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You’ve probably had several bosses like this in the past. You know the kind, those that…

  • Make decisions without talking to anyone
  • Ignore suggestions from competent sources
  • Push people toward a goal only they believe in
  • Don’t listen to criticism
  • Refuse help, or to ask for help
  • Want their ideas to be used at all cost
  • Think everybody else is stupid

I posit that being a good manager is very much about self-awareness and, to a large degree, self-knowledge & confidence. (Bear in mind I’m talking here about managing knowledge workers, which is more my expertise, but I suspect this also applies to other areas of the work force.) Individuals with self-awareness (which, for the purpose of this article, will also stand in for self-knowledge and self-confidence) are able to accept their flaws without feeling attacked or diminished. They take feedback and opposition in an objective way, without assuming their inherent worth is diminished because of it. (Often, I find that high self-awareness people get more respect because of their openness, not less.)

If I may use a limited metaphor, a person’s ego is like the houses of the Three Little Pigs. If you live in a house made of straw, you live in fear that any wind that comes around will blow you away and leave you with nothing. Inversely, those who live in brick houses live in calm comfort, confident they are safe from all but the most exceptional storms. I personally feel sympathy (not contempt) for people who live in straw houses and feel it’s my duty to help fortify their house to get to the next level. It’s not as selfless as it seems—I’m not that nice. Working with colleagues who live in wooden or brick houses is just a more pleasant experience overall. It takes the focus away from self-validation and puts it on realizing a common objective efficiently.

If any of the items on the list above applies to you, you may be living in a straw house. My only advice to you is to relax a little and look at all you’ve achieved in your personal and professional life. Make a list and look at it all the time. Watch it grow as you pile up successes. Take the time to detach yourself from the list and imagine what you’d feel if you met someone with all those achievements. Would you be impressed? Would this be someone you’d respect? If so, realize that’s how you feel about yourself. If not, I would suggest you work on adding items to that list, preferably things that are outside of your comfort zone. (I can only recommend what’s worked for me; your mileage may vary.)

One last thought: as I’m progressing through life, it’s becoming clearer to me why it’s not always wise to promote very young people to senior positions. If they’re still living in a straw house, they don’t yet have the self-confidence to do the job properly. (There are young people who live in brick houses, and those deserve to be promoted; but that’s a rare occurrence and not within the scope of this article.) Being a senior manager is much more about attitude and self-confidence than I realized when I was in my twenties. If you don’t know who you are, the job is going to eat you up and spit out your remains. Be warned: senior management is not for everyone. If you attempt it, be sure to work on your “inner house.”

Jean C.


To Train or Not to Train


Sometimes, an image is worth a thousand words. This one certainly is.

I generally lean (sometimes heavily) on the side of training, but that doesn’t mean you need to go crazy with the budget. Reason and common sense, as always, should apply. There are a few items to keep in mind before deciding to spend training budget on someone.
* Is this person eager to learn? Are the signs there? Good learners generally do it anyway, and they’ll be glad to tell you about it if you have a good rapport with them.
* Is it needed? Will this positively impact that employee’s performance at work? Answering “no” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but it’s much less likely to make sense. (Maybe if it’s deserved…)
* Is it deserved? Here as well, answering “no” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it—maybe that employee REALLY needs those skills…
There are going to be those times when the answer to these questions is “yes” for several people and you’re going to have to pick and choose. Before you resign yourself to making cuts, DO fight the good fight and try to get more people in. And if/when it fails, just put on your big boy (big girl?) pants and make the call. Be as fair as you can, but don’t apologize or make promises “for next time.” Swallow the pill and move on.
Ultimately, though, I find that providing training to knowledge workers is a great tool for retention and efficiency. Your mileage may vary, but that’s what works for me.
I’m curious to hear what you think on this.
Jean C.

The Good vs Evil Perspective

I’m often accused of playing the devil’s advocate. I’d like to present here a different perspective that’s served me well in the past, and probably explains why I’m perceived as always defending “the other side.”

In this day and age of easy communication, everyone has a megaphone and is allowed to voice their opinion in the public place (in this case, the social media). In the early days of the internet, I’d get swayed by easy and emotional responses, just like everyone else. The mass media would put out one scandal after the next and I’d be the first one to jump in and accuse the guilty. I’d immediately join in the lynch mob and call for them to be hung like they crook that they were. Over the years, however, something started nagging at me. I wondered where these corrupt/evil people were coming from. I started examining the people I knew—were any of them bad people? Were any of them out to take advantage of other people? Even the people I didn’t like (or, heck, those I strongly disliked) weren’t fundamentally bad people. If I was truly honest with myself, they all came at things from their own perspective, which differed from mine, but they weren’t really evil. Just different.

