Trouble at work.

I am a tinkerer that had his license to tinker taken away, but I am not alone. What the hell am I talking about? I’m talking about using the tools available to us in the modern, computerized world. I’m talking about increasing efficiency through automation. I’m talking about one person’s attempts to make his office a more productive place and an administration with a policy of “no.”

I am faced with a delema. I am faced with two basic choices: to play by the rules or not. I can play the “don’t ask, don’t tell” game and continue to try to improve my work unit’s efficiency in annonymity; or, I can play by the rules. The rules are thus: don’t automate anything on your own; if you have an idea for automation let us (a comittee) know and we may or may not do it for you – at some point. People like me cease to be involved once we submit the idea. We have to rely on someone else to do it. It appears we are emerging from a golden age at my office, entering another age entirely. For the past six or seven years I have been free to automate tasks in my office as I saw fit. I saw something ripe for automation and I did it. The powers that be asked us to work smarter and I think we did just that. We were a well oiled, enthusiastic, and involved part of the process. We saw potential improvements and we made them. Much of that ends today. Because some individuals around the state that have reeked havoc everyone is being asked to dumb it down. I am a three time winner of a statewide award for productivity in state government. Two times my coworkers have voted for those they felt deserved monetary awards for their diligence and hard work – and two times I have been among those selected to receive such an award. Several months ago everyone was asked to submit their automation tools for review and many were placed on a forbidden list, but none of them were mine. Despite all of this, my employer has given me a clear message, “thanks but no thanks.”

Lying just isn’t my thing (even lying by omission), so as tempting as it is to sneak around I’ve got to play by the rules. But where does that leave me now? The longer I think about this the more I think of all the little tweaks I make to the tools we use. The longer I think about this the more I think of all the tools I’ve needed to tweak. Both lists are getting longer and the weekend is still young. One thing keeps coming to mind, I’m not allowed to do it any more. A stupid little change that could take me ten minutes… it’ll take me that long just to fill out the damn form requesting the change! God knows how long it will take the “review board” to debate the change and actually implement the change… if they decide it’s in my best interest to have the change. The ultimate insult is that they won’t trust me to update my own tool, even if they do approve the change. I can’t even begin to explain how that makes me feel. Disappointed? Disillusioned? Betrayed? Depressed? Useless? Demoralized? Unwanted?

I was sitting in an office this afternoon with two of the senior managers. We were discussing my automation issues, and try as they might there just wasn’t any encouraging news about these changes that they could offer. As the meeting unfolded I found myself becoming increasing detached. In the course of two hours I was sapped of my enthusiasm for my work. I was left to stare, glassy eyed out the window as the discussion continued. I am hoping that things will seem different by Monday, but tonight? If I had another X chromosome I think I would have a good cry. Well, us XY folks are stuck with our emotions bottled up so we can stew on them for a while. I can’t wait.