Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bad Planning on Your Part...

...Does Not Constitute an Emergency on Mine.

I don't recall where I first encountered this delightful phrase, but it has stayed with me ever since. True emergencies do arise, and employees should be prepared to deal with them, but most of the business, academic, non-profit, and government worlds operate on a more predicable schedule. When someone comes demanding a rush job, bad planning is the far more likely culprit.

Mind you, this phenomenon is by no means limited to government, but I can only speak from direct experience. That experience says: when gasoline prices are high and the electorate is unhappy at their officials, it's time for the silly season to start, the season in which craven politicians hoping to keep their jobs want a scapegoat, and they want that thing baa-ing yesterday. Looked at from a distance, it would be fairly amusing. Up close, it's not quite as funny. Everyone gets stressed, especially when one such politician starts out a statement, "As the ranking member of the subcommittee that controls the agency's budget..." (Please, sir, work at making future threats more subtle.) Everyone gets a little testy.

The part that is funny is that there are essentially two ways of responding to a demand request for a report on a complex subject: do something quick with public information or do a thorough job, including documents and testimony from industry participants, which takes a long time. Choose the second option and the politician complains that the report isn't being done in a timely manner. Choose the first and be told that the report is "nothing more than I could have found out from the newspaper." I shrug at these things, but that's why no one lets me near an actual politician.

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