Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Little Monster at Tokyo

Bosszilla hired someone to "replace" the Husband at Tokyo. (This is Bosszilla-speak for "Well, he can't really do the position I have open, but I think I can use him somewhere else in a few months and his resume impresses me. Rawr.") The Husband is attempting to train the new hire remotely, mostly by having him learn processes by observing and writing work instructions.

Up to now this has been a complete failure.

You see, the new hire (whom I will name Little Monster) is a Very Smart Person. He might as well have it embroidered on his shirts. He has some combination of engineering degrees from a Very Good University, but was working under contract as some kind of software engineer. He's also a foreign national on a work visa with apparently every intention of returning to his native land at some point, now that he's gone to school and worked a while. There are Cultural Differences, you see, to be considered here. I am not contemptuous of Cultural Differences. I have a good deal of respect for the diversity of the human species.

However, that's not this story. This story is Little Monster Cannot Write Work Instructions. He cannot apply his Very Smart Brain to the task of observing a process, asking questions about it, and then writing it down in such a way that the process is explained. Apparently this isn't something taught to engineers at the Very Good University, or he skipped those days in class.

His first attempts have caused much gnashing of teeth for The Husband and our Quality Guy (who is, I should point out, someone I trained and a friend of mine). Quality Guy, being the helpful fellow that he is and also being the one in charge of reviewing and authorizing all work instructions used (and writing a lot of them), offered to help Little Monster by reviewing the work instruction he was currently writing. Quality Guy managed one page before realizing the only way Little Monster would create a worthwhile instruction was if Quality Guy wrote it for him.

Quality Guy was not disposed to do that. In fact, he has now asked not to be involved in the whole process until it comes time to label and authorize the finished work instruction.

Since in my glorious history at Tokyo I was once the Go-To girl for all things documentary, I am also the Guru of the Work Instruction. Usually I like to remain undisturbed in my mountaintop retreat, far above the bustle of Tokyo and only occasionally shaken awake by the roar of Bosszilla, but The Husband, in despair, asked me to allow Little Monster into my cave for some words of wisdom and possibly a whack in the head with a ballpeen hammer. "Something," he said, "must get into that Very Smart Skull."

Reluctantly, I agreed. Last week I gave Little Monster some instructional material written during my active period of Guru-hood and planned to meet with him today promptly at 9 am. At about 9:10 am I went to remind him that we had an appointment. He did not have his materials with him, either. He wasn't particularly enthused about this training thing, because he did not understand that I was the Guru of the Work Instruction. Gurus, you see, cannot be female.

(That's one of those Cultural Differences. Now, I know perfectly well my own culture is full of devotees to the Cult of the Penis (Penis, Penis uber alles, as it were). I'm quite used to it, in fact. When I feel particularly upset about being considered a lesser being because I lack a penis, I reflect on how easy an operation it is to remove said penis and render one of the Devotees as penis-less as myself. In fact, I think that the very simplicity of that particular operation is a driving force in the Cult of the Penis, but that is not this story.)

So began our training session. I've taught this to engineers before, in a 4 hour class that included several hands-on examples and some interesting stuff about communication. Little Monster, of course, had no interest in anything like this, nor was I particularly determined to perform them. When I asked him if he had questions about the materials I'd given him, he said no, but he had "looked them over". This is Very Smart-speak for "tossed under the desk and forgotten because they aren't important", which I learned later when he admitted that, no, he had not actually "read" them. He had "TOUCHED" them and apparently was depending on some kind of tactile osmosis to convey the information into his Very Smart Skull. Perhaps the information was diverted to some other Very Smart portion of him.

I began my explanation with examples taken from every-day life, as I have found when dealing with concepts it is usually better to get them away from the work, because the work itself can cloud the concepts (this was learned the hard way, trust me, in my Pre-Guru-hood). I use simple things like making a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and opening a locked door with a key. Those have worked well in the past to convey the ideas. However, I fear there may have been another case of Cultural Differences, because Little Monster has apparently had little experience with either peanut-butter or locked doors.

I persevered. He responded to my lessons with constant repetitions of "Correct, correct!" This amused me, because apparently he thought he was testing me on the information I was trying to teach him, and thus required constant praise of this kind to continue. Or he wanted to encourage my vagina-weakened mind to greater heights of intellectual prowess in the magnanimous manner of the Penis-blessed. I'm really not sure. He also nodded a lot and smiled a strange smirk of a smile at odd junctures. At one point I asked him if he thought this was rather simplistic, to which he readily replied "Oh, yes!" Undoubtedly, his Very Smart Skull was already full of the exact information I was trying to convey. He just hadn't found it with his Very Smart Filing system. Perhaps he had his brain set to 'shuffle'.

I should include that Little Monster had, in three weeks, already developed a reputation as He Who Does Not Listen. He can't listen. He's much too busy telling everyone they are, in his Very Smart estimation, correct. He is also able to learn a process at lightening speed (being Very Smart and all) and then, within a few hours, write a completely useless and unrelated instruction for it. It's most impressive. He Doesn't Listen the most with women (we have several women in key manufacturing positions with whom he had to work to write his instructions) but he also Doesn't Listen to those he considers to be lesser penises, or having less penis swing, or something. In short, he's pissed off a fair cross section of people. Those he hasn't pissed off he's made uncomfortable. Those he hadn't made uncomfortable he hasn't dealt with yet.

With this in mind, about halfway through my little exercise in futility, I pointed out that I had no personal vested interest in whether or not he learned to write a work instruction. I had the information, which I would convey to him, and he could do with it as he liked from that point on. I did not add, although I know this to be true, that these work instructions are being used to rate his job performance. They are not great literature; these work instructions. However, a college graduate with a master's degree and some other degree and the title 'engineer' must be able to write them to work at our company. I didn't say that part.

Some 45 minutes later, he was trying to move to the door. I think he captured perhaps 50% of what I was telling him. He was far more interested in how to format the document than in how to write it (the formatting is automated and done by Quality Guy anyway, which was explained in writing a week or so ago by The Husband). I gave him some final, simple instructions about how to go about redoing the mess he'd tried to pass off before, and then he was gone. I was happy to crawl back into my mountaintop retreat.

We shall see what happens with Little Monster. Knowing Bosszilla as I do, I'm reasonably sure Little Monster will maintain employment with Tokyo. If there's anything Bosszilla hates, it's admitting he was wrong about a hire. He will move Little Monster around from position to position. If Little Monster plays the proper sycophant (which he already seems able to do, recognizing of course that Bosszilla swings a much bigger penis around Tokyo than anyone else) he should be able to find a comfortable level of incompetence from which to annoy all and sundry.

With luck, by then I and my mountaintop retreat will be in another state.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you should go buy an absolutely GIANT dildo and use it to point to everything you're trying to teach him. Occasionally tap your head with it when you're trying to thnk of a word or something. And when he does something right, poke him in the chest with the dildo and say "That's RIGHT, little monster! Good boy! Penis likes you!"

Where's he from, anyway? Idaho?