Monthly Archives: October 2005

Shit-management

The nature of a System Analyst’s job is that it is closely tied to operations. We not only analyse the system, we take care of the system and provide bug fixes and data patches as and when necessary. In fact, we spend more time patching the systems than analysing them at my side.

Raising forms to get permission to update database records when users make a mistake. Procedures to be followed only so that management has visibility of what we are doing. Routine tasks can be streamlined and automated as much as possible to reduce human intervention and hence the amount of mind-numbing repetitive work I have to do. For the rest of it, the nature is so ad-hoc that there is no way to cater for all and automate all such work. You still need an experienced human being to make decisions and judgments. Many such small investigations that take up a lot of time and sap much energy. Much as I dislike the drudgery of such work, this is the nature of the job that I am being paid for.

To think that I had doing mostly maintenance for more than 3 years when I hate the nature of such jobs. No wonder I feel numb, no wonder the future looks bleak. Too highly paid to make a switch to the kind of job I want to do without a significant paycut. I should do my sums and see how much of a paycut I can live with, once all this mad rush is settled down. Life sucks when you are chained down by finances.

I console myself with the fact that work is frequently "shit-management". You are hired only because there is work that the person who hires you do not wish to do it himself. And unless you are highly skilled (in which case it will be value-creation that your bosses are not able to do themselves), you are destined to do shit-management. Shoveling the shit that people in power do not wish to do themselves. Such is the fate of those who want to stay out of the power struggle. This description excludes those in power who relish the power they wield, who can control the kind of work they do. They are not shoveling shit. This also excludes those who create value.

When you create value, you will not be just another count in the statistics, but will be someone they depend on. You will then have some leverage and be able to negotiate your terms. Management likes to tell the story of 3 brick-layers, one who sees himself as laying bricks, one who sees himself as building a wall, and one who sees himself as building a cathedral. This is a good story to tell those you have hired to lay bricks. But more often than not, the brick-layer finds himself building a small divider wall on a crumbling building, or shoring up the poorly-built foundation that he did not design.

People shovel shit willingly because they get paid, because there is something they look forward to after work, because the consolation that they get from that something is worth the shit that they have to shovel. For some people, that something is their family that they love and provide for. For some people, it is their hobby or lifestyle that their "day job" is paying for. For some people, it is simply something that they do, because going to work is part and parcel of life.

What motivates you at work?

It is a blessing to be able to find such a job that can provide for your needs, and which you can work at willingly. In any case, shit-management is a useful skill that will come in handy all through life, because life is full of shit. Shit should be managed and controlled, rather than just endured, if the gems in life are to be unearthed.

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Dengue-free zone

Dengue fever is on the rise, our standard measures to control the population of the Aedes mosquitoes are not working very effectively. Hence let me introduce a way to avoid being infected with the Dengue virus.

Stay near the ends of bridges of popular shopping centres in Singapore, such as Suntec City and HarbourFront Centre. There will be smokers puffing away just outside the exits during the opening hours, putting up a smoke screen that mosquities dare not penetrate. Where the mosquitoes cannot venture, they cannot bite you there and you cannot be infected. Let’s not waste the efforts of the voluntary foggers who pump out smoke by sheer lung power.

My Science teacher taught us that insects get drowsy in smoke, as the oxygen content is lower. Unlike humans, they do not cough when they inhale smoke. They just slow down and lose interest. Yes, I may cough when surrounded by second-hand smoke from smokers whenever I am forced to walk through their smoke screen, but it may just save my life. Dying from tobacco fumes will probably be later than dying from dengue fever.

I may get desperate enough that I may want to join in. That is, if I find people around me dropping dead like flies. It may justify such desperate measures.

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