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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Liberals and Conservatives…Step on it; Slow Down!


Liberals and Conservatives…Step on it; Slow Down!
A cranky opinion for

CRANKY OPINION SATURDAY

The following opinion is that of a cranky old man with but a little knowledge on the topic opined.  Opposing opinions are welcome.  They are welcome but they will probably be ignored.  As always, please, no name calling.  That means you, you big stupid-head.

Politics, like England in the song, “Swings like a pendulum do.” On the far edge of each swing of the pendulum we have conservatives and liberals.

Liberals want to improve everything; eliminate hunger, end disease, save the environment, and make all things fair.

Conservatives want to think about stuff; let’s not move too soon and ruin what we have.  Sometimes a good idea has consequences.  Sometimes easy obvious solutions are not such good ideas.

During the early days of computing at my job in a former life, we had the equivalent of conservatives and liberals.

The computer people were the liberals.  They could do fantastic things.  They could develop systems to improve work flow and reduce costs beyond anything previously thought possible.  The liberal computer people constantly delivered and life in my user world of processing and operations improved beyond imagination.

The liberal computer people ruled.  Management, the conservatives, gave them full rein and everyone profited.  The workers reveled in improved conditions; management loved the cost control and process improvement.  There were still projects for the liberals to improve.

There came a time where the workers (that would include a young Cranky) would think of a great idea and ask the liberal computer people if they could make it happen.  The computer people could make anything happen.   If you asked, they would deliver.

At some point we reached a stage where the little guy users asked for things that delivered little in the way of cost control or improved service.  The computer people would deliver whatever they were asked to deliver and development costs were never considered.

Simple requests from the little guy users that had little or minimal value were implemented at sometimes ridiculous development costs.

The result was conservative management started to see expenses go through the roof with little apparent value.

Management looked at these costs and said,

“Damn, this is ridiculous!”

Management stepped in, and rules and regulations were developed which analyzed every request and a cost analysis protocol was implemented.  Very expensive development processes that could not be supported by significantly increased value were eliminated and balance was restored to our world of processing.

As computer sophistication and capabilities improved, the protocol analysis sometimes became silly.

I once called a programmer and asked if it would be possible to create a process that would allow me to research various statistics with different criteria and even multiple criteria.  In past years this request would have taken months to implement, if it was even possible, and would have used a great deal of resources.

The programmer told me that my request was now an easy one.  He could implement it in a matter of hours and I could be testing it the next day.  It was immediately apparent that the cost of this request was almost nil.  The benefits would be a great deal of cost savings and would provide a service that otherwise was not only valuable but believed by many to be impossible.

“That’s great,” I said. “Do it!”

“Can’t.”

“Why not”

“You need to submit a written request to your management and sell them on the benefits.  If approved, they send a request to my management.  My management will ask me to do a cost analysis.  They will take my report and discuss it at their next development request meeting which will be in a month; if approved it will need to be funded by your management and assigned by my management.  I will get the assignment and before I can start I must submit a development plan complete with milestones and benchmarks.  That will take a week and another week to be approved.  When all that is done, you can have your application for testing the next day.  After testing, implementation should only take another month or two.”

“But testing will take only minutes.  If it works it works, if it doesn’t it is all back end, it cannot effect any critical processes.”

“I’m sure you could explain that to your management, might only take a month or so.”

The programmer was a consultant.  He was a very bright dude from Pakistan.  He was loath to skip protocol, risk his job and have to go back to Pakistan.

“Damn, this is ridiculous!”

A year and a half later my request was implemented.  Conservative Management was lauded for the increased efficiency; the Liberal Programmers were praised for their ability.

And so the pendulum swings in all things political, from the “We can do anything and all things new are good” liberals, to the “Now wait a second, let’s think about this, stuff is already pretty good” conservatives.  Both extremes of the pendulum are ridiculous.  Common sense is in the middle, but common sense is not arrived at easily.  

Eventually we get there, but common sense does take time.

The preceding was the opinion of a cranky old man and not necessarily that of management…Mrs. Cranky.

14 comments:

  1. Not to mention the ulcers that come with it all!

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  2. Brilliant! I'm guessing this demonstrates why start-up companies are often so successful: the bureaucracy is small and the enthusiasm is boundless. Then it's own success causes it to bog down, with the liberals and conservatives mucking things up. We need a Common Sense Party!

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  3. There is no doubt that the best form of government would be a benevolent monarchy. Someone like Old King Cole (a merry old soul) would be perfect for America. The only problem is Liberals and Conservatives would have to form a committee to determine whether his appointment to the throne constitutes age discrimination against millennials.

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  4. oh, you brought back a lot of memories from my working life. my company spent 12 million developing an inhouse software program that ended up delivering exactly nothing...except a huge write-off. :)

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  5. That's exactly the way it was. Still is, where the shop is run by committee.

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  6. And then it depends on who's on the committee. What agenda do they have or who do they really represent. It's a slippery slope and then some.

    Have a fabulous day Cranky. ☺

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  7. I think this same mess is present in the public school system. Too top heavy with administrators making work for themselves. I'd like to say just leave the teachers alone to manage themselves; they have the best judgement. But then there's that teacher who put kids in the trunk of her car to go out for snacks.......yikes.

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  8. I've heard it said and I've had difficulty disproving it: Nothing serious was ever accomplished my a committee. I can't think of any great art or scientific achievements created by committees. My experience has been that forming committees is what people in power do to halt progress.

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    Replies
    1. Point well taken, I guess I was trying to equate "committee" with voters in a democracy where it takes time but eventually I think we get it right, and that it sometimes takes the middle of the roaders to make sense of the idealist and the cautious extremes.

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  9. The trouble is the pendulum defies gravity and will not maintain a healthy middle ground. It is a body in motion that persists, thanks to the incessant tugging from each side and just keeps up the never ending swing.

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  10. In my educated judgement, committees and meetings are the two things that are usually meaningless, unnecessary and an all around pain in the ass. Except, of course, to the suits who have nothing better to do.

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    Replies
    1. OK, first Stephen and now you, point taken. I am amending the post to remove mention of committee.

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  11. Well at least it did get implemented, albeit not immediately, but at least they listened to your suggestion and moved it along eventually.

    betty

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  12. That swinging pendulum is making me very, very sleepy.

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