Have You Ever Been Assigned to Do Useless Tasks? (Here’s How You Can Fight Back)

When team leads come to say that they need something. Then later they complain why the artist gave them something else (something that wasn’t what the lead want). Then they go and tell what needs to be changed and the artist asks “Why didn’t you say that in the first place?”, to which the team lead says “geesh, you didn’t ask!” and goes away. Then the grumpy artist thinks that “well, I would have asked if you bloody moron could have told me that there will be other changes as well…”

Hopefully that above situation isn’t too familiar to you.

Dogbert’s management book says to the managers that “If the worker cannot understand what you say then the fault must of course be in the receiving end”. That probably won’t help anything, but there is actually one thing the “worker” can do:

Keep asking ‘why?’
When somebody gives you a task it doesn’t hurt if you sometimes start asking a sequence of “why” questions. It can actually help the team lead (or client or whoever is giving the assignment) to figure out what they really want. They might be fixed on certain way of thinking, that they’ve forgotten why they really want the stuff they are asking.

Producer could say that he wants the 3D artist to make sure model has finger bones. By asking “why” (and not assuming that “it’s because he wants animated fingers”), he might tell you that “later when we assign objects like rings to the character, we can use the finger bone to locate the proper place”. Here artist could say that “we don’t need bones to locate the ring, we can use other technique” or he could say that “why don’t we simply paint a ring texture in proper location, that would work”, to which producer would say “oh… true… nevermind then”.

The key is to ask why they want something.

The answers can sometimes be very surprising.

Juuso Hietalahti