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Entry 477, on 2007-02-19 at 12:36:56 (Rating 3, Comments)

Today we will hold one of the most absurd and pointless exercises we indulge in at the university I work for - a planning day. A planning day is a time when your department gets together and discusses and plans the year ahead - at least that's the idea. In reality it usually either turns into an occasion when the management staff tell every one else about the latest nonsensical administrative requirements, or the staff sit around talking about how nice it would be if we could just do things a certain way (which never happens), or a bunch of plans are created which never get implemented, or the meeting just degenerates into a social gathering with no real point.

A few years back we had a professional admin person who was really into this sort of thing and insisted it was worthwhile. But when I asked for her to review progress on the plans we had made at the previous year's meeting she was strangely silent. When I pointed out that there was little point in making plans because the upper echelons of management would veto anything we wanted to do I was just accused of being negative. Negative maybe, but also realistic.

After working in a large, hierarchical organisation for many years I have realised that you can either play their game and do whatever is necessary to get into management positions yourself, or just try to do the job as well as possible despite management rules. The problem is that this generally encourages self-serving people into management positions, and these are exactly the people we don't want there. Not all managers are like that, sometimes the system slips up and a genuinely useful person is promoted, but they are usually either corrupted by the system - and revert to doing what their immediate superior (I hate that word) wants - or are worn down and leave the organisation.

So I don't hold much hope of this meeting being useful. I suppose its an afternoon (our planning "days" have degenerated into half days) where I don't have to do any work, but that just means I'll have to catch up the next day. Well maybe I'll ask some awkward questions, or just sit there and enjoy the mindless bureaucracy of it all!


Comment 1 (329) by Virginia Carper on 2007-02-19 at 12:43:19:

I have been reading your blog. I had to laugh at your latest blog entry. It seems that you described the U.S. Federal Government. I worked at several agencies, which did exactly the same thing. At budget time, it was worse. Everyone wanted their favorite project included.


Comment 2 (331) by OJB on 2007-02-19 at 12:50:13:

That must have been one of the quickest replies to my blog yet. Just 5 minutes after I posted it! Yes, you're right, many people recognise this particular affliction which most modern organisations seem to suffer from!


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