Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Know Thy Enemy (and Know Thyself).

You know, I never thought I'd be the kind of guy that pines after the old ways of doing things. I guess I've always fancied myself a bit of a renegade when it came to social conventions. Certainly there have been others more extreme in that position than me. I was fortunate enough to have the good sense to skip the "anarchy" phase of youth, at least in any organized sense. I'm not going to insist that I never broke the rules just for the sheer fun of it, but I didn't form a general philosophy to justify doing so. I've been the kind of person that needs to learn for himself. If you had, in the spirit of generosity, tried to advise me about the best way of doing something, I was likely to deliberately try something different first. Maybe you'd say I was "obstinate".

Nowadays I don't have the energy to seek firsthand knowledge of everything I consider doing. I've gotten a lot better at sussing out qualified sources, and trusting their own experience with the matter at hand. I'm by no means a micromanager. I realize that others are in a better position to achieve certain objectives that I have a stake in. If someone is willing to assume the responsibility, than I am more than happy to relinquish it. I try to look for quid pro quo whenever possible. Our society has grown so complex that we shouldn't expect ourselves to be able to do everything that needs to be done. That's why we have specialization. We're past the hunter-and-gatherer stage.

Anyway, I now have a healthy respect for earned authority. I may not necessarily regard the office itself as sufficient validation, but I've gotten fairly adept at recognizing expertise. Apparently though, there are plenty among us that find themselves incapable of trusting anyone to do anything with competence and skill. Specifically I'm finding a lot of people that simply think that they are experts on any topic, regardless of life experience, education, or other qualifications. And they are not too shy to let you know exactly what you are doing wrong, and/or how you might do it differently (in order to meet their particularly self-interested expectations). And they feel completely entitled to be taken seriously.

The other habit that a lot of these same folks have adopted is to immediately seek out the "person-in-charge". Once they have a problem, they decide that their plight takes precedence over anything else that is happening in the entire world. Then they commit to grabbing the ear of "the boss". The difficulty is that "the boss" rarely has direct experience of the situation that the demanding individual is inquiring about. Therefore "the boss" has to figure out who has immediate responsibility for the outcomes of the situation in question, and engage in a from of indirect communication. This can be frustrating for all involved. Obviously "the boss" has a lot on his plate, and is liable to express impatience- yet that won't always be directed at its source.

Meanwhile, the presumptuous tool who has skipped several levels in the chain of command has compounded whatever problems originally existed. He/she has failed to acknowledge that there is a proper protocol to observe when issuing a complaint. In fact, he/she has unintentionally subverted the entire system, which has been made to function efficiently only whenever people act appropriately within its structure. Because of such actions, others who have invested themselves within this system will be distracted from their roles. Things have developed as they are for a reason, and I wish people would make every effort to take this reality into account. Unfortunately too many will always feel that they know better.

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Blogger rainywalker said...

I always like to start at the bottom and work my way up. I have found that somewhere in the chain of command there is always someone just waiting to solve your problem.

As far as being an expert......I'm likely the Jack of all trades and the master of none!

5:43 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

I'm with ya, rainywalker. There's always someone whose direct responsibility it is to oversee your concern. For me that person is usually toward the bottom of the chain.

8:42 PM  

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