Serving Two Masters

Posted on August 31, 2011

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I tend towards being a very practical person. I do not mind adhering to specific processes if they serve a valid purpose. I may not enjoy waiting in lines at the Licensing Department, but I understand that they serve the purpose of ensuring that people will be processed in the order to which they arrived. It helps maintain order in a situation that otherwise could devolve into utter chaos. What I find frustrating and futile is being forced to jump through process hoops, just for the sake of process itself. More irritating still is when new processes arbitrarily implemented require you to completely do-over work that you have already completed.

Now, if the new requirements actually helps to meet the goals of the overall project resulting in measurable improvement, that’s one thing. I might be initially put off by the extra work, but eventually the benefits of the update would win me over. What is intolerable to me is when the new busy work you are required to do seems more designed to improve the prestige of the new process owners or allow organizations to self-promote themselves and make themselves look more important than perhaps they are, but offer no tangible benefits to the original project goal. They may even cloud the original goal by making it harder to weed out the truly business critical applications from an ocean of politically important projects. The devil is in the details, as they say.

There are things that are indisputably important to the business. They are critical to the business because without them, the company takes a hit financially or in productivity or through loss of brand confidence. These are the things that need to be the focus of our efforts to ensure their continued availability and expedited recovery. Today, these things are taking a back seat at the expense of an all too human conflicting goal; that of making one’s self and organization look as crucial and indispensable as possible.

It has been said that you cannot serve two masters, for you will hate the one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. I find this true within the workplace. When individual exaltation or organizational self-promotion takes precedence over the focus on the indisputably important services of a company, it becomes increasingly more difficult to keep focused on securing the truly important from the propagating mass of politically important self-serving projects. Somewhere along the way, we risk losing sight of the original project goal of building out the services which are truly critical and ensuring their availability.

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Posted in: Rants