Tuesday, June 29, 2004

System F'ed

I have about two weeks left in this current job. There are a number of petty-shitty details I have to wrap up. This morning I woke up to a number of e-mails stating that something had gone wrong with the logistics on some courses I had set up.

The beautiful thing about my new position is that I don't have to take care of much of the administrative/logistical pieces that I have to do here, because this new group had the common sense to hire someone who could do this work specifically. It's not bad work and I admire the people who can do it consistently and well; I've just come to the conclusion that I am not wired to do such work on a long-term basis. Fortunately, in this new role I will spend more time on development of materials.

I am ready to leave behind working with a large encumbered system (the bureacracy we have here at this company that runs the class management of all or most corporate training). For my purposes I'll call this bureacracy SYSTEM F. SYSTEM F is a monster bureacracy that insists on using old-fashioned manual processes (although they are conducted via e-mail) where automated ones could easily be put into place. I will not miss having to send e-mails for every single change I need to be put into place then having several people e-mail back and forth to clarify the changes. The databases used by SYSTEM F are a hodge-podge of files and applications built from scratch/on the fly/ and with as little budget as possible. The systems have become so unmanageable and complex that they require manual monitoring of all use by us fallable humans who come into contact with it. Can you imagine that opening scene in Brazil where there are endless aisles of file cabinets and paperwork. Think of that image as a visual metaphor for all the e-mail that is sent back and forth between the folks that use SYSTEM F.

It's called an ASP form... use it! I have a 12 year old nephew who can build one. It can't be that hard.

Within SYSTEM F, the common approach to fixing problems is Throwing more human power to monitor it as well as re-visiting the rules of the old processes and revising them instead of looking at newer ways to build these processes.

I can tell you exactly how this particular monster (of an organization) evolved. When a business group is born especially a group aimed at pleasing a wide number different organizations and parties within a corporation, the aim of the game is to gain as many happy customers as possible (on as little budget as possible). Therefore, you will make many promises as to how your services will suit their needs. You have very little time to think out your solutions, so you have to pick the ones that are quick and cheap. Don't spend too much time thinking about how these solutions impact each other, then pretty soon you've got a SYSTEM F on your hands.

Also, I suspect they don't have the kind of people who are competent enough to smash the system and re-build it... or the people who are competent enough leave and find better fields to play in.


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