When in doubt, ask!

I have seen more problems tolerated for extended periods simply because no one spoke up about it.

The first instance that comes to mind is a 9 month project that I joined in the middle. The first thing I discovered is that deployments took several minutes. I also noticed that the the development environment would frequently lock up for extended periods. This had a serious impact on my productivity. I set up the environment on my home computer that night and everything ran perfectly. What had happened is that the project with the first with a new version of a platform our company had been working with for a couple of years. The new version was much more resource intensive. The team had been struggling with this impact to productivity for months, which was why they were adding someone to the project mid-way through. I immediately brought it up to management, but because no one had said anything about it before, they assumed it was just me. So I told management that I would work from home until they provided the team with updated development hardware. It took 6 weeks of my not coming to the office and out-producing the rest of the time by a huge margin for them to release that 1) I was not kidding about it being intolerable and 2) the increase in productivity would more than pay for the hardware.

The folks that were struggling all that time just assumed that management was aware of their problem. It made their lives unpleasant for months and cost the company 10’s of thousands of dollars because no one asked.

I get that sometimes people don’t want to ask because they don’t want the attention, or don’t want to appear ignorant. If you are concerned about that, just don’t ask in a meeting. Pull the person that can do something about it aside and ask them one on one. They will either have a good answer for you, or will do something to help you. And if they don’t do either of those, you might want to look for a place where they will.

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© Scott S. Nelson

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