Monday, August 21, 2006

Shop Rules (OT)

We've developed a list of rules over the years; rules that clearly apply in the electronics shop where I work. Most of them resulted from painful experience and what can only be called a surrealistic management style. Fortunately, those supervisors who couldn't stick with a plan through lunchtime are now gone or retired, but the rules remain, waiting to be used again.

Actually, since they're quite general in nature, you may find them useful for discussions, heated arguments, and the occasional dust-up, regardless of the situation.

1. Facts - however interesting - are irrelevant.

This one came from a supervisor who conveniently ignored any information that contradicted his intended course of action. He'd already determined his plan and nothing - not even reality - would deter him.

2. No good deed goes unpunished.

I've sat through numerous meetings that began by praising our excellent work, and ended with dire warnings about the punishment that would be doled out if we didn't improve further.

3. What goes around comes around.

This is equally true of bad ideas, foul rumors, and the occasional good deed. Bad ideas, in particular, never really go away. They just lie dormant for a time, waiting for an opportune moment to strike. For some strange reason, bad ideas seem to infect new guys with depressing regularity. On the other hand, they're highly susceptible to foul rumors planted by unscrupulous older co-workers, so there's some kind of karmic balance. Not that I'd ever do something like that, of course.

4. Never make assumptions.

'Yes, the power is off. I KNOW that!" This statement is followed almost immediately by an electric shock. Worse, a technician who looks exactly like me once started troubleshooting a seemingly dead computer, only to discover he hadn't plugged it into the test adapter.

5. Wives and lunch boxes are sacred.

That goes without saying, but we reiterate it for the new guys.

6. Whenever anyone appeals for common sense, please direct them to Rule Number One.

Rule Number One covers a multitude of sins.

7. Expect occasional flashes of brilliance separated by long periods of stupidity.

Sometimes, troubleshooting electronics is a long, frustrating affair. Locating the source of a problem is not always a straightforward process, especially when trying to find intermittents. Troubleshooting may consist of investigating blind alleys and following false leads until the true fault is revealed. There's a rare flash of insight that leads directly to the problem, but most of the time it's dull, plodding work, eliminating possibilities one after another.

8. One man's cherry is another man's dog.

A 'cherry' unit is one that arrives in the shop with no apparent problems. Most techs will process it and return it to the field as rapidly as possible. But some will take this seemingly good unit and cook it until it fails, especially if it's been removed for the same complaint several times.

9. Tell the truth only as a last resort.

My co-workers never believe the first tale. For instance, the one about how Rich fell off the ladder had to go through five or six variations before we finally arrived at the truth.

10. It's easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission.

This is a near-universal rule, suitable for work or home. My wife fully expects that I'll resort to Rule Number Nine whenever possible, and eventually I'll arrive at this one too. It's probably best not to tell kids about this rule, especially young boys. They'll figure it out on their own eventually.

11. Expect asinine solutions to imaginary problems.

This rule arises whenever a co-worker comes up with a highly unlikely 'worst case scenario'. "If I'm sitting at my bench when a meteorite punches through the ceiling just as a tornado hits the north side of the building and a tsunami sweeps across Texas to hit the south side, should I wear my safety glasses to protect my eyes?" It shouldn't be surprising that the rest of us devise complicated, near-impossible 'solutions' involving equipment, personnel, and procedures that we do not have.

12. Intelligent people ignore stupid rules.

This is almost a corollary to Rule Number 11 in that whenever an imaginative, unworkable approach to a hypothetical problem results in a new shop policy, we simply ignore it. Of course, if we get called on the carpet about it, we plead out under Rule Ten after telling a suitable number of lies per Rule Nine.

I hope you find these useful in your daily life.


Blogger steve said...

At our consultancy, we technical guys have one rule:

"Common sense isn't".

It tends to explain pretty much everything. I suppose it's just another expression of Sturgeon's Law...

6:48 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home