Fix the Problem Not the People?

I’ve repeatedly seen this admonition in corporate literature that you should focus on the problem and not the people when attempting to find solutions. I’ve also heard it asked, repeatedly, what do you do when the problem is the people?

I’ve gone back and forth, over the years, regarding how valid that question is. There are certainly times where it has looked or felt like the person was the problem. I’ve moved away from that some for the same reason I dislike expressing a position’s time utilization as a percentage; no two people are necessarily equal in ability. I have done assembly work that was only around 70% utilized for me, but was upwards of 95% for my neighbor. It wasn’t a lack of effort, oh how she tried. Day in, day out, no matter how hard she tried, how much advise, suggestions, and help we gave, she simply could not perform at the same level. Not her fault, it’s just how it is. Different people have different skill sets.

This leads me back to the idea that the problem, then, would be where and how you’re using that individual. A simple mismanagement of matching skill sets to job demands. There are still additional problems though. Sometimes a specific employer simply doesn’t have a task really suited to a particular individual’s abilities. Some people just don’t take well to the sort of repetitive manual labor found in a manufacturing environment. Some people are just generally slow. When I worked at Subway back in the day we had `   ‘;l 7=

someone like that. Slow as molasses, but reliable, and I’ve often found reliable ends up being more valuable.

What do you do, then, when all you have are fast jobs? The obvious answer is to try and rearrange work so that one particular job is more suited to their abilities but this can quickly go down a rabbit hole of “that’s not fair, you made their job easier and my job harder,” which is technically true. Alternatively you could hire additional labor and make everyone’s work load a little lighter, but this is an expensive proposition. It’s essentially doubling labor cost for that position, which may not be affordable. Could also have the whole “I don’t think this is going to work out” moment. It’s possible to have a situation where there’s nothing suited to a particular individual and the only workable option is to let them go. I wouldn’t say that the person is the problem in that case. Could be the hiring and onboarding process needs work, but sometimes you just can’t really know these things until after the fact.

Maybe the whole point of the thing is to discourage people in leadership positions from looking at someone and telling them that they’re the problem. To encourage them to look for alternative solutions first.

I don’t know, I don’t really consider myself a particularly good manager anyway. It’s way easier to sit here and talk about it than it is to actually do it.

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Elite Dangerous – The Quest for Space Cows?

My brother managed to get his flight stick back up and running and joined Mobius, so we got back to doing stuff in Elite.

We started off trying to recoup losses from the last time we played and lost an entire load of goods each, more expensive for him because he’s using a Type 7. My hauler was just a Keelback gutted and filled with cargo racks.

We started doing the current community event in Niflhel delivering water purifiers from Cubeo. He asked what I was bringing back cargo-wise. I wasn’t, just flying empty. So I started doing source and return style missions for the trip back and was making a pretty decent profit. Think that session was around 10m or so profit.

Enough that I bought and outfitted a Type 7 of my own so we could do some of the larger wing transport missions. We can run just under 600 tons of cargo per trip, combined. We put this to work yesterday and I made some serious cash. Like 22m in four hours cash.

It’s worth pointing out that was part luck and part mission snob. A lot of these wing missions will be something like “Industry needs 1024 units of gold” and it’ll have like a 5m payout. The problem is, and it shows this in the description if you look for it, the actual cost of 1024 units of gold is around 9.6m. Yeah, I get it, these are wing missions, you’re supposed to split that cost across several people. There’s only two of us, 4.7m cost each for a 5m payout is only 300k profit, not really worth the time or the effort.

If you look carefully though, you can find stuff like 900 units of palladium for 13m. Now that has a material cost of 11.9m, so I could make a profit doing that solo. Split the cost so we’re only 6m each and now we’re both making 7m profit, it only takes two trips, and we can still take a load of cargo on the way there and get additional trade profits in the process. We had a couple of missions like that yesterday, which is how we made so much money. In between I just run more water purifiers and small trade missions which provide a steady bonus.

It’s proven profitable enough that I think we’re both saving up for the infamous Type “Space Cow” 9. Yeah, I know, the jump range is low, the speed is low, and I’m sure it steers like a solid core rocket strapped to mount Everest. There are only six ships in the game with more cargo capacity than our Type 7s. The Type 9 is the second highest capacity in the game, with the Cutter having 8t more, but is the least expensive of all six ships. A really quick and dirty loadout on each one(Cutter, Type 9) shows that where cargo space goes the T9 is a much better value. There are, of course, other considerations, but I’m not going to wait until I have 250m, much less the amount of faction grind between me and Duke. I’m at Master, which is Rank 3 to Duke’s 12.

I do believe that the Cutter is a good option, for the people it’s available to. The ability to defend itself would be a nice perk. Let’s face it, if there’s one thing the Type 7/9 aren’t suited to, it’s self defense.

There’s also some barely contained excitement regarding the impending beta for the update. I don’t think it will have a huge impact on the trading activity we’ve been engaging in, but I’d like to take a look anyway. Especially curious to see the mining changes and squadron feature this Thursday.

That’s enough for now though. Fly safe commanders, and may your source station always export to your destination.

