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hoist by my own petard June 22, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Did I Hear That Right?, Experiences, The Two-Year-Old.
Tags: , , , , ,

Most offices do things in strange, roundabout, or complicated ways not because those are the best ways but because those are the ways that have always been used. As a web guy, I’m much more up on technology than most office drones, and as such, I’m looking for new ways to do things that actually improve the process. To that end, I’ve printed out the following Grace Hopper quote and put it on my desk.

The most dangerous phrase in our language is ‘we’ve always done it this way’.

Well, that came back and bit me in the ass on Friday.

One of the things instituted by the Two-Year-Old is that everyone in her department is in charge of putting their own web content online. Some do it well, some do it average, some do it because they have to, and some (the highest-paid ones, rather predictably) don’t even bother, counting on everyone else to do it for them. I’ve been in charge of plenty of web training, because (a) I’m an expert in all our web apps and (b) I’ve actually been a teacher. Oh, and I also write all the manuals for the web apps, using pictures, big arrows, and as many small words as possible.

On Friday, I went to see the Two-Year-Old about a better way to do web content that basically boils down to this:

Remember when you halved my department and absorbed the person who oversaw all web contend during the day, then made it so he doesn’t do that anymore, and then didn’t replace him but instead just told all your people to put their own stuff online? Basically, we need your people to each take a day and oversee all web content to the exclusion of all else.

For a company that believes the web is the future, I still find it appalling that:

  • I am the entire web department.
  • If I didn’t take it upon myself to police our web content, no one would do it, and no one would care.
  • The rest of the staff either doesn’t care about the web or puts it last instead of first.

However, the conversation was rather deftly turned to “how can we make things easier?” I put forth that more people need to be able to move layouts from the art computer to the production computer. In the old days, we had to use an internal FTP program, but in the past year we’ve implemented a really good piece of software that I’ll call MoveItThere. Dump the layout in MoveItThere, tag it, then go to the production computer and type your tag into MoveItThere. Voila!

Yes, I know, it would be better if they were on the same system, but like I said, “we’ve always done it this way”.

Anyway, the Two-Year-Old said “we need to find a better way” and I said, rather stupidly, “because of the firewalls, we’ve always had to have a process like this.”

“But don’t you have a sign on your desk…”

My stomach dropped down into my socks.

Hoist by my own petard!

I managed to recover and turn the conversation back to my point, which was: “look, we need to make some changes around here. I can plan them out, but as the boss you have to actually make them.” She agreed, looking rather haggard — her job is pretty stressful and she spreads herself very thinly — but we didn’t come to any actual conclusions about changes being made.

Score one for the Two-Year-Old.

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This is post #250 of CorporateSpeak. Thanks for supporting me this long. Tell your friends!



1. kempozone - October 12, 2009

Im sure many of you are like me and one of the first things you do in the morning is head here and check out the new post. Along with seeing the new posts, I’m also always checking out the blog roll rss feed and watching them grow, or shrink sometimes. In one of my past …but all in all excellent site. Keep it up!

2. Donnieboy - October 12, 2009

Just wanted to drop you a line to say, I enjoy reading your site. I thought about starting a blog myself but don’t have the time.
Oh well maybe one day…. :)

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