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New rule: Halfway plus one September 2, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Information Technology, Management, Technology.

At Matsu’s school of management students learn many rules. Like the communication rule (the most important one), the no-surprises rule, and the share-the-pain rule to name just a few. Well, yesterday I came up with one more rule of management; the halfway-plus-one rule.

In business, technology has become a necessity for many if not most business operations. Because of that, the majority of office employees must use computers and computer software to do their work. What I have seen in many offices and employees is the attitude that if the technology isn’t working or doesn’t work perfectly, then they are not responsible to do their job.

In a worst-case scenario, they know that something is wrong, but they don’t report it or tell anyone. After all, if things get fixed, they will have to work and be responsible accomplish things. When they don’t meet a deadline or complete a task that is expected by their supervisor, they blame technology and say they could have done their work if only the technology had not failed them. I believe this is the workplace equivalent of the “dog ate my homework” excuse.

Non-I.T. people need to understand that they have a responsibility to help the technical support group by reporting problems. And, until the problem is fixed, non-technical people should also help find ways to work around the non-functioning technology to still get the work done. Most of the time, that is possible.

In the same way, technology support people need to realize their work is not just the technology piece, but also extends to the work of the office staff they support. After all, that’s why businesses utilize technology — to get office work done.

The principle here is that both technical and non-technical staffs need to create a partnership. They need to understand their responsibility is to not just go halfway, but halfway plus a little more. That’s the ‘plus one’ part of the rule.

Imagine if we took responsibility for our 50% of the partnership plus 10% of the other person’s work. It’s the business equivalent of going the extra mile that’s mentioned in the Bible.

If in all of life’s partnerships we went further than just meeting people halfway, then everyone would be happier. With information technology, I believe there would be less finger-pointing when things break down if people would take some ownership and feel a sense of responsibility for part of the other groups’ work.

So, don’t just go halfway, go halfway plus one!



1. DrBacchus - September 3, 2006

I found a book yesterday that might help with this. I didn’t buy it, but I think I might order it online. The book is called The Geek Gap, and the premise is this. “Geeks” and “Suits” speak different languages, and each assumes that the other is being intentionally uncommunicative. Suits, say the geeks, are lazy and only care about money. Geeks, say ths suits, have no common sense, and only care about playing with their shiny toys. This book purports to help them understand each other’s language. Sounds intrigueing.

2. Matsu - September 3, 2006

Thanks for the book reference. I must check it out. I haven’t purchased anyting on Amazon.com in a couple of weeks, so it’s time for me to give them a visit. 🙂

3. Phil Kay - September 4, 2006

Great point. Stopping blaming others for problems helps get them solved faster. I think this is really important for IT Staff. We know how important the technology is in assisting others get their jobs done.

4. Can we all just work together? « Matsu’s World: The One Less Traveled - September 4, 2006

[…] Thanks to this comment posted by Dr. Bacchus, I learned about a book that tries to help I.T. and non-I.T. folk communicate and work together better. While I was purchasing that book (The Geek Gap) on Amazon this afternoon I read the following comments from the author of another book I just finished reading (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team). […]

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