08PM (#13694757)
        A lot of what you wrote, I can agree with; however, I would like to note that some of your advice assumes that backstabbing is a law of nature.

        > Re-orgs are a way of life where I work.

        I feel for you, but while you have adapted to your environment, I'd get out if reorgs were that frequent in my workplace. They happen everywhere, but it sounds like they happen far too often in your workplace.

        > Don't think you can take the high road and have your career survive.

        Disagree completely. See next item.

        > If someone's playing dirty, don't try to overlook it, deal with it.

        VERY true. But you don't have to get down in the mud to deal with dirty players. You can respond in a fair and high-minded fashion, but firmly. The high road doesn't have to mean being a pushover. Those who take the high road can fight hard and with intent to -destroy- the enemy, if necessary, and still retain their own moral sense.

        I like the way MooseByte phreased it in his reply: "...I wasn't going to stab them in the back. I'd be happy to stab them in the chest, mind you! But never in the back. ;-)"

        I will note that taking the high road doesn't mean you always win, but neither does taking the low. And taking the high road is particularly difficult in a poisonous environment.

        > Perceptions count for a lot. Manage perceptions.

        VERY true.

        > When dealing with management, be insincere.

        Can't agree. You can, and should, tell the truth. -How- you tell it is important; always, ALWAYS phrease things neutrally, leaving egos out of it, and always offer management a fair choice of options.

        Lying can bite you far too easily. Others have replied well to this point, so I won't belabor it. I'll just point out that one reason lying bites people is that it's hard to keep consistent.

        > If another group is reducing your effectiveness for reasons of overlapping
        > turf, jealousy, history, whatever, try make an accomodation with them

        If you can. If you can't, see if you can get someone in power on your side to neutralize them. This may involve different things in different workplaces. Rather than crack the whip on them, your ally might just politely ask them to leace your folks alone until a project is finished, or divert the person elsewhere for now.

        > Watch out for the agendas of underlings.

        Underlings, peers, superiors, customers...basically everyone. Trust, but verify .

        > If you have a politically motivated person working for you, get them gone.

        There are a lot of types of people you might be better off without. If someone is a real problem in any way, talk to them, make it clear what behavior you want to change, and if they don't change it, get them gone.

        > Maintain the avenues of communications. Don't allow someone to bypass you in
        > either direction.

        Or soften, alter, change, corrupt, or screw-up the message. I recall how shocked I was the first time my boss completely changed a status report from me when he delivered it to his boss. The nasty part is I was called on to verify the complete bullshit he just handed out. Got out without making him look too bad or lying, but it was an unpleasant few minutes.

        > Use dog psychology when dealing with people; reward good behavior, punish bad
        > behavior, be consistent.

        That's just good psychology, not dog pyschology.

        > Maintain perspective...Be prepared to move on and leave the work and project
        > behind.

        Leave it at work at the end of the day, as well.
  • Wow... (Score:2, Funny)

    by MetalliQaZ ( 539913 )
    An "ask slashdot" that I actually will want to read.
    Never thought this day would come.
  • by b0r1s ( 170449 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @12:59PM (#13693726) Homepage
    A few things that have helped me:

    1) Honesty works better with technical folks; sugarcoating works better with business folks.

    2) Reverse (1) for those concerned about financials or with titles beginning with 'C' - CFOs and COOs like honesty.

    3) If your organization has more than 3 divisions, make sure that no employee is less than 5 levels away from the top - too many levels makes communication impossible
    • The biggest thing that helped me was to listen to my friends until I started hearing some of them talking about how they liked their jobs. I got hired by their company and quit my job.

      It took a while, but paying attention to what other people were saying about their work helped me get a nice job that I enjoyed.

    • You're onto something when you cut office politics down to "technical" and "business" folks, but lets cut'em off at the ankles instead of at the b***s : There's "work" folks and there's "money" folks. The former think of their trade before the money it generates; for the latter it's the other way around. Some of the latter don't even have a trade to fall back on, which makes them the most ruthless bastards existing in the workforce, and why your business will fail should they make it to the 'top'.

      Actually y
      • Your statement is way off. If you want to be successful you must be effective. That means producing something that customers will buy at a cost that makes you a profit. People who don't think about the return and people who don't think about the product are idiots.

        There are only two types of products: goods (stuff) and services (doing something better/cheeper than someone can do it for themselves). There are only two kinds of employees: those who provide the good or service and those who's job it is to m

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I have found an equal mixture of lying and delegating to be effective. The trick is to make sure you're delegating to people that you can bully, this is not too hard with a bunch of beta-male geeks to choose from.


      Your PHB
  • I worked 21 years for my company. I was good at what I did. I was also unconventional. I worked my way to the highest position in the technical ranks. My salary was out of band (never asked for that, btw) because of my accomplishments. I received the highest technical achievement award possible from my company. I wrote an application that saved (hard dollars) my company 10's of millions of dollars, and kept them out of legal hot water. That program is still being used today and is a core technology there.

    A year ago I was told in an effort to "cut costs", it was time for me to go. Done. Finito.

    Whatever you do, take care of yourself. My (admittedly anecdotal) experience says there are no friends out there. There is no reason to strive for excellence based on your company's desires. Turns out that doesn't matter.

    Make yourself happy. Set your own standards.

    The business world is a fucked place, and if you ever try to make sense of it, you're pumping oxygen needlessly to those brain cells.

    I think for me the crime in all of this was I used to want to do as much for my company as possible. There was hardly an evening on my way home at night I wasn't thinking of ways to make my company a better company. And, I was pretty good at contributing to that. I'm still good at what I do, but I don't think I'll ever have an ounce of good will for a company. Bottom line, companies evolve to where people who like and want power become the ones running the show, and generally speaking they are fucktards whose acumen is inversely proportional to their salary.

    • by meadandale ( 605319 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:17PM (#13693820)
      The days of working for a company to retirement are long gone, as you've found out.

      Everyone is disposable and in the revolving door of upper managment at most companies, noone with any power is going to recognize YOUR accomplishments past the next board meeting.

      Having loyalty to your employer is laudible but generally misplaced. Your primary loyalty should be to yourself. Generally that means working hard and looking out for the company in that this generally results in raises and promotions for you in the long run. However, you can never forget that at the end of the day, you are just a cog in the company wheel and in terms of upper managment, one cog is as good as another.

      As long as you don't lose sight of this perspective, you'll do fine. But, as soon as you start seeing yourself as the 'guy that saved the company millions of dollars' you are heading down the wrong road. Corporate memories are very short these days--they have absolutely NO loyalty to you, even if you single handedly have kept the company afloat for the last 21 years.

      • by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:29PM (#13693862)
        "Generally that means working hard and looking out for the company in that this generally results in raises and promotions for you in the long run."

        You're generally correct, but it's also important to keep in mind that looking out for the company isn't always the same as looking out for your managment and the latter is much more important to keeping your job than the former.
        • by Courageous ( 228506 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:40PM (#13693912)
          You're generally correct, but it's also important to keep in mind that looking out for the company isn't always the same as looking out for your managment and the latter is much more important to keeping your job than the former.

          Neither one is imporant. What's important is being perceived to be looking out for the company and management. No matter how effective you are, if you are not seen or heard, you do not exist. While this observation of mine may appear to be a bit sardonic, one should pay keen attention to it -- and the larger the company, the keener the need for the attention...

