Just the other day we had a problem that can only be resolved by 3 parties, the network team, the infrastructure team and the software support team; each of these departments are rife with bureaucracies; the dark master’s ultimate weapon in the event that it falls on your lap. (More on that here)
Anyway, you’re first act as a Dark Master is to quickly take ownership as the person that will report to the CEO and the customer the progress of the assignment. That way, you’ll be able to control all information flow, and use that as a noose for the rest of the team to complete the task. Secondly, all that reporting, takes so much time, you just no longer have the bandwidth to do the actual work (A good excuse). Provided of course, they are responsible enough to do the work as intended. If you’re faced with fellow Dark Managers, you’re up for a challenge of wits, cloak and dagger politics and yes, a session of Tai Chi.
First, you draw clearly defined boxes that specify your area of responsibilities; the goal of tai chi in work assignments is to push the proverbial ball (work), into an area that does not belong to anyone. Excuses that you can use are:-
- Sorry, that's not my area
Use this as a last resort, as it does not reflect well upon you. e.g. you're already up the hill, have nothing to lose, and work in an organization that can't fire you.
- I don’t know how to do it.
As stupid as this may sound, but most dark managers get away with this. Because the ardent requestor will be so cheezed, he'll end up doing it for you.
- This is new, my team needs more training (A variant of I do not know how)
Asking for training is a little bit better, it buys time, and keeps the ball in play longer before you have to kick it. The Tai Chi technique used here, is to ask the requestor to arrange for the proper training, as you can always claim ignorance.
- Mr. X knows best, although he’s not in my team, he knows how to do it. But my team will be there to support him
The best approach, ensures that the ball is in another manager’s court, but shows that you are supportive.
Your Best Friend is a Solid Dateline
Secondly, a solid dateline is a Dark Manager's best friend, once you've crossed that boundary the members responsible will immediately switch to this excuse:-
"Oh... it's too dangerous to do anything now, we just need to ride the storm. If we do anything now we risk prolonged downtime that will piss off the customer", this logic is so completely flawed, that it's believable. Trust me on this.
Your buddy Bureaucracy
In the event that it is clearly identified that YOU are responsible, think a little deeper and there’s bound to be bureaucratic stop blocks to ensure that the task gets delayed for at least another 1 or 2 months.
For example, if the request is for an IP Address, make sure you route the requestor to the “Forms Administrator” to issue Form 31A-B, as Form 31A-C is for an external network iP address, not an internal network. Bereuacracy is best when there's no guidelines on which forms to use.
As a Management Committee, your objective as fellow Dark Managers is to ensure mindless compliance to procedures and breaking down of tasks to as many mindless zombies as possible. The mantra is – if ain’t broken, there’s no need to hurry - If it’s broken, it’s not your fault, as it’s not in your court yet -> It’s still the requestor’s problem to answer for it.
Oh by the way, it’s a request for server capacity upgrade for a software application that includes both servers and networks…