Megaman X Legacy Collection 1 and 2

I thought about doing this as one of my Something New posts but choose not to due to the extra effort of getting screenshots off the Switch, which is the platform I own them on.

Now, I remember the X franchise rather fondly, I know I finished the first one, I may have finished the second one, and I at least played the third one. Considering my oldest is about the same age I was when X1 came out, I figured he and the others may like it as well.

I completely failed to consider just how exactingly brutal they were. X1 is hard even for me, though my vague memories are starting to come back into focus and the reflexes and playstyle are settling back in. Of course, I’ve only finished Chill Penguin, the level the dash boots are in, and did at least enough of another stage to get the body armor. Only a few hours playtime in all.

Every title now possesses separate saves per profile and the ability to save, which wasn’t present in the earlier titles. No more writing down and putting in codes to keep progress.

Both collections also have a “Rookie Hunter” mode, which reduces the difficulty considerably. In the earlier titles it just makes you do more damage and take less, in the later titles, which have built in difficulty, it makes you dang near invulnerable when combined with the “easy” setting. I didn’t really like the option being present, at first, but I’m beginning to see the value in it.

I’ve watched my youngest play X8. Yeah, it’s kinda silly with the near invulnerability, but he’s playing it and enjoying it. The franchise is gaining new players and fans because this feature exists, so I’m a little less put off by it. I personally prefer the normal rage inducing difficulty, though some of the things in X8 I had to help with kids with. On easy and rookie hunter. Some of it is… brutal.

I picked them up on sale and I’d say it’s been well worth it. My oldest in particular has played a little bit of almost every title, mostly X8 though. He finished it on easy and switched to normal in an attempt to get the Ultimate Armor, a task I believe will take him quite a while yet. He occasionally plays X1, where I helped him get the body armor yesterday after doing it for myself. That should at least make his runs slightly easier.

Stay safe, don’t do anything Dr. Light wouldn’t do?

Something New – Amnesia: The Dark Descent

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Another game way outside my normal genre. Right off the bad it reminds me of Eternal Darkness for the game cube, but more exploration and puzzle solving. There isn’t really any combat to speak of, not that I really tried.

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It has some sanity effect like screen blur that gave some of my screenshots a rather eerie appearance, which lends itself well to the atmosphere during play. You can also pick up, move, and throw many objects in the game.

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You have to manually open and close drawers, for example, as well as doors. So. Many. Doors.

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There’s no onscreen indicator of sanity or health status, though sanity has a lot of visual and audio queues that give you a general idea of where you’re at. You can also hover over it in the inventory. Sanity is lost any time you see strange things happening or when spending time in darkness.  It seems to recover somewhat when you’re standing in light and/or holding the lantern, but the intensity of the light seems to have an impact. The lantern by itself is sometimes enough, but not always.

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The “main story” so to speak is delivered through a series of voice acted diary entries that you may, or may not, find as you explore various areas of the game. On the whole finding the items you need to progress is harder than finding the diary entries.

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On the whole I’d say the whole game has a very Lovecraftian eel to it. There’s a lot of ancient things that should have been tampered with and forces so far and above mortal comprehension as to render people insane.

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Every now and then the game does, however, throw you a bone and give you a map. They vary in usefulness because you’re typically going to need to explore everywhere anyway, but sometimes it’s good to know how to navigate or find a room you may have missed.

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The instructions for getting the elevator running sound so simple. I got it done eventually, but it required a lot of back and forth as I realized I’d missed something or overlooked something. I did eventually get past it.

All in all I rather enjoyed the game. I spent more time with it than I have with some of the other titles I’ve gone over because I kinda wanted to know how things wrap up. I like the Lovecraftian cosmic horror kind of stuff.

Y’all take care, don’t touch any strange creepy artifacts.

Screenshot Shenanigans

Right, so I’m still messing with this while I’m playing Elite. I’ve made some tweaks to Snagit and took back to back screenshots with it and Steam. We’ll show the screenshots then I’ll discuss a few things.

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Snagit Stars

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Steam Stars

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Snagit Station
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Steam Station

So, the first thing I learned when comparing these is that in a direct side by side comparison on my monitor, they are for all practical purposes identical. The effect I’m complaining about is not present. So right off the bat I can say that Snagit doesn’t immediately appear to be the issue.

When I look at my editing preview, or use the actual preview button however, the effect I’m chasing is clearly visible on the article itself. Now, there is a difference in the files themselves. I have Snagit set up to save all captures directly to a folder as an autonamed PNG file. As formats go I’ve liked PNG for quite some time as a reasonably good lossless format. The more old school JPG we used back in the day was a lossy format that’s pretty good to take a bitmap and make a smaller file size but degrades quickly if used continually.

Now, while I didn’t see much difference side by side, I can see some loss of quality in the preview for the Steam Station screenshot. I have a hypothesis that it’s how WordPress is processing the png, so we’ll try a jpg from both.

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Steam JPG

Still seem to be losing a little bit of detail here, but I’m losing a lot of patience messing with it and running out of ideas at the moment. Maybe I’ll revisit this after I’ve had some more time to think about it. I’m also open to suggestions.

