Indulgence - how to get rid of debt for tasks

    Any employee has debts. As a rule, the higher the position, the more this baggage. This, of course, is not about debt on loans, but about outstanding tasks, obligations, projects, promises, etc.

    Some even think that the higher the debt, the better. Once I met such a phrase in the vacancy of Art. Lebedev Studio (not verbatim) - you should not come to us if you can transfer things to the old place in less than six months. It seems like big debts are a reason for pride.

    Unfortunately, this does not suit me. I do not like debts. And quite a long time ago I noticed several methods that allow them to either get rid of or defer payments without accumulating interest.

    For several years he tried the methods himself, and watched how others practice this practice - knowingly or unconsciously. Common name - Indulgence.

    What are the debts

    First of all, unsolved problems. Not those that were set recently, but any rotten delay, “a wish is written down,” etc. In the second - goals and indicators, which I, for various reasons, should suddenly strive for. In the third - stalled projects that I once got involved in, or got involved in, but for various reasons they cannot end in any way.

    Debts are official and unofficial. The difference is sometimes in the details, but the attitude of managers and creditors to the status of debt is very different.

    Official ones are acquired, so to speak, through official channels. A memo, a task included in the system, an appeal, an assignment, writing your name in the charter of the project, an autograph under the familiarization sheet with the motivation system, etc.

    Informal - received through informal channels. Although, sometimes these channels are stronger and more significant than official ones - it depends on the lender. A colleague asked for help, or the user, or the boss, or the project team - anyone. But the debt is not recorded anywhere, no receipt.

    Why are debts bad?

    That hang over the soul. Well, I have so, at least. Informal ones are especially annoying.

    With formal, as a rule, everything is simpler - there is a process, stages, deadlines, control, penalties, changing priorities. For example, the boss, seeing that I have a rotten task, can raise its priority to the maximum so as not to get a debt myself. Or maybe the dog is such, keep this task in stock to poke my nose into it.

    Informal ones are worse because they have no framework and rules. So I promised the man that I would do some kind of revision, or look at his code, but of course I didn’t give a deadline. But he didn’t ask - after all, he asked humanly, and did not put an order. And besides his informal task, I have a lot of formal ones for which I can grab stopudovo. His task will always hang out at the end, until my conscience torments me.

    Debts have such a strangeness - the longer it hangs, the more difficult it is to begin its implementation. The task just set is much easier to take and do. And the delay ... I don’t know ... It seems like a little dumb, or something. How to wash an office mug from black tea and coffee soot, accumulated for six months. After all, I experienced difficulties, including mental ones, when this task turned into the category of expired ones. I survived these difficulties, suffered some emotional losses, learned to live with this debt, and what, all of a sudden, will I take and get rid of it? And all the suffering was in vain?

    Summing up, the main problem of debts, in my opinion, is emotional distress from their presence. It’s like some kind of potential, a stone hangs, which draws off part of the energy and does not work efficiently.

    Sometimes it’s even inconvenient to talk to people. So I need something from Vasya, the head of supply - I have a project, and I need his consultation, support or real help. And I must Vasya task, and - informally. Most likely, I will not go to Vasya. I’ll write an email maximum because I’m ashamed to look into the eyes.


    I will mention briefly, because an article about another - yes, debts can simply be taken and done. But this is another topic, I will not interfere with everything in a bunch. My task is to write off or defer.

    Change of task accounting system

    This is my favorite method, I used it several times, even within the framework of one enterprise. Favorite because I, as a programmer or programmer’s manager, could implement it completely on my own, without even asking anyone for permission.

    So, for example, we have tasks in an informal form - letters, calls, pieces of paper, memos, etc. Not only is it inconvenient to work with this heap, but debts are also piling up like the Tower of Babel - it is impossible to manage tasks.

    I make a move with the horse - I develop a task management system. Simple, in a couple of days, "for myself." After some time, there are people who make demands on how to make this system at least a little “for people” - I resist a little, but make improvements. And so, slowly, little by little, people begin to get used to the system.

    Another pedestrian came, or “dialer” - I am sending it to the system. It seems that I will not solve the problem until you write it down. What about old tasks? Almost all are forgotten. People cannot introduce new tasks, but here they are still old. Moreover, informal tasks are difficult to find - in the mail there is a mess, in the table - all the more. I myself will not bring in the old tasks, of course, I will already have new ones in the queue.

    Debts are completely written off, moreover, on a plausible pretext. This is development, after all.

    But in the new system, debts have accumulated again. After waiting a bit until it becomes unbearably embarrassing for them, I begin to develop a new system. More precisely, the system remains old - it is an enterprise CIS, but I am writing new logic, on new metadata, with new processes.

    Justify is not a problem. I read a book here, I listened to a seminar, I looked at the practice of effective teams, I thought, I figured it out, I noticed here - with any of these phrases you can start developing a new system. She, of course, will be better than before.

