Monday, June 26, 2006

Fishy Fishy................

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I'm about to let you in on a big secret. Don't go spreading it around, though. You have to keep it to yourself. We wouldn't want the secret to get into the wrong know what hands I'm referring to.............the hands of middle management. But, then again, if you told them the secret, chances are they may not understand it anyway. WHY? Have you ever heard of the Peter Principle? It's a rampant virus that has spread across the mired mucky wasteland where one finds the lost souls of the public sector.

And now that the lost souls have "made it" in their own eyes..............well.........the muck has cemented them in job positions with responsibilities that are beyond their pointy little brain abillity. Yes, they reached their job climax...........the pinnacle of power (or so they think)............and there they sit mucking up the waters, and making decisions that impact the frontline little people who are doing their best to provide the service to the client.

Somehow the aspirants who reached for the so-called brass ring (a mirage of a facade) of middle management and attained that special rung on the ladder missed out on a couple of lessons in their first year Organizational Design course. The key role of middle management is to liase between the bigger fish and the little herring while not getting anything dirty under their fins. They are the lobsters in the food chain of command, and they take this quite seriously. Clutching onto their mantra of "Key Messages, Key Performance Indicators, Core Competencies, Excellence in Client service, Quality team approach," these deepsea thinkers have neglected to learn the meaning behind the words. They forgot to take a course in common sense communication. Consequently, they don't get the importance of looking out for the herring.

Middle management runs on fear..........of being caught like a crustacean caught in the net.............fear that their own incompetencies will be shone for all to see. Under the shimmering guise that they one day will rue the public sector world, that they too will rise above a station that is already above their capability, they focus only on the bigger fish and forget the herring.

Herring, especially the strong swimmers...........the ones who with a few brain cells, who are awake and aware of the incompetencies...........scare the shit out of them. So, middle management peer up towards the bigger fish, to please, please and please and forget to cover their dorsal fin. . Yes, they are so busy congregating in coral boardrooms across the public sector nation, plowing through bureaucratic baloney that is packaged as fancyfish food, they completely miss out on the fact that upstairs, business runs as usual. Clients are served. Issues are dealt with. Problems are solved, often by a school of the herring who know how to run the business.

So, along comes a red tory herring. She doesn't fit. She's not a regular herring, and she sure as heck is not interested in miring in the muck of middle earth, middle management. The bigger fish don't know what to do with a spear in their side, she asks questions, expresses her ambitions, offers suggestions, and demands to be recognized.

This red tory herring, who also has the ability to see and often support the other herring, just doesn't fit in the eyes of the lobsters. What do they do with her? Where could she go? Why isn't she grateful that she just has a job and a paycheck? Why would she want anything more in life? How can we quash her ambition? Does she want our lucrative and important position? That must be it! She wants what we have! Swim for cover! Lay the tracks with number counting exercises, swamp her with reports to submit...........scatter a minefield of obstacles so that we wear her down. Sooner or later, she will get tired of enthusiastically sharing her ideas. Surely she'll swim away soon. Or better yet, throw her a shiny lure and that'll shut her up for good. Put her in her place..............let her know that she's only a red herring and will never be a lobster.'s the secret. Lobsters are bottom feeders. They suck up the entrails of the ocean floor. They may be gourmet in some people's eyes............but a bottom feeder is a bottom feeder.

Red herrings? Well, this red herring is not what she appears to be. She's really a butterfly...........caught in a net right now, but very soon will be fluttering her wings and taking flight. I just have to unhook the net from my wing..................


Sunny said...

Thank you for allowing my to read your words of inspiration. I too have been a red herring! I have also enjoyed a good dance with friends in the living room and BBQ'd the summer away enjoying family and travelling with mine. I will enjoy reading what you have to say tomorrow and for many more to come. My Dad is also my hero!

TMelendez said...

Very good post...! twofold purpose! I like it!! I was going to print it and post it oustide my cube tomorrow.. especially after a more than an hour one on one with my boss today, trying to explain that whatever they thought was working right is not...!

I just need to cut the lat part of it.. so that they dont think the little red herring is me!!!

awareness said...

Gee, I can relate. Sad but true, there are bottom feeders everywhere who are quite threatened by their perception of a red herring. The universality of "mediocre" is incredibly disheartening don't you think? However, it should never halt the ambition and enthusiasm of a creative butterfly.....especially one who loves to dance, with a penchant for blue diamonds. :)