"Official Responses" & Over-Lying
open letter to
address the commonplace phenomenon
May 31, 2006
(with minor update on Aug 19, 2006)
What this is all about:
In an effort to self-preserve, many
organizations resort to official responses/statements, (essentially, well-crafted, overly aggressive denials and blames)
which appear authoritative and convincing. That amounts to hiding behind manipulations and deceptions. Such practices are
counter-productive and needless.
The primary underlying causes:
- Ignorance & misunderstanding on the part of support
personnel due to:
- general complexity of technologies
- rapid obsolescence (humanly impossible to keep up)
- being misled, or facts withheld by superiors, for plausible
- generalizations, assumptions & over-simplifications
- (understandably) poor philosophical understand of nature of
- inability to recognize ignorance in specific areas
- reluctance to acknowledge ignorance in specific areas
- being trained only on products, lack understanding of IT
- no awareness of cross-organization protocols, processes and best
- Tremendous pressure resulting from:
- overwhelming workload
- inappropriate performance metrics from bosses
- competition and cost cutting
- giving unbiased report make them look bad and potentially liable
- Compensation schemes & incentives:
- promote "hot-potato" mentality
- driven by short-term localized objectives, willfully disregard
the big picture
- conflicting agenda among parties involved
- lack of fair, effective, and sustained accountability over time
- customary unbundling of products and services
- Small business clients typically...
- have inadequate infrastructure & apparatus, and limited personnel
- have unrealistic expectations
- are ignorant of industry conventions, and rules of engagement
- don't recognize the difference between vendors and true
- easily fall prey to techno double-speaks and nonsense
- are unable to detect incompetence and non-compliance
of acceptable practices
- lack insulation needed for objectivity & professionalism―the same person
- appropriating funds (based on merits)
- being the one actually footing the bills, and
- participating in the implementation/troubleshooting
- are more emotional than logical
A few typical scenarios:
- Client calls with a problem. Without much investigation
or understanding, the tech concludes (wrongly) that it "must
be a problem with your firewall."
- Vendor is unable to perform a certain step, and focuses
(rightly) on firewall issues. Instead of routinely stating the
requirements to accommodate their product, they profess to be
baffled by your case, and "something
is wrong on your end." They're unwilling (as it's client's
responsibility) and unable (as they're untrained on client's
firewall) to help with resolving that.
- Vendors tend to deny flaws or outages until it is absolutely
undeniable. Consequently, futile efforts/expenses are needlessly incurred.
- Vendors typically have no regard for the client's IT well-being. They simply take the shortest path with known unsound
practices to demonstrate that the feature in question is working at
that moment. Along the
way, they undo proper settings, create hidden vulnerabilities, inevitable
future failures, and general unmanageability.
What's wrong with that?
- It poisons the situation, triggers defensive mode &
- It confuses and conceals the real issues, and hinders path to
- It sends the helpless victim (the mutual client) on a futile wild geese chase.
- It causes escalation by all parties, leading to vicious cycles.
Advocacy to Vendors:
- Say it as it is. No more. No less.
- Unfounded accusations and blatant disregard of clients'
well-being, once it becomes apparent, reflects poorly on venders' professionalism and credibility.
- Debate in earnest. Providing
specific facts, not vague
statements, misconceptions, unfounded opinions, or pre-drawn conclusions.
- Be forthcoming about limitations of, and required accommodations
for your products.
- Clearly assert areas where you're not responsible for and/or
have no control over.
- Upon completion, alert clients they're responsible for
furnishing the finalizing steps, documentation & IT
debriefing, per their company
- Declare any changes made, and state the justifications, for
reporting to IT.
- Clients must provide a qualifying person in-house (DIFA), or
hire a professional to represent the firm's interests and facilitate
the process, or actually implement the solutions.
- Lying and exaggerating—just like slaughtering, is a necessary
- Over-lying—just like brutal
over-killing, is pointless, will backfire, and therefore, must be avoided at all costs.
- It is entirely possible to achieve self-preservation,
without playing the blame game.
- Cooperation and coordination
will ultimately lead to win-win-win situations.
P.S. For those of you familiar with philosophies in general, or the
concept of game theory in particular, this is related to the classical