This submission is copyright to Steve Jenkin, © 2010
Published May 2010.

Introduction | Keeping Promises | Back Office Paradox 
Non-Experts Judging Work/Performance | Another Example

Non-Experts Judging Work/Performance

Steve went on:

The central problem of non-experts judging Professionals and the Work/Performance of "Back-Office" tasks and is that all they can see is the simple externally visible metrics - typically the effort expended or money spent.

The real work, the output, is invisible, like: Planning, Training and Talent/Expertise, as are also: Quality, Reliability, Avoidance-of-Rework, and so on. The "judges" have no expertise in the task and cannot properly judge Execution, Speed, Quality and other (relevant) critical factors of outputs. The most frequent consequence is that the most capable performers are judged the least able and either get fired or "pegged" in a position, whilst the worst performers are promoted and rewarded.

Worse yet, this system feeds on itself when those people make it up the chain of command and then employ and promote lookalikes. Hence, you inevitably end up with an institutionalization of "Form over Substance" where exactly the wrong abilities, behaviors and attributes are lauded, encouraged and sought after. This sad situation applies to whole professions as well. Hence my central criticism of Computing/IT that it is fundamentally broken.

Just sometimes, exceptional performance is recognized in absentia or after-the-fact. More often, a genteel decay sets in and the organization suffers a long decline that it is unable to identify and resolve.

There's a story I heard about a guy who sold billboard advertising in New South Wales and who retired after doing it for years. He took on a trainee for a short hand-over, gave him "the little black book" and left. The management had never had any problems with its billboards before and assumed the work would be easy. Very soon the work fell apart.

It had taken a very talented and skilled individual to juggle all the challenges and see them put in place. In the end, management had to replace the trainee with a team of 5 or 6, together with a manager and supporting software. (Anecdotal, no citation available)

Back Office Paradox  Back Office Paradox

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