Another week down.
I’ve barely managed to keep my head above the waves of meetings.
The team accomplished a fair number of important tasks; for the most
part they did it with only minimal direction from me. That’s a good
thing, mostly, though I suspect my not knowing whether I would be in
the office on any given day didn’t make things any easier.
changing the way I plan things out, at least in the short term. As a
general rule I use sliding logistical windows, critical paths, and
the assumption that each individual can accomplish his goals within
the time frame he gives me. I communicate what seem like appropriate
details (success/failure, milestones achieved/missed, and change data
mostly) in a timely fashion. I do not always go into all of the
details of what piece is where, when, and why unless it seems
rely on role-based communications in which each role produces
communications output in a specific format for use by the next role.
Others rely entirely on individual rapport, built up over a number of
years, in which each person formats his communication and approach
not based on what he does but rather on his relationship with each
person. Most organizations work somewhere between the two extremes,
allowing you to build rapport with your peers and immediate superiors
and using role-based (formal) communications with others.
tactics pretty much rely on an organization sitting between the two
extremes. I’m open with everyone, about everything, but I do not
always fill in all the details. I’m used to the idea that an
executive wants decision-making information, a manager wants metric
information, and a leader wants to have a chat. I look forward to
interacting with my peers to build rapport across the organization
and to smoothing out confusion within the formal communications
structure via proper processing of procedural artifacts.
towards one extreme or the other the organization falls, the less
effective my approaches become. When an organization’s executives
hold meetings to decide the technical details of a project and make
their decisions along rapport lines rather than role-based
discussions, I have little to contribute. More importantly, what I
can contribute doesn’t really resonate with the people making
decisions, since it doesn’t fit into the world they created.
It also leaves me
a bit adrift. Frankly I like sliding logistical windows; I enjoy the
give and take of working with my peers to guide our teams towards the
solution to knotty technical problems. I get a thrill out of working
with a diverse team of people to create solutions meeting both a
company’s strategic goals and the end users’ various needs.
My current work,
though, tends more towards heroics and brute force than the kind of
high-speed chess matches I favor. People of all ranks go charging
up their hills, ignoring the huge amount of incredibly dull but
important work waiting for someone to pick it up. The environment
goes untuned because, frankly, tuning and spending months tweaking
small values for an isolated marginal gain (no matter that the
overall effect of several hundred such tweaks is huge) does not
Now I’m getting
maudlin, I suppose. I’ve seen this all before. About half of the
organizations I’ve assisted tend towards the individual hero model.
Most even inculcate it in their processes, lauding or at least
rewarding those who create additional chaos just so they can prove
their worth. Personally I’d rather fade away into the background,
quietly making things better one tweak at a time. The chaos of my
current environment comes from too much of the former and far to
little of the later.
Sometimes I wonder
if people really understand just how much we make the world we live
in. I doubt it; imagining ourselves as the creators of our world
implies a responsibility both for how it works and for its future
people rarely want to take on.
But, once you see
it, how can you turn away?