Courage under fire

Lately I have seen amazing people do amazing things in spite of the systems and technology that surround them. I love this job and I love the people, but the systems, well, they are crushingly stupid.

Like all large organisations, the university has grown organically over time. Systems are put in place to address gaps or issues that arise as the business context changes. Unfortunately, with a large scale reform, such as e-learning, systems cannot afford to be disjointed and ungoverned. There must be clear paths of accountability and transparent business workflows.

Lately I’ve seen decisions made centrally that made perfect sense until the outcome reached a faculty. Once that happened, everything went completely wrong. There were many lost hours of additional work and the stress levels went through the roof, all because there was no transparency around workflow. If the person in central had understood the ramifications of the decision that was made, they could have chosen a different path that wouldn’t have affected enrolment of students.

If there had been clarity of governance, the staff member who fixed the issue in the end, wouldn’t have had to lose a day finding a solution as she could have pushed the task back to where it truly belonged. Unfortunately, with no governance, there is little accountability, so there is little incentive to actually do your job, particularly if there is someone else willing to do it for you. Of course, a lack of governance also means freedom……and that can be terribly intoxicating!

So what does this little gripe of mine mean in the big picture? It means I’m surrounded by amazing people and stupid systems. I think that makes it business as usual for any large organisation. However, it also means that I have an opportunity to make a difference here. I can identify the roadblocks and identify how to overcome them so that the amazing people can get back to doing what they really should. Hmmm… to make it happen!


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