The Clown

Jeffrey L. Bromberger, Senior Pontificator

01 August 2021

NB: A version of this article appeared several years ago on a previous employer’s web site.  It has been updated and re-posted, saved for posterity.

Almost everybody I meet these days, born after the tumultuous early 1960’s, seems to never have heard of Dag Hammarskjöld. And that’s a shame.

A sharp thinker from Sweden, he was nominated to lead the United Nations in 1953 because he was considered “mostly harmless” by the permanent members of the Security Council. Elected on April Fools Day, he believed that it was all some bad joke being played upon him.

What the world didn’t know was that, hiding in the shell of an “aristo-bureaucrat” and economist, was a sharp philosopher who had been keeping a daily diary of his thoughts since he was 25. One of his most famous observances is this one:

“Never, for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experience or convictions.”

After talking to some of my friends across the different IT silos, it is clear that this lesson has generally been left by the side of the road. How many times are we faced with a problem, one where we formulate a solution to solve the issue, and present it to management, and they reply with one of these:

  • “If you can stick with this obsolete methodology (or software) for another year, we’ll be able to make some real changes around here! I’m serious this time!”
  • “Management and your co-workers will like you a lot better if you stop constantly pushing for that Continual Improvement stuff you’re always talking about. Who has time to revisit what’s been worked out already? It isn’t as if we don’t have other deadlines…”
  • “Money’s tight – if we have to buy that new product you’re preaching about, we may just be forced to let one or two people go to afford the support contract on it.”
  • “Look, the auditors never examine this part of the system. Until somebody on The Board makes us change what we’re doing, we’re staying put.”
  • “Consulting money isn’t figured into our annual budgets. You’re either going to have to live with things the way they are, or you’re going to have to fix it on your own time.”
  • “How come you’re always complaining about things? It’s like nothing is ever good enough for you…”

It doesn’t matter if you were taught not to come to Management with issues, but with solutions.  Sometimes, even the best thought out solutions fall on deaf ears.  When you are faced with all of this negativism, this is the time to persevere. Keep pushing through until the problem is recognized, a solution is accepted and is finally implemented. Never be the person who has to deny their own experiences just to maintain the peace and quiet of the situation.

From experience, I can say that when you present your case to the right person, and in the right manner, all sorts of positive change can be effected. Keep working at it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you’re suddenly the hero who came up with a workable solution.


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