Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Downturn at work

We're now talking at work about the number of positions that Governor Douglas announced would be eliminated and what impact it will have on us. I probably shouldn't say anything specific about this, but it doesn't take much specificity to say that the elimination of such a large number of positions, especially after more than a decade where every single year involved "tightening belts" and "doing more with less" and "temporary austerity" already, is going to have a worryingly big impact.

This is distressing to those of us in IT for a lot of reasons: IT is supposed to be the holy grail that saves us with automation and "working smarter" but IT itself keeps getting cut so we get just as bogged down as everyone. We not only have to do more with less the same way everyone else does, we're also expected to help everyone else with their struggles to do more with less, so the impact on us can be geometrically magnified.

Every year when harsh fiscal realities made us have to choose cuts, I've always done my best to be a "team player" and avoid being too territorial, to try to volunteer my section's share of the cuts. This was probably a bad idea. If I had it to do again I would have fought just as irrationally and uncooperatively for funding for my projects as everyone else did for theirs, because those projects would have, if they hadn't been cut and delayed for year after year, made it possible for us to better weather the current shortfalls. Instead, we're in mid-stream in a strategic vision now with every expectation the next steps will be postponed indefinitely, leaving us in a bad situation that doesn't help the rest of the department nearly enough. I genuinely believed my projects were important for the department's priorities; I should have been more aggressive in pursuing that belief.

At times like this, it's important to keep in mind how much worse it could be, and is for other people and in other states, and count one's blessings, whether achieved through happenstance or hard work.

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