Please mind the gap

In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”
Laurence J. Peter

In yesterday’s blog, we discussed the hierarchy of communication by management systems. It reminded me of a story from a project I worked on many years ago in a developing country.

Communication at this organisation was firmly rooted in the military model described in yesterday’s post. Strategy was pushed out from senior management, progressively through multiple levels until it reached all of their massive employee-base. They had never had an OSS before, so each of the exchange areas had always been isolated from head office. Performance reports were prepared manually by employees at each exchange and then passed up the line to senior management.

Employees at each exchange were heavily incentivised to keep network uptime high – they were docked pay if uptime wasn’t high enough. Needless to say, nobody in living memory had ever heard of uptime targets being missed because there were no systems for storing (or cross-checking) actual performance results.

Some of the sharper exchange operators realised what our OSS project represented – a mechanism that could close the reporting gap and reveal their cover-ups of shoddy network reliability, not to mention monitoring of their activities / performance in general.

You could say that we experienced some push-back from the remote operational teams on that project! They were steadfast in minding the gap, trying to ensure that the communications / reporting gap remained firmly in place 🙂

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