The 1,000th time

A part of me died that day in the conference room when I botched it with the process decomposition. I had a plan going in, aligned on it with my business owner, and the plan was to plot the as-is process that was already documented and go through that phase by phase, drawing out which parts needed further definition. That made sense to me, why reinvent the wheel?

I got it all plotted and posted and we started, but then decided we should just scrap it and start from scratch. It’s a small conference room, about the size of a mini-van with no windows, just a white board and a large mural with Accomplishments written at the top, but blank, because we were too busy to put anything up there.

I never really did process decomposition before. Whenever I get into Visio my soul wilts and I feel sorry for myself, for how far I’ve strayed from the person I imagined, now manipulating boxes and arrows and swim lanes. Because process is important but it makes me sick and I want to go all Punk on it, want to throw my fists down and yell FUCK FUCK FUCK.

I never did process decomposition but had it on my Partner Development Plan (PDP) because I knew it’s an important part of being a project manager; process often comes up. People expect you to be that way.

So I said fine, let’s just start from scratch. It was me, the business owner, his boss, and our consultant. The consultant just sat there and watched as the two other guys riffed off each other and I tried to keep up with them with my Post-it notes and annotations, but quickly they realized I wasn’t capturing it in a cogent fashion (it looked like spaghetti with all the squiggly lines and arrows), and the mood changed in the room. They got curt and the big guy (my business owner) turned red, started raising his voice.

I was shaking and starting to stutter and this is where a gap opened inside me, some new voice bloomed in my head and mumbled something dark, something about running away from everyone and dying alone, in the woods. That voice sometimes peeps at me in the morning drive in, when I consider what would happen if we got into an accident and I’d have a legitimate reason to miss work a few days.

A couple hours later it was over and I rolled up the plotter paper and preserved the Post-it notes from falling off, out of sequence. We all looked at one another like we’d seen each other’s privates and felt weirded-out by it. More, they’d seen mine.

I got back to my desk and cracked open Visio, shaking, and played with the orientations to produce something viable. I ran back and forth between my computer and the printer and put copies on their chair with a handwritten Post-it asking for feedback, signed Bill.

There were many discussions after this: me briefing my boss, my boss circling back with them to play damage control, it goes on and on. It triggered a kind of unraveling to where I felt like a political figure.

That was April. By late August, I was transitioning off the project and we had more than 100 process documents broken into separate files with a careful taxonomy and file naming convention. This is like the end of the film, Raiders of the Lost Ark: I post the files on a SharePoint site, copy them to a thumb-drive, hand them off to the consultant to upload onto their share-drive, and the crate is buried in a dark warehouse, FADE OUT.

Categories: humor

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7 replies

  1. This is the lesson that I’ve learned over and over. Most of what needs to get done at work ends up not mattering. It is indeed soul-killing and how people end up being retired on the job. My husband is up to his ears in corporate think. Project after project lands in his lap and he can tell right away that he’ll be spending hours doing something that will get warehoused almost immediately. It’s demoralizing and a wonder that corporate America gets anything concrete done at all.


  2. Painful. Just painful.
    I am thankful and amazed that, working in a semi-corporate/educational environment, I’ve avoided much gobbledygook and ManageSpeak. We’re more knee-jerk than process, which isn’t necessarily better. That said, next week I’m gearing up for a fight over the sudden need to be all over LinkedIn, as in why the hell bother.
    Feeling for you, man.


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