          • Neither one is imporant. What's important is being perceived to be looking out for the company and management. No matter how effective you are, if you are not seen or heard, you do not exist. While this observation of mine may appear to be a bit sardonic, one should pay keen attention to it -- and the larger the company, the keener the need for the attention...

            Wally posts on Slashdot?

            Norman. Coordinate.
          • This is absolutely correct. This is just a matter of marketing. Apple makes a great portable music player, but that is not enough; they also market it very effectively. It is important to make real contributions to a company's success, but it is just as important to publicize your contributions.

            I know several very good engineers who got laid off simply because no one knew what they did. They did good work; they didn't make enemies; they didn't rock the boat. And they didn't market themselves. When the
          • Absolutely correct, I'd say. Ths is a problem with many otherwise excellent workers that are surprised and hurt when the axe swings their way, because they don't understand what they did wrong. They really don't, and whatever process led to their being laid off seems unreasoning and unfair ... and it is often exactly that. Most of us just want to do our jobs efficiently and not create any unnecessary headaches. As you say, doing a transparently good job is the wrong way to get noticed in a positive way. Mat
          • by kaladorn ( 514293 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @01:41AM (#13696823) Homepage Journal
            The guy who made the offhand comment about this being the first slashdot discussion he wanted to read had it right. Lots of good meatn here.

            A few rules taught to me by another consultant:

            No free work. Work hard while you are there, don't begrudge sometimes coming in for long hours, but get paid. You don't have to bill every last minute, but don't do eight hours unpaid work a week. That doesn't show up on radar and won't help them predict the next job any more accurately. Stay focused, deliver, hit deadlines, warn well in advance if you can't and provide good estimates of what you can manage and for the stuff that won't make it, when it will be ready. Give bad news early and be up front about it. Honesty. Honest work and an honest invoice.

            And when you do an extra thing outside your normal taskings (don't let it eat much time, because you're paid for X, do X or get permission to do Y), get credit for it. Make sure your successes and extra efforts are visible. Don't be afraid to bring quiet attention (I don't mean be a self-aggrandizing ass) to your work. Some seemingly offhanded status updates ("I just finished X, and since it didn't take long, I also fixed Y which was going to cause us big problems in the next release...") can be one method for letting your management know what you've managed. Always keep in mind your audience - the project money/time guy doesn't necessarily need technical details as to why something will take more time, beyond a general comment. OTOH, your technical leads and architects will want to know if a team isn't going to hit its marks. Figure out what it is your boss needs from you (often times, he needs to give numbers/estimates/progress reports up the chain, so he needs dependable data and he needs to trust what you tell him - overestimation is the bane of this relationship) and deliver. Get him warnings in a timely manner if their are issues. Get him assessments of scope regularly for problems or work effort required. If he knows you can not only technically assess and issue and fix it, but also determine its scope and impact with a high degree of confidence (or identify clearly where you *can't* do this so he can be doubly cautious and allow more margin), then he's not going to hang his own nuts in the proverbial fire. So he doesn't get burnt, neither do you.

            And most importantly, you work to live. I've broken this commandment many times and tried to live to work. If you're a born team-player and company man like I used to be, this is an easy stage. But at the end of the day, you are a resource. Maybe a good one, who likes where he works and likes the people, but when the economy crashes and there is no work, you're a resource without an income and therefore expendable. It isn't personal - its a business. Never burn bridges you might one day use, always go out if you can on a high note as one day that might be a good way to secure further work. Sometimes, the guy below you might one day be the guy above you (or vice versa).

            And relax when you aren't at work. You need to let off the stress and let it wash out of you, or it'll wash you out.
      • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:41PM (#13693919)
        Having loyalty to your employer is laudible but generally misplaced.

        Nothing misplaced is laudible.

        No one would ever say, "Ignoring the force of gravity is laudible but generally misplaced."

        Why? Because ignoring the force of gravity can get you hurt. Likewise, having loyalty to your employer can get you hurt. This is not to say that you shouldn't do good work for what you are paid, but it is morally wrong to give loyalty that is not reciprocated.
    • Good post (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:23PM (#13693849)
      Your post also disputes the belief of some Slashdotters that only the incompetent get laid off, so they are safe (does any Slashdotter believe that he/she is anything less than a star performer?)

      There should be a required course at universities that warns students of the dangers of becoming too committed to your job. I can just imagine the howl that would shortly ensue from the corporate community if such a policy were put in place.
      • Re:Good post (Score:3, Insightful)

        by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 )
        Years ago, someone posted to Slashdot some advice that I've rather liked and (over the years) seen no reason to disagree with:

        Your career belongs to you. Your job belongs to your employer. Don't confuse the two.
    • Fucking line-item mentality. Your high salary made you a target, never mind the fact that you earned it — or that your company probably hurt its bottom line by getting rid of you.

      But that kind of bureaucratic stupidity doesn't mean "there are no friends out there". It just limits what your friends can do for you.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      >>I worked 21 years for my company.

      No, you worked 21 years at someones else's company.

      Time to really work for YOUR company.
    • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @03:03PM (#13694270)
      I was lucky. When I was still pretty young (28ish) I worked myself sick helping a company convert to a new system (70+ hour weeks for a couple months). After that they gave me a half day off as a reward. Five years later, the corporate parent dissolved that unit (sold it to a competitor who just wanted the customer list).

      The combination of the two events changed my attitudes about business. I want the cash now. I won't do anything for future promises. And I realize I can be laid off without notice at any time- even if the company is doing well until the second that happens.

      The only way you can trust the president of the company is if you ARE the president of the company- and even then I'm not sure.
    • Some very good points...that's the core of business politics, and the first thing they taught us in business grad school (shit, did I just post that on slashdot...?). In profiling successful managers: if you define success as efficiency, quality, etc, those managers are found to spend most of their time communicating with 1. employees and 2. customers; defining success as salary, title, etc, those managers are found to spend upwards of 80% of their time not actually doing or producing things, per se, but ta
    • Is this cultural? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @06:28PM (#13695099)
      Is your experience and advice a cultural perspective that applies primarily to American companies? Do you know if people in similar positions have similar experiences in other cultures?

        I'm amazed to read of the experiences of advanced technical people in Fortune 500 companies and how it parallels the experiences of technical people in the former Soviet Union. Especially some of the more extreme examples documented in The Gulag Archepello (no spell checker on this PC sorry).

          It sometimes seems that after the Berlin Wall fell, the USA and USSR switched political administration systems. The American corporations all went Stalinist and the Soviet Appartchiks all went entrepenerial. If this is so then the corporations will start to become massively inefficient due massive distrust in the middle ranks and refusal to work in the trenches.

          Anyway, thanks for posting the account of your experiences.
    • I think you found out the very hard way a lesson that I was told a while back, by someone who was being forcibly retired out of the military after having been in for his entire adult life. His story isn't really germane here, but his overall point is:

      "Don't ever fall in love with anything that can't love you back. An institution is not capable of experiencing loyalty. The only thing worthy of your loyalty are people and relationships. Loyalty to an institution will only hurt you, because in the end it will just dump you when you're too old/slow/expensive/old-fashioned for somebody younger/faster/cheaper/more modern. And you'll have nothing."

