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5- Work The System

"Had I expected the system to work without me working it a bit?"

No system ever devised worked as intended. Each embodied some flaw or feature producing different than intended responses. We adapt around these shortcomings until we become largely unaware of their presence. Encountering any new system inevitably becomes an at least somewhat frustrating series of learnings which we experience as mistakes until we figure out the fiddles and somehow seamlessly incorporate them into our repertoire. Some systems seem especially blessed with a seemingly intransigent nature. These, we never completely learn and so we struggle with them. Math was like that for me. So is the thermostat with the inhuman human interface. Each encounter with these systems involves essentially starting tabula rasa all over again.

We develop shortcuts and co-opts over time. We come to more deeply understand a system's tolerances, those points where a corner might be successfully shaved.
We end up doing little according to specification, producing our essentially unique instance of the system that generally works for us, though it's at least a little different than the same system everyone else uses. I tend to avoid the more complicated parts of any system I interact with. My car features both automatic and paddle-shift transmissions, but I have not yet figured out the paddle-shift, so I leave it alone. I might deliberately use no more than 1/100th of my iPhone's or my MacBook Pro's features, finding their whole systems too complicated to even contemplate, let alone use.

My Fifth Ethical Responsibility insists that I should Work The System So The System Will Work. It intends to both assuage and persuade me. I need not know every picky detail to successfully employ any system and I also need not expect any system to work as advertised. When a system fails me, I should consequently not feel
that surprised, for it might well be the nature of all systems, like all humans, to fall somewhat short of their design specifications. The mature bureaucracy designed to smooth approvals, tangles them up instead. The formalities intended to ameliorate risk amplifies them. The pecking order lays its share of eggs. Whatever clever response I might implement to correct some shortcoming will introduce its own shortcomings to the process. No surprises.

Especially in 'project' work, the way it was supposed to be almost never turns out to be the way it turns out. This result remains a near constant, and while some find this tenacious indeterminacy endlessly frustrating, others find it both reassuring and enlivening. I use my Ethical Responsibilities to reassure me that things are not nearly as bad as they might seem, that there might well be an infinite variety of ways and means to achieve any objective, and that sometimes missing a deadline is exactly what a 'project' might need to meet later, more significantly important ones. For me, 'project' work always turns into a swirl, but no more of a swirl than any system I interact with might produce. The apparent problem isn't half the difficult my inability to cope with the problem might be. Yea, that system disappointed me again. What? Had I expected the system to work without me working it a bit?

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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