Monday, June 23, 2014

A Mild Mannered Architect's Advice on Policy

I'm a reasonable guy. I understand that I am not capable of being an expert in everything. It's hard to be a expert in any one thing, let along two or three. Forget being the voice of authority on hardware, and software, and warp drives, light sabers, radioactive spiders, and the wingspan of an African Swallow.

As a passenger on an airplane, I don't need to fully understand the mathematics underlying aerodynamics, lift, and drag to know that $5.00 is too much for a can of Coke. My appreciation for the rings of Saturn is not based on the Newtonian model of gravitational force. I get it, I don't need to know every detail to have an appreciation of the forces and rules that govern our lives.

But...

Do not negate my questions with, "It's policy." When I ask why the best blog site dedicated to addressing tough Javascript issues is blocked, don't just snort, "It's policy." When I inquire about adding an extra video card to my Developer Workstation, do not say, "Can't have it, it's policy." And when I want to know if I can use Open Source Software, don't even try the Jedi policy mind trick on me. Consider me Toydarian!

"Policy" is not an answer; it's an admission of inadequacy. It's shorthand for "The answer to your question is beyond my limited vocabulary which prohibits any form of intelligent response." Policies exist for a reason, and if a policy mandates or prohibits a particular action, then anyone and everyone in a position to enforce the policy should have the three neurons necessary to articulate the reasons on which the policy is based.

If you're in a governance role having to implement policies, then you likely have to deal with schlucks like me who ask dumb questions and whine about why I can't get every little desire that pops into my head. Nonetheless, you have the responsibility to express the rationale, in consumer-centric language, for the policies you enforce. You have the responsibility to elevate understanding.

Furthermore, and this is dedicated to all of the future mall cops of America, all policies are based on a context. In the absence of the policy's context, the policy is null, void, unfounded, irrelevant, non-sequitor, perpendicular, passed on, expired, gone to meet its maker, a stiff, bereft of life, it rests in peace, its pushing up the daisies, its kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible. It is AN EX-POLICY!

We need policies, they add structure to our world, and reduce our work-set, allowing us to focus on the unique. We do not need drones, anti-social misfits who aspire to spend more alone time with their Book-O-Rules. Advance the understanding of why we operate the way we do, and we all get better, smarter, and more effective.

1 comment:

  1. Mild Mannered Architect, the future is probably heading in exactly the opposite direction. The policy drones of the future will be assembly line robots made by a large corporation, the kind already described in "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy". If it is any consolation, the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation from the H2G2 is described in the guide as "a bunch of mindless jerks who were first against the wall when the revolution came".

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