      This has always rung true for me. Especially in large corporations it's easy to get sucked in by the institutional culture (especially ones that have a cult-like group ethos, which many do) and end up feeling loyal to this vague amorphous institution. And the companies themselves play into this as much as you can, with everything from touchy-feely mission statements to executive personality cults, to better keep you from jumping ship the second you get a better offer.

      Don't ever think that a company -- which at the end is driven by one thing and one thing only, and that's profit -- gives a shit about your loyalty to it. If you have feelings of loyalty to other people, that's your business, because at least you have a shot of judging them correctly and maybe they'll have similar feelings back. But a large organization will reward only performance, and at the end of the day your loyalty will just hold you back from seeing the writing on the wall when it's time to go.
  • by skoda ( 211470 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:02PM (#13693748) Homepage
    It is better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

    Act first, the paperwork will follow.

    Timecards reflect essential truth, if not literal truth of when work is done.

    Delegate to those with better bureaucratic kung-fu.
    • Best post so far

      Businesses implement procedure as a methodology to get things done in an accountable way and keep wayward employees in-line. They know that evolution is critical to their survival
      If you know your method will bring results, either get verbal permission - if you know your boss trusts you - or do it on a test basis and report showing your improved results and seek official sanction to continue, quoting the benefits and most importantly, showing that your boss hasn't lost control of you or b
    • by Shoeler ( 180797 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:19PM (#13693835)
      Timecards reflect essential truth, if not literal truth of when work is done.

      That, unfortunately, is a load of so much horseypoop. I've worked for MANY companies that believed that, and all you had was useless middle managers working late who said they worked their butts off, but just wandered the halls shooting the shit during the day and did god-only-knows-what during the "late shift".

      I did 10x more work then they did in the 8 hours I was there, but was chastized for not working more hours, thus lowering my effictive hourly wage since said company also did not believe in overtime.

      Needless to say I got the hell out of dodge (the place, not the company) as soon as I could.
    • Timecards reflect essential truth, if not literal truth of when work is done.

      Timecards measure inputs, not outputs. Measuring inputs and assuming they serve as adequate surrogates for outputs is bad engineering and bad management.

      Case in point: at Three Mile Island the control room systems reported that a given valve was closed when in fact it was locked solidly open. The problem was that the system was designed to measure current running to the motor that controlled the valve, which has an extremely w
  • by USSJoin ( 896766 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:05PM (#13693761) Homepage
    No, honestly though. Knowledge is power, in many different ways. And there is a correct way to implement this in an office (or school, for those of you still embroiled in it) environment.

    1) Volunteer.
    Yes, yes. We all know that nobody likes extra work. However, you'd be surprised how many simple little things one can get through this-- like, for instance, one can acquire extra passwords and keys, because they were needed for whatever job, and the person giving them out figures that you might be needed again. Useful.

    2) Subvert.
    It is often hard (it sure is for me) to remember that power structures need not be crashed *through*. If you can afford the time-- and it usually isn't much, even when you're working under deadline-- you might try simply wedging underneath whatever structure it is. For instance, instead of simply stating that you're the boss, they have to do your will (even though it may well be true), come up with the most roundabout way of doing something, that doesn't involve them. Next time, you can use a less roundabout way... shortly, those higher up, and those lower down, from you will know you so well, you can implement solutions (of whatever nature) more effectively than anyone, and the people who you didn't like dealing with, are shoved off to the margins. Helps to shed a crocodile tear as they are pink slipped (if you're in the workplace) or merely go smoke pot, discontent with their newfound uselessness.

    3) Bash.
    Of course, once in a while, things that have to be done, have to be done *now*. And that is the appropriate time to simply tell people to get the heck out of your way. But the most important thing is to keep track of how *often* you're doing this. Apply the first two provisions generously, and you can *maybe* get away with this once a month. Not as generously, and it might have to be once a year, if you don't want people to hate you. What's important here is not the *actual* proportion of times you use this technique, but the *perceived* frequency. And the latter is nearly always higher than the former.

    Of course, if all these techniques are too complex, well, then, I wish you luck, as you'll need it. But careful application of these ideas can lead to... great rewards.
    • In line with these: 4) Intimidate. The worst bureaucrats are often cowards. It's kind of like the old idea that if you want to get rid of a bully, punch him once in the nose. Now, it'll take more finesse than a punch in the nose, but find ways to establish yourself as an authority, and the merely bureaucratic will become afraid to cross you. and the corollary of that is: 5) Train others to take orders. Get used to telling them, in no uncertain terms, what you need for things. Start out making these seem
      • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:49PM (#13693969) Homepage
        Damn. Just goes to show, always preview. Should read:
        In line with these:

        4) Intimidate.
        The worst bureaucrats are often cowards. It's kind of like the old idea that if you want to get rid of a bully, punch him once in the nose. Now, it'll take more finesse than a punch in the nose, but find ways to establish yourself as an authority, and the merely bureaucratic will become afraid to cross you. and the corollary of that is:

        5) Train others to take orders.
        Get used to telling them, in no uncertain terms, what you need for things. Start out making these seem like requests. Slowly shift those requests into technical issues of "If you want A, you'll have to give me B." Make this a purely technical issue, i.e. "I can't give you A without B," as opposed to "I won't give you A without B." Give full explanations as to why, and make sure you're right. Give them reason to trust you.

        Let them learn to trust you to determine for yourself what you need, and once they trust you, make your explanations complex, incomprehensible, and long. Make them bored with your explanations. When you're sure they're bored, start replacing your explanations with "trust me". Eventually, drop the "trust me" and you'll find you're just telling people what to do. This process takes some practice (and good instincts), but if you're careful and you do this right, you can create a situation where you can tell people, "I need you to do C," and they'll do it, [almost] no questions asked.

        Remember the Milgram experiment []? People respond to authority, and having a corner office or an important title aren't the only ways to get people to view you as an authority. Find ways to get people to listen to you, get people to trust you, keep your head up, appear proud, appear to "know what you're doing", etc. Learn to lead, and people will follow. Yes, you might say that my advice boils down to "beat them at their own game". If you're fighting people who've gained authority through technicalities and fancy titles, you just need to find another way to steal authority for yourself.

        • Eventually, drop the "trust me" and you'll find you're just telling people what to do. This process takes some practice (and good instincts), but if you're careful and you do this right, you can create a situation where you can tell people, "I need you to do C," and they'll do it, [almost] no questions asked.

          You're right on the button with this one. One (the proverbial "one", not you) can be very, very surprised at how credibly a confident person with a plan can be taken in by -- well just about anyone. The
          • and hard-ass-incompetent ones (these are those who easily feel threatened and attempt to build turf) will become your tacit enemies.

            Yeah... I kind of forgot to mention something about my little theory here: where it will fail. This "taking authority" business can work with normal workers (who aren't really the problem anyway) as well as mere bureaucrats. Even the really incompetent people who might get annoyed and angry, you won't have to worry about them if they're very incompetent (because they're too

  • by Oh the Huge Manatee ( 919359 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:06PM (#13693765)
    Never rely on undocumented verbal agreements. If you are in a meeting where a verbal agreement is reached, ALWAYS send an e-mail (or paper memo) documenting what was agreed upon. Keeping an unassailable 'paper trail' regarding projects, policies and decisions can protect you against the all-too-common managers who like to lie in order to shift blame when something goes wrong.
  • Getting things done (Score:4, Informative)

    by totallygeek ( 263191 ) <> on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:07PM (#13693770) Homepage
    What are some of the bureaucratic black arts that you've performed in your workplace to work around the office politics and get your work done on time and to a high standard?

