Email tag

The thing I love about large companies -- and when I say, "love," I mean, "am so irritated by that I want to beat someone senseless" -- is the sense of distributed ownership. Nothing is any one person's responsibility, except, of course, when it will delay things. In fact, from my experience, you are lucky if you can identify the group that is responsible for doing something, especially if it involves changing anything.

Trying to get anything changed in a large company is like a giant game of tag, where every person's sole purpose is to make sure that he's not "it" when the time comes to do some actual work. You start with a question: "I seem to be missing some data in this environment. Who can help me get it in there?" Then the email tag begins.

Fred: "That sounds like Data Operations. I have copied six people on this message who might know someone in that group. Guys?"

Gina: "Data Ops usually handles these kinds of things, but this is business-line-specific data. Have you asked anyone from the business? Try John."

John: "Sure, we handle that data! Well, at least we know where it comes from. We're not allowed to actually access the system, though. We have systems people for that. Have you talked to the business line DBA group? Oh, by the way, they're offshore, so you'll need to wait 24 hours for a response."

Naveedh: "We will be glad to pull a report for you. Please submit a request via the ticketing system stipulating the columns and criteria of the data you need. We cannot actually update your system, however, because we do not have access to it. If you find out who does, I will be glad to coordinate the data refresh with him or her."

... and so it goes, until finally, after several more emails and at least one escalation to a VP, you determine that Joni is the one person who knows how to update the data in your system....

Joni: "[Automatic reply] I will be on vacation from April 26 through May 10. I will reply to your request when I return."

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