Then I asked myself if that was because I was particularly good at making the right kind of acquaintances. So I started paying attention to the friends of my own friends, and to what my friends said about them. Nope, no evil there. Sometimes, there was stubbornness, perhaps even obtuseness (and in some cases, wrongheadedness), but no evil. I broadened things a little and looked at my colleagues—about as neutral a sample as I could find. There also, I found no evil or ill intent. Over the course of my career, I can’t think of a single person I’ve encountered that was profoundly evil or morally bankrupt.

So if I couldn’t find a single evil person in all the people I’ve encountered in my life, where are those people we’re constantly exposed to that are so malicious? I wasn’t sure, but they were probably very good at hiding themselves.

That remained my belief until a particular managerial training session that turned this concept on its head for me. The session was about giving difficult feedback. Specifically, it gave a structure and a particular sequence to follow, but that’s not what I remember most of it. The premise was more important. It stated that as a general rule, we formulate a scenario in our head about the intent of the person we’re talking about. Almost systematically, the scenario will be along those lines:

  • “I’ve given X three warnings about this, but he’s still doing it wrong. I’ve been very clear, so if he’s not doing it, he’s either dumb or doesn’t care about the feedback.”
  • “He doesn’t send me the reports I’ve asked. Clearly, he has no respect for my needs or authority.”
  • “She keeps coming in late, even though we ALL have to be the office by 9:30AM. It’s clearly stated in the employee’s manual, so her disregard MUST mean she thinks she’s above the rules.”
  • Etc. You get the idea.

We approach these situations with a presumption of guilt. We assume these people are willfully disrespectful, or they break the rules without care, or deliver sloppy work, all this on purpose. This is a very natural and human reflex. But what I learned during that class was to make a deliberate effort to go against this presumption, and try to figure out what the positive scenario was. Why was this? Because almost everyone means well. Once you’ve excluded the tiny fraction of individuals with pathological problems, you’re left with people like you and me—people who try their best and, often, stumble in the process.

The surprising truth is that people are good, not evil. They mean well. They can be tough, or sloppy, or emotional, or sometimes ruthless, but behind it all, there’s a good intention. Since that day, I always try to look for that intention in people. There are days when I fail, but I try to do better the next time. Because every time I’ve made a presumption of guilt/evil, I’ve been wrong. The person either had a good reason, or a perspective I hadn’t considered. I looked foolish for not having considered the innocent hypothesis first.

So looping back to the “devil’s advocate” thing, sure, call me the devil’s advocate. But that’s inaccurate. My intent is to be the angel’s advocate, based on the principle that people just aren’t evil to start with. You’d be surprised how much your relationships with people (and the world?) will improve once you start from that perspective.

The Art of Backdating

When you work as a producer on a project, there are many components for the game that rely on outsourcing. For those, you’ll need to have a carefully planned schedule in order to ensure they don’t jeopardize your deliverables. This is where backdating comes into play.

There are several types of jobs you’ll outsource (music, sound effects, cinematics, voice-overs, etc.), but the way to manage them is generally the same. For the purpose of this article, I’ll use music, but the principle would be the same for all other categories. First, you need to break down the production of your music into several steps. The more thought you put into this at the beginning, the easier your life will be in the end. Personally, I break it down this way:

  • Assess what our needs will be (# of tracks, duration, jingles, etc.)
  • Validate the needs with stakeholders/client
  • Create and send out RFPs (requests for proposals) to candidate companies (request samples of work)
  • Make a pre-selection & validate with stakeholders/client; make final choice together
  • Work begins. Break down deliverables in 2-3 milestones.
  • For each music milestone, gather internal & external (client) feedback. Send to composer for rework.
  • Allocate some time for in-game integration.

Now, go through each step above and allocate some time for these activities. Sprinkle some buffer (10%) on these dates, then determine the date by which you want all music to be integrated. Proceeding from your end date, do some reverse calculations to determine the date by which the previous step must be done. Keep doing this until you are done with all steps. This becomes your timeline for creating music.