    It is not difficult for a programmer to justify why it is impossible to modify the old system - of course, if it is necessary to justify not programmers, but ordinary users, even those who are endowed with power. Trite is money. Developing a task management system from scratch is cheaper than modifying an existing one. After all, the old one has a lot of tasks, all kinds of auxiliary fields, tables designed for the old process. We’ll have to make up a difficult garden for the transfer, data conversion, which in the process can also be lost.

    Much easier, again, in a couple of days to make a new system. And again, do not transfer the data there, because the metadata does not match, and you need to spend a lot of time converting. And again, no one is reluctant to transfer the old tasks. And to me - all the more.

    Once, in this way I took the entire IT department out of the penalty system, I talked about it - covered the entire enterprise, obliged me to fulfill orders on time, otherwise they would take away a piece of the salary. Although I developed it, but not for myself, and it was not me who invented the fines. And programmers were afraid of fines.

    Then I created another task management system within the framework of the same CIS, specifically for the IT department. He even called the metadata peremptorily - “Application of the VITO Department”, so that it would not be uncomfortable for anyone to sit down. He justified it easily - orders with fines are suitable for accountants and managers, but they are absolutely bad for programmers. But you can’t redo it, you mean that we have the whole company brewing in this mess, we’ll suddenly break it. It rolled. Even almost all debts were written off - they closed all orders in the old system with the wording “Move the task to a new place”.

    Subsequently, I observed a strange effect - even when the task system is completely "for myself", and I write it down only, and suddenly I decide to move to another - never mind reluctance to transfer tasks. And they remain rot in the old.


    The difference between restructuring is that it is almost always beyond influence - it just comes from above. It is important to be able to use it.

    For example, I worked at an enterprise that changed its staff structure about once a year. Changes were almost always large-scale, and most importantly. Not only the names and compositions of the departments changed, but also the functions. Either they were enlarged, then crushed, then divisions turned into divisions, then divisions into business units, etc.

    The main thing before such a transformation is to anonymize tasks, to make them not your own, but the tasks of the unit. Yesterday I had to do something to the person, today the department owes him, tomorrow - pf ... Nobody should. No department anymore. There is a business unit, and it is not a fig, not a department, it contains several different functions, it has other goals, it is generally self-supporting, and not a cost center.

    Interestingly, the creditor will also fall under restructuring. And, most likely, he himself will forget about the tasks given out. It turns out mutual indulgence.

    If it is impossible to depersonalize the tasks, then you need to choose the right moment to write them off - those very few days of confusion, when nobody cares about old debts, if only the new environment is settled somehow. Come up, talk humanly, and forgive each other all this delay.

    I myself did not use this method, because, unfortunately, the restructuring of the IT department was touched only once - the administrator was taken into submission to the security guards. True, not for long, then they returned when they learned that the admin also needs to be managed.

    But how others use it - he saw it many times, and even helped write off debts technically. A supply man comes running and says that he is no longer a supply. Although everyone knows that he is still a supplier. It was just that he used to sit in the procurement department, and now he was in the business unit of five people, including one seller, one designer, one supplier, one manager and one engineer. We will do the same, only the other customer - not the whole company, but one seller.

    An interesting wording is resorted to - "take off my tasks." I explain - you can’t just take it off, you have to rearrange it for someone. And to the person, naturally, nevermind - well, who will bother with the question “who will hang my debts”? I say go, agree with the creditors, they have the opportunity to rearrange or withdraw the task. No, in no way - to quickly remove. Nothing to do - under admin rights, delete the task. If the creditor comes to swear - I redirect to the former debtor.

    Cross-functional projects

    Cross-functional is when a project is carried out by people from different departments. What a sin to conceal, usually this is some kind of nonsense, such as staging a musical, internal training, and other amateur performances. As people from the school and the institute are accustomed that speaking for the faculty gives an indulgence during the session, they drag this template to work.

    Here is a programmer sitting with me, he has a duty. Before me, before the customers, before the team. The New Year is on its nose, and it is being pulled in preparation for a corporate event - it will sing and dance. I, like, have no right to refuse, and reluctantly agree - of course, with the condition that all this will not distract from work. Yeah, right now.

    One or two rehearsals are carried out after work, but are faced with low attendance - who wants to linger? Transfer during working hours. The closer the corporate party, the more often and longer the rehearsals become. The programmer does not have time to work, debts accumulate - in addition to those that were available earlier.

    What to do? You can’t get it out of the “project” - it has one of the main roles. You have to write off debts from him, and transfer them to the "co-borrowers" - programmers, or to the "guarantor" - yourself. I hate, damn it, corporate parties.

    Change of boss

    Oh, this is just a great occasion for indulgence. New bosses, as a rule, do not like to take on the debts of their predecessors, especially if there was not castling, but dismissal and reception from the outside. Formally, the new boss, like, should review all the old tasks, determine their importance and priority, but does he need it?