    Break the rules. Break the law. 110, 220, whatever it takes.

    • by tom's a-cold ( 253195 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:57PM (#13694003) Homepage
      I second that. On one of my first performance appraisals, I was rated very highly for getting everything done well and on time, but I was told that I should learn how and when to work around the system and be more willing to do so when necessary. This came from one of our VP's, a great guy. One of the best bits of mentoring advice I ever got.

      Put more theoretically: Bagehot, long ago, when writing on the British political system, distinguished the "efficient" from the "dignified" parts of the polity. On a smaller scale, the same is true in organizations. There's the org chart and the officially-sanctioned roles and bodies, then there are the social networks by which work really gets done. I've done some analysis of social networks while developing collaboration solutions for my clients, and it's interesting how seldom they correspond with the formal organization.

      Incidentally, this is why Sarbanes-Oxley is profound, destructive idiocy, despite its good intentions. If most organizations only operated in accordance with their documented roles and responsibilities, they would be out of business.

      As for the voodoo arts of bureaucracy, here are a few highlights:

      1. Learn to run a meeting. Know what you want from the meeting and grease it with the key participants beforehand. Come with an agenda, document decisions and (especially) actions. With dates. Then, hold follow-ups to status the actions, and escalate as soon as the actions aren't delivered on. This is critical: document commitments, and document when those commitments aren't being met. And be sure to supply need dates that allow you to go to Plan B if Plan A goes wrong. That also means that it's up to you to know what Plan B is.

      2. Expect insane delays from any external organization you depend on. Escalate the schedule risk of these delays to your management and have them negotiate service-level agreements with them ASAP.

      3. Identify well-protected non-performers early, and give them highly visible, non-critical tasks with clearly-defined completion criteria. They'll either come through, or they'll screw up in front of an audience. If they're seen to fail, you can push them aside into boring, non-critical roles or get rid of them.

      4. If you're doing project management, be sure that you don't have anyone on your team unless you write their performance appraisal or (if they're contractors) decide whether to pay their firm. Matrixed organizations are set up specifically to prevent accountability. If you don't own their ass, they don't work for you, they're just getting in the way.

      5. Get high-level allies. If you're on an IT project, make it clear to your business sponsors where the bottlenecks are. They're usually far more capable of solving those problems than you are on your own. And always state the problem in objective terms of "This is what we have to have and this is what we're getting" rather than "This guy's a moron." Even if he's a moron. Even better if you have suggestions on how the solution should look.

      6. If your external dependency is on a non-performer and you can't convince them to do the job right, suck it up and have one of your resources do it for them. And make sure that it's clear to everyone that this is what you've done. Then, if they refuse to accept the work, make them explain why it's going to take them three weeks to solve a problem that you have already solved.

      7. If you're in a corner and the only way out is to violate the procedures, consider the consequences of complying, and of not complying. Then decide. Most businesses won't fire you for getting the job done unless somebody's put in danger of incarceration by your bending the rules. More typically, you're a hero if you deliver on budget and on schedule. If you don't, nobody gives you credit for failing even if you did it by the book.

  • Bank (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:09PM (#13693781)
    I'm a IT contractor who does a lot of work for one of the world's largest banks, and the level of bureaucracy at this particular organisation is larger than any other organisation I've ever worked for - generally reasonably intentioned (they have the philosophy that more hoops & red tape makes abuse of the system harder), but in practice they end up shooting themselves in the foot.

    Most work that actually goes on in the bank ends up being a function of who you know and what you know rather than successful use of the system; many projects are delayed for months and years as a result of this (simply acquiring IP addresses for servers can take weeks - weeks where a project may have half a dozen contractors all sitting around at $lots a day!). There are very basic organisational changes that could be made which would solve this - such as the fact that every day, dozens of identical 2U servers from a large vendor are purchased for projects and support; in spite of this, every project is expected to organise this themself, and wait months whilst parts and machines are delivered (again, with contractors sitting around). And yet there's no central purchaser who buys servers (gets a volume discount!!) and then sells these on to the projects with a 2-3 day wait (instead of months).

    The same applies to parts; memory, disks, or even patch cables - there's no centralisation and everyone's expected to buy their own.

    One project I recently worked on ordered some (very common) equipment required to install their servers in a datacenter last year, and only had it delivered a few weeks ago - if it weren't for the favour the project manager called in with another department (giving him leftover equipment last year), the entire project team would've been sitting waiting the whole time.

    This is representative of what truly makes the organisation tick - favours; virtually nothing gets done without it being as a personal favour (in an organisation where having IP addresses assigned or having a server racked can take weeks) from one party to another.
    • Judging by your alternative English spellings, I'm guessing you're in England, and this kind of beauracracy doesn't surprise me. While the corporate world is at best internally disjointed and constantly miscommunicating, nobody does it like the Brits. Brazil has a few fine scenes of a dystopian future where that kind of red tape invades every aspect of your personal life.
  • by totallygeek ( 263191 ) <> on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:10PM (#13693784) Homepage

    It is easier to get forgiven than to get permission!

  • See the Tao of Programming []. Specifically, book 6 (Management) and book 7 (Corporate Wisdom).
  • by DaveCar ( 189300 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:13PM (#13693802)
    "... only way I can let my workers be productive is to be one step ahead of the politics, even if that means breaking the rules."

    Cool! They should base a TV show around you. "... a project manager who gets results - even if that means breaking the rules". Cut a scene of you being breated by beauracratic boss, you giving back snide comments and slamming something on the desk.

    Maybe you could solve crime in your spare time?
    • Ah well, you were marked as a troll. I thought it was funny though, so kudos from me. Its a pitty really , because I had some mod points this morning.

      Anyway - In his bosses office...

      "God damn you McManager, I've got head office on my back and they want your ass. You've got 24 hours to solve the case and finish the project or I'm taking your badge and your gun. Now get the hell out of my office!."

  • Books that help (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:13PM (#13693803) Homepage Journal
    The Politics of Projects [] introduces the idea of what a political tactic looks like and how you might use one.

    The Career Programmer [] should have been called "The Guerilla Programmer". It explains vital topics like how to get a spec from people who don't want to give you one.

  • Don't be known as a gossip, but make sure the right people hear the right things at the oh so convenient, right time. Mix truth with fiction. Mention you 'heard' someone say something without sommiting to a name. Use scenarios. Find someone to discuss such things so that they might be overheard.
  • My needs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kwerle ( 39371 ) <> on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:18PM (#13693831) Homepage Journal
    Replaced the OS on my desktop with a more useful one. (goodbye, solaris)
    Implemented a VPN so I could work from home (twice, both "outbound" connectors - that is, they connected out from the company so as to defeat the company NAT/Firewall).
    Set up bugzilla instead of using their homebrew bug tracker (later adapted by the company).
    Set up a mailing list server to handle mailing lists (mailman, I think - on an unsupported OS on a "grey box" machine that had fallen off IT's tracker list).
    Dropped my ssh public key in various root or admin accounts that I was given "one shot access to - here's the password that we'll change after you log in".
    Set up an http proxy tunnel so that my group could surf via tunneled ssh through my home proxy (because the company proxy server would crash for half a day at a time, and I need online javadoc, thanks).

