Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Workplace Parable...

...or why my job sometimes drives me insane:

Once upon a time, local organizations were set up to provide subsidized buggy whips for the buggy-whipless. The buggy whips were pretty plain, not state-of-the art; and procuring them involved filling out forms and following nit-picking regulations; but the recipients nonetheless appreciated the modest buggy whips, and so the buggy whip program was popular. Taxpayers also didn’t mind chipping in for the buggy whips. Life was good at the buggy whip factories.

Then automobiles began to appear on the roadways. More and more people sold their horses and bought Model T’s.

Still, the buggy whip factories continued to churn out buggy whips. The mid-level agency overseeing the subsidization of the buggy whips scolded the factory managers: “Why aren’t you distributing more buggy whips?” Some legislators and taxpayers began to ask, “Why are we paying for buggy whips that no one wants anymore?”

The Subsidized Buggy Whip Factory Managers Association wrung its collective hands over the lack of demand for buggy whips. “Maybe we can make them prettier. Or maybe we can call them something else. Or maybe we should target a younger demographic, that needs to be educated about the benefits of owning a buggy whip.” But whenever the factory managers attempted to innovate their buggy whips, the mid-level funding agency said, “That violates the regs! You can’t violate the regs!”

Meanwhile, more horses wound up at the stockyards, and more flivvers chugged down the roadways.

Some of the buggy whip factory managers came up with a new idea: “Let’s try building our own automobile!”

The trouble was, first of all, that the buggy whip factory managers didn’t have enough money to build a car as good as the Model T. And their automobile would come with conditions and restrictions that Model T’s did not. The people who wanted Model T’s already had their own. The people who didn’t want Model T’s…well, they didn’t want Model T’s. And the mid-level funding agency said, when they heard of this proposal, “That violates the regs! You can’t violate the regs!”

And then they added: “Why aren’t you distributing more buggy whips?”


cheesehead said...

Yup. That about covers it. Sometimes I don't miss my days as a cog in the bureaucracy machine.

On the other hand, I'm in the church now...

Reverend Dona Quixote said...

OK LC, now I am REALLY wondering what you do for a living ...