One area that’s often overlooked is feedback time. You may send your music to your client the day you receive it, but it’s optimistic to hope for next-day feedback. I generally allocate 2 weeks for clients to come back with comments. Allocate more if you can afford it, but never go below 2 weeks unless your timeline is very tight. And that’s pretty much it. You’ll want to do this for all outsourcing activities and collate them in a nice global table, which you can update and share with your stakeholders & clients.

You’d be surprised at how often this isn’t done and how many deadlines are missed because of this. Now the bad news: this may all be for nothing. More often than not, your timeline will get ripped apart and thrown to the winds. Things happen. You’ll need to rewrite this plan constantly and wonder if there’s a point to doing it at all. Yes there is. Having this plan ready isn’t just to make things run smoothly (though that’s the main purpose). It’s also to make sure you are never without a plan and dates. You miss a date? You know you have to take action. You have to talk to your client and work it out together. This tool (and the plan it brings) is instrumental in maintaining a healthy relationship with your client. It builds trust and establishes credibility. It may not look like much, but when you’re in post-production and need to make hard calls, you want your client to trust you.

So I lied a little in the title. I said Backdating was a fine art. It really isn’t. It’s simple and straightforward. Enough so that on your next project, there is no reason NOT to do it.


Sushi-Style Development

When I was in Chile, working for Tiburcio de la Carcova, I learned one of the most valuable lessons from him about the art of developing games. By extension, it really applies to any kind of software development, but it’s particularly relevant to games.

Tiburcio kept talking about making games like sushi, not like pizzas. Sushis are tiny things and they are carefully designed & crafted. Your rice has to be a specific brand and has to be cooked according to very rigid guidelines. You add very specific ingredients, mixing them carefully, then rolling the hold thing and slicing it with precision. What you get is not only tasty, but a little work of art.

Pizzas, by comparison, are very large and very sloppy constructions. You’ve got this cheap dough rolled and stretched into a round shape. You slap on sauce, then layers of ingredients, with the only rule that you have to put stuff everywhere. It doesn’t matter if the ingredients are high quality or if they’re placed semi-randomly. What you get is… well, a pizza. It’s big and it’s sloppy.

I like that analogy. I think it’s very accurate and relevant when designing games. I’ve found, over the years, that developers have a tendency to develop pizza-games, not sushi-games. We tend to start with very big, ambitious pizza crusts, then slap on tons of things on them to make sure we have the quantity. “Because that’s what the client wants” is the most common justification I hear.

That approach is almost always wrong. Clients may say that’s what they want, but deep down they’re more interested in a quality experience. If you give them pizza from the get-go, they think of you as a pizza chef. If you give them sushi and they force you to compromise (to get closer to a pizza), then you’re a sushi chef who made compromises. You just get more respect by being a sushi chef.

Which brings me to the issue of iterative game development. A common mistake I see (and this most often comes from the team itself, not from internal management) is an overly ambitious prototype design. Just recently (in February), I was tasked with making a prototype for a game. I was very clear with the team about what I wanted: 1 room, 1 character, and the ability to tap on the screen so the character would move to that location. I wanted to start with just that to figure out the movement mechanics, nothing else.

The team got a little more ambitious and delivered three rooms, some multi-player functinoality, and already some obstacles. And bless their souls, I know they meant well and did this with the best of intentions. At the same time, by doing so, they had committed themselves to a larger deliverable and would need more time than what I had allocated to get it done. It would take longer to meet the first objective, with no major or immediate gain. Instead of having something testable within 1 week, it was ready in 2. Everything we could have learned from a limited set of features after 1 week would have to wait until the beginning of Week 3.

Rapid iteration isn’t a theory, it’s now a necessity. With smaller budgets, tighter deadlines and higher expectations, it’s the ONLY way the games industry is going to survive the changes it’s undergoing. And this isn’t something ONLY the managers can enforce, it requires a fundamental shift in the way EVERY member of a development team thinks. Short goals, fast iterations, no-nonsense ninja-fast development process.

My suggestion: next time you start a prototype, give REAL thought about what you really need in there to make it work. Do you really need 6 enemies or would one do? Three zones? How about just one, and made of gray blocks at that? 2 character models and 20 animations? How about half of that? Your smallest production unit isn’t actually measured in assets, but in concepts or gameplays you’re trying to prove. You want to test the jumps off your character for a platformer? You just need a character and two platforms. Wanna prove a flight simulater control scheme? A rudimentary plane model (no textures)  and a generic environment (could be reused from a previous game). Think small, not big.

