A couple of weeks ago, I was taking a short break and chatting with a new young guy I never had seen before at the company.
We had some chit-chat discussions about the weather and other small talk, until i asked him in what group he was working. "I am a summer student and i am working in the A-department”.
"And what are you doing there ?", I asked.
Student: "I am filling spreadsheets. They document the discussions of the daily whiteboard discussions, and that is needed to report back to the different management layers in the company."
Me: "And that keeps you busy for the whole day ?" I replied.
S: "Yep, sort of"
"And do you think that’s useful ?"
S: "No, not at all, but it is just a summer student job for a month, but
it pays well
and with the money I will be able to afford a holiday trip to Australia."
A couple of observations here:
- how many times do you/we do things we profoundly think are useless, but still do them as "it pays well" and we are not prepared to go through the pain of challenging THAT status-quo ?
- how many of these useless things have anything to do with adding value to the customer, and have all to do with internal policies ?
- when is the last time you did something that really made a positive difference to your customer ?
We can have all sorts of theoretical debates about company culture, but as long as we don’t start focusing exclusively on the value zone – there where value is created at the interfaces of our company – all these efforts will only continue to add to the numerous sets of policies and initiatives.
These keep on existing and having a life of their own, even long after the crowdsourced intelligence of your company has acknowledged they have been bypassed by the events and only are alive because some senior manager identified him/herself so much with the initiative that giving-in would cause irreparable damage to his/her ego.
When are we going to stop and refuse doing things that don’t make sense anymore, only because the circumstances when these practices were created have changed dramatically ? Or even worse, have proven to have has counterproductive effect ?
Keep on searching for meaning and sense in everything you do. Refuse to do useless tasks.