Thoreau was an idiot

Y’know, I’m all for individuality. I favor taking stands for what is right. I strongly support making decisions on what is appropriate behavior.

So. For instance. If my workplace has a procedure that is of questionable efficiency and I was aware of a better way to perform the goal of that procedure, I would bring it to my supervisor, suggest the change, offer the reasoning behind it, point out the value of the change, and then abide by the decision handed down. We do many things in ways that seem reckless or overly cautious or just silly and inefficient. But there is no moral value attached to doing things poorly, if that is how I am being explicitely required to do them.

I just finished having a … discussion … with one of the project managers here, who wished to have me be responsible for failure to act on his part. He is resolved to stand against the tide of inefficiency, sweeping it back with his bristle-thin push broom of civil disobediance. A PM’s job is to keep the job progressing on schedule and turn a profit while doing so, but the only form his civil disobediance can take that has any meaning is to vociferously refuse to follow procedures he disagrees with. As a result, accounting procedures don’t take place, his subcontractors don’t get awarded contracts, they don’t get paid, and his job grinds to a halt. He is then in the spotlight, and triumphantly points to his project, stranded on a sandbar amidst the flood tide of the (he says) incorrect and inefficient policies and procedures, and declares that it isn’t his responsibility.

He, he says, had no power to keep the process going, because our procedures are wrong.


So I pointed out the actions he is called upon to perform by the procedures that would instigate actions that he desires, and is responsible to have take place. His reply is that our procedure is wrong, and should not begin with him.

Therefore he has no power to instigate the process of actions.

I tried to repeat back to him what I was hearing: “I don’t agree with our procedures, so I won’t take part in them. When the procedures fail for my lack of participation, I will blame those who I feel should be responsible, instead of those that procedures and the CEO say are responsible.”

We went ’round a bit on that one. I began to reply to his assertions with, “You are discussing correct procedure. I am paid to follow our company’s procedure, not correct procedure. If you want to discuss what the procedure should be, discuss it with an officer of the company.”

Which was shortened to, “Why are you telling me this? I won’t do anything to change it.”

And finally resulted in, “You have just wasted 40 minutes from both of our lives, and haven’t done anything meaningful to get your job moving again. If you care about that, you should do something about it. I have other work to do. I will be charging your job for 3/4 of an hour, for my time lost.”

Thoreau sniffed disapprovingly at me, shook wet sand off of his metaphorical pushbroom, and waded through the figurative tide to find a more appreciative audience.

Crossposted from Epinepherine & Sophistry