The benefit will be that you’ll learn and iterate faster, and save time & money as a result. And if someone (the client) tells you to speed up and cut down, that’s okay. At least you will have proven you know how to make games with intelligence, design and discipline.

Just like sushis.


Feedback — Why Wait?

I learned this tip from a managerial coach several years ago. It’s only in the recent years that I’ve applied it more systematically and I’ve found that it yields tremendously positive results. It can be summed up as follows:

“You have 48 hours to give feedback.”

That’s it. Anything happens (good or bad), you mention it right away. And right away means within 48 hours from the moment the event happened. I’m not sure there are studies that back this up, but personal experience has shown that the sooner I’m told about something I did wrong, the easier it is for me to analyze what happened and figure out how to prevent it from happening again.

If the event occurred on Thursday or Friday, however, you can wait for Monday (but no later!). The idea is to stay as close to the event as you can.

There are cases, however, where you’re in a rush and you know you won’t have the 10-15 minutes you need to give the feedback. That’s when you need to (as I like to call it) “plant a flag.” You let the employee know this is something you’ll want to discuss at a later time, but you’re flagging it now while it’s fresh. For example, your Team Lead failed to deliver a critical document last night. Unfortunately, you’re going to be in meetings all day today and tomorrow, so you won’t have a chance to address this until past the 48-hour deadline. So you say, “Look, I needed your doc last night. We don’t have time to talk about this now — I want you to get to it ASAP and I’m in meetings for 2 days. Let’s talk about this during our regular one-on-one meeting next week.”

That’s it. Now your employee knows there’s something to discuss and will remember your “flag” when you bring it up again. (Please don’t wait for a month to bring it up, however; that defeats the whole purpose.)

I’ve found that my direct reports respond well to this approach. Quick and frequent feedback gives them an opportunity to fix things immediately rather than wait for the year-end performance review. They can make much greater improvements if they know about the problems now and are more likely to respect and trust you if you do this.

Give it a shot and let me know how it worked out.


The Mushroom Policy

The title may confuse you, but I’m sure most of you know what it is. Odds are, you’ve been on the receiving end of this policy and you may have suffered from its effects. You know many managers who apply it and you just don’t get why. I don’t have any numbers to back this up, but I’m willing to bet it’s a policy that costs companies incredible sums. It results in high employee churn, creating costs in recruitment and training that just aren’t necessary.

What’s that policy? It’s summed up in treating employees like mushrooms.

“Kept in the dark and fed crap.”

In other words, the Mushroom Policy occurs when a manager doesn’t share information about the project or company, or just simply provides basic & predictable information that everybody already knew.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s worked in the past. When you’re talking about pure manual labor, it doesn’t hurt all that much. You can reduce the impact by compensating employees for delivering work above their quotas. The moment you deal with knowledge workers, however, this policy is immensely counterproductive. Knowledge workers are critical thinkers. They not only care about the work they do, but also WHY and WHO they do it for. They (almost systematically) care about the bigger picture. They want to own it. (And it’s not just me saying it; if you want some excellent reading on the matter, check out Drive by Dan Pink.)

But no, even today, even in the games industry (which is purely driven by highly skilled knowledge workers), there’s an overabundance of Mushroom Managers. Information trickles down on a need-to-know basis, no more. Mind you, I understand how they got there. With the best of intentions, information sharing is very time consuming. When you’re pressed against a ridiculously tight deadline, does it make sense to spend even one hour addressing your whole team to share the state of the project? Wouldn’t that time be better spent just getting the job done? There are times where the answer is going to be “yes, let’s finish the job first.” But that shouldn’t be the end of it. It should come with “But RIGHT after it’s delivered, we’re all going to sit down and have a candid Q&A together.”

As a Producer, I feel it’s an important part of my responsibilities to ensure my employees understand the bigger context surrounding the work they do. For one thing, a properly informed employee can be more productive and make smarter decisions about their day-to-day work. But more importantly, they may get involved and propose solutions or approaches to problems you have that you hadn’t considered. For a manager, this is pure gold. You invest 10-15 minutes in sharing some of your concerns, invite your employees to share their ideas with you, and the moment they do, you’ve just saved hours (days?) of work. In addition, they feel stronger ownership of the project and think of you as a partner, not a boss. They may stick around and keep working with you longer…

This Candid Policy, however, requires you to know who you are and that you do not fear your own ignorance. You have to be comfortable admitting you don’t know the answer to a question, then commit yourself to finding the answer. Maybe your supervisor knows what it is (that’s an easy one). Other times, you need to just recognize that no one knows, and “let’s figure it out together.” Your employees aren’t naive and they know you’re not all-knowing. Be comfortable saying “I don’t know.”

