The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.

The Inelegance of Bureaucracy

An English architect takes the battle against bureaucracy back to the horse's mouth:

Mr Jessop said he launched his attack on planning red tape after the planning and amenities department of Mendip District Council in Somerset sent him a lengthy form with what he saw as a serious of “silly” questions.

The document was to enable them to assess the impact the shed would have on the surrounding area.

Under “scale, appearance and landscaping”, Mr Jessop wrote: “The building is a single storey with the central section raised to allow for higher equipment.

“It can not be lower because nothing could be stored in it. It is not made any higher because that would be silly.

“It looks like a typical modern agricultural shed in a green profiled metal sheeting because that is what it is, and a great architect once said 'Buildings should look like what they are’.

“The applicant and previous occupants have spent a long time, probably more than a thousand years, making the countryside around the house look like farmland so that everyone can enjoy the pretty English countryside.”

How does the bureaucracy respond? As you would probably have expected:

Mendip District Council Development Services confirmed they received the application on March 18 and said the matter had yet to be determined.

A spokesman said: “There was no problem registering the statement because, believe it or not, it covered all the relevant criteria.

“As long as the architect answers all the relevant headings then it doesn’t really matter what the tone of the application is.”

If nothing else, this should help to underscore the utter ridiculousness that makes up the whole "management via checkboxes" culture that we've bred in our society for these past few decades. There is absolutely no way to account for every possible outcome and action of a given task well enough that anyone with a pen and a form can do it, and the notion that adding one document to your process can make up for basic lack of communication is equally silly.My dad (Hi, Dad!) was really gung-ho on Total Quality Management, and the new and exciting things that companies could do, if only they would begin tracking metrics for everything they did. Or, if you would allow me to use such imprecise language, "filling paperwork out" for everything. The Japanese were always pulled out as what Deming's method could accomplish, and there's no doubt that Japanese companies had done a lot to increase their quality.

But was new management really responsible for this change? Or was Japanese culture, which viewed sub-par production quality as a national shame, the key factor? Because, from where I'm sitting as a computer-science-type, our industry has done nothing but pile processes and procedures and methods on top of a shrinking base of technical people, and I haven't really seen much of a resulting gain in productivity (or quality, for that matter).

And you know what? Why don't you ask the Soviet Union how well bureaucracy and forms-based management worked for them? After all, they had one of the most extensive productivity reporting systems in the world of the era (remember: they operated a managed economy, largely without computers), and the massive reams of paperwork that drove their economy proved, in the end, to have been completely worthless.

You know how it goes—If you spend more time doing paperwork than you do your job, you begin to find "shortcuts" to make it go by faster. And if your job depends on you hitting the right "management" numbers, you can guarantee that your reports will reflect that, even if the numbers your reports reflect are completely false.

On a positive note, Mr. Jessup has definitely inspired me when it comes to our company's coming implementation of CMMI. It might even transform the additional paperwork into some kind of free entertainment, though that would probably speak volumes as to how easily entertained I really am.

Hooray, I was able to turn that article around into yet another anti-management rant. Anyone care to guess where my main frustration with Ye Olde Job is right now? ;)

(h/t Dawnsblood)

 Tags: cmmi #DailyFodder


#1 captainfish 07-May-2008
so.. care to tell us non-business types what CMMI is and why you find it so entertaining?

And I agree. Making people fill out forms for what they build on their own property (especially rural areas) is completely ludicrous and overbearing. If I want to build a stinkin' shed on my property I should not need someone else's permission. Farmers should not need city folks' permission to build on their properties when the nearest person could be miles away.

Udder ludicrous. :)

I think it is a Zionist conspiracy to control everyone's mind.
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