    Note that most of these things are not needed most of the time - I usually work for companies that have their shit together. But there are times when I need to get stuff done.

    To my future employers who find this posting (that I have decided not to post anon): treat me honestly and respectfully, and I'll do the same with you! I need VPN access, and I need a good bug tracker, and I need a mailing list server. None of that is unreasonable. If you don't provide it, though, I will. If you don't let me, I will anyway.
    • Re:My needs (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shmlco ( 594907 )
      "Dropped my ssh public key in various root or admin accounts that I was given "one shot access to - here's the password that we'll change after you log in"."

      If I EVER find an employee dropping backdoors into a system his ass is grass.

    • Re:My needs (Score:3, Insightful)

      by billn ( 5184 )
      Screw that. You play fast and loose with network security, I'd never hire you.
    • Re:My needs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hiro Antagonist ( 310179 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @02:21PM (#13694115) Journal
      I'm with the other two who replied to your post; an unauthorized VPN (firewalled?) and an SSH key dropped in ~root would get you insta-fired, because they are great ways for people to attack the network that *I* am held responsible for.

      I mean, yeah, it sounds like a shitty place that you worked at -- I make it a point to let my *team* find solutions for things like bug tracking and whatnot, because they are the ones who have to use it, and not me. Unrestricted and unmonitored web access, of course, because if you can't trust your programmers and sysadmins, who can you trust? And I even provide VPN access (via IPsec), albeit with more restricted privileges than the local network.

      But if one of my guys were to throw a backdoor into SSH on one of the dev servers, or just go off on his own because he didn't like what the rest of the group was using, he'd get a reprimand the first time, a much more severe reprimand the second time, and an invitation to find another job the third time. Because, even though it sucks, working with other people is just a part of The Corporate World, and one can't just start stopming around in other peoples' areas of responsibility.
  • Dale Carnegie (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MarkEst1973 ( 769601 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:18PM (#13693832)
    Read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and practice what it says.

    No one likes a complainer. No one likes the negative guy.

    Be positive. Suggest good things. Don't get your panties in a bunch if things don't go your way.

    Remember that everyone has an opinion and it's quite possible to be equally valid to your's. And that's what politics is: managing people and everyone's desires to some degree of consensus.

    • Re:Dale Carnegie (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dasunt ( 249686 )

      If we are suggesting advice from dead Americans, don't forget Benjamin Franklin.

      Franklin had the habit of doing at least one task publicly -- for example, sending himself to pick up supplies, instead of using an employee. He tried to cultivate an image of being a hard worker.

      Franklin seemed to think that not only did you have to be a hard worker, but others needed to know you were a hard worker, to be successful.

    • Re:Dale Carnegie (Score:3, Interesting)

      by asuffield ( 111848 )
      Of course, the effect of this is that if something actively bad is happening, you can't do anything to stop it - you can only try to avoid being associated with the inevitable disaster.

      It's all very well to say "Be positive", but a lot of the time, the best thing to do is to stop doing whatever it is that you're doing. Inaction is often better than action, because there's normally a large selection of actions that will make things worse, and the handful that will make things better are costly, so you can't
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:19PM (#13693833)
    If I find something coming my way that I see is a waste of time, but is enthusiastically endorsed by upper management, I "run it by legal," where it dies a slow, horrible death. This trick has served me, and my guys, well by allowing us to do what we do instead of getting caught up in some brain-dead management fad.
  • connect to the top (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jptxs ( 95600 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:20PM (#13693838) Journal
    I've found the people at the very top are either very good people (stay there if they are) or *very* bad people (brush up your CV if you find that). Find some way to connect with them. Any way. Get a channel open. Then use it as little as possible for business. But make sure everyone know you have it. People will get out of your way and bend more easily to your will if they simply believe you can turn to the top and expose them at any moment.

    Once you have that, follow the doctor/google idea: do no harm. That will make you people love you. Reasonable people will always understand you making business decisions if you show you're out to do them no harm and that you have some power to lend them (from the first point) and, finally, if you tell them what you're doing.

    In Germany, at the start of major industrial thinking, they did an experiment. They called in all the workers, and told them that some scientists would be playing with things at the factory and that there would be changes. Then they called them in and said that they would be raising the temperature at work - then productivity went up. To be sure, they called everyone in and told them they would be lowering the temp. They lowered it, and productivity went up. "Odd," they thought. This went on and on with them calling meetings, making changes and having productivity go up. Finally they started interviewing the workers at length about why they were working harder and why they felt they were being more effective. They all said they liked how they felt the company kept them informed of all the plans...

    • by jarich ( 733129 )
      In Germany, at the start of major industrial thinking, they did an experiment. They called in all the workers, and told them that some scientists would be playing with things at the factory and that there would be changes. Then they called them in and said that they would be raising the temperature at work - then productivity went up. To be sure, they called everyone in and told them they would be lowering the temp. They lowered it, and productivity went up. "Odd," they thought. This went on and on with the
  • make friends with someone who has authority, then present the business case: x, y, and z are hurting your group's efficiency and are costing $$$ in lost productivity and morale. suggest at least one (preferrably two to three) courses of action which can lead to a positive outcome for as many people as possible. said person might champion your cause (probably taking all the kudos, but your problem is solved at least), or they might do nothing. or they might do something in between — it's a hard call. m
  • Putting a curse on the CIO sometimes helps.
  • by lophophore ( 4087 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:31PM (#13693871) Homepage
    Never mind what is best for the company.

    They don't give shit #1 about you or your staff.

    Make sure that you and your staff remember to have a life outside of work. It is generally a lot easier to get a new job than a new family, or new friends.

    Make sure that you and your staff are always growing new, marketable skills. Don't get you or your staff stuck in a technical dead end. Always be thinking about and preparing for the next gig.

    Ultimately, remember that working enables lifestyle, not the other way around. Companies and their management will work you and your staff to death to line their own pockets at your expense if you will let them.

    Live for yourself, not for someone else's business.

    Obviously, this all goes out the window if you are self employed.

  • If things have reached an impasse where management makes it difficult to get real work done, then it's time to escape and start your own lean, mean startup company. You can gather your technical folk in the Wifi enabled coffee shop down the street and do your plotting there. Of course after about 5 years your lean, mean startup will be just about as bureaucratic as the company you left... when that happens you must restart the cycle. And so it continues endlessly.

    Seriously, depending on what kind of work
  • 1:4 Rule (Score:3, Interesting)

    by psavo ( 162634 ) <> on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:34PM (#13693887) Homepage

    On our Program Engineering class we were told that when a coder group becomes over 4 person in size, it will need one person dedicated to its bureaucratic needs. ie. handle interoperating with other such sub-groups, handle general paperwork etc.

    Even then, at most 60% of workers time (of that 4) will be real work, not interoperation with other members and subgroups.

    I'd say that's pretty good estimate. When I did my work in a team of 1-2, I coded or actively worked on a solution 90% of time, when team size grew more and more time was 'wasted' communicating. (Communication also paid off as some solutions we came together to were way better than what was my first estimation of correct action).

  • Other departments should depend on you, but that should not cost too much work.

