Bureaucratic Whimsy

The Web is full of people who talk about their jobs. While much of that talk is simply bitchin’, some sites are more constructive. There are, for instance, many sites discussing technical work, and no few aimed at bureaucratic policy makers. Not many, though, discuss the daily realities of folks doing operational work at the middle management level.


For most of my State of Michigan career I worked as a staff analyst supporting middle managers. Whatever that means. Even to those of us doing the work, describing the job is difficult. To the production staff much of what we do is pretty mysterious. We’re obviously busy, but much of what we can be seen to do–meetings and memoranda, especially–often seems quite pointless. We sometimes obsess about organizational politics. When we touch the staff’s daily work, the immediate result is usually disruption; that the disruptions are beneficial is not always obvious. Even to us.

Anyway: When I began this journal, my main purpose was to document the things I did for a living. I wrote these work-triggered essays so for about a year, then stopped. A few months later, as I moved the site to a new server, I removed most of the work-related pages, leaving only a handful of job-pertinent pages which didn’t directly touch on my job. I always planned to recover and repost the removed pages at some future date, and have now done so. They can be found in the site’s Bureaucratic Whimsy category (pigeonhole). A few have minor edits, and I’ve added an occasional explanatory note. Please be aware that all names (except mine) have been changed, though in most cases the identity will be obvious to folks who worked with me. These essays routinely simplify things, and sometimes leave out complications. But I always make an effort to accurately report the essence of the story.

I’m quite pleased with some of these notes:

This hardly exhausts the list. I’m hoping you’ll find something interesting, or useful.