Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Why Am I Doing This?

Once again, Fred dares to ask the questions that no one else does. Maybe it's because I have to be analytical to do my job, but I find myself asking why do I do what I do? Some jobs have visible outcomes. An author can point to a stack of books and say, "I did that." My dad used to drive us kids around town showing us the buildings he helped build. Even a food service worker can look at a tangible, if short-lived, product. What do I do? What do the majority of cube rats do? We push around paper. We go to meetings. We fill out forms to account for the time we push around paper, go to meetings, and fill out forms. Somewhere in there, we might accidentally get some "work" done, but what does that mean? I push around bits in a computer all day in an effort to make another group of people more efficient at pushing numbers around, which themselves are nothing but bits in a computer. Those numbers are used as a metric to compare the hospital's "performance" against the "budget," itself an essentially arbitrary bunch of numbers being pushed around as bits inside a computer by a different group of people. I've been doing this for 20 years in various capacities and in various industries, yet I still couldn't tell you what any of this has to do with reality. Example: Last year we had fewer heart patients than what the arbitrary "budget" said we should have. Now you would think this a good thing. You would be wrong. Layoffs and cutbacks resulted. This year, we have more heart patients that what the arbitrary "budget" said we should have. This has the entire hospital administration dancing in their cubicles.

Got that?
Less people sick and dying = BAD!!
More people sick and dying = GOOD!!

If you don't believe me, I can show you the numbers that prove the above is Absolute Truth (TM). At least, I think that's what they show. One can never really be sure....


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