    This simply to get a certain form of "currency" to use in negotiations with other departments.
  • A "Good Attitude" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xanthan ( 83225 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:49PM (#13693967)
    Success in a big organization has a lot to do with making friends with not just high level people (obvious), but also with people that manage paperwork for a living. Most of them are used to having people scream at them and give them a hard time. They build up a programmer-like cynicism since so many dismiss their contributions. *BE NICE TO THEM*

    Taking care of them, writing them nice emails, taking 5 minutes out of your day to say "how are you doing?" is worth more than you can ever imagine. When I need anything out of the system, I now have "go to" folks that will help me navigate the system, exploit details that are not commonly known, and even bend the rules a bit.

    When I cash in a favor I make sure and replenish the deed by dropping off donuts for the team, contributing to birthday gift funds, etc. Believe it or not, most of these folks are actually nice people that are trying to navigate the same mess you are. Be nice to them and you'll get far "in the system".

    With respect to what another poster said about protect yourself -- that's true no matter how big or little the company. Make sure you take care of yourself. A good relationship with all the staff is a good way to accomplish that.

    • by v1 ( 525388 )
      Something that goes well with this is the proverbial "be good to the clerk". In any organization of any reasonable size, there are a group of unappreciated, poorly-paid people that do menial work. But often that work is essential to the operation of the company, and quite often this is because they do something trivial that is also essential to your being able to do your job, or makes your work much easier for you to do.

      These are the people that idiots and managers walk on all the time. Of all the people
  • by vinsci ( 537958 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:51PM (#13693975) Journal
    For inspiration, see R. T. Fishall's (pseudonym for Sir Patrick Moore []) 1981 book Bureucrats: How to annoy them. The dedication in the book says: To all bureucrats and Civil Servants, everywhere. If this book makes your lives even the tiniest bit more difficult, it will have been well worth writing. :-)
  • Revenge (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ed Almos ( 584864 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:53PM (#13693982)

    They say that revenge is a dish best served cold.

    Yours in jest


    For the Attention of the Accounts Department

    As an aid to workflow the following procedure will become effective as of Monday morning (20th March 2001).

    From now on all requests for I.T. work in the accounts department have to be in submitted in triplicate on a new form, RFW1 (Request For Work V1) and signed by:

    1) The person requiring the work
    2) The Head of Accounts
    3) The I.T. Director
    4) The Financial or Managing Director

    Work CANNOT take place until paperwork has been received in the I.T. department with all signatures in place.

    One copy of the job sheet will be retained by the accounts department, one by the I.T. department and the third copy will be held in storage, just in case we need it. All applications for work done should be written clearly in copperplate handwriting (NOT typed) using a quill pen and black ink. Job sheets submitted in any other style of handwriting will not be accepted.

    Requests for work should include the reason for the work, the cost centre(s) involved, serial numbers of all equipment requiring attention, colour of equipment, the exact location of the equipment in latitude and longtitude, any unusual smells that may be present and include a full estimate of time (rounded off to the nearest tenth of a second) and materials (estimates to the nearest penny will be acceptable). Where a desktop PC requires attention a full list of all files held on the hard disk should be printed out before the machine is touched.

    If any parts are required then the accounts department are responsible for ordering them once I.T. give a specification. Any incorrect parts ordered or received will result in the job going to the back of the queue until other work has been dealt with.

    Jobs will be dealt with on a strictly 'first come first served' basis between the hours of 0900 to 1200 & 1300 to 1700. Members of staff who require repair work should be present at all times whilst work is carried out.

    Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) should be provided by the accounts department before work is carried out including overalls, hard hat and goggles. A clear working area of six feet six inches (two metres) should be available around any equipment requiring attention.

    If any further materials are required to return the equipment to operation then work will cease until the entire paperwork has been submitted again, this time with the correct figures. If time other than that authorised is required then a TAA1 (Time Authorisation Authority V1) form should be filled out (using the usual copperplate handwriting but this time in green ink). Both items of paperwork MUST be signed by the members of Roberts Group management above.

    On completion of the work the I.T. department will require the equipment to be soak tested for a minimum of 48 (forty eight) hours. As this represents a security risk the person requesting the work should be present throughout. Costs of sleeping bags and flasks of hot tea should be claimed on expenses through the usual channels.

    The equipment will then be flash tested to four hundred volts to ensure safety.

    Once soak testing has been completed to the satisfaction of I.T. department staff a Certificate of Conformity (in triplicate) will be issued. This should be signed by the following people before the equipment is brought back into service:

    1) The person requiring the work
    2) The Head of Accounts
    3) The I.T. Director
    4) The Financial or Managing Director
    5) The member of I.T. staff carrying out the work

    The users copy of the certificate should be displayed in a prominent position on the desk of the person using the equipment, with one copy returned to file (just in case) and the third copy collated with the original order requiring the work. If we are unable to collate a certificate of conformity with a properly formatted work order then the equipment that has been worke
    • Re:Revenge (Score:3, Funny)

      by Alsee ( 515537 )
      If there are any geeks working in the accounting department you just *know* one of them would show up at your door the next day with a overalls, hard hat, and goggles for you, and a fully signed and compliant copperplate quill inked request form in triplicate citing a 'hot wood' scent, including estimate of time & materials for repairs, exact latitude and longtitude, colour, and serial number of his his pencil sharpener (with 2 meter cleared workzone).

  • by Mostly a lurker ( 634878 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:56PM (#13693999)
    I cannot stand the games you must play as a middle manager. For me, there is much more satisfaction in a senior technical role. For those who want the aggravation of management, the most important hint is to recognise who in the organisation can get things done (usually one or two individuals and often not the most senior) and make certain you are friends, however unpleasant he/she may be. That arsehole in accounting who has the ear of the CFO can save you a lot of grief and is well worth some beers and evenings of asinine conversation.
  • by Numen ( 244707 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @02:02PM (#13694019)
    Recognise firstly that you're probably considering the Anglo-American model of business, and then realise the world outside the US and UK is a big place.

    If a different model of business would you suspect serve you better, move.

    This isn't the snide "if you don't like it ship out" remark, it's a genuine suggestion that you might prefer a different model of business. I know it comes as a shock to many American and Brits when they realise that their model of business isn't the way all countries do business.

    I got fed-up with the bullshit that surrounded working in London so I moved to Spain. In a few years I'll probably check out France or Italy... I'm not talking about a young mans bus mans holiday either, I'm 36 and an experienced programmer/developer.

    This also isn't to suggest other countries are better or worse... there's advantages and disadvantages to any model. Simply there are differences, and a variety of expressed values in business.

    The upside also is that trying such a move is actually quite low risk. For most people (not all I'd admit), trying work in a different country can only enhance their CV even should the person decide the experiment is a failure.

    If you are interested in trying it out... find a place abroad where lots of your nationality holiday... that has a "resort" presence, and preferably where plenty of your nationality are buying property. Chances are there's a fair few local property management companies that have a really hard time getting hold of good developers. Start learning the local language, and if you do decide you want to stay you can start integrating yourself more into the local business.

    American and British programmers have a good reputation abroad.... Well actually I know British programmers do, and my assumption is American programmers would too.

    From a lot of what people are expressing here as how they'd prefer to do things in business.... learn German. The German model of business fits a lot of what people are describing. Or if you fancy something less extreme, get a job in London which is just starting an upturn at the moment. The business there will be the Anglo-American model you're familiar with just slightly less extreme.

    The world's a big place and you have a lot of choices.
  • by eric76 ( 679787 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @02:07PM (#13694048)
    I usually ignore the politics, but that caused trouble at one company. My best luck has been with small companies where politics in less of an issue.

