Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The myth of the "easy win"

Before I start, a warning...it takes me a little while to loop this around to politics.  It gets there eventually.  It's tenuous.  But there is a link.

Okay.  Plunging in.

In my past job I worked for an organization that didn't really get it.  Every year, we would start with a massive capital budget.  And then it would get cut because "there just isn't much money this year."  So we'd chip away at the projects that remained.  And then, with two months to go in the year, there would be a massive panic as money became available and we would scramble to find projects that we thought we could get done in two months.  It didn't really matter if they were important projects.  Or if we really needed the stuff.  Or if it made sense.  There was free money and there was no way we were going to say no.

And we would never finish these projects.  So the project would carryover into the next year, meaning we'd have to cut projects that we had planned for the next year.  And then we'd cut it further because "there just isn't much money this year."  And then, we'd chip away at the projects that remained.  And then, with two months to go....Free money!  What projects can we get done!

As a result, we seldom worked on the important projects.  Even worse, if we happened to have an important project in the last two months of the year, well, our focus was taken off that because we had to deal with all the free money, so not only were we adding new projects that weren't going to get done, but our planned projects weren't going to get done either, resulting in more carryover and fewer projects the next year.

Every year I reminded people what had happened the year before.  Every year people agreed that what we had done was insane and we shouldn't do it again.  Every year, nobody said no to the free money.

There are no quick wins.

My new job is eerily similar.  In this one, we don't have boatloads of money to spend.  We have boatloads of processes that need fixing.  Some are big.  Some are "small".  So we inevitably go for the "quick wins".

Of course, when we start working on these things, there's always more to it than we first thought.  You want to change a simple process?  How will you communicate it out?  Who's responsible for executing it?  How will we hold them accountable?  Where will the process reside?  Who owns it?  How do we update it?  How do we pay for the changes?

What was supposed to be a couple of people working on something for a few hours turns into meeting after meeting after meeting with dozens of people involved.  And in the end we're left with a piece of paper that people care about for a week and then everybody forgets about it because there was no communication plan, nobody responsible for execution, nobody to hold accountable, no place where the process resides, nobody who owns it, no way to update it and no way to pay for the proposed changes.

There are no quick wins.

How does this relate to politics?  Well, every time we're crafting a new law to make it easier to transport guns.  Every time we're making speeches about child pornographers and Internet surveillance....Every time we take on a meaningless pursuit of re-opening the abortion debate...that means that not only are we wasting time on meaningless stuff, we're not working on actually important things.  Which, perhaps is a blessing in disguise?  Maybe if the Cons were actually focused on big picture things, we'd be worse off?  Anyhow...

There are no quick wins.  1 hour spent working on the right work is better than 10 hours working on the wrong work.

Disclaimer -  Ya ya.  There are some "quick wins".  Sometimes the right thing to do is an easy thing to do.  "Sometimes you get an easy win, just not very often" is a lot less catchy as a title.

No comments:

Post a Comment