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"Talking Dog" Situation
Old 11-22-2010, 04:55 PM   #1
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"Talking Dog" Situation

Sometimes I really do not enjoy working.

I have been lumbered with a situation which leaves me conflicted, so I thought I would throw it out there for criticism, er, thoughts.

My employer is a non-private market institution which has been tasked with figuring how to deal with something that, frankly, the mostly career employees are clueless about. As it happens, I know a LOT about the subject, having spent a good 10 years up to my genitalia in it. In a normal world, this would be an opportunity to shine and get ahead, but alas I work in a giant bureaucracy. As such, a hint that I know enough to largely solve the issue will result in me doing much extra work with little or no tangible reward in the short term. Worse, making my mark here could get me branded an expert and moved into a position as such. That would entail much extra work, likely a lot of business travel (which I hate), and if I am really lucky a mid single digit raise (no bonuses here).

OTOH, a chance to get ahead is a chance to get ahead. There is also an element of public good at stake, which is one of the reasons I still work here.

Our plan is to pursue ESR in 3 years (and about 15 days), so I am not going to be a career employee. As such, the getting ahead is of modest consequence.

So I have a dilemma. I feel like the talking dog who never spoke because he didn't want to spend the rest of his life being poked and prodded in a lab. I may simply not be able to keep mum because I already do related work for my employer and it is obvious to my immediate superiors that I know a lot about this.

Thoughts? I dunno if it is possible, but I am sorely tempted to follow the advice of one of my personal heroes, The Good Soldier Svejk:

"The best thing to do...is to pretend to be an idiot."
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Old 11-22-2010, 05:07 PM   #2
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Thoughts? I dunno if it is possible, but I am sorely tempted to follow the advice of one of my personal heroes, The Good Soldier Svejk:

"The best thing to do...is to pretend to be an idiot."
Brewer, I know very little about bureaucratic worlds, but if your employment horizon is truly 3 years, and if the role you are wondering about will not help you with your consulting or whatever you have planned for ESR, and if you can stomach it-perhaps Hasek's suggestion is a good one.

Ha
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Old 11-22-2010, 05:27 PM   #3
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I agree with Ha, keep counting the days and make your escape.

Since travel doesn't agree with you, and there is no advantage to your career, Mums the word!
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Old 11-22-2010, 05:32 PM   #4
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Employ the Peter Prescription for sanity in the next three years.
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Old 11-22-2010, 05:35 PM   #5
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Employ the Peter Prescription for sanity in the next three years.
You think he can convince his doc to put him on Viagra?
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Old 11-22-2010, 05:37 PM   #6
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You think he can convince his doc to put him on Viagra?
Yeah, that too.

Around here gotta do chinups on the curb to get mind out of gutter.
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Old 11-22-2010, 05:47 PM   #7
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Sounds like it will drive you crazy whether you jump in and help and have to do more work than you want to and won't enjoy as a result, or stand aside and watch the problem lumber along while less-able persons attempt to deal with it. Pick the scenario that is easiest for you to endure.
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Old 11-22-2010, 06:05 PM   #8
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My employer is a non-private market institution which has been tasked with figuring how to deal with something that, frankly, the mostly career employees are clueless about.
As Dave Barry would say: that fills the rest of us with the utmost confidence in your employer's skills, ha-ha!!

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Originally Posted by brewer12345 View Post
Thoughts? I dunno if it is possible, but I am sorely tempted to follow the advice of one of my personal heroes, The Good Soldier Svejk:
"The best thing to do...is to pretend to be an idiot."
I was thinking more along the lines of the good aviator Joseph Heller's Catch-22 character.

Maybe it's time for you to dust off your resume again. Remember how last time the interviewers used to say in tones of hushed incredulity: "Wow, you worked for them?" Well, now they'll be able to say it again! Or at least with the incredulity part, anyway.

Seriously, you're one of the only people I know who has no fear of job-hopping, and it sounds like you have no expectation of a better quality of life where you're at. Which is worse-- a few months' job searching, or another three years of road warrior & bringin' that workplace environment home to your family?
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Old 11-22-2010, 06:09 PM   #9
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If there is an element of public good, and that's why you still work there, you will just drive yourself crazy watching the bureaucrats mess it up if you don't say something. Therefore, I think you have two options:
a. Dive right in
b. Leave.
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Old 11-22-2010, 06:27 PM   #10
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Seriously, you're one of the only people I know who has no fear of job-hopping, and it sounds like you have no expectation of a better quality of life where you're at. Which is worse-- a few months' job searching, or another three years of road warrior & bringin' that workplace environment home to your family?
The problem with hopping now is that it takes a lot of gas in the tank to reinvent myself for each new job. I'd like to leave something in the tank so that I can reinvent and hopefully find what's left of myself when I ESR in three years.

