RE: YOU are responsible, even when YOU are not to blame (long)

Subject: RE: YOU are responsible, even when YOU are not to blame (long)
From: MList -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2003 13:41:53 -0400

When I was involved in quality certification, my employers did
what most do -- they hired /i/n/s/u/l/t/a/n/t/s/ consultants to
get them through the ordeal. The one that I remember best, had
this to say (paraphrasing):

"Let's try to remember that we're here for two reasons that are
somewhat related:

- We want to achieve a certification that looks good on the
company resumé/letterhead.

- We want to achieve a level of fall-back reliability upon which
our customers -- and prospective customers -- can reasonably

It happens that we accomplish both of those goals by discovering

a) what we actually do

b) what we should be doing

And then deriving and writing down a working combination of a)
and b) such that a new person could come in, pick up the documents,
and have a hope in hell of knowing what to do next.

That last one is why this effort is combined with the creation
of a Business Continuity/Disaster-Recovery Plan, in which we
prioritize what we do -- what absolutely must be done, followed
by what really should be done, followed by what is nice to be
able to do. That is, we plan for the survival of our company
through a variety of scenarios, so that we continue to provide
our customers with the bare minimum of what they need from us,
no matter what, and so that we have a clear path toward quickly
recovering our ability to resume progressively less critical
functions until we are back to full operation.

Along the way, we will discover and codify a bunch of procedures
that we are either not doing, or that we just think we are doing
properly. I mention effective backup/restore as just one of those,
because it has been a glaring fault in too many companies for
which I have consulted.

At the end of the day, it's not the end of the day. We help to
get you to -- and through -- your corporate certification. Then,
we come back next year to help ensure that you keep it. At any
time, an auditor -- one of ours, or one of the 'real' ones --
should be able to stop any employee in the hall and ask "what do
you do here, and why... and how do you know?" And the employee
should be able to either answer the question directly or point to
the document that answers the question. In almost every case, the
relevant sections of said document will have been written by the
employee and his-or-her immediate supervisor. We'll help.

We are not here to tell you how to do your jobs. We are here to
help you to become more mindful of those jobs, to help you to trim
out the dross and busy-work, to help you to codify your corporate
memory, and to help make the transfer of knowledge to new employees
as efficient and painless as possible.
That should keep us busy for a while."

I liked his approach. He's retired, now.


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