Straying Off The Beaten Path.

Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. ~Abraham Lincoln

The beaten path is not always best

Sometimes things are done a certain way, and no one really knows why. Nothing is changed because results are reached, and change may mess up the magic combination that leads to success (even if the success isn’t very great).

Doug and I ran into this mindset when we worked for a large city government. Rigid processes are what run the city, even if better ways can be devised. This clashed with my personality, and led to me being nothing more than a wage monkey…

We don’t have a robot, so you’ll have to do
What do I do? I don't know! Throw more bananas!

What do I do? I don’t know! Throw more bananas!

When I was working at my municipal job, I noticed that the way data is entered and how cases are handled  is inefficient.

The processes used have too many steps and are bloated.

It seemed to me the mindset was that database and case management was a black art, and if certain steps weren’t followed the whole organization would implode, taking the city with it.

The problem stems from ignorance. All new hires are taught the same process and expected to follow procedure, even if it doesn’t make sense anymore.

It is almost like alchemy- Do this and this to get this… with no added thought, attempts to understand, and certainly no questioning.

Most of my co-workers were older than me, and all but a few are techno-phobic. Processes that were needed ten years ago were still used because they worked (not so well, anymore). Innovative thinking and analysis that could streamline the system is not only discouraged, it is often punished.

Archaic thoughts created and maintain cumbersome processes, and “that’s how it’s done”.

Once I learned my job I was able to understand the goal of the processes. I discovered where redundancy existed and where streamlining could be implemented. At first, I offered suggestions to improve the workflow. My suggestions were met with hostility and disdain, so I kept my ideas to myself.

Numbers and quotas are monitored and tabulated in multiple ways with this job. Before long, I was doing more casework than anyone else in the division, just by using my newly devised work strategies.  My work was accurate, efficient and done ahead of schedule.

Management assumed I was working extra hard to produce such “quality” results. In reality, I was working about half as much as everyone else and getting superior results… My ideas were never recognized and implemented, and when I left the city, my innovations left with me…

Creativity and efficiency is not always valued, especially when it runs up against ignorance and incompetence. Sometimes (or all the time, in my case) you just have to do things your own way to get the best results. Doug and I are keeping this in our daily thoughts as we strive to create the life we desire…

Exercise

Think about a time when you knew something could be done better and tried to change it. How did it turn out for you?

  • Who did you come into conflict with?
  • Were there arbitrary rules in place that must be followed?
  • What were(are) the rules?
  • What could be done better?
  • How did you deal with the conflict?
  • What was the end result?

Oftentimes, what we want to do is hampered by others who don’t value innovation. This exercise will help you remember a time when you were creative and innovative. Remember this time, and realize you can live your life like this every day… Maybe you’ll have to make changes, but won’t it be worth it?

What is success, to you?

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11 comments

  1. Kelp believes this indeed applies to many aspect of life. Astute observations, Monkey.

    1. Thank you Kelp!

  2. How true!! You have put it well!! Thanks!

    1. Thanks for the input!

  3. As always the hardest changes are our own. Thanks for your post!

    1. Exactly…Thanks for reading.

  4. Sometimes I think the reason those in charge don’t like others suggesting new innovations is because they think it is showing them up as incompetent. Their ego is bruised because they didn’t think of it themselves, and if they let a worker beneath them suggest it and implement it, they believe people will think less of them (the boss). Those with a good idea may sometimes need to plant seeds of an idea, or somehow twist it around to make the boss think it is actually their own idea!

    1. I agree Penny… With normal people this would work. Where I worked was (is) completely dysfunctional. The fact that it is funded by taxes allows it to be inefficient and not accountable like a private business woulds be. Yay! I escaped!

      1. Good for you John!

  5. Lord no Monkey, how dare you even think of, let alone try to rock the boat. Penny above raises a very good point with which I agree with fully. People in general do not want the best path, they want the path of least resistance.

    1. I believe you’re right Gus. That’s why people in general are unhappy with where they are in life. We’re just trying to do our duty as good monkeys and encourage growth…

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