rough notes


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i’m not sure why but i’ve been putting myself through the ringer as of late.  i spent most of the past two weeks applying for jobs i don’t think i really want and submitting things that don’t warrant submissions to committees.  i’ve made myself tired when i shouldn’t be.

i’ve been doing a lot of work lately on my work.  when i say “work” the second time, i mean my Work – my supposed profession, vocation, career and driving life force.  often i don’t mind putting in this work for Work, but every now and again (e.g., Thursday night), i get fed up and wonder what the hell i’m doing all of it for anyway.  one of the best things i ever did occurred a year or two ago when i left one supposed profession, vocation, career and driving life force and took a New Turn in Life.  that new turn – the turn in which i’m still living – it supposed to be easier on the soul.  and it is.  it is until i get carried away with myself and start acting and working again at a rate that was expected of me in my previous life – a rate that was killing my psyché.  that must end.  i must put a stop to it.

what am i putting a stop to, though?  am i “working to live”, perhaps?  i think i work as hard as i do (only at times, mind you) to fill a gap, or to diminish a lack.  now before you start crying out “mid-life crisis,” understand that i’ve always felt this gap/lack/void/presence-of-nothing.  it’s part of the “what the hell are we doing here anyway?” argument that’s in my blood.  is the weight of this question that which drives people to western religion?  i hope not, because when i’ve considered western faiths, all i’ve ever developed was anger, and that’s no way to live in either the here-and-now or in some sort of meta-physical, meta-temporal post-death state.

the pineapples isn’t particually happy at work right now.  there’s a distinct lack of leadership within the group that she works with and it appears to hamper the effectiveness of the organization and possibly the work they do.  she mentions that the organization spends a lot of money on leadership retreats and workshops for everyone to attend, i.e., so that everyone can be their own leader in the group.  i wonder if the organization would be better off it it would invest that cash into an actual leader for the group.  give some one the authority, the responsibility, and the income necessary to take on those tasks and see how more effective they’ll be.

i’ve had to read a lot about managing and leading over the past two years.  these topics have always existed in the field’s literature, but i noticed that drawing the distinction between the two and studying how to find leaders within managers are topics that have spiked in the 2000s – just after the time when corporate downsizing went into overdrive. the pineapples has a friend – we’ll call her princess lepin.  princess lepin says that her organization holds a lot of leadership councils to try to find leaders. but the problem is that not that there are a dearth of leaders so much as it is that no one is willing to take on the authority, the responsibility, and the extra work of leading when they’re not going to receive compensation for it.  i wonder if this is endemic across large organizations – especially large non-profits today.  as technology has made employees more independent (and compartmentalized), organizations have begun to cut out middle management and leadership.  people can take care of themselves, get their work done, and get their work done well.  on a day-to-day basis this may work, but in the long-run.. well, i wonder how much of the long-view is lost.  and certainly in the short-term it’s clear that institutional knowledge creation, let-alone knowledge transfer is impeded by design.           now it sounds like the pineapples’ group has thrown their organizational structure out the window, forced a new one onto themselves, and are spending a lot of time studying how to make it work instead of doing the real work the organization requires of them.  i wonder if maybe the old structure should not have been thrown out in its entirety or if maybe more preparation should have taken place before the change occurred.   but all in all it reminds me of all the reasons why people need leaders and managers.  a leader doesn’t need to be a boss (with all its negative connotations).  a leader just has to guide a group of skilled people toward their individual and organizational goals.

i’m not suggesting a return to strict organizational hierarchies so much as i’m wondering if ideas that are developed to trim the fat in some places or to properly acknowledge the skills and output of staff by granting them all of them equal authority in other places is hurting the organization itself.  but i don’t have the answer to that – i only have a course or two of organizational management and theory under my belt.  all i do know is that these are the reasons why consultants are hired – to fix problems that organizations have created don’t have the time to fix themselves.  maybe i should go into consulting.

(nothing above is meant to damn or criticise the parties involved, by the way.  consider this an outsider’s view from an outsider who understands that the distance from the actual problem diminishes clarity and understanding of the problem in the first place.)

consulting isn’t for me, though.  there are too many CFL bulbs and too much plastic and too many flights to distant meetings for me in that world.  I need a 3 o’clock sun, an olive grove, and maybe a trusty dog to sit by while i get back to massaging my psyché as it works out how to fill its lack.


Written by mitchellirons

January 30, 2010 at 10:29 am

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