Gut Rumbles

February 04, 2004


I spent a lot of my career writing Operating Instructioins, SOPs and proceuresdures. I hated that work because Corporate procedureres your ass in a place with no option out, I've been there to man times before. "YOU DIDN'T FOLLOW PROCEDURES!!!

Damn right I didn't. I knew the procedures, but I disagreed with them on occasion. If I have a toxic chemical leak, the procedure is clear. I am supposed to shut operations down and clear the leak.

But suppose I know how much containment area I have and how many pumps I can get in there in a hurry? Suppose that I believe that I can keep the plant running and still control the environmental system? Do I follow proceders or run with what I know?

I ran with what I knew and was commended many times for those decisions. I wiped my ass on procedure more tiimes that I can remember. Bejus! That place had a writtem procedure for how how wipe your ass.

I don't believe in written procedures for everything. Sometimes, you just have to play it on the first bounce, when you're there when the shit is flying. You have the best view and the best quess on what to do next. Make the call and fuck the procedure.

Would you live to make love by procedere with me, exactly as was written, or just play things on the first bounce? In other words, do procedures guide your life or do you go for the gusto? That's why I never became a politician or a beaucrat,

I prefer life on the first bounce.


The first bounce for sure.

Posted by: Sam on February 4, 2004 04:37 PM

Where I came from procedures had two purposes: 1] to employ a bunch of administrators whose continual job it was to make them up; and 2] to allow lawyers to sue.

The purpose of having the procedure codified in writing was allegedly that if we got sued, we had to show we had a procedure to cover the event. But no one ever followed the procedure if the event occurred. Therefore in court, we be always guilty, since we done never followed the procedure.

The "events" occurred dozens of times every day -- medical cases. If one turned out badly, for whatever reason, it was always possible to show that the nurses had not followed procedure. [If they had, we could have handled, well, maybe one case per day.]

Then they decreed that the nurses should do things on each patient which were totally irrelevant to the patient, like ask how their bowels were operating if they had a sore throat. People wondered what a sore throat had to do with bowel movements. [Some did not wonder.]

Thus more "standards" were created which could be technically violated, if for example, the sore throat went badly. If it had not been recorded on the chart that the patient's bowels were operating normally, the standard of "usual" care would have been violated, leading to guilt ipso facto -- another case of malpractice.

They took to demanding that I sign all lab reports to prove that I had looked at them. I refused, as I did not want to create another irrelevant standard. Why the hell do they think I ordered the test?

I did not want to create the standard that if I did not sign off on something or did not record it, that I had not done it. We check patients innumerable times without recording it, for example looking at various moniters, or just faces. Light travels much faster than I can write, thus I was not about to try to write down all that I saw. I would still be back in 1972 if I had.

Then they wanted me to sign other people's charts, say if something was going on and it was someone's job to record what had happened as it happened. How the hell do I know exactly what happened? That's why the person was assigned to record what happened as it happened to begin with. The lawyers thought it would look good if someone whose job it was to do something other than record, would also "verify" the record of the one whose job it was to record. This was so that it would not look good in court if someone else did not sign.

But why, you ask, would lawyers on your side do things which would hurt your side. A] because they are lawyers. And B] because these lawyers would then change careers, and start to prosecute medical malpractice suits.

So you, dear patient, do not exist anymore. Only the chart exists, and is sued. This is why John Edwards should be shot.

Posted by: Ga-ne-sha on February 4, 2004 05:05 PM

Well considering your previous industry, in all likelihood some govermint nitwit required written protocols or certainly the corporate persons of suspect scruples (lawyers) did. Those folks don’t truck much with a first bounce mentality. In emergencies or exceptional circumstance otherwise, the rule of law does not always stand for common sense.

So then, to side step obtrusive procedural dreck one should then write the simplest instructions. As, for example, in case of fire:

1. Follow smoke
2. Locate flame
3. Put it out

One last thought. As a keen observer of procedural paralysis, it occurs more often than not that the person tasked with writing process documentation is likely the person that will be doing the process. Always a mistake since the strict objectivity required is always lost. Your management should have had you edit the procedures, not write them.

OK. For sale, one soapbox slightly used…

Posted by: Hal on February 4, 2004 05:36 PM

First bounce.

Posted by: Stevie on February 4, 2004 06:27 PM

Okay, now I know you're fucking with us. You had me fooled there. That, or you're shacking up in Jamaica with some hottie with red toenails and a guest blogger has taken over.

Posted by: Brent on February 4, 2004 07:12 PM

I never really got that "bounce". I just kinda did a face plant, and stuck there.

Posted by: Geoffrey on February 4, 2004 09:02 PM

In any situation:


1) SOP
2) Common Sense/training.

One of the three doesn't belong :)

Posted by: Andy on February 4, 2004 09:19 PM

That's OK Geoffry, in some cases that would be a splat. Considering the circumstances, that may not altogether a bad thing ... :)


Posted by: Hal on February 4, 2004 09:30 PM

I've spent years in the banking industry, another highly regulated field. My belief is that productivity happens in spite of, not because of, regulations. Obviously management agreed with me.

Tellers at Wells Fargo Bank had a $10k drawer limit. It was common to start a shift with over $10k in the drawer. One day I started about 12k, and I kept getting deposits. When I hit $24k I decided that I didn't want to lose my job if we got robbed. So I closed my window, even though there was a line to the door. I went to my manager, and she told me to open back up. I refused, and then we went to sell my extra cash. I don't think she had believed me when I said I needed to sell until I started pulling the stacks of 20's, 50's and 100's out of my drawer. Common sense said not to worry about being slightly over limit, but being significantly over limit is another matter.

Posted by: Byna on February 5, 2004 01:43 PM

You cannot learn without already knowing.

Posted by: Brittingham Smith on March 17, 2004 08:48 PM

If you understand, things are as they are. If you do not understand, things are as they are.

Posted by: Sternlicht Shoshana on May 2, 2004 03:59 PM

He does not seem to me to be a free man who does not sometimes do nothing.

Posted by: Mellquist Nils on May 3, 2004 03:30 AM
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