    The largest company I ever worked for was right out of college. I didn't understand the politics and just concentrated on doing my job. Oddly enough, politics was never much of a problem there.

    The one thing that most helped me there was when I was walking down the hall one day, happy after fixing a problem that had been bugging me for a couple of days. I ran into the two hatchetmen for the company, one of whom was my boss.

    My boss asked me what I was up to and I told him how I had fixed the problem that had kept me busy the previous two or three days. His next question caught me by surprise when he asked "Who was at fault?"
    I asked him what he meant and he restated the question as "Who created the problem in the first place?" So I answered that it was me and a bit of what caused the problem. (After 25 years, I really don't remember what it was about.)

    A couple of years later, my boss reminded me of that and told me that accepting responsibility for the problem instead of trying to shift the blame raised their estimates of me more than anything else I could have done. According to him, 99% of the people in the company would have tried to shift the blame elsewhere and the two of them found it refreshing to get an honest answer.
  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @02:13PM (#13694082) Homepage
    Fly By The Book: This is a trick airline pilots use to slow everything down. They fly strictly by the book, not cutting any corners for anything. You can do the same thing in IT. If someone is nice, we cut corners to help them out. If they're buttholes, they have to file a trouble ticket. Address, with exacting specificity, only the items they have outlined in the trouble ticket, usually entered in haste. Rinse, lather, repeat. It's a trick to look and sound helpful while dragging your feet.

    Selective Enforcement; Gay sex web sites at work? No problem if it's someone who is nice. But if they're a department head fighting for a piece of your budget, no mercy. Selective enforcement is similar to flying by the book.

    Selective Infection: Not saying I'd deliberately infect someone's machine with a virus but if virus updates just happened to be late getting to the butthead department, well that's just a darn shame, isn't it? And, oh look, they infected everyone else in their department. Hey, it looks like one of them was visiting gay sex web sites on his work machine! You bastard!

    I find that works particularly well working with the financial departments. You scratch my budget, I'll make sure you're always at the top of the priority list. But painful budget cuts...owww, tisk-tisk. You know tisk-tisk is really BAD. Someone cut all your linked spreadsheets? Oh, my, that sounds bad. Must be a permissions issue. Those can take a long time to track down, too bad you cut my staff as we don't have a lot of people to spare right now.

    You can do even more fun things if you run their phone system. One of the people I used to work for shut off all the phones at the security office, except the emergency lines, because he got a speeding ticket. Couple phone calls and the ticket went away and the phones mysteriously started working again.

  • shitblocker (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anthony Boyd ( 242971 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @02:13PM (#13694084) Homepage

    One of my employees called me a "shitblocker" because I was so good at keeping the crap away from the team. However, I had another employee who just saw too much of the bad stuff, and it got to him. So I'm not posting as someone who has done a universally good job at this. Having made my disclaimer, here are few things I've done.

    • Don't tell your employees when you've had a row with your boss. At least some employees have not just empathy, but a susceptibility to transferrence. In other words, you tell the employees you got into it with your boss, and a handful of them will get all worked up, even though they weren't involved.
    • Don't use the previous point as handcuffs. You are not obligated to portray yourself as completely buying into the company line. Just don't rant to your employees about it. If they are frustrated that upper management had made a poor decision, it's reasonable to let the employees know that you think there are better ways, and that you'll keep trying to get upper management on board. But you don't want to start complaining, "I just had a shouting match with my boss, and that idiot wouldn't see sanity if it came up and punched him in the face!"
    • This is hard, but, you have to keep the chain of command in line. There are many bosses who think it's good to get to know everyone underneath them, no matter how many levels removed. And to a degree, it is. Friendliness is always welcome. However, many execs will take it too far, and start stepping on toes (because they can) and undermining the managers beneath them. If you tell your employee "I'll evaluate you for 6 months, and we'll discuss a raise then" and your boss tells the employee "all salaries are frozen" or "I'll get you a raise" then your authority is screwed. Or, if you tell your employee something is a priority, and your boss tells them otherwise (especially if they don't clue you in), then you've just become ineffective. So, even as a lower manager, you have to tell your superiors that you are in charge of your team, and they need to go through you. And then you need to keep on top of that, so nobody feels the need to go around you.
    • Get your employees into the limelight when things are good. Get them out of the limelight when things are bad. More than that, you do NOT want to blame your employees for anything. That doesn't mean you assume blame for everything, and get fired. But it does mean that the blame game is lose-lose, and you say so to any upper manager who insists on playing. Your employees are either protected (because they deserve more chances), or fired (because they don't). There is no in between, unless you're documenting things for HR.
    • Building on the previous point, while you don't ever want to leave your employees twisting in the wind with the execs, you also don't want them to let you take all their blame. I had one employee sit quietly by while the CEO chewed me out for something the employee had done (I warned him not to do it -- I knew the CEO would hate it). What was my mistake? I kept the employee for 2 more years, and had that same scenario play out again and again. You block crap for your employees, but you do so because they are worthy employees. Don't be a martyr, especially for any employee who is simply using you as a meat sheild.
  • by Bodhammer ( 559311 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @02:43PM (#13694196)
    The 48 Laws of Power
    by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers y/48_laws_of_power.htm []

    Law 1

    Never Outshine the Master

    Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please or impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite - inspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.

    Law 2

    Never put too Much Trust in Friends, Learn how to use Enemies

    Be wary of friends-they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them.

    Law 3

    Conceal your Intentions

    Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense. Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelope them in enough smoke, and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late.

    Law 4

    Always Say Less than Necessary

    When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

    Law 5

    So Much Depends on Reputation - Guard it with your Life

    Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once you slip, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable. Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen. Meanwhile, learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them.

    Law 6

    Court Attention at all Cost

    Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion. Stand out. Be conspicuous, at all cost. Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious, than the bland and timid masses.

    Law 7

    Get others to do the Work for you, but Always Take the Credit

    Use the wisdom, knowledge, and legwork of other people to further your own cause. Not only will such assistance save you valuable time and energy, it will give you a godlike aura of efficiency and speed. In the end your helpers will be forgotten and you will be remembered. Never do yourself what others can do for you.

    Law 8

    Make other People come to you - use Bait if Necessary

    When you force the other person to act, you are the one in control. It is always better to make your opponent come to you, abandoning his own plans in the process. Lure him with fabulous gains - then attack. You hold the cards.

    Law 9

    Win through your Actions, Never through Argument

    Any momentary triumph you think gained through argument is really a Pyrrhic victory: The resentment and ill will you stir up is stronger and lasts longer than any momentary change of opinion. It is much more powerful to get others to agree with you through your actions, without saying a word. Demonstrate, do not explicate.

    Law 10

    Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky

    You can die from someone else's misery - emotional states are as infectious as disease. You may feel you are helping the drowning man but you are onl
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> on Saturday October 01, 2005 @03:09PM (#13694294) Homepage Journal
    One of the biggest gripes people have about managers is that they always duck their responsibilities and pawn off mistakes on the people who work for them. When you take responsibility for your own actions, you're establishing yourself as not just a manager, but a leader. It's not always easy - human nature is to pass the buck.

    Also, manage laterally. Whenever possible, cultivate good relationships with managers who are at your level in the hierarchy. At many organizations, top level managers like to play off the subordinate managers against each other. If you can establish solid quid pro quo relationships with your peers, if top management tries to screw with you, they'll be more likely to help you out in some fashion, even if it is not direct.