Avoid being a Mushroom Manager. Try to schedule regular time with your employees to share information with them. It could be about the state of the business, upcoming contracts, new development strategies, or even open brainstorming about how to make work more efficient. If time during work is short, perhaps you can lunch together or have drinks after hours. You may need to get creative and think a little out of the box. Heck, you may even brainstorm with your staff on how to find time to better communicate and share information with them.

All it takes is 10 minutes with one of your Team Leads to get this conversation started. It’s really not that expensive.

Try it, see what happens.


Pre-Production Checklist

For almost as long as I’ve been making games, pre-production keeps coming back as one of the most poorly executed phases of development. I’m including here a checklist of some key elements that need to be achieved during pre-production in order for a project to run smoothly. Bear in mind no project EVER runs perfectly smoothly, but I’m using this term here to the extent that it can.

State Clear Goals

  • Establish what are the main goals of the project (Deadline? Quality? Budget?)
  • Acquire a DEEP UNDERSTANDING of the expectations of the stakeholders (!!!)
  • Draft clear and measurable goals for this project

Share Your Vision

  • Gather your key team members & present the timeline & goals of the project
  • Communicate CLEARLY who will be doing what on the game
  • Present the highlights of your project management strategy

Have a Clean Design

  • Propose an early pitch of your game concept & get stakeholder consensus on it
  • Draft a PDD (Preliminary Design Doc) & get everyone on board with it
  • Your design should highlight the USPs (Unique Selling Points) of your game
  • Your design should be detailed enough to let a Production Manager scope the work
  • When in doubt (or short on time), write “Designer’s Intent” for more complex features
  • Try REAL HARD to create features that are NOT interconnected but easily expandable

Highlight Your Top Risks

  • Have the Production Manager (PM) & the tech people sit down and assess the highest risks
  • Draft potential strategies to mitigate each major & average risk (ignore minor risks)
  • Prioritize which risks will need to be proven first before full production starts
  • Make your stakeholders aware of the risks & mitigation plans as early as you can

Scope the Work

  • The Producer & PM must extract all features & components from the GDD (Game Design Doc)
  • The PM & the team leads must spend the NECESSARY TIME to assess the work for all features & components
  • The Producer & PM draft a production plan together
  • Take into account external assets (voiceovers, localization, music, additional QA, outsourcing of assets, etc.)

Present a Development Plan

  • Make sure all stakeholders & team members understand the production strategy & timeline
  • Gather feedback on the plan & refine it until you achieve consensus from everyone
  • Once you’ve got a green light, you can move forward

This is probably not exhaustive, but just making sure these steps are followed are likely to improve your odds of your project running smoothly. I didn’t include prototyping in this list. I debated whether I should, then decided it wasn’t as critical as the preliminary work I listed above. If prototyping were to be included, it would be the immediate next step. I feel it deserves more than a bullet list, however, so I’m going to save this for a later time.

If there are additional steps you feel pre-production should include, please suggest them in the Comments section.



Layoffs in Video Games

It’s no secret that the Montreal game development community has been having a hard time. With the closing of THQ and the repeated layoffs in most of the major developers & publishers in town, Montreal may no longer be the thriving capital of North American VG development it once was. It’s not just Montreal, though, it’s everywhere. But being from here, I’m going to stick to what I know best.

I’m not here to talk at length about the WHY of how we got here, though I suspect it’s not as black & white as most folks would like to think. Making games is difficult business to start with. Making GOOD games is even harder. Doing so with a strict timeline and tight budget makes this extremely challenging. Consider how the American economy has been in the last five years and you get a better picture of the situation in Montreal. For example, for 3rd party developers, not only were the budgets better before the arrival of Free-to-Play (F2P) games, but the fall of the US currency means we Canadians have seen a revenue drop of nearly 30% over the last decade. These are tough times all around.

