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I Have a Suggestion

When I was about 10 years old, I thought for a while that it would be wonderful to be an Efficiency Expert when I grew up. I didn't do that (I think Efficiency Experts came and went in the 70's) but I did something close. I became a programmer and documentation specialist, focusing on communication, quality assurance, and process improvement. By preference and by profession, I solve problems.

My outlook on life is to do whatever I can to make things around me work better. I rarely leave "well enough" alone because "well enough" just isn't good enough. I've never been someone who thinks "good enough" is good enough. If I think I see a way to improve something and make it work better, I say so.

When I care about something, I care enough to make suggestions. I file bug reports and feature requests for every piece of software I use regularly. I see typos in books and on web pages and when I do, I send them to the editor or the author. I make suggestions at work. I don't put my head down and stick to my own little corner; that's not my way.

I consider it part of my job to make recommendations when I see something that doesn't seem, to me, to be working as well as it could. I try to put my recommendations in a positive light, if possible. I don't just point out problems; I propose solutions.

I don't, however, feel that it is a requirement that the world accept every suggestion I make or that every bug report I file be addressed or solved and certainly not in the way I recommend. I understand that Input is Not Voting. As I've told several clients for whom I have done programming work: "My job is to make suggestions. Your job is to consider those suggestions and act on them, or not, as you choose."

I generally put my ideas into writing. I'm much better at writing than I am at talking and, when I write, I have the ability to organize my thoughts and make them present my position in the clearest way I can. Writing is part of my life and part of my job and a large part of who I am. I write a lot.

I think fast, I write well, and I type very fast. When I write, I don't just dash off a sentence or two. I tend to write medium to long, carefully thought out and edited messages. The more practice I have at writing, the better (and faster) I get. I can put my thoughts into writing faster than almost anyone I know (with one or two special exceptions ;-)

The time to worry about me is when I fall silent. When I stop making comments or suggestions isn't when things are perfect. Things are rarely perfect. When I go dark it's usually because I no longer care. It's because I've stopped using the product, or I've stopped visiting the website... or I've stopped caring about my job and the company I work for. I will continue to do my work, but I won't do as good a job. I don't care. Eventually, I'll leave.

July 13, 2004 in category Life, the Universe, and Everything | Permalink


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