The other issue is that grossly over the top workloads are a routine hazard of my profession. It is hard to find something where I get to see my kids most nights. I am leery of jumping out of the frying pan...
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Old 11-22-2010, 06:29 PM   #11
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If there is an element of public good, and that's why you still work there, you will just drive yourself crazy watching the bureaucrats mess it up if you don't say something. Therefore, I think you have two options:
a. Dive right in
b. Leave.
As much as I hate to admit it, I think you have nailed it. Between my boyscout tendencies and personal professional pride/killer instinct, standing by idly will be extremely difficult.

However, I may be so busy with all the other cwap I have to do that I really don't have the time to do this stuff.
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Old 11-22-2010, 07:12 PM   #12
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If getting ahead means getting closer (or more secure) to ER and the work itself is more motivating it is not trivial. No chance to leverage this into less of some other part of your workload?
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Old 11-22-2010, 07:17 PM   #13
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No chance to leverage this into less of some other part of your workload?
Haaaahahahahahahahaha!!!

Good one.

No, this is a push-down culture with very little in the way of rewards. It is shocking how many of the long term funployees have just found some little corner where they basically hunker down and only do what is required of them, adjusting their effort to match the compensation scale.

That aside, I suppose that if I wanted to be a real sleaze bag, I could stick around and help design this process and then go consult forthe people who will be affected/givened by it.
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Old 11-22-2010, 07:20 PM   #14
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As much as I hate to admit it, I think you have nailed it. Between my boyscout tendencies and personal professional pride/killer instinct, standing by idly will be extremely difficult.
....

Good to hear it. Doing less than one's best is really difficult. Doing it for three years would wear heavily on my psyche.
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Old 11-22-2010, 07:21 PM   #15
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Haaaahahahahahahahaha!!!

That aside, I suppose that if I wanted to be a real sleaze bag, I could stick around and help design this process and then go consult forthe people who will be affected/givened by it.
Well, I can appreciate the do-gooder tendencies, but if there is any way you can stifle your urges to help, it will surely make the next 3 years better.
And then maybe in your retirement, you can dream up awesome solutions to such problems without the heavy anchor of day-to-day around your neck.

I hide my light under a bushel basket whenever I can.
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Old 11-22-2010, 07:22 PM   #16
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Haaaahahahahahahahaha!!!

That aside, I suppose that if I wanted to be a real sleaze bag, I could stick around and help design this process and then go consult forthe people who will be affected/givened by it.
Why is that sleazy? As long as you keep the design to high standards there is nothing morally or ethically wrong with leaving and consulting with users later on.
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Old 11-22-2010, 07:31 PM   #17
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That aside, I suppose that if I wanted to be a real sleaze bag, I could stick around and help design this process and then go consult forthe people who will be affected/givened by it.
Well but be careful to make sure this is not against the law. In some jobs, such as my former job for the federal government, it was clearly spelled out to us that we can NOT consult for certain companies for a period of time without serious consequences. For example, I know that I cannot consult with oil companies that I dealt with on oil spill modeling or federal environmental matters for at least two years (not that I'd want to!! ). If I did, I think it would be a criminal matter though I'd have to check my little ethics handbook to see. This is probably worse if you have a security clearance like I did. Have you had ethics training yet? It would tell you about this in ethics training. Also, when you retire they load you down with ethics materials telling you what you must not do, and make you sign things saying that you understand, etc.
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Old 11-22-2010, 08:06 PM   #18
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Why is that sleazy? As long as you keep the design to high standards there is nothing morally or ethically wrong with leaving and consulting with users later on.
Yes, I agree. The market theory of how this should work is that the system will work optimally with complete information exchange. By consulting, you would be contributing to that exchange.
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Old 11-22-2010, 09:14 PM   #19
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W2R has a good point.

There is no right answer here.You don't make it easy. Will not doing this cause regret down the road? Can you trade off not doing now something in the public good in exchange for doing some more good 5 years from now?

There is another option to Meadbh's analysis. Do it, then leave.
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Old 11-22-2010, 10:14 PM   #20
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Why is that sleazy? As long as you keep the design to high standards there is nothing morally or ethically wrong with leaving and consulting with users later on.
The military has similar ethics rules, from six months for most to longer for some senior execs.

When I was on active duty at a training command, I helped an ex-submariner shipyard GS supervisor set up a training course for his GS shift test engineers. We even gave him some of our excess building space and shared our classified resources. It all worked out great for everyone.

When I retired he was surprised that I wasn't hitting the streets for a job search, but he didn't say anything after that one comment. However on the 181st day after my official retirement he offered me an instructor job. Nice guy, great environment, slam-dunk job... but I didn't want to make the commitment. Today I'm really glad that I didn't.
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