Rodney M Bliss

Why I’m Not Sure How Many Siblings I Have (#7)

(Business Lesson’s From My Mom’s 7th Husband)

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If you ask my older brother or myself how many siblings we have, we will each tell you that we have two brothers and a sister. 

If you ask my younger brother how many siblings he has, he will tell you that he has three brothers and a sister.

If you ask my sister how many siblings she has, she will tell you that she has five brothers. 

We are each correct and none of us are exactly right. The truth is I don’t know how many siblings I have. If you count biological, adopted, half and step, I can’t give you an accurate count. I used to know and then my mother started dating again. 

I have a challenging job. I’m the glue that links together several departments at my company and ties them to our client. Some days I’m walking our call floor with a radio helping agents get logged in. Other days, I’m meeting with our engineering teams designing our nationwide network and telephony strategy. Still other days I’m meeting with vice presidents explaining our system outages. We recently did a shuffling of the organization chart and I ended up with a new manager. And I keep reminding myself that I don’t know how many siblings I have. 

What I mean by that, is that my manager has been with the company a long time, I’ve been here about a year. Many of the processes I’ve put in place over the past year are different than our standard operating processes. 

Rodney, why are you on the outage calls? That should really be handled by our Incident Management team.

Why are you collecting the lost agent time due to an outage? That should be the account managers doing that.

Why are you approving maintenance activities? That should be Change Management’s job.

The simple answer to all of these is “Because that’s what works.” I developed processes to solve problems that came up over the past year. Being new to the company I had the luxery, or was stuck with the task of creating some of the solutions from scratch. I looked for what worked. If it didn’t work, I looked for something else. And in the spirit of “If you want it done right, do it yourself” many of my processes require me getting involved. 

I’m on the outage calls because I understand our network and our agents better than our Incident Management team. What might take them hours to discover, I can resolve in just a few minutes. 

I collect the lost agent minutes, or LAM, because at the end of the month I have to send a report to the client listing all the lost time. It’s easier for me to collect it at the time it happened rather than wait to the end of the month. 

I approve maintenance activities because I’m often the only person who understand the ramifications to our various systems that a maintenance activity might impact. 

However, there’s a flaw in my plan. and it’s a really big flaw. I can NEVER leave. If I take a day off and we have an outage, the people on the call don’t know how to approach it. If I’m gone for a week, the teams doing maintenance don’t have anyone to provide the “big picture” for the maintenance activities. 

You’re probably now asking, “Okay, but what does that have to do with not knowing how many siblings you have? And why don’t you know?”

My mother married my stepfather about three years ago. He is her seventh husband. I wasn’t at the wedding. I’ve met him, of course. He’s been to my house and my kids and I love him. But, I’ve never been to his place in Minnesota. I know he has kids, but I’ve also never met them. And I don’t know how many step-siblings I have. And more importantly, I really don’t care. 

In my job, I often don’t know the “normal” way my company does things. I know the way we’ve figured out to service this one client over the past year. Unlike my unknown siblings, I do kind of care how the rest of the company does things. But, only so that I can evaluate if the “standard” way is more efficient than our current way. In cases were it’s not, I really don’t care that everyone else does it differently. I’m confident that the people that I work with know and understand my role and together we can go about the business of serving our customer. 

Anyone that prevents me from pursuing that goal is a sibling that I don’t really need.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild. 
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