    Cozying up to the boss, as some people have suggested, is not really a good idea imho. Bosses, like mid-level managers, come and go. It's better to have a reputation for doing good work and being easy to work with, than for toadying up to the boss. Many times when a management change happens, the first thing the new boss does is clear the deck of people who are seen as partisan.

    Remember that politics of any kind is not about implementing a system and staying with it religiously. Your tactics will have to shift as circumstances dictate. Don't be too rigid, but always remember that you have to face yourself in the mirror. If you get too enmeshed in playing the game, you may wind up being one of the very people you don't want to be.

  • by PhoenixRising ( 36999 ) <ngroot+slashdot&lo-cal,org> on Saturday October 01, 2005 @05:42PM (#13694907) Homepage
    Two keys that I've found:

    First, make sure that you're clear on what you're doing, and why. You should always be able to explain why what you're working on is important and why you have prioritized it the way you have. Keep records of how you spend your time. When you're up for review, this is critical for justifying your raise/continued employment. Similarly, when someone is complaining about how you're not solving their problem, you need to be able to point to all the other higher-priority problems in front of theirs. Periodically review what you're doing with your boss to make sure that it's what (s)he thinks you're supposed to be doing.

    Second, never lose sight of the chain of command and responsibility. Your boss is the one who's responsible for what you do or fail to do -- that why (s)he is the one who gets to tell you what you're doing. Resist any attempts at the creation of "dotted lines" (i.e, situations where you're answerable to more than one person); failing that, make sure that you document who allowed the dotted line to be created. If anyone tries to get you to do something that's not already covered by what you're supposed to be doing, have them talk to your boss and get his/her approval -- you are your boss's resource, no one else's. If someone higher up in the chain wants you to do something, push back /gently/ ("You might want to talk to [boss] about that; he's got me on some really important projects, and you might decide that you'd want me working on them after all.") Failing that, make sure that your boss is kept aware that you've been reappropriated so that (s)he knows why you're not working on the work that (s)he expects you to do.
  • by lemkebeth ( 568887 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @05:42PM (#13694909)
    So what I'd like to ask some of the more savvier Slashdot denizen: What are some of the bureaucratic black arts that you've performed in your workplace to work around the office politics and get your work done on time and to a high standard?

    I'd advise not to use the black arts. Using black magic will affect negatively on your karma. I mean do you really want this to be the answer to the question:

    What did I do in my pervious life to deserve this?

  • Tricks I learned (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dbirnbau ( 640779 ) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @06:47PM (#13695155)
    I was the highest ranking technical person at a foutune 100 company. I got there by being very good at what I did and being able to anticipate what would be needed before it was. But it still took a lot of tricks that I learned along the way: 1. It is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. It is still better to ask for neither. 2. When telling your boss or anyone senior to you that they are wrong or headed in a bad direction, humor is a great asset. 3. Be flexible. Think like a jazz musician - improvise as needed instead of just playing what's on the page. 4. If he's such an idiot, how come he's your boss? 5. Hire good people but pay more attention to their character than their tech chops. In the long run, people who can work together and admit that a co-worker, or boss, has a better idea are valuable. Ditto for people who can (nicely) speak up when you (boss) are about to do something wrong. 6. Remember it's just business. 7. Keep a close group of friends who are roughly peers. There don't have to be many of them, but you should use them to test things. Also be a friend to others in the same way. 8. You will get enough glory and compensation. It helps a lot to let your team members take credit. Even for stuff you do. One of the wierdest things I learned early was that it is very hard to give an idea to someone. Their natural impulse is to think you're up to something or you want something. Cultivate the skill to give someone an ideas without them realizing that you're doing it. Your reward is to hear your idea coming from them weeks later as if it were their own. When this happens be among the first to acknowledge the success of your subject. Never, never, to anyone except your friends in 5, reveal that you were responsible. After a while people who oount will figure out what you are up to and it will increase their respect and evaluation of you. The last thing was told to me by one of the best bosses I ever had -- If you want to know how much a corporation will value you regardless of your contributions, get a bucket of water, put your arm in and pull it out. The hole you leave will be about the same size as the impact you will leave after you're gone.
  • by Money for Nothin' ( 754763 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @01:46PM (#13699152)
    Not long ago, I graduated from university with a CS degree and work as a developer in a Fortune 50 firm you have undoubtedly heard of (it is perhaps *the* best-respected business in its industry). In the short time I've been there, here are some of the things I've learned about corporate bureaucracy:

    * Be honest, but not necessarily open and forthcoming, depending on the type of person and relationship to you. As Abe Lincoln once said, "you can fool some people all of the time, or you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." Sooner or later, inconsistencies in your story will develop, people will catch on, and you'll have trust issues because of it.

    That said, an earlier post made a good comment about technical vs. business people. I work with technical people all day, and they do appreciate the facts, unfiltered. Business people, in my limited experience, want to live in la-la land thinking that everything is just fine in the business. Usually, they also pay your salary, and if you want them to continue doing so, you'd best continue telling them that which lets them live in la-la land.

    * A good manager handles your non-technical needs. You should not have to obtain software; that is your manager's job upon your request and his/her approval. You should not have to make the case for security approvals; that is their job upon your statement of need to your manager. You should not have to deal with business/financial people; that is your manager's job (or the job of *his* manager).

    * Follow procedure. No matter how much bureaucracy sucks, going outside the bounds of bureaucracy is typically a fireable offense. Do as the company policy states, and when the money-men ask you why you're so inefficient, you can justify every one of your actions with policy they had set at the time of your action.

    * Keep a factual, unbiased logbook/audit trail of bureaucracy. In the event that somebody with an incentive to reduce bureaucracy comes along, they may appreciate examples of bureaucracy and ideas for its reduction. Plus, it helps you to keep your facts straight when remembering how you followed procedure.

    * The bureaucracy in your company is still not as bad as it is in your healthcare company.

    * Most corporate bureaucracy is the result of government regulation. Sarbanes-Oxeley in particular has bureaucratized the financial sector like you would not believe! So let's not be *too* quick to blame it entirely on the business.

    * Keep the ball in everybody else's court. Always make sure that you've done your due-diligence in responding to peoples' emails and that nobody is waiting on your decisions. That way, you can go into weekly status-update meetings and blame "the other guy" for being slow and wasteful, not you.

    * Never underestimate the ability of the bureaucracy to surveill you; be paranoid. Always assume you have no privacy, assume that everything you say will be remembered or caught on a hidden microphone, and everything you write will be stored in offsite backups forever, and that all of this will be audited someday, either by the company or by the government. Always assume the boss knows exactly when you clock-in and clock-out. Assume that the toilets have sensors in the pipes to detect a variety of performance-reducing drugs, e.g. alcohol, marijuana, etc., and that there are tiny spy cameras in the bathrooms monitoring you. Always assume the company has an NSA-grade data-mining system solely for the purpose of combing the Internet looking for information written about the company -- proprietary information leaked by an insider, negative commentary, legally-damaging information, etc..

    * Perceptions matter. See the clocking in/out issue previously: it doesn't matter that you're on salary; being salaried has absolutely *nothing* to do with setting your own hours, contrary to business idealists' belief and its original intent. Being salaried has everything to do with ensuring that t

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein