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Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun

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Chapter 10. How not to annoy people: process, email, and meetings

Bureaucracy (n): An administrative system in which the need to follow rigid or complex procedures impedes effective action.

The larger your team, the greater the odds are that your project management activities will annoy someone. Anytime you track someone else’s work, or make decisions that impact others, you will potentially annoy them; it comes with the territory. If you’re smart, you’ll look for ways to minimize annoyances. They’ll be happier, the project will run better, and you’ll get fewer dirty looks from people in the hallway.

The three activities with the greatest odds of annoying people are email, meetings, and team processes (i.e., build or spec procedures). This chapter will run through the common mistakes and basic approaches for performing these tasks with a minimal annoyance risk factor (aka MARF).

A summary of why people get annoyed

Because I couldn’t find a published history of annoyance, I’m relying on my own observations in summarizing why people get annoyed. I have a fair amount of experience in this area: I’ve been annoyed many times, have witnessed other people in a state of annoyance, and have been known to, on occasion, annoy others.

For the full effect in understanding these examples, they are described in the first person (it may help to think of a specific person you have experience working with, who you respect, when reading through these).

  • Assume I’m an idiot. If I have been hired to do X, ...

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