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How Long Has That Been Happening? – Religion and Politics

An unfortunate reality surrounding someone being placed in a position of authority, is that he or she is best served by not making “radical changes” on short notice. I’m not saying folks never do this, nor am I saying that when they do so, the results are invariably bad. I’m simply saying that, for the most part, this proves to not make for “good policy,” most particularly because folks who have been in a position for long periods of time—and even many, relatively short periods of time—will very likely be resistant to change.

As if this were not enough, a person taking authority over a large entity may be “responsible for” untold numbers of policies and procedures. And where that person very likely has “priorities” that drive key changes in policy and procedure, and may cause them to change quickly, there are many instances where even they (key policies and procedures) may “slip through the cracks” if there are a large amount of them.

You can be sure that I’m not per se, attempting to excuse errant behavior on the part of the “newly minted” authority figure; nor am I attempting to excuse that behavior when it is on the part of people implementing the existing policies and procedures. I’m simply trying to say that it should be expected that things will “stay in place” that may not be “optimal.” In fact, they may be far from it.

I say this, because I have noted that people want to “blame” such authorities for things that seem to be “occurring on their watch,” and understandably so. I want to make it clear too, that I am not saying that, “Because a policy or procedure was in place when an authority came into their position, means it should not be re-evaluated and possible changed or altogether scrapped.” My entire intent is to say that, “One ought to consider the origins of a given policy or procedure, before attempting to determine where one ought to lay blame for its existence.”

Take for example, U.S. Immigration policy.  Many have said that policies and procedures the which have been in place long before the current administration (and probably the previous one, and so on) took office, are entirely the province and perspective of the current administration. The thing is, for either the current, or former for that matter (or even earlier) administration, where that group did not remove or modify the existing policy, it should be understood that much of it was already in place when they came into office.

Again, does that make the policy in question “good?” By no means! On the other hand, considering the massive number of procedures and policies of various kinds that exist, it can definitely be argued that the sitting or former administration was just “following existing protocol.”

Nobody wants to hear, “I was just following orders.” From a subordinate individual—less yet, do most want to hear, “I just haven’t had the time or inclination to look at the policy with regard to a particular thing.” From “management.” The ugly truth though, is that’s exactly how things often must work. It’s not that a given individual wants to ignore a given treatment or procedure, so much as that they simply don’t have time to review and modify it.

Worse yet, when they do change the way they or their underlings are doing business, there will invariably be both internal and external complaints about the changes. And to make matters a little more interesting, some of those complaints will be from folks who are horribly badly uninformed about what’s occurring and why.

I don’t know whether it’s true, but there’s an old story that I believe talks about a factory in the U.K. The story goes that a piece of paperwork had a box on it that had been there for time immemorial. The box had text near it, but it was entirely unreadable. Somebody teaching another individual what to do with that form told them, “…and in this box, we always place a zero.”

At some point, somebody was rummaging through “master documents” in an old filing cabinet, when they found the “original” for this particular form. On that paper, they were able to read the text that had been so long obscured on the copies since made. It said, “Number of air raids today.”

Of course, this information was “vestigial.” It no longer applied, since the U.K. had not had an air raid since World War II had ended! But because it was easier to just keep entering a zero in the field, that’s what folks continued to do.

I don’t know if the story is true, but assuming it was, it’s possible that even after it was discovered,  the form continued to be reproduced with the box still in place. It’s even possible they continued to fill it out!

The obvious point here, is that the comparative significance of this form was and is likely, tiny when bumped against the “grand scope” of corporate operations—much less of that box.

Now imagine, the company—even if it had hundreds of thousands of employees—would have had less than one percent of the population of a country like the United States. That means that management would have been comparatively easy.

It’s not such an easy thing to run a country, nor even to run a smaller entity like a state. That doesn’t mean heinous or badly errant policy should just be “gone along with.” On the other hand, it does often mean such policy will be in place, and that it’s a good deal harder to “blame” the current authorities for its existence.

I say this to bring it to mind for those who hare likely not considered the truth of this idea. When media or individuals castigate folks in authority for supposed malfeasance, sometimes they’re indicting folks they don’t even realize were involved when decisions were made!

Final point? If you see a policy or procedure in place somewhere, before you “blame the man” currently in charge for it, check to see if you can determine whether they caused that policy to come into being first.

Out of time and “words.” May your time be good and as usual, thanks for reading.

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