Common Sense vs Bureaucracy

Posted: April 1st, 2014 | Author: | 2 Comments »

An organization gets bureaucratic with age. Meaningless rules and policies are thrown around, often ignoring common sense. I came across an instance recently, and wondered what we were thinking.

One of our years-old, loyal clients worked with a specific team for few months. Things were done and sealed, and when they shifted their back-end from a local server to the cloud (who isn’t doing that nowadays?) some things stopped working. The client reached out to the technical lead they had interacted with.

He was met with a curt “the developer is working on something else” – and of course policies forbid us from having him help on anything else. No remorse, no work-around, no investigation, no solution. More importantly – no empathy or understanding of the customer situation.

Obviously the irate client voiced his displeasure. Things were done and all it took was a couple hours. But it left a very bad taste in the mouth.

Why was this necessary? What was on the minds of people? That once a project is over we are not responsible? That a customer should be made to pay for every small thing? That avoiding a headache is better than understanding what the problem was? That policies are useful to throw around as excuses?

Why am I relating age to this? Well, think of a young group of hungry people. Would they dare to imagine saying a curt “No” to a loyal past (and potentially future) client? Or would they go out of their way to fix the problem at hand?

Often, clients prefer Mindfire due to our age (almost 15 years!), our stability and proven delivery. Buf if we lose common sense – the hunger to do the right thing – clients should go to younger hungrier (albeit riskier) companies!

Of course we don’t want one customer to pay for time that goes toward solving someone else’s problem. But isn’t it common sense that if something has gone down, a solution has to be found promptly? But do we have strait-jacketed developers who won’t put in an extra couple hours (night? weekend?) to help a situation? Or will the current customer say no to some hours being transparently redirected, with appropriate discounting if necessary?

Solutions are hidden in plain sight. Excuses are also conjured out of the same thin air.


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  • Kiran K Singh

    “Solutions are hidden in plain sight. Excuses are also conjured out of the same thin air.” – Very True! It’s always good to look for ways to deal with problems, rather then moving away from it. – A good sign of a leader.

  • Hem Dutt

    Thoughtful indeed..

    “But do we have strait-jacketed developers who won’t put in an extra couple hours (night? weekend?) to help a situation? ”
    Absolutely not….
    but here is a real story….
    A developer coming office on weekends not due to client work but to do learning/timepass (I am not sure…) was instead of being asked to not misuse the resources, was assigned a project with weekends counted in the estimate :)

    Now the lesson to other people goes like this “If you show yourself free on weekends, weekends won’t be free :D”
    ——-
    “Or will the current customer say no to some hours being transparently redirected, with appropriate discounting if necessary?”

    But which manager has the guts to ask this question(and it’s everywhere not just in Mindfire)? The fear is not of the client but of the senior manager who will ask what was the need to inform client that we are only devoting X amount of time today instead of Y.

    it’s like (company ideology) + (managerial manipulation) = confused workforce.

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