Sometimes, The Best Way to Help Is to Do Nothing

Have you ever been handed a task where your first thought is, "Why are we doing this?"

I'm not opposed to change - in fact, I welcome it. One of the first things I teach people who want to be involved in information technology and information security is that change happens on a daily basis. You've got to know what is happening and how to adapt to almost anything that comes your way. Look at all the ransomware articles going around as of late and you'll immediately understand how fast paced changes occur.

But this isn't about IT change. This is about providing services to those we believe need it.

I aspire to be in a position where I can think of the broader community and wonder, plan, and implement the idea of "What can we do as a company to ensure we're providing the best access to our services?". There's a hell of a lot of tape there that prevents this kind of thinking in my place of work, but due to an influx of monies, ideas float around that make absolutely no sense to implement.

There comes a point in planning for any project where the following questions are asked:

  • What do we need to get this project done?
  • How long will this project take to implement?
  • Who all needs to be involved in this project?

As of late, I wonder if anyone thinks of the last question:

  • Why do we need to complete this project?

"Why" is a subjective question no matter what follows it. You may be able to think of a hundred different technical or political reasons why something needs to be done, but ultimately the answer comes down to a general boilerplate response: "We need to assist [insert group]."

So you tell me: Why do we need to assist [insert group]?

Look, if you ask me to help, I'm going to help. I've written policies and procedures, I've automated countless systems, I've dived into job titles I never even thought I'd do in my life - and while I may have complained at the time, I absolutely enjoy the opportunity to learn how things work outside my personal scope. There are some times where I start to wonder what the scope of a said project is, and a job at a company is an ongoing, never-ending project.

I do reserve the right to ask "Why", and I have quite a few times. It's not to be condescending or as disrespect, I genuinely want to learn why you think the way you do. I may not agree with your answer, I may not agree with the project, I may not agree with your work ethic, but I'm entitled to any opinion I want to form and share (thus, I'm also entitled to the consequences of doing so).

Sometimes it's better to slow down on everything, take a breath, and look around at what everyone is doing. Listen in, hear thoughts, share concerns, actively take a role in everyone you interact with - learn what they do, ask what they need, how can you help, etc. Instead, we have individuals who want to assist everyone outside of their scope without focusing in, without input from those who have to make the project come alive, without repercussion on when a project fails or stalls...

Sometimes, the best way to help is to do nothing. Rather than take action on what you perceive as an issue, offer an ear and just listen.

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