    As a rule, he does it easier - either throws away the old task, or assigns it a new deadline, which automatically transfers long from the category of overdue to quite fresh ones. This is worth using, pushing the boss to the right decision. To say, for example, that the predecessor was a patient, poor manager, because that's how everything started.

    Lender relocation

    Similar to how debtors move during restructuring. Only I need to run away already - they say that you are now in a new unit, with a new position, goals, responsibilities. What do you and me do old tasks? After all, they were created in an already non-existent context.

    As a rule, they agree, because for a long time it’s a two-way thing. I have to do, he has to check, accept, implement. Does he need it?

    Lender dismissal

    The main thing here is to be in time. As soon as I found out that the person is already working out - choose the right moment. There are two of them - the beginning and the end. In the beginning, a person usually has euphoria, because he "leaves this swamp." Under a good mood, he will write off debts with pleasure, because, in his opinion, he makes worse the company from which he leaves - this is a joy to him.

    Then, almost always, there comes a period of strange activity. The excess potential of responsibility has disappeared from the person, and he, the dog, finally begins to work efficiently. He is no longer tormented by timelines, consequences, intrigues and interconnections - he simply does, and that’s all. At this moment it is better not to meddle.

    And in the last couple of days, depression has been rolling on a person. He begins to think that he did wrong. The euphoria leaves, he learns a lot of facts about a new job, which he did not pay attention to when he interviewed. And here, in the old place, everything seemed to be working out - although, we understand that it was working out just because he was already working out. Here you can go and write off debts - a person just does not care.

    Debt exchange

    I used this method often. The bottom line is simple - you do not accept new tasks from the lender until you close the old ones. You can justify it in different ways. For example, to say "damn it, I owe you anyway, I can no longer increase my obligations." And you can come up with some kind of rule, like "do not take more than 10 tasks from one department at a time." The logic is clear - any fool can arrange a DDoS attack on the IT department, filling it with tasks, but at the same time depriving automation of all other departments. And it’s impossible.

    The message is the same - take off the old task, then I'll take a new one. As a rule, they agree, because the new task is right now, it is on fire, it needs to be done. And the old - since I managed to become old - is not really needed. It can be written off, which lenders do.

    Order from the Big Boss

    Also a cool method. True, he basically gives a reprieve, and does not write off debts. But, with due diligence, it can be delayed for several years.

    So, you need contact with the Big Boss. Better, of course, if it is the owner, or, at worst, the director. He can set the task himself, but this is a so-so option, because such a task will have a deadline, and waving it like a flag will not work for a long time.

    It is much better to offer the Big Boss the solution to some problem. Perhaps it will even be a project. It is desirable that it be vague, incomprehensible, with fuzzy boundaries and without evaluation criteria. It’s like “I’ll try to improve this.”

    It is important to select the wording. We say to Big Boss - "I will try, I will try, but I can not guarantee the result." It seems like you want to help him. The task, in fact, is yours, and not hiss - he only approved and supported.

    And we tell everyone else - "I have a task from the Big Boss, important and urgent." They are unlikely to be checked - if the boss is really Big. This is the main feature. Such tasks are almost always informal, are not registered in any system, and are not controlled at meetings. But everyone understands that these tasks are. And they dare not once again pester with their stupidities.

    New project on an old topic

    This is a method for getting rid of long, lying projects. On internal automation rolled.

    The bottom line is simple - you need to justify that the old project has reached an impasse, it has the wrong architecture, the design of the curve, they went the wrong way, the borders were not drawn, and in general everything was done wrong. It must be different.

    This phrase - “in a different way” - often acts magically on people. To see this, look at the history of any reforms and changes in Russia. Everyone has long known that “they wanted the best, but it turned out, as always,” but they still believe that it will be “different”.

    Lying projects have an advantage - they got everyone, and debtors, and lenders. Obligations, albeit informal, have both the contractor and the project customer. And everyone is happy to get rid of them. But no one dares to take the initiative.

    This is where you can prove yourself. Only not from floundering bay, out of the blue, but with justification. A new version of the platform has been released, or software, or technologies have appeared that solve the key tasks of the project more beautifully. Although we spent a thousand man / hours, we’ll spend more on completion than on implementation from scratch on the new platform. You can always weave. And it’s not necessary to convince - we need not arguments, but an excuse. Moreover, not to you, but to everyone - before the authorities.

    And your hands are still clean. If anything, colleagues will point a finger at you - he decided to stop the project. And you - they supposedly only suggested to them, but they supported, agreed and gladly abandoned the project. And I just suggested, as an idea.


    This is perhaps the most natural and often used method of obtaining indulgence. Often - forced, i.e. The dismissal happens because of too much debt, which literally prevent breathing.

    But, as for me, the dismissal is still a spare, extreme option. It is better to work proactively, with the methods that I proposed - plus those that you already know. Using indulgence, for example, I worked comfortably for 6 years in a company where the average life of a leader was equal to one year. Moreover, I left myself, without any internal reasons for the company.

    Although, everyone decides for himself, of course.

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