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Serial Non-consumption

I'm having a small problem at work and I figure this crowd will have some useful (as always) advice.

About once a week or so, a coworker of mine "needs" something big changed or added.  I'll sit with this person and try to understand the needs and why we didn't identify them before.  Most times I'll end up making a change.  Sometimes it involves integrating with other people.  No big deal.

Here's the problem.  About 75% of the time, these changes are never consumed.  What was a MUST HAVE last week now turns out to be a "oh, I found a way around it.". 

I'm not averse to doing a lot of work, or even changing things without much notice.  It's the fact that most times the work is done for no reason at all. It's not consumed. 

I've tried waiting a couple of days before doing the work and that works sometimes.  I've tried asking for increasingly more and more detailed specs/requirements figuring that the fact they don't need it will click when writing this doc.  But that does not work.  I feel like a lot of time is being squandered on both ends.

Again, the problem isn't doing the work, it's doing it for no reason.

How do you guys handle this?

Joe Blandy
Thursday, May 8, 2003

You sound like a polite, reasonable person. You should approach this person and make the same case you made here. Don't wait for the next time they come to you with a request. If you raise the issue then, they'll might think you are being defensive, lazy, or hostile.

Do you report to the same boss? The same cost center? This person is wasting the company's money (by wasting your time). Your boss would probably be interested!

If your private talk with this person is not helpful, I would suggest talking with your boss. Let your boss talk to the other person's boss. If the polite, direct approach doesn't work, you sometimes need to work top-down.

Thursday, May 8, 2003

Wait two weeks before implementing any request from this person.  Ideally, you should tell them up front that's what you're going to do, in which case see above.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Friday, May 9, 2003

Heh. I thought this only happened to me.

Friday, May 9, 2003

Agree to the waiting strategy. It works marvels.

In my case, I had some people getting new ideas every morning. In the beginning, I did them immediately and they came with a new one the next morning. After some time, I did them three days later, and they stopped.

Thus is the Tao of programming.

Friday, May 9, 2003

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