Top decision-makers said, “EVERY single employee’s ‘time and effort’ has to be approved by their immediate supervisor, electronically.” The top and middle level managers have anywhere from 3 to 10 people they need to approve, assigned probably to a handful of projects for each person. The lowest “group leader” has to approve input from 25+ to 70+ direct reports. Each employee may have 6-10 projects for which a cost code has to be allocated. The group leaders probably have memorized all the various codes they need to deal with, but would they really honestly know that John spent 10 hours on project A and 5 hours on project Z during that week? So, the group leader just keeps clicking the mouse. If the group leader gets distracted – which is more the norm than the exception – and if her computer sits idle for more than a few minutes, which goes with being distracted, the system shuts her out. By the time she can get back to that unfinished task, she has to log in again. In the meantime, she has to request a separate report, and wait for it to run, to find out if she has approved all members in the work group!
Furthermore, supposedly, all the “time and effort” should be submitted and approved by Monday morning. Thus, the system gets clogged up on Monday morning and becomes even more sluggish than usual. Remember that “idle” time, that the system doesn’t like? So, most group leaders have learned to do this chore on weekends. And their families say, “oh, well!”
The best part of this insanity is that if a “group leader” can’t get to everyone’s input by the predetermined time on Monday morning, the system automatically approves the remainder. When I learned all these features, I was utterly speechless. Oh, by the way, the system REALLY doesn’t like “disapprove;” it leaves a quasi-permanent record and invites auditors’ suspicions. I would love to learn how such a process had come about; what the rationales were, who in the world designed such a convoluted system, and who decided in its favor believing that they had done a great service. For whom?!
Lewis Thomas said it well in his The Lives of a Cell (1974): “If … I was in direct communication with my liver, and could now take over, I would become deeply depressed … [for I am] constitutionally unable to make hepatic decisions, and I prefer not to be obliged to, ever.” And, “I’d rather leave all my automatic functions with as much autonomy as they please … Imagine having to worry about running leukocytes, keeping track, herding them here and there, listening for signals. After the first flush of pride in ownership, it would be exhausting and debilitating, and there would be no time for anything else.
The obsession for control eventually leads to an endless downward spiral of out-of-control and becomes a slave to its own warped demands. This is yet another outcome of not being able to make distinctions, not unlike “when everything is priority, nothing is priority.” The hilariously cockeyed notion that somehow this obsession for control of parts will lead to success for the whole, leads toward the biggest ultimate failure.
What was your reaction when you read the above quoted passage? Do you have examples? Till next time,
Staying Sane and Charging Ahead.
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