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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Balance (or, There is No Free Lunch)

There must ALWAYS be balance.
There is ALWAYS a trade.
There is no free lunch.

Sometimes the trade is a good one, other times it is a bad one, sometimes it's even hard to identify the trade; but a trade ALWAYS exists.

There are multiple buildings where I work.
Each building has certain I.T. equipment distributed to the users within that building.
Each building has a different set of needs and a different set of rules about use.

One thing that is common among ALL the buildings is that the equipment issued to you for the purposes of your WORK is not a toy; it's a tool for accomplishing your assigned work.

TANGENT WARNING: Assigned work has three vectors of evaluation.
    1. Quality of the work.
    2. Timeliness of the work.
    3. Appropriateness of the work.

I, personally, don't care what people do with the equipment once their work is completed. The caveat to that is that  the rating of the work on each vector is at or above acceptable.

The problem with where I work is that the VAST majority of users prefer to goof off instead of doing their assigned work. They would rather harass each other on Facebook or play Mafia Wars or search for porn than do the work they SHOULD be doing.
So we have filters.
The filters have not been overly successful in reducing many of the behaviors that distract from the completion of work.
So, in one of the buildings, we're implementing filters at home, too. Those filters ONLY apply to the equipment handed out BY US. Those filters apply at the same level as they do within the building.
Part of me SCREAMS out against this concept. I HATE the idea of locking down the equipment and making it less useful. I HATE the idea of inhibiting the use of the equipment is such a way as to penalize those who have no reason to be penalized.  I HATE the extra work that this will generate for ME. I abhor the fact that my EXTRA work will serve to make the jobs of other people easier. My additional work will allow others to be more lazy and less vigilant. My extra work will vilify ME to the users whom resent being overly managed even though I am not the one who made the decision to implement this at-home filtering.

On the other side of the coin I see encourage this type of lock-down. The VAST majority of our users need to learn how to function in a responsible way and keeping them on task is part of that. Taking away distractions is another part. Learning that their actions (collectively) up to this point are the reason that they are ALL encountering the new restrictions is a good lesson in how the world works and how they will have to manage in the future when they do their assigned work for other organizations.
I also fail to have a lot of sympathy for people who will whine about the newly imposed limitation. If they want an unlocked internet they need to BUY THEIR OWN EQUIPMENT. It's quite simple: free equipment is NOT free; it has a catch. In this case the catch is that the users are subjected to the rules and regulations of the entity providing the equipment.

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