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“that’s not the way we do things around here” April 3, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Did I Hear That Right?, Observations.
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One of our employees, Jay, is doing a project for a Major Airlinetm. It was kind of an 11th-hour thing, so he came back after-hours last night to make sure his part was done.

Now, I’ve complained about guys like Jay before — he’s a combination of the over-the-shoulder guy and one of those when an e-mail isn’t enough people. Jay does fairly good work, but he’d do even better work if he stopped worrying about how good his work is and focusing instead on finding ways to improve it. But I digress.

CC-licensed photo by David Goehring.

CC-licensed photo by David Goehring.

Jay saw how his project ended up when he came in this morning and was quite unhappy. I didn’t see the final project — I’m not part of Jay’s team, and only work with him on occasion — but I’ll take his word for it. Jay found someone to help him fix up the project and then talked to the pre-press/production department about making sure it was fixed.

Then he came over to my desk and explained the whole thing again — as if I couldn’t hear him explaining it to Marian, who sits about 15 feet away from me (and Jay has a very loud voice that carries quite well). He asked me if I could make sure the updated version of the project made it to the appropriate websites. That obliquely falls under my job description — I don’t work with content management very much, but I’ve done it as a fill-in on several occasions — so I wrote it down on my list and told him I would take care of it as soon as Marian was done with her part.

Then Jay says this:

I’m just embarrassed by the way it came out when we did it last night, and I don’t want Major Airline to see it that way. That’s not the way we do things around here.

Well, Jay, actually… it is. Your department shies away from difficult projects in favor of the easy ones. They don’t make sure the projects are distributed to the proper websites or are even proofread — you wouldn’t believe the number of spelling, grammatical, and format errors I’ve found while working on our sites. Pre-press/production does (for the most part, though there are exceptions) as little work as possible and is actively contrarian when they are asked to go above and beyond. The designers who work with you, Jay, are so tired of listening to you bloviate loudly on a daily basis that they’ll just agree to whatever you want so you shut up and go away so they can work. Your co-workers respect your standing in the industry, but they still want to be as far away from you as possible. As for the online production department? Well, we certainly do our best, but we’re hamstrung by all the other departments that have no idea how to use the internet to do their jobs or serve their clients. You, Jay, are one of these people, but to your credit, at least you care about how your stuff looks on the internet. In that regard, we could use a little more of that attitude, especially from your boss, whose opinion of the internet is “if it’s not above the fold in gigantic text with a creative graphic, then no one will see it”*.

So, Jay, you’re wrong. Doing things half-assedly is our standing** operating procedure. I’m surprised that, after several decades working here, you haven’t figured this out yet.

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* Unfortunately, she’s right about this, but you can’t change the way people operate on the internet by pandering to them instead of forcing them to do something new.

** Standard, if you prefer. As Shawn Spencer says on “Psych”, “I’ve seen it both ways.”

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