Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

149. Game Continues

“Yes, you are absolutely right,” Maulik says.

“Will you correct it immediately, as soon as possible?” I ask hopefully.

“Well, Madam, why don’t you write me a mail with cc to Mr. G?” Maulik adds in the same breath.

I am confused.

I ask little bluntly without noticing that it is rather rude, “Do you understand what I am saying?”

“Certainly Madam, that is a gross mistake and it needs to be corrected immediately,” Maulik is a good guy. He is soft-speaking person.

“Then just do it man. Why do you need email when I am discussing with you and you are convinced that this job needs to be done? And it is part of your broad job profile – I am not asking anything extra or out of the way.” I am irked at this email business. The correction I want does not involve financial approval from anyone.  Why this formality of sending an email?

I am not a software person – in the sense I do not create it. However I use it. For one of our programs Maulik and his team are hired for designing/producing software for us. I know the logic but not the application. We have explained what we want as the ‘end product’ but at every step we find few missing links. Especially when I come back from field areas, I have many suggestions because the software is not working properly. Field testing is a must – I keep on telling myself and others if they chose to listen.

But Maulik insists that I send an email to his boss; then his boss will ‘order’ Maulik and Maulik would ‘’immediately’’ complete the job. I wouldn’t mind doing this if it helps. But Mr. G (Maulik’s boss) is known for not answering emails – I even have doubt whether he reads those! Sending an email to Mr. G and waiting for his response would take at least another week. I know it is of no use.

I call Mr. G. I explain. I say, I will write formally to keep things on record, but it would be good if he tells Maulik to make the correction immediately.

Mr. G is a seasoned manager. He says, “Don’t worry. You just send me an email and I will write to Maulik. It will not take more than 10 minutes.”

I know it will definitely not be done in next two weeks!!

If we are informal, we are more efficient and effective.

If we are formal, we tend to be inefficient and ineffective. Everybody knows this and has experienced this. We complain about this system, when we want to get something done - when we are at the receiving end.

But when the baton comes to us, when we have to deliver, we play the same old game. People for generations continue to play the same game – only the players change, the game continues. 

You might like to read Systemaniac. 


  1. yes well written
    people keep playing this game

  2. well, I have hugely suffered from the lack of system and being informal.

    though Effectiveness of system is very subjective and depends industry to industry.

    at the end of the day its attitude of the person in question which makes a difference irrespective of system.

  3. I forgot to to add, I have worked with both styles i.e. system driven and people driven

  4. sm, yes! It seems that we love this game!!

  5. Makk, it depends on attitude .. but mostly attitudes are shaped by culture and system.

  6. I was working in a UN office. Everytime, they had problems in making contracts and documents were sent at last minute, creating problems for the person who was supposed to travel. One day I took the contract to the office of boss for signature, his secretary told me not to do it ever again "because we must work with the system." The system meant that I put the document in the tray outside my room, a guy will come to pick it, take to central distribution centre and it will go to Boss's office and if we are lucky come back after 3-4 days. I never renewed my contract there.
    Big places tend to have such systems. Plus expert consultants hired to make the system more effective also contribute :)

  7. Suniljee, these are wrong kind of fire fighters .. first they create problems by their systems and attitude and then they take pride in 'solving' the (self-created) problems! Big deal indeed!!

  8. and cultures and systems are shaped by Individuals

  9. I've been on both sides. And even on the interface.

    You are applauded when , as a programmer, you act tough and ask for system changes in writing, regardless of how minor they are. Then whoever it is that is designing your stuff can charge you for it.

    When you are an in-house system designer and programmer, that gets thrills from seeing something where you did troubleshooting and got things working, you get shunted out .

    Happens. Because someone up there didnt get an email.

    At the end of the day, system is defined by levels of power, not how helpful it is.

  10. Makk, I agree .. it is egg and hen situation :-)

  11. Surangatai, you have summed it well - system is defined by the levels of power and not the utility.


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