Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On The Graceful Receiving Of Gifts

I try to be grateful when someone gives me something. This is generally pretty easy, that sincere feeling of appreciation, especially when the gift is something that I've wanted.
However, sometimes my natural tendencies toward paranoia rise up and I begin to seek out the motivation for the gift.
I suspect traps often where there are none to be found, but I'd rather move cautiously through the jungle of Corporate America than find myself unexpectedly at the bottom of some spike-lined pit.
Since I started this job, I've wanted the ability to control our own fate through our network.
The idea that separate groups control different facets of our environment irks me.
There has always been plenty of stuff I could control, but since I couldn't control everything it always felt like leaving part of our network integrity to chance.
However, I got an email yesterday afternoon from the team which manages the Active Directory infrastructure for our whole company suggesting that we break off our servers, groups and users and manage them ourselves. It went as far as to say that we should lock them out.
I'm all about that, but I wanted to know why there was such a sudden policy shift.
As it turns out, last week some of our security groups were deleted by the Active Directory team during a standard clean-up.
They didn't know what the groups were for, they didn't ask, and we had users unable to connect for a few hours while everything was made right again.
So while total control of our network destiny is something that I want, making a decision based on this error and many, many others like it is just wrong.
And I said so in a meeting this morning.
When they proposed, in person, that they be allowed to wash their hands of the problems in the environment they essentially built, I found myself unable to smile and nod and appreciate the gift.
"That's fine," I said,"My email inbox is constantly full. My replies are frequently abrasive, abusive and (according to some sources) illegal to read aloud in polite company in South Carolina. I'm going to turn over rights to my mailbox to your team. If anything personal turns up, let me know and I'll review it. Otherwise, the responsibility for everything coming in or going out of my mail client is now officially yours."
When this was met with laughter, I continued:
"I'm a terrible driver. Here are the keys to my car. I'll let you know when I need to be driven home this afternoon."
There was unconfortable silence I filled with:
"I'm horrible at personal interaction. Here is the password to my Facebook profile. Please keep everyone I know constantly updated with how things are with me. Don't expect me to waste my time providing you with these updates, but I will be extremely angry if you get anything wrong."
Taken to an extreme, their proposal was clearly illuminated as an attempt at dodging responsibility.
Illumination is another gift which is rarely appreciated.

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