This year, I made a New Year’s Resolution. This isn’t something I normally do. I didn’t blog about it, although I did talk about it on Google+ (cynics will say it’s easier to get out of when nobody knows about it…). The gist of it was that I was going to be less tolerant this year. I am aware that this is not the usual way it goes, but I was pretty sure that I had been too tolerant of time wasters, liars and slopey-shouldered parasites that exist in large organisations. Seven months on, I am in no doubt that it was the right think to resolve, and I am probably still too tolerant if truth be told.
What made me think of this today? I read a blog post by Bob Sutton, about a friend of his who trusted United Airlines with their daughter’s travel, as an unaccompanied minor. They let her, and her parents down. The system didn’t care about this little girl. The people in the system didn’t care about anything but the system. It reminded me of a discussion on Euan Semple’s blog about the ‘hollow man’. It also reminded me of an interview panel I sat on earlier this year, recruiting a school employee. When the question ‘what would you do if you saw an adult behaving inappropriately toward a child’ arose, the most common answer we got was ‘I’d fill in the form to report it’. I’m not an educational professional, but I found this dispiriting and disturbing.
In large, or highly process-driven organisations, it’s easy to become the ‘hollow man’, it’s easy to be like those United Airlines employees who stopped thinking of the person they were failing. It’s easy to push the work around, waiting for pay day or the weekend. That’s why I was reminded of my resolution. If you’re doing that when you should be doing something for me, or my customers, watch out. I will not tolerate it, and neither should anyone else.