Creating Unnecessary Bureaucracy


I’ve rewritten this post several times now.  The catalyst for this toned-down rant was the company-wide distribution of a new dress code policy.  As background to this story, I was hired by a small business to support a Federal Government contract.  If you want bureaucracy, the Federal Government is certainly where you’ll find it.  Where I don’t expect to find it is with a small business.  I’ve worked for both large and small businesses.  The bigger they get, the more layers of bureaucracy there is.    It doesn’t have to be that way.  I think some small businesses think you have to add a lot of crap to processes, in the hope someone will think there is value.  Draconian policies do not translate to value!  As I read the new policy, I became more and more incensed.   I come  from a military background, so if someone has anything to say about my appearance, they should say it to my face.

This dress code policy was not necessarily directed to me.  That is where the problem rests.   When you feel the need to communicate TO and not communicate WITH your people, you have a problem. This situation could have been easily avoided by a superior and a subordinate having a conversation.   Instead, we get a vague policy that runs the gambit of  “no shaggy hair” to “hair color should be kept within the family of traditional hair colors”.

Give me a break.   This is a failure of both communication and of leadership.  It doesn’t matter if we’re talking corporate, project management, or communication processes.  Take a big step back and ask yourself if writing that process makes sense.  Action and communication is what will become culture.  Processes just become a pain in the ass that slow things down.

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The FedGov Fail Day 3

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As we enter the 3rd day of Washington DC being shut down, I ask myself why.  It’s 2010, for crying out loud!  You’d think they would find a way to keep things operational.  Just because government employees can’t report to physical locations, doesn’t mean they can’t work, right?  From the website, Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area are CLOSED.

This means…

  • Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area are closed. Nonemergency employees (including employees on pre-approved leave) will be granted excused absence for the number of hours they were scheduled to work. This does not apply to employees on leave without pay, leave without pay for military duty, workers’ compensation, suspension, or in another nonpay status.
  • Telework employees may be expected to work from their telework sites, as specified in their telework agreements.
  • Emergency employees are expected to report for work on time.
  • Employees on alternative work schedules are not entitled to another AWS day off in lieu of the workday on which the agency is closed.

Now, this post isn’t necessarily about government employees, a majority of whom will just stay at home and get paid.  Don’t get me wrong, I care a lot about my government counterparts.  Some of them work darn hard and are up late at night keeping things running.  This is about all of us who support the government.  In a day and age when the government needs to be nimble and innovative, I sit here knowing I’m not necessarily going to get to bill an hour of my time, while the Federal agencies in the Washington DC area sit idle.  No, I certainly can’t do 100% of what I was hired to do but I have things I could have caught up on.  I have a constant rotation of priority deliverables that arrive in my inbox, ready for my review and recommendations.  I don’t need to be on site to read a document about cost and schedule variance on CLIN 123, in order to deliver value.  But guess what, that’s exactly the case.  If I’m not physically on site, I have to get special approval to do any work and bill any time.

As Jhaymee (@TheGreenPM) Wilson tweeted today, the recent Snowmageddon in DC brings visibility to the Federal Government’s lack of a risk management policy, which includes teleworking.  I believe the policy should include contractors.  My FedGov PMO identified a strategy to keep us operational, in the event H1N1 hit the agency.  The strategy was a mandate from higher in the government.  So why then wouldn’t there be a plan to keep us operational in the event of inclement weather?  This just proves, in cases like this, the Federal Government doesn’t plan to fail; It just fails to plan.

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