Love-Hate Relationships

A face-off between a programmer friend and his website designer set me thinking on entities in the managerial world that fight like old couples. Some quick brainstorming led us to the following list I have compiled here. Thanks to Prasad, Angad, Priya and others in the room. The list is limited to the management / IT / Consulting arenas though. Feel free to add your own ahead:

Management and workforce / Strategy and Operations: I also like to call these Great Visionaries and their Unfortunate Teams. The ones with thought bubbles floating over their heads in their air conditioned offices, and the ones who sweat in the field to give life to these lofty dreams. The Generals strategizing on the paper maps, sipping coffee, and the soldier who takes the bullet in releasing this plan. No prizes for guessing which side I often find myself on.

Consultant and the Client-side Team: Much has been covered about client vs consultant in the principle-agent theory. But here’s some more from the horse’s mouth. The client management may still have faith in the consultant. What I do not envy is the diaspora of mixed emotions the partner team from the client’s side working with the consultant goes through. Support system or watchdogs? Here to give an insider perspective to the consultants or to learn their own business from a ‘bunch of newbies’? Efficiency or effectiveness? Deadlines and budgets on one hand and visions on the other. And then the transfer, pat in the middle of the project. It’s a wonder these people break into half.

Relationship Managers and Risk Managers: My internship in Risk Management last year gave me this insight. And so did the global meltdown that followed it. No connection.

So while the RMs ran helter skelter getting business (pretty much any business) for the bank in the hope of shiny P&L’s, the Risk Managers cry murder at the creditworthiness of the client they bring in. For reasons both personal and academic, I am a little biased towards the Risk Manager banks turn a deaf ear to. Or at least they did till we proved ‘em wrong, didn’t we boys? (Evil smile). No connection.

Designers and Programmers: “I design all usabilities of the site. If it did nothing, why would people use it?” versus “I made what you see in front of you. No one wants to surf an eyesore.”

I guess Google speaks for itself in favor of the former here. And the new Orkut, in for the latter!

Programmers and Project Managers: In the words of a programmer friend, “Project Managers are glorified postmen. All they do is pass on emails from the management to us and progress updates from us to them.” Another friend strongly suspects that the reason his PM looks into his laptop screen so hard is because he is trying to concentrate on beating his own AOE record.

Sales & Marketing and Operations / Manufacturing: Another insider source shares some of his sales tales with me now and then. He never puts it in so many words but, as I see it not through his eyes, the Sales guys are like a couple of dominos. The boss sets the junior’s ass on fire so that he can pass the favor downstream. Little surprise, then, that, they go out in the world and, drowned in rivers of alcohol (whether in wine glasses or recycled kerosene canisters), make lofty promises to the client / customer / distributor / dealer / the next identity in the value chain. The burden of these promises, however, is borne by a baffled Operations team. “What? Next month? This is more than our quarterly inventory!!” The Sales guy is frustrated by the inefficiency.

And then begins the slogging with the cursing under breaths. Miraculously, in a nail biting finish, the targets are met JIT. And out goes the Sales guy to the next dinner party – head held high and mind without fear. He makes another promise (“They pulled it off easy last month, lets give them something to play with this time”). And so the cycle of life continues…

Sales & Marketing and Legal: A little birdie tells us that, in the IT industry, the aforementioned problem has legal repercussions too. The S&M clan, apparently, goes ahead and makes promise flouting IP policies, leading to much hair-pulling in the Legal section.

Sales & Marketing and well… pretty much everyone else in the organization.

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