Saturday, November 5, 2016

Cautionary Tale or Two

I'm going to talk about two things. The first incident occurred early on in my career at the day job (but I believe it's applicable to any professional situation so please bear with me). I was assigned to a cross functional team drawn from all areas of the institution, and we were charged with implementing a new financial system that was going to change literally everything about how the business side of the house ran. Or so we thought anyway! As it turned out, we did "pave a lot of cow paths", by which I mean we forced alterations and workarounds and customizations with a big C onto the vanilla software. But that isn't what I want  to discuss.

So there were meetings. Ton of meetings. Hundreds of meetings. By the time I was assigned to the effort, along with many of my peers, it was a done deal that the institution WAS going ahead with this effort. We were supposed to make it work. (No, Tim Gunn was not involved.) Maybe we grumbled, maybe we were apprehensive or excited, maybe a lot of things. But WE were not the deciders. That was above our pay grade. A long and comprehensive study had been made by very senior management before the path was chosen. We were on the team to co-ordinate our business siloes.

One woman - let's call her Imogene because that's not remotely her name - was the constant voice of doom. At every meeting. She took positive pleasure in telling us why  this wouldn't work and that wouldn't work, and why the whole thing was a dumb decision. She was deeply invested in the old system, knew all of its ins and outs and was NOT willing to change.<= Now we're getting to the core of my cautionary tale. I think she really felt that if she just kept arguing (at our relatively lowly level), she could reverse the sweep of change and/or be hailed as a heroine.

Senior management occasionally sat in our meetings. Imogene would rant and rail and interrupt. It was clear to me that her comments weren't welcomed. The institute was changing and we'd all been invited to change with it, not try to turn the clock back.

It was not clear to her. I think she felt invulnerable because she was such a longtime employee and regarded herself as indispensable. I think she may even have said in so many words that SHE was going to keep doing business the old way and the system could just work around her. Which obviously it couldn't because this was a fully integrated system. Maybe my memory is being overly dramatic.

Guess what?

There was a layoff, which at that time was extremely rare and unheard of and Imogene was gone. Poof.

Now to bring the discussion back to writing. The publishing world is constantly changing right now, along with all the tools and associated sparkly things. Social media, self publishing, the way we name it, could have changed again this morning. Change is CONSTANT.  Maybe an author can sit in their cozy spot and continue to sell to their loyal readers in the ways that have always worked for them, and everything will be fine. I wish that were so! But I have a feeling we'd better all be flexible, open to change AND realize we can't turn back time.

I'll be more concise about the second thing. I'm on many author loops and Facebook groups, so this isn't directed at any one group or loop. People, please remember if you're in an author group on Facebook or an author loop on e mail, and you know there are hundreds or maybe even 1000+ members, don't forget that the 20 or 30 or 40 people you see post all the time are not the only people out there! You don't know who is out there frankly. So, for example, if you want to rant about someone or something, or trash someone or something, do it in private, with the friends you do know. Because I'll bet you, in a group of 1000+ people, someone will have the opposite opinion, or will know the person you're fired up about.

I'm not saying don't share your experience if you feel strongly. I'm saying there are professional ways to handle providing negative feedback of that nature, in a private message, one on one, with whoever needs to know.

And I can't leave without saying: one week left to buy Pets In Space and have a portion of the royalties go to Hero Dogs, Inc., which is a very worthy charity that provides service dogs to veterans. and if you already have a copy THANK YOU!!!

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Cargo Master Owen Embersson is shocked when the Nebula Zephyr’s ship’s cat and her alien sidekick, Midorri, alert him to the presence of a stowaway. He has no idea of the dangerous complications to come – nor does he anticipate falling hard for the woman whose life he now holds in his hands. Life aboard the Nebula Zephyr has just become more interesting – and deadly.
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  1. Amen on those email loops! Sometimes I wonder if people realize just who can be reading their missives...

    1. Yeah and I deleted an even more stringent comment from me about people who share things that might be of interest to certain government agencies - WHY on Earth put that stuff in a FB comment?! That 1000 people you don't know can see? Saw several remarks recently on different loops, from different people, on the topic of contests.... O_o