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Topic: Day jobs: is excellence rewarded or discouraged?

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  1. #1

    Day jobs: is excellence rewarded or discouraged?

    I know a number of folks work days in non music related gigs and was curious to see how common an occurance this was in various fields...

    Although one might think that people who come up with newer, better, faster and higher quality ways of doing the job would be appreciated and valued, what I've personally seen in the corporate world (and heard from readers who email me) is that often those who try to "do it better" are either discouraged or, in many cases, actively censored. I've actually seen people get fired for the crime of trying to improve the quality of thier company's offerings.

    I realize that doesn't make much sense, but the phrases you'll typically hear is that you're "just making trouble" or are "not a team player", etc. Essentially, those who are trying to reach for higher standards of performance threaten the status quo of coworkers and managers. They make them look bad by comparison and / or run the risk of everyone having to do more work. Some fear that they will lose their position or power to these ambitious souls. It may also conflict with the political agenda of the people in charge, who are at times less interested in higher quality products and service (or even company profits) than they are in getting promoted to the next level.

    I've seen this in a number of industries over the years, and yes, I've even seen it in music. Ever see a band member get replaced because he wanted the band to be tighter, have better performances, work better rooms or more often, etc. when everyone else just wanted to come in, play a little music, drink a few beers and go home? This ostracized musician is suffering the same fate as his corporate brothers and sisters.

    Anyway, I'm working on my next book and was curious to see if I simply lived in some bizarre parallel universe or if others saw this senseless behavior in their own little galaxies...
    Christopher Duncan
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Author of
    Unite the Tribes and The Career Programmer
    www.PracticalUSA.com


  2. #2

    Re: Day jobs: is excellence rewarded or discouraged?

    I guess in the minds of supervisors, they see you as a kind of a "tool" that they want to work in a predictable fashion. From what I've seen of CEOs, investors, and other high-up-there business types, they really abhor changes of any kind. Do something faster than usual and they have to assume something's wrong/missing.

    Think of a sequencer upgrade for example. You'd been using versions 1-4 of the program for years and years, then all of a sudden version 5 has a completely different way of displaying controllers. Well maybe it's a hypothetically faster system now, but it interrupts your workflow simply because it's just a little bit different from what you're used to.

    I remember I used to typeset this monthly business newsletter at my job. It didn't involve much more than copy/pasting new data onto a template, but the driving point my boss made was that under no circumstances could I do anything like changing the margins, spacing, kerning, etc.... even when it would make perfect logical and aesthetic sense to do so. This was because the investors reading the newsletter would become highly suspect if they detected any sort of changes from the norm that they'd been seeing for years - they'd assume some kind of change occurred with the newsletter writers themselves, which in turn puts their credibility at risk. So even though I eventually came up with faster/more efficient ways of doing the job, I still made sure to spend the remaining time doing proofreading and such; if I handed my part in much faster than usual, my accuracy would be called into question.
    Wilbert Roget, II
    Composer
    Rogetmusic.com

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Re: Day jobs: is excellence rewarded or discouraged?

    2 tips.

    Watch the film 'I'm Alright Jack' until you know it word for word - and read Bernard Herrmann's biography 'A Heart at Fires Centre'.

  4. #4
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    Re: Day jobs: is excellence rewarded or discouraged?

    Chris,

    Interesting topic. I'm a Chief of Police by day - and here I encourage a full team effort. We have meetings with the entire staff prior to budget presentations, meet regularly on community problem solving, and I am sure to "exploit" employees strengths and interests in the various fields of law enforement (investigations, patrol, tactics, etc). I'm always open to suggestions from staff regarding better ways to do things. The ironic part, there are other departments in my area where the management standpoint is "my way or the highway" and duck this attitude under the paramilitary organizational structure. My department does not pay as well as some of the other departments (we're a small community) but, I have less of a turnover rate than those other departments. In fact, I have recently been approached by several members of another department that pays better because they feel unimportant with their current job. I believe that thinking outside the box, even in a conservative field such as law enforcement, requires more input from more individuals who are out in the field and actually doing the "dirty work". They see what our final product is and have a much beeter grasp of how things could work better. I can't imagine this approach being much different even in the corporate world.

