Monday, October 20, 2008

Hard Decisions are Hard

There is a Sprint/Nextel commercial that every time I see it bothers me.  The commercial shows a bunch of firemen, with Sprint/Nextel phones, running Congress.  They run through a bunch of things that normally are very contentious and complex.  They do all of this in just a matter of seconds due to the power of their phones.Now while I am no lover of government, I don't pretend that they don't have to wrestle with hard choices every day.  It is one of the things that I have to often get frustrated at work with.  People always want what is important to them but don't see the big picture or understand that we live in a world of limited resources.

Those that don't have to make the decisions feel like those of us that do have an easy job.  They believe that all we do is go to meetings, say yes to a few things, and then can spend the rest of the day playing golf.Sure, if there were unlimited resources things would be easy.  I mean, who wouldn't want a balanced budget, lower taxes, and better roads. But more often than not, you can't do everything that you want.   You have to make tradeoffs, and these are often painful.  Not only that, but you often have to make these decisions with imperfect information.

I've run into this several times lately at work.  People who should know better can't seem to make the hard tradeoffs that come with not being resourced correctly.  They somehow expect there to be the same amount of output with 20% less resources.  It just doesn't work that way.  I handle this simply.  I prioritize.  You should always have in your mind the correct prioritization of any item.  You work until you reach capacity, and you cut everything below that line.  If the people around you complain, you give them a simple choice.  Cut something off the current list, or fund more resources.  Just don't tell me to do more with less.


  1. It's hard to feel that Congress is making thoughtful decisions when everything about the bailout plan is vague and full of gaps. Of course, there's also the AIG execs who made poor decisions but still took their crew out for a retreat on tax payers' money.

  2. i'm not at all saying Congress is doing a good job. I just don't pretend what they do is easy.