BOFH: Putting the commitment into committee
Do we have an agenda? Why of course we do!
Episode 8 I never cease to be amazed by the seemingly endless possibilities for forming a committee to not do something.
It's as though whenever there's a critical mass of deadwood in one room they'll end up creating a committee to legitimise themselves, make some decisions to address the ills of whatever they've talked about, issue some policies and standards about their area of non-expertise and then finally have some "certification" requirement to ensure that the rest of the world adheres to their poorly thought-out standards.
Take the Boss, for instance. Unhappy with the new website rebranding exercise, he's been making vague comments about his dissatisfaction around the office in the hopes of stirring the masses into an uprising.
Having put down many such uprisings in the past, the PFY and I just look on.
"This is going to be a bunfight," the PFY muses.
"Yes - It's important because the stakes are so small," I concur.
Don't get me wrong, I love committees - they're a great way of getting the troublemakers all in one place. A small office with a lockable door and inadequate fresh air supply for instance - or even just up against a heavily pockmarked wall...
The only minus with committees is their ad hoc approach to measurable criteria. So in discussing the webpage they want a "good" design and "intuitive" navigation - yardsticks which become weapons in the hands of idiots.
"You must admit the colour scheme is terrible." the Boss says to me.
"Yes, I don't care." I respond.
"And the navigation is appalling," he says, gesturing with the mouse at a perfectly usable interface.
"Hang on a minute, I'll check my list."
"What list?" the Boss asks.
"Hang on..." I say, staring off into the distance. "No... not, not on the list."
"What list?" he asks.
"The Things I give a shit about list."
"Well that's just..."
"Hang on, I better check again - in case I missed something." I say, staring off into the distance again. "No. Not there."
"You must have an opinion, surely?" he says, not put off.
"Because, as I pointed out several times in the past 10 minutes - I don't care."
"TECHNICALLY" I say, "It's fine. It's running on a secure server, on a secure and robust untinkered-with operating system and using a well known and safe piece of software. And it's regularly backed up."
"End of story."
"But look at it."
I look at it.
"This" he says, rolling over a part of the screen till a little prompt pops up on his browser.
"But look at the colour! And the font!"
"Oh, you're talking to me about style. Or, to put it another way, YOU are talking to me about style. In your slacks that were in fashion for about 1/2 an hour 40 years ago and in a shirt which is at least two-and-a-half times too small for you judging by the diamond 'ventilation holes' along buttonline of your shirt."
"Thatsgotnothingtodowithit!" he gasps.
"Anyway," I counter, "it is absent from the TIGASA list - along with with what the company logo should be, the colour they should paint the foyer, how white the printer paper should be, whether you need a 27-inch monitor or not - ET CETERA!"
"But it represents our company."
"So do you, but we don't form a committee about it," I say.
"Oh, are we not doing that?" the PFY says, grabbing an idea and running with it. "But I've already emailed the agenda and the recommendations from the last meeting."
"The committee - about how people who represent the company should dress," the PFY lies, "and behave."
"I told you. About how people who.."
"I heard what you said. But I never heard about the committee."
"Well it was just some people who were concerned. About how the company was portrayed.
And, well, you know, how we have no standards."
"SUB standards, I think someone said," I add, turning to the Boss. "You were mentioned. Or rather your fashion sense."
"LACK of fashion sense, I think someone said," the PFY chips in.
"No one's told me anything about this!" the Boss blusters.
"Yes, well, you're not on the committee."
"What the f*ck has my fashion got to do with you?"
"What the f*ck has a website got to do with you?" the PFY chips back.
"I don't know why you're defensive," the Boss says. "You didn't even create the website."
"We're not defensive," the PFY says. "We don't care."
"He's right" I say "As far as the PFY and I are concerned, our website could Teletext quality graphics in vivid pink flashing characters, playing loud 4 bit music continuously while chewing up browser CPU with poorly written Java!"
"We just don't want to have to keep changing it every time someone who can't dress themselves in THIS CENTURY'S clothes is confused by a mouseover event."
"MY opinion is.." the Boss starts.
"Completely irrelevant," the PFY finishes.
"Because it's an opinion," I add.
"It's an opinion. It's not a technical thing."
"Yeah. Like the door and door handle on our storeroom. You might not like the way it looks, but we chose them both for technical reasons - not for looks."
"A door's a door and a handle's a handle," he counters angrily, walking over and into the room concerned. "You could put anything here and it wouldn't make an ounce of difference."
I could respond, but there's no way the Boss would hear me through the double laminate acoustic rated soundproof door. And there's no handle on the inside to annoy him.
"Best pop down to the pub for a few hours," the PFY suggests ,"and have that committee meeting."
. . .
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