    My 2 cents.

    Regards,

    Tim

  5. #5
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    Re: Day jobs: is excellence rewarded or discouraged?

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Duncan
    Anyway, I'm working on my next book and was curious to see if I simply lived in some bizarre parallel universe or if others saw this senseless behavior in their own little galaxies...
    Chris,
    You must be in a bizarre parallel dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. (Next stop, the Twilight Zone!)

    Throughout history innovators and people who think different have always been discouraged. Many have be censored, disparaged or killed for challenging vested interests and the status quo.
    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Duncan
    Although one might think that people who come up with newer, better, faster and higher quality ways of doing the job would be appreciated and valued, what I've personally seen in the corporate world (and heard from readers who email me) is that often those who try to "do it better" are either discouraged or, in many cases, actively censored.... performance threaten the status quo of coworkers and managers. They make them look bad by comparison and / or run the risk of everyone having to do more work. Some fear that they will lose their position or power to these ambitious souls. It may also conflict with the political agenda of the people in charge, who are at times less interested in higher quality products and service (or even company profits) than they are in getting promoted to the next level.

    I've seen this in a number of industries over the years, and yes, I've even seen it in music.
    This even happens in the music technology business too

    Good observations you made Chris. Although weeds always seem to grow in the garden of innovation, good ideas will always blossom.

  6. #6

    Re: Day jobs: is excellence rewarded or discouraged?

    I have never seen excellence discouraged, but I have seen it ignored. When friends have told stories about excellence discouraged, it's almost always in a noncompetitive environment, and there were always other management problems as well.

    A possible explanation of the phenomenon comes from the great business writer, Dave Barry. As a businessperson, your goal is to climb the ladder until you reach the Golden Ring of Success. However, the Golden Ring is fairly small, and has few chairs, so you don't want others trying to climb past you. Therefore, try to hire people who are like dogs. A dog can spend its whole day lying around, licking its private parts, then say,"You want ME, to go OUTSIDE? What a great idea! I never would have thought of that myself!" A cat would just think, "What a cement head."

  7. #7

    Re: Day jobs: is excellence rewarded or discouraged?

    Sometimes excellence is in the eye of the beholder.

    I've seen people with little practical expereince come up with a number of ideas that would take many man-years to implement, and would probably fail. They get frustrated because they feel that nobody listens to them. The thing is, it's not their two million dollars worth of development investment on the line.

    The company I work for is very risk averse, but we hit a lot of singles and sacrifice flies. We don't strike out swinging for the fences. At first it was very frustrating, since we had way more ideas than sense. Now that I better understand the reasons that products can fail, I'm much more selective about the ideas that I get excited about and promote.

    On one hand, you could say that I've become brainwashed by the corporate culture. Another view is that by applying critical thinking gained through experience *is* a form of excellence.

    -JF

  8. #8

    Re: Day jobs: is excellence rewarded or discouraged?

    My profession was (retired and looking for a new profession) Public School Music Education. It was quite different for me than what has been said here. If you had some good ideas and you wanted to work to make the school a better place to teach and work, All the other teachers were for you. That way, you got all the extra-curricular (spelled no pay) jobs and got to discuss the state of education with the board members (spelled no pay) and were constantly asked to help others who didn't have your insight or foresight (spelled no pay). In other words, you got the duties and obligations offered to you that others did not want to do and all because you strove for excellence.

    At least that's the way it was in my parallel universe.
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  9. #9

    Re: Day jobs: is excellence rewarded or discouraged?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garritan
    Chris,
    You must be in a bizarre parallel dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. (Next stop, the Twilight Zone!)
    I thought that waiter looked an awful lot like Rod Serling at lunch yesterday...
    Christopher Duncan
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Author of
    Unite the Tribes and The Career Programmer
    www.PracticalUSA.com


  10. #10

    Re: Day jobs: is excellence rewarded or discouraged?

    Good morning GPO,

    My Grandfather (Right off the boat Italian) would tell me... "You are truly blessed when you can make a living and love what it is you do"

    It sounds cooler in Italian though
    una vita benedetta!

    FB

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