 

 

Twitter Account for the Blog and other Random Things

I’ve been slowly removing most of the blog’s connections to my personal accounts. I just set up a new Twitter account specifically for the blog for anyone that would rather use that to follow or communicate. The link is also in the menu above. I don’t like the way my banner looks at that size but I can’t be bothered to fix it at the moment.

In fact, I’m testing several different things to ensure that my little post links end up in various places like that Twitter feed, because I’m quite forgetful. I’m really having a crisis of time on my hands at the moment too.

I used to carve some time out of my evening to get things done, but since I started getting up at 3 AM for work I simply can’t, even being up till 10 is becoming unsustainable. As a result my Saturday morning, the other time I used to get some stuff done, has all but disappeared. I slept till nearly noon last weekend, the price I pay for pushing the clock during the week. Unfortunately there isn’t currently much of an end in sight. I’m don’t know where I stand on overtime until the Thursday before, at the earliest, and I already know we’re doing it again next week. I additionally have lost Wednesday evening due to Halloween. I don’t mind, as such, it’s for the kids after all, but the balance sheet still has to add up to 24.

It’s immensely frustrating.

I’ve entertained the idea of switching workplaces and/or careers off and on for several years now, with an increasing tendency towards on. I’ve yet to reach the point where I’ve written a new resume, mostly because a lot of my free time right now is currently during the work day. In bursts, but that’s a maintenance thing. If you get it running right then you don’t have as many emergencies. Writing the resume at work though, well, seems like a dick move. I dislike the current situation but apparently still have a little give a dang in reserve.

While I’ve worked here for around 12 years, I’ve had a variety of different roles. My current role is about half that, the single longest period of time I’ve held any one work role…. ever. I feel that the stability I like so much is becoming less of an asset and more of a burden, but I know that disturbing it will… unbalance things. Except that daily balance sheet, still gotta add up to 24.

I’ll catch y’all tomorrow. I got plenty of sleep today, at least, so hopefully I’ll be able to function long enough to do more than a wall of text rambling about… whatever.

Random Musing About Corporate Nature

I find myself wondering, this morning, how feasible it is to manage what I consider to be a more socially responsible business. Also wondering what that even means to begin with.

It’s something I keep coming back to as I watch the overall flow of corporate behavior both as a citizen observing from outside and an employee observing from inside. I suppose it’s worth pointing out that I have no education in business management, nor do I have significant experience in management other than the lowest level which really isn’t the same scale I’m talking about here. So it’s rather likely that I am extremely misguided in my opinions. I do know, however, that most of what I speak of here refers specifically to publicly traded companies. Privately owned is a slightly different situation.

As I watch, though, it seems to me that most corporations exhibit very animal like behavior. They claim and protect certain territory that they operate in, market and market share. They actively pursue self preservation, usually seeking to maintain the status quo where possible. They also constantly strive to expand, to increase value. This isn’t to imply that any of these are wrong or bad either, just an observation.

A lot of it seems to be an outgrowth of human nature. Let’s face it, everyone involved, including the all important shareholders, are human. It’s no real surprise that the institutions we create reflect our own tendencies.

They make poor choices, they get desperate when times are tough, some are even willing to lie, steal, and/or cheat when it gets down to it. Enron comes to mind, as do the tobacco and oil industries in general.

It’s really easy to chalk this up to general greed on the part of CEOs and shareholders, because those are the people we tend to see benefit from the more inconvenient actions. Why are we constantly asked to do the same amount of work with less resources? Lower bottom line means more profit, more profit makes you more valuable to investors, more value makes the shareholders feel like they made a good choice. A lot of it does boil down to the shareholders. Collectively they hold the real power, though I can’t imagine they really cooperate any more than a herd of cats.

The big question becomes though, given the amount of power these large “organisms” have, do they have an obligation to affect positive change? If I spend years of my life building a successful business, what obligation do I have to share the love, so to speak? If you spend years of your life building a successful business, what obligation do you have? What obligation do the shareholders have?

Traditionally I think these obligations were imposed and tolerated in the form of taxes. The theory being that giving a share of you income/profit to the government to fund and maintain projects that benefit society. In theory, maximizing profit should also be increasing tax revenue and allowing higher wages. An old fashioned “trickle down” sort of idea that helping The Man ultimately helps you. This really hasn’t panned out in reality and I personally tend to think of “trickle down economics” as The Man peeing on me.

Assuming that a corporation is trying to be “socially responsible” or whatever, is that economically viable? Your irresponsible competitor is going to have a financial advantage over you in the market place and have a more attractive bottom line. Is it even possible to remain competitive like that? I suppose you could, if you manage to market it properly, but it doesn’t sound like an attractive business plan.

I think I need to spend some time fleshing out the idea of what “social responsibility” even means to begin with. I’ll add it to the list of post ideas. I’m only thirty minutes away from my rather loose “deadline” of 10 AM and that’s not enough time to flesh that out in a coherent manner. If any of these sort of posts can be considered coherent to begin with.