YOU are responsible, even when YOU are not to blame

Subject: YOU are responsible, even when YOU are not to blame
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 10:02:24 -0700 (PDT)


"Jan Henning" wrote.

> In particular, the devision of responsibility on
> which a modern company is based means that there are circumstances
> beyond the writers control for the detrimental effects of which he or
> she consequently cannot reasonably be held responsible. As usual, here
> too tough-sounding blanket statements are of little value for the real
> world - it is all a matter of degree.

Jan (et al) you need to get the following concepts straight:

1. Free of blame: when a problem happens, it isn't your fault.

2. Free of responsibility: you are not responsible for the work, its quality,
and its production.

Blame is not synonymous with responsibility.

Blame is what happens after a problem is discovered. People sit around,
bickering and gnashing their teeth about how so-and-so didn't do his job. This
is when people sink to their lowest form - whining. This is counterproductive
behavior. It doesn't solve or correct the problem. It may be useful to trace
down root causes of problems, but this must be done in a blame-free manner.

Responsibility is what happens before a job. Its when a person assumes
responsibility for getting work done. It means that when there is a problem,
the person responsible for that work takes the task to correct it. If they make
a mistake, they fess up to it.

If there is a massive snow storm, and you are unable to get to work, and this
causes your documentation to be late, you may very well not be at fault. But
that does not mean you are not responsible.You're still responsible for getting
the docs done when you get back to work.

Responsibility doesn't stop when something goes wrong. If the documentation has
an error, the writer is still responsible for repairing it and making it right.
It doesn't matter if it was a snow storm or a evil programmer who made the
mistake. The problem now rests on the writer to fix it and make it right.

Many people here are consistently confusing the meanings of blame and
responsibility. Responsibility does not stop the moment there is a problem.
Writers are responsible for their work, regardless. Just because there maybe a
wild assortment of excuses why the writer couldn't get the docs correct, does
not free them from blame.

Moreover, if you are just a peon with no authority, that does not mean you are
free from responsibility. Just because you have bone-headed bosses does not
mean is okay to do bad work. That is an excuse.

Lastly, if you require a 100% sanitary environment, where management
religiously feeds you every last chunk of data you need to write docs and
ensures you are totally set up to succeed, then I am afraid you are in for a
very depressing and disappointing career in high-tech. These places do not
exist, nor will they ever.

Andrew Plato

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