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I do recommend this link: http://hazaeshaladas.blog.hu/2011/08/09/privat_sarok_mire_valok_a_fekek_es_ellensulyok

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As I expressed exactly a year ago I think sometimes being fired is the hugest appreciation a manager may get. Do you think I have gone mad? No, I have not.

When a manager appears on an interview, wins the competition and accepts the offer, he is not able to see where he has been dropped. It’s like marrying without knowing the bride before. And then, when the manager starts to do his work he has to realize that the changes he has to make cross other’s interests. Interests of people, who have enormous informal power: they can easily make the manager out of the door. In such case what can be done? One option is to change your mind, give up your plan to achieve success and hold your tongue to get your money as long as you can. The other option is to enter into tough negotiations and receive nasty attacks. Both ways may lead into your dismissal sooner or later, but I really admire managers, who have been fired due to their enthusiasm and stamina in a lost situation.

Counter_of_managers_I_really_admire_both_personally_and_professionally++;

Here I’m going to start a series to show how I tried to find an acceptable solution for documenting the Quality Management System. During this evolution I worked for several companies. Of course names of them cannot be mentioned here, so I’ll refer to them as my clients. I’ll also mention techniques, what I’ve seen in organizations, where I was invited to look around. All of them were software and / or hardware development firms; of course systems in other areas may require different approaches. Let me start…

Paper based

At my very first client, the Quality System was paper-based. It was around 180 pages. The Quality Manager distributed the Quality Manual after every revision. Changes were not too frequent, because every time thousands of pages needed to be printed on the only bubble jet printer of the company. I did not understand why they did so. All staff worked on computers. The most important processes were supported by excel macros. The company designed software, so all people were familiar with handling electronic content. The documented processes existed in electronic format, since the hardcopies were printed from Microsoft Word. Why was the Manual still on paper?

Then, as I spent a few time there I realized what the reason was. The most significant reason was that the management doesn’t really understood the idea behind the ISO 9000 / 14000 standard, they did not see the benefit of that. This was very common that time: there were no affordable management trainings available in Hungary. ISO 9000 was only a paper to put on the wall to be able to receive subsidy and orders from the government. Therefore most of the quality systems followed the standard, word-by-word, without any tailoring. And of course the processes were not followed, since they were really ineffective. When we talked about changing the documents to electronic form, the quality manager was reluctant; he insisted even talk about that, because – he said – the standard did not allow electronic form.

The paper-mill began its work just before the audit to counterfeit all the required documents, which have not been prepared during the year. Then the auditor arrived, received a coffee in a cup, and HUF 180k (EUR 650) in an envelope, and he left. This is the way how many Hungarian companies comply with ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. Still, unfortunately.

Will be continued…

After a month of work I’m happy to announce that the reconstruction work has been finished. The site has got new look & feel, new domain address (http://sandor.peterbencze.eu), and a lot of updated information.

Registering this domain and get them work was a good challenge. I registered my surname as a primary domain, and since there are a few hundred other people with the same surname, I found it unethical to reserve the right of using this domain. Therefore I had to find a company which is very flexible in defining DNS entries, and of course cheap enough, and I developed an architecture enables using this domain to other “Peterbencze”s.

During the implementation I learnt configuring DNS entries, learnt how to map domains to my blog, learnt how to provide e-mail service to more people in this domain on the cheapest way, without having an on’line server with fixed IP. The result is that now there can be unlimited number of subdomain.peterbencze.eu, and each user has a subdomain@peterbencze.eu e-mail address. It costs EUR 28.- /year. Was I cost effective enough?

Thanks to:

  • Dimnet, providing the DNS,
  • Google apps for the e-mail service,
  • WordPress for the easy to use WYSIWYG blog creation and the domain mapping,
  • Blogspot for the powerful blog engine.

I found managers reluctant to accept remote work. I did it so. My main concern was that I felt impossible to measure how people work according to their skills. If I get 100 pieces of something per a day from one of them, is it enough, or he works only two hours a day to produce this, and in the rest he is sunbathing on the beach?

Then one of my employee told me that she is able to return from maternity leave as half time, but she cannot be present in the office. I knew her for many years, she is the most enthusiastic and valuable member of my team, so I decided to have a try, and she started to work from home in January, half time.

In the beginning the team was very open to accept her lack of presence, but some of them wanted to join the remote worker’s club. It’s still an issue how I can explain people again and again that they are not allowed to do what she does. Later they got used to it, but the information sharing was really ineffective. People in the office gathered to discuss something (it is very often since the team is working agile, SCRUM), and they didn’t call her to attend. Then we had a try with Skype, but the microphones of the headsets cannot transfer a discussion of a room of people. The best practice hasn’t been found, we have an acceptable state, but there are many areas to improve.

During this few month I realized an important thing. If the remote worker is a mother with a young baby, the telephone conversations need her presence have to be scheduled according to the baby’s schedule, else the conference is so loud with crying. In the occasions she needs to appear in the office carrying the baby the visit have to be shorter than 30 minutes between two breaks, because the baby or toddler cannot bear longer silent periods.

With keeping this in mind remote work can be almost as effective than the office one. I support it.

As soon as we passed the 4th external audit in row without non-conformances I started to browse the internet to look for the options I have. I’m focusing on German speaking countries, because my intention is to learn German together with my family. I filtered on quality, test and project management I’m good at, and after a few days I realized that I need to learn additional methods, like FMEA, PRINCE2, SixSigma and Lean. Generally I know what they mean and how they work but I haven’t had my own oppinion on them. I used FMEA once, and I found it very powerful, but I cannot try it in reality.  SixSigma and Lean will be easy with the help of L.P.,  who uses them daily. I’m afraid I’ll need to learn PRINCE2 myself…

I visited Austria for 4 days. We went to Mariazell, a small town in the mountains, and spent three days with hiking in the deep snow. This time we didn’t want skying, the main purpose of the journey was to rest a bit, forget what happened recently and gain energy for the next few months.

Of course I looked around in the town, I checked the prices and the opportunities. There is no industry there, so work is quite limited for managers, but surprisingly the prices are moreless the same as in Budapest. I checked the real-estate prices, the rental and living price levels. There is only 10-15 % difference, but some goods are much cheaper than they are in Hungary. Regarding foods I met different brands and different products. Why coffee flavoured jughurt is not in the shops in Hungary?

Then we spent a few hours with sightseeing in Graz. Beautiful city. Smaller than I expected, but there is an industrial area next to it. Perhaps I might look around there…

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