I still remember my first project (8.5 yrs ago in retail bank in Wrocław) - blind fate decided that I had to join MIS (Management Information System) Team instead of Web Channel Team. For a moment I was very unhappy - I had already some nice experience in J2EE and participating in the creation of new web channels for banking system was something that was really turning me on. Unfortunately, instead of that, I was about to create a data warehouse and reporting system on the top of that. Both of them powered by Oracle (mainly PL/SQL) - not a technology of my dreams. I wasn’t supposed to do the coding - just gathering requirements, performing analysis, creating design, supervising programmers and lead tests.

I was disappointed, but I didn’t take any offence - I’ve assumed that this was some kind of opportunity and the key was to use it well. I’ve learned what I could about data warehouses and MISes, I’ve designed the major part of reporting solution and I’ve embraced PL/SQL programming knowledge (that was not required of me) so I was able to cover when it has appeared that our developers were to weak to deliver the more demanding parts of calculation engine. In the end, I’ve saved the game, earned a promotion and got recognized for a successful project. So, I had to be a bit flexible, but it did pay "mucho". And I wasn’t the only one - other analysts struggled hard for the responsible tasks, so they could prove themselves in front of their superiors.
Why do I bore you with the whole ancient story? Because of some unusual situation I’ve encountered on my current project few days ago. Here’s what happened:
One of the teams is in some kind of stalemate as they still wait for scope confirmation (so they can’t start actual work yet). In theory it’s not a big issue as this is T&M deal and client is paying for the time, but no one likes to sit idle and waste time. We have only one resource in this team (the others are client people) - a young analyst (not under my direct supervision). When I’ve heard that there’s a free pair of hands to waiting to get utilized, I’ve come up with some task ideas that could:
  • prove useful in team’s future work when the scope is finalized (and provide our analyst some useful knowledge upfront)
  • help our analyst to show that he’s adding some value (so he can be evaluated for that)
I’ve given him some clear directions (written, in bullet points) and expected outcomes, plus I’ve asked him to catch me back with first outputs in 2-3 days. To cut the long story short, here’s what happened:
  1. He didn’t come after 2-3 days but after a week.
  2. He didn’t stick to the written points - he made the tests I’ve asked him to, but not keeping some important assumptions I gave him (like the technology used…)
  3. When I’ve suggested he can make another attempt, sticking to the plan - he said that: it would take him 2 weeks to set up an IDE (!), so maybe I could find someone else to do it (!!), preferrably from the client side (!!!)
What can I say more? Does it look like being engaged? Does it look like being motivated? If I were him, I’d actually look for ANY task to make my presence on the project justifiable. ANY opportunity to make myself look good when compared to my peers. Especially when that’s a manager standing in front of you.
What would you say? Did you have a situations like that on your projects?