24 November 2005

Good Job

ksblog has an entry about getting a "good job", which I loved.

My experience working within a large organization was that in order to really get things done, to innovate in new ways, it had to be a secret. As soon as people popped their creative heads above ground they would be squashed by the machine. (wow, that was kinda descriptive and yet vague at the same time!)

My point is, it has been my experience that often if you want to be innovative, just be innovative, and don't tell people that's what you're doing.

In my old job we used all sorts of creative methods to hide our innovations, like creating new phrases to describe what we were doing (only if asked), downplaying the good we were doing (kinda like the opposite of marketing), and co-operating by jumping through hoops whenever asked so as not to raise suspicions (hoops are inevitable).

As a result, we were able to do some really great stuff that if we had asked permission for, would have been rejected. We got our work done much faster and produced way more than was expected and our automations had positive spinoff benefits for the entire organization. Soon we were asked to take on other people's work in the same way.

It grew from the ground up so by the time the old school power keepers of the organization figured out what was going on, it was too late, the organization had already adopted our work and was loving it.

My advice is:

  • always keep your boss informed, without actually asking permission.

  • use creative names (i.e. we called our LAN a "File Sharing Device" for years because we weren't supposed to have a LAN. Fortunately, they didn't actually know what a LAN was.)

  • always jump through the hoops with pleasure (if you don't, you will be seen as a risk)

  • if you get attacked you can always use the bureaucracy against itself to slow down the people who are trying to stop you (i.e. "Let's schedule a series of focus group meetings to talk about how we might move resolve this.")

  • get buy-in from people you need by giving them lots of credit and sharing the love (i.e. "I would like to thank my boss, the IT department and the security folks for making this wonderful thing possible") even though they were in fact causing you the most friction.

And most of all, have fun. Life is too short to get the life sucked out of you by a big organization. Even innovation hostile environments can be fun places to work if you understand how they work.

Remember, they move slowly. You move fast.

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