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Conflict is Good

Entry 1338, on 2011-10-28 at 16:06:07 (Rating 4, Comments)

At my place of work I'm known as a bit of a rebel, someone who doesn't care too much about the rules and established ways of doing things, and someone who has little regard for my so-called superiors. It's all true and it does occasionally lead to situations where a certain amount of conflict with authority arises, but so far I've managed to escape with no serious consequences.

Most of my colleagues (in fact all of them as far as I'm aware) have a more relaxed view and tend to stick a lot more with the official line. That could be because I'm wrong and the official way really is the best, but I would prefer to think that it's just that they aren't quite as prepared to take the hard route as I am.

There are many ways to bypass bureaucracy and get things done. One of the best is to lie: saying one thing while doing something "subtly" different is a good strategy in my experience. Another is to just do things and keep quiet about them: what people don't know won't hurt them. And another is to do things better than the established standards so the people who get those better outcomes are your supporters.

Many people wonder why I bother. I would get paid the same by just following the tedious and mediocre standards and I would have a lot less work and stress as a result. But I think it's only when I'm involved in this sort of conflict that I'm really doing my job properly. After all, I'm not there to provide the best solutions for managers, I'm there to do that for my clients and that is often quite different to what the managers want.

Management in every organisation tend to claim they are dedicated to providing the best customer service but that is almost never the case, generally because managers don't deal with their clients directly and are primarily involved with playing petty politics instead. Of course there are exceptions and where good guidance is provided there's nothing wrong with following that.

A quote I have used in this blog before is Edward Abbey's "A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government" and another from Thomas Jefferson is also relevant: "When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty". They were thinking about the bigger political picture but the same applies on a smaller scale to the workplace, I think.

The principle these quotes endorse is currently being applied in the larger political domain because this is exactly what's happening with the "Occupy Wall Street" and related movements. The world has become unjust and many of the world's governments have become the enemy of the people. Those people protesting across the world are the real patriots and heroes. They are doing their duty.

By the way, I know several people at my workplace read this blog and they might be surprised that I am so openly critical. But it's nothing personal: it's the system that's the problem, not individual people or organisations. If the way I work leads to inferior outcomes for my clients then I think that needs to be discussed but until then I think I'll just continue doing what I think is right.


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