“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, democracy just doesn’t work”
That is probably one of my all-time favorite Simpson’s quotes. Newscaster Kent Brockman expresses his disgust after Congress rejects a bill to save Springfield from a comet impact after one senator attaches a $30 million rider “to support the perverted arts.”
That very line often springs to mind when I’m at work. Usually during a meeting or after reading the 15th reply to a damn near company-wide e-mail regarding some decision that no one can seem make. As much as the line amuses me it is also something that I can’t help but feel is so true and so applicable to today’s workforce.
Now I’m not sure about you, but in the world of media, the democratic process is taken to new heights. Maybe the hipper-than-thou, every-one-counts, way of running a business or conducting a meeting is more intrinsic to my line of work than others, but lately it seems to me that we spend more time dancing in circles and visiting and re-visiting ideas at work than ever before. It hasn’t always been like this and it isn’t only the company I currently work for.
On a day-to-day basis I work with a lot of graphic designers, and producers – a funny title for a group of people that can hardly ever get anything produced. My team conceptualizes an idea, which then gets pitched to the producers and ultimately their bosses. Right from the start the design team struggles with solidifying one great idea. So we go round in circles until we narrow it down to about three. These three then get pitched to the producer who always seems to need to bounce it off of other producers and ultimately one idea gets taken to the bosses whom then ask, “What else do you have?” At that point all three ideas get brought back to the table and we often wind up back at square one, dissecting the pros and cons of all three. Somewhere along the line – usually at the moment a final decision is going to be made – someone else pops up giving his or her two cents and it’s back to the drawing board. We call it ‘design by committee.”
I’ve dealt with this type of a work environment for six of my 14 working years and I gotta say, it sucks. It is at these moments that Kent’s words come to mind; democracy just doesn’t work. Not in this case anyway. I understand we live in super hip times and EVERYBODY’S opinion matters. My blogging alone can testify to that. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to live in a land where we put things to a vote, ( I can at least feel like I have a voice), and the ideas of others are taken into consideration before final decisions are made. But I must ask, do you think that maybe, just maybe, this might not be the best solution to EVERY process?
The way I see it, there should be someone at the helm steering the ship. Perhaps the producer would be best qualified. Someone that has worked their way up the ranks, that has enough understanding of the project at hand, and has the guts to stop all the counter-productive meetings and stand up to tell the team, ‘like it or not this is the way we are going because that is what I believe is best.’ Period. No more questions. I’m almost certain that this is how the most successful companies are run, but I cannot say for certain.
I admit a lot of this was written out of personal frustration at my own job, but am I alone here? Do most people like the democratic process controlling everything that happens in the workplace? Or has this trend only made its way into the world of media? If so, let me know. But it seems to be a new-agey trend. Sort of like the, everybody gets a trophy. It hardly makes climbing the ladders seem worth it anymore. It used to be good to be the King or Queen. Now, what’s the point? If the pawn gets just as much say because we feel the need to validate them being at the meeting in the first place then what’s the point in striving to become more (other than the paycheck)? To me, this seems like a time consuming trend that brings forth a lot of mediocre work and needs to be stopped, but hey, lets put it to a vote. Who’s with me?