There’s generally a right way and a wrong way to do everything. I’ve found that as a rule, we don’t like to do things the right way until we have exhausted all possible alternative courses of action. In either situation, it’s almost always helpful to know at least a little something about whatever it is you happen to be working on. That’s why I instinctively flinch when I get an email that says something like this:
We have to have a point of contact for XYZ Project. I’m not really sure what it’s all about, but we just need to have a name listed in case anyone comes along and asks who the point of contact is. They’ll probably just put your name on the sheet and stick it in the file.
Now I don’t mind wandering out into the tall grass when I need to, but just randomly putting us on the hook for things no one understands doesn’t seem like a best business practice. Maybe it would be a better idea to, you know, actually have someone look into this project a bit. But, hey, I’m not the boss, so that falls deeply into the category of not my problem. At least until someone drops by and starts asking questions.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.