Sometimes being a Zombie is a good thing

Years and years ago, I was riding in the elevator with my soon to be new boss, when she expressed her concern with being a boss for the first time. To assure her I said, "It's just like raising kids and you've got 3 kids, so you'll be fine". She replied with "Yeah, but I was a terrible mother. My kids hate me."

Hard learned lesson: When people tell you who they are... LISTEN.

I should have run screaming from the building. I didn't.

I thought she was kidding. She wasn't.

Kathy Sierra's Zombie diagram perfectly expresses my experience over the following 6 months with a controlling boss. I was told to "..do nothing until I tell you what to do". Initially I was bored beyond belief, but then I started hunting the internet and discovered Kathy Sierra's blog.

For those of you who've never heard of Kathy Sierra, you're in for a real treat.  She's one of the creators of the Head First series of IT training books. The title of her now defunct blog "Creating Passionate Users" says a lot about her. While it's technically a tech blog, it's also about how the mind works, how to be creative, how to get passionate about your work and how to share and encourage creativity with others. At least that's what I got out of it.

Kathy's site was a jumping off point for me. I turned my focus from academic literature to blogs. While I wasn't allowed to prioritize my own work or accept any ad-hoc analysis, I decided to get more creative with the monthly reporting that I was doing. That's when I came across Stephen FewCharley Kyd, MicroCharts, Tableau and others (see clever monkey's page). I revamped all my reports and then built a system that reduced the workload to one morning a month.

Once that 6 months was over and I was moved into my newly formed department of one, I was able take on reporting requests that I would never have had time for before. It's not often that a bad situation at work provides you with opportunities, but in this instance, my time as a zombie was a gift.