Exercises in futility
The topic is a very big one. It’s about how people repeat actions that lead to futility. If you don’t know what futility means find a dictionary and read up. If you can’t read, what are you doing here?
But what is futility? It’s not just a hopeless situation. My classic example given before: “Fighting a tsunami 200 feet high in a paddle boat.” Human nature is to hope and fight in the face of futility. The fight doesn’t change the nature of futility. Bashing one’s head on a 4 foot stone wall is an exercise in futility if one intends to move the wall. This article is not an assault on ‘hope’. I fully acknowledge that hope is a useful thing and has survival value for the human race. But that doesn’t mean that there are no hopeless situations. Futility is at the point where hope must end.
To get the give some substance, I’m gonna give an example, in a certain nameless organisation – that is not identified or identifiable. Drafts of this post started on 15th May 2021.
- From day one, I could see that their IT system was crap.
- Videoconferencing software and hardware struggled and repeatedly failed.
- Staff were busy reporting all this on an electronic database for over 1 year.
- Yours truly raised a fuss about it.
- The response from the top brass was ‘yeah we know about it and we have a plan to address it’.
- For months after my fuss, they roll out of some trial solution in another neck of the woods.
- CW was not happy with the long delays and raised more of a fuss. Sorry 1 year and 4 months is just abysmal.
- Workers, carers and their loved ones suffered poor communication due to hardware and software failures.
Eventually, CW met with one of the IT bods about 10 days ago. His manner was to lecture me about OneDrive licenses in MS Office 365. This only came up because it was seen by CW as part of one solution. I appeared disinterested in the lecture and when I thought he was finished, I asked ‘Are you finished?‘ – because I wanted to get a word in. Then he goes, “If you don’t want to listen, I’ll have to report it to my manager.” (face now red and angry). So CW shuts up, seemingly cowering in fear – like really? CW knows this game only too well – basically always appear to give power to a wanker! Right – so he finishes his speech. CW gets a word in edgeways, that he has been using OneDrive. IT bod decides to report CW to Information Governance. CW says go right ahead because IG has already approved it. So after he finally came up for air, CW says, “You’re referring to licences that are part of O365. That has nothing to do with the matter because the cloud application – which I was referring to – is already licenced.” You should see the face of retreat on him. Basically, ‘you’ STFU and move on without saying you were wrong and thought you were strong.
Some will become occupied with IT and go “Well, I don’t know what’s what. I’m not an IT expert.” How would I know what people would say? I’ve heard it endless times before.
So – after realising that CW is not the fool IT bod presumed CW was, he pipes down. Got him – right where I want him. He suggests we meet up to discuss other matters, in the first 8 points above. So – he and an IT colleague turn up at CW’s office and there is a 10 min conversation about the 8 points. Cutting a long story short they both confirm in summary that the devices used to run Windows 10 for video conferencing was not fit for purpose. How? This is the device – and you bledy don’t need to be an IT expert to understand it.
- I referred to the product commonly used for video conferencing (in the link above).
- Both IT bods confirmed that I had the correct device in mind, and it’s specifications.
- The confirmed that the devices were running a Windows operating system from an SD card (that’s the thing you stick into a phone to get more memory – it’s not a true hard drive).
- The confirmed that such a device would struggle with the heavy load of processing all of the following at the same time:
- Sound and video – from MS Teams or Zoom
- MS Word (your word processor)
- Outlook (your email application)
- A range of background applications required for network integrity.
- They confirmed that MS Teams and other video conferencing software heavy on CPU-based video processor and normally needs 16GB of RAM.
- They said that two trial units with Core i5 CPU’s are being tried at another site. I did not go into specification as time was limited and I’m not sure they knew the specs at their fingertips. It wasn’t a material issue.
- Both said that they were not in positions of power to change anything and basically restricted in anything they could do.
Some rather dim people will now be thinking that this topic is some gripe about IT – because all they dimly see is a whole bunch of IT jargon. Wiser persons will have looked past the IT stuff and observed human behaviour within ‘a system’, focusing on how the whole system had functioned in a way that lead to and maintained gross failures. IT systems are a good focus, because it is a thing that is well within the wit of man to fix. But wit does not win, in the face of other things.
The subject of this post included the word ‘futility’. There is a reason for that. ‘Everybody’ – except me – has been taken down a path to futility at some point in their lives.
In the above scenario, people had been told to report the IT failures on a database. That has been happening for about 16 months, and no sign of change until 2 weeks before this post. People have been so fed up, that I’m sure not every single instance of IT failure has been reported. I reported none on the database because I knew it was a waste of my time. How? If after a year and 4 months of this nonsense, somebody at the top finally decides to make a ‘trial’ of new equipment – when the original (current) equipment was doomed to fail. That means there is gross incompetence at a high level.
- People do as they are told far more often than not, in employment situations.
- Logic is a weak force in organisational matters.
- People act on hope endlessly.
- Futility is at the endpoint of hope.
- It is useful to recognise where hope ends.
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