Outgunned (part 2), what to do now

*** Initial Disclaimer: No I’m not talking about something that recently happened.  This has nothing to do with my current project. Carry on. ***

Okay, in part 1, I discussed the pain of going up against a really slick BS slinger.  Notice, I didn’t call them sales people because nearly everybody knows that a sales person will exaggerate a little.  This is more about a sales person posing as a consultant.  This consultant has some sparkly advice that will “save this company” and your boss seems to be thirsty for some of that cool-aid, right now.

If the BS slinger just pitched your company on some meaningless topic, like “tastes great vs. less filling”, then you can just dismiss it.  No biggie.  However, if your boss starts carrying an Oracle golf bag or signing you up for ERP courses, then you probably will feel like freaking-out a little.  In your gut, you have a sense of impending doom.  So what should you do about it?

The Real Deal

Okay, this is going to seem a little harsh, but get ready.  Cold hard reality time.  If your boss has totally fallen for some IT brochureware, and it is crap and all hope is lost, here is what you should do:

  • Odds are, you are over-reacting.  If not, then there really is nothing you can do.  So, stop worrying over it.  Worrying won’t fix things anyway.  This is the time to start coping.
  • Companies go under every day because of bad decisions.  You can’t be expected to save your company unless you are given the power to do so.  Since you do not have that authority, you are only a tail and you cannot wag the dog.
  • If this one bad decision wrecks the company, then the company must have had one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel anyway.  This is pretty unlikely.
  • It is so rare for, one bad decision to ruin a company (unless it is some legal catastrophe).  Usually, the bad deal that you witnessed is one of many bad deals.  You can’t hold yourself responsible for that kind of thing.
  • Plus, it is amazing how many companies are able to out-earn their wasteful spending.  When the money is coming in, people don’t worry about maximizing profits and minimizing costs.  This may be one of those companies.

So, this is not your fault.  What should you do?

If you do not have the power to fix things, then:

  1. Acting like a spaz-case won’t persuade anyone or result in anything good.  Tactfully do your due diligence and then use your ears instead of your mouth.  You might learn something that will help you later in life.  You won’t be able to help anyone if you get marginalized (for being a spaz) or if you get fired.  So chill.  This is a nature show.  The rabbit runs, the wolf chases, you learn.
  2. You cannot fix things until you are in charge. Some day that might happen, but only if you are professional, honest, wise and you don’t flip-out and act like an arse periodically when people don’t see your point-of-view.  So, bide your time, mind your manners and do your best.  If you never get put in charge, that might be for the best anyway.  It is a lot of stress.  Besides, maybe you make bad decisions and you don’t realize it.  There is nothing wrong with being second-fiddle (or third, etc.) as long as you do it as well as you can.
  3. Play the hand you’re dealt.  Oracle and RPG and BizTalk (or whatever) might not be as bad as it seems.  Somebody is using this stuff and getting it to work.  So can you.  What if, two years from now you look back and marvel that this was the best thing that ever happened to you.  It can’t happen unless you drop the defeatist attitude and do your best.  Give it a try.  You might really surprise yourself.
  4. Keep a good attitude.  A whiney baby is a cancer in a department.  It spreads negativity and needs to be cut out.  Don’t be that guy.  A positive attitude is always the best bet (even if it seems misplaced).  Keep your criticism constructive and don’t fling “I told you so”s around.  They suck and some people are so stubborn that they will never listen to you if they suspect that you might deliver an “I told you so”.
  5. Pack a parachute.  If the boat is taking on water, you will look a little stupid if you are the first on the lifeboats, but you certainly don’t want to be [last + 1].  Plan ahead, but keep it quiet.
  6. It is never too late.  This project might get cut.  Most companies are frequently reviewing their decisions and looking for mistakes to fix.  Most bosses (or CEOs) will not ride a decision to the bottom of the ocean.  If it really was a mistake, it will get cut eventually.  You just have to be brave and weather the storm for now.

All of this might sound a little pessimistic.  Keep in mind that I am trying to cover a worst-case scenario.  Things almost never turn into a worst-case, but notice: I didn’t say “never”. That is why, it is always a good idea, to be prepared.  Be prepared for the worst, but don’t count on it.

Also keep in mind, there is a distinct possibility that you are over-reacting.  Does it really make sense that you are the only one who sees a problem here?  It may be hard to accept, but maybe (just maybe) you are over-reacting.  Gnothi Seauton.

I suppose that my real point of all this, is that people are wired to fear “change” and when fear grips you, you might get emotional or panicky.  People (almost) never make good decisions (or behave well) when they are emotional or panicky.  Keeping a level-head is your best choice and it can be hard to do.  It takes practice.  So start practicing.  Starting now.

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About Tim Golisch

I'm a geek. I do geeky things.
This entry was posted in IT Horror Stories, IT Psychology, Professionalism. Bookmark the permalink.

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