November 17th, 2011

bad words, offices are why

The Case of the Missing Kingpin: Situation Normal, All Frustrated Uproar

OTW voting is commencing, and there's a lot of stuff going down and a lot of information badminton, and I am very very glad that I am on the sidelines for this, because it sounds like a deeply political situation with hurts decades old getting tripped over and new wounds happening every minute, and those scare the fuck out of me.

I haven't become a member of the OTW yet, although I should at some point; goodness knows I read in the Archive enough, and I am deeply invested in the idea of grabby corporate entities not being able to legally control things done for love and not money.

Collapse )

I do have thinky-thoughts about large projects and interpersonal dynamics, particularly about projects where a few extraordinarily talented and/or extraordinarily hard-working people contribute a disproportionate amount of the work well after the time when someone else should be there for backup.

Collapse )

I don't want to say that it is inherently bad or wrong to take advantage of use the extraordinary skills and effort of the people in an organization. A business practice that not just uses, but relies on, the unique abilities of the people is inherently vulnerable to disruption if one of those people leaves, if they cannot find other people with the same skills. An organization who depends on specific people, with little to no documentation of what those people actually do, is entirely helpless.

I recommend that the organization regularly (yearly?) solicit information from their regular people about what they actually do (officially and unofficially), and the points of divergence from the formal job description and/or procedures. This is an opportunity to assess how realistic and effective the current procedures are. Knowing who does what, and how they do it, prepares you in case you need to find a substitute or replacement.

I recommend that the organization have policies in place for handling people who are missing in action or who turn out not to be able to handle tasks they have taken on in a timely manner. Ideally, this would be in place beforehand, so people are aware of the policy before taking on a task. The organization should periodically check in with all of the people who have taken on responsibilities, and make sure that they're present and accounted for, and see if they're having any difficulties.

I recommend that the organization regularly check with their people in search of problems, on an organizational level all the way down to the personal level. The organization should not punish its people for reporting problems. The avenues for communication should be designed so the sudden unexpected absence of a kingpin person does not make a team feel cut off from the organization as a whole. There should be a healthy communication between teams. If a kingpin person has people who stand as backup for them, those people should also regularly check in with the team, to build rapport and get to know them in case they have to stand in.

Good luck.

Crossposted. comment count unavailable comments. Sign in with OpenID (use your LJ URL), confirm an email address, and leave a comment.