Is the Montreal market dying? Not so sure. But are we struggling? Absolutely. New development strategies need to be developed and everyone has to learn on the fly (and be successful at it) before it’s too late.

But my intent here isn’t to talk about the roots of the problem. There are people more qualified than me out there who will gladly discuss it. (If anyone has links to great articles on the topic, please post them in the Comments section below.)Instead, I’d like to talk about the process of laying people off when you realize you’re just not meeting your numbers and it’s not going to get any better.

There is an undiscussed moral dilemma about how long you (as a Developer) have to wait for new contracts to come in before laying people off. The longer you wait, the more dire the cuts may become if you don’t get contracts. Sometimes, the rationale is that you have to make the cuts closer so you can last longer. The counterpoint, which we producers are keenly aware of, is that if we let people go, it will cost us more time/resources/quality when we hire some new person down the road. It’s a tough call, much more difficult than you might think. But at some point, the call needs to be made. Someone (often, Finance and/or the CEO) looks at our operation costs, compares them to our revenues, and calculates the difference. That’s how much we need to cut to make ends meet. (Sometimes, if we’re optimistic, that difference can be reduced a little.) Then the real challenge begins.

It falls on the producers’ shoulders to make lists of people who will go on the chopping block. This is something excruciatingly painful to do. Sure, there are occasionally some obvious choices, but most of the time, you’re aware you’re letting some excellent people go. These people have kids, mortgages and financial responsibilities. I’ve even had cases of employees who were just back from parental leave and had to be put on these lists. As a human being, it’s not an easy call to make. One of my personal “razors” (deciding factors) is work ethics and attitude. Another one is ROI (return on investment). A senior might be great, but can I get similar performance from two juniors who are paid 40% of his salary each?

Most of the time, these lists are reviewed by committees who help make the final decision. The names on those lists are challenged and alternate names may be provided. It’s not something that is done lightly. After all, we’re aware we’re impacting the lives of some very good people.

Finally, once the decisions are made and the termination letters printed, we meet with those individuals. At my most recent company, those meetings would happen on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, never later in the week. This was a smart rule from our HR department. The rationale was that by doing it early in the week, the individuals could immediately start looking for new jobs. Doing it on a Friday, for example, would be the most cruel approach; the employees would spent most of the weekend feeling distressed and helpless about their situation.

Meeting with these individuals to hand out termination letters usually followed a strict process:

  • Meet after 16:00 in a room, with only the manager and one HR representative
  • Hand out the termination letter while IT would lock the computer remotely
  • Escort the employee to his desk so he can pick up just a few personal effects (jacket, backpack, etc.)
  • Retrieve the access card & escort the employee outside

This is a process that would normally take 15-20 minutes at most. It is designed to minimize the torture of the termination and allow the employee to get started on something more constructive. After all, the decision has been made and is, at this point, irrevocable. Stretching this is akin to taking an hour to remove a sticky band aid. It’s needlessly painful and cruel.

Then there’s the aftermath. We producers (who generally all feel pretty terrible by now) have to stand before the rest of the employees and explain what happened, why, and how we’re going to need to all pull together for the next steps. It’s vital as managers that we have a strategy to get out of trouble. We cannot stand in front of the crowd and just shrug, saying it was inevitable, act like victims, and keep going as if nothing happened. It happened. It’s a terrible thing and we need a plan to survive moving forward. Our employees aren’t stupid and will immediately know if we’re just drifting along the current.

And once this is all over, we all need to live with it. We’ve lost some good people and it’s going to hurt for a while. That’s inevitable. More than anyone else, producers need to gather themselves and move on. This isn’t a pretend game, it needs to really happen. Our colleagues are observing us, looking for hesitation and taking their cues from our reactions. Tough as it all is, I’ve found that the greatest tool (for me) is to focus on the consequences of NOT having made the cut at this time. Prolonging or delaying the decision for another month could further depletes a company’s cash flow, leading to an even greater number of terminations down the road. Worse yet, it could jeopardize the company’s very existence. If the company dies from financial hemorrhage, everybody’s out of a job.

To be clear: I’m not asking for anyone to sympathize with the producers for having to do this. They have it better than the people being let go. Those are the real victims, there’s no doubt about that. Plus, producers are generously compensated and it includes doing this kind of dirty work.

No, producers don’t need any sympathy. But please don’t assume producers feel no pain when this happens or, worse yet, that they take pleasure in laying off people. That’s just incorrect.