Sunday, May 29, 2005

EGRIN problem

I pulled out the management tool book and analyzed our way to solve the EGRIN problem.

The first step I note is denial. We could just simply deny there is a problem. The quiet EGRIN discussion forum is a normal phenomenon which happens in any official forum. The chatting in eo_net is also a normal phenomenon of an informal forum. Luckily we have passed this initial stage, and are wondering how to generate, or kick-start, some mail traffic in EGRIN. We are also trying to generate more traffic on different subjects in eo_net.

The second stage is blaming others. We could think that all these problems occur because of the fault of others. For EGRIN, the first arrow is of course aimed at GGO. GGO also aims her arrows at all EOs who do not write in EGRIN. There are much worries arising from the fault of others. The most prominent one is that GGO will strike back if you say something bad. The root of this thinking stems from our innate fear of the superior power, kind of the survival instinct. There are two weak points to this argument. First, I cannot think of an EO writing something malicious in EGRIN. There may be discerning views. But EOs are skillful writers and we can always express different opinions in a nice, sensible and logical manner. Second, I haven't heard of any real case of GGO persecuting EOs for raising a different opinion. May be it is top secret. If anyone know any inside stories, we would like to hear them and exercise our judgment. So, I am thinking whether the GGO factor is just an illusion.

There are also diverging opinions on how to improve mail traffic. Some said we should write more and improve the quantity first and let quality emerges. Some said we should write less and let others have a chance to write, seems like a quota system to me. If we want to get pass the second stage, we need to get rid of the "others" element. Others have the freedom to do what they think right.

The third stage is blaming ourselves. I think this is a more difficult stage to overcome. Many members have blamed it to our cultural background, our education system, our slavery working environment. The bottom line is that many EOs are afraid to write, or speak, in public for various reasons. This may be a result of all the above factors which led to the present mental state of being indifferent, shy, fearful of losing face and losing security. I heard from some psychologists that the cure is to interact more with others through more work and life activities. Work should come first as the ability and willingness to express nicely a reasonable alternative opinion is a great help in career. Then it should be balanced by life activities, beware of the word balance which does not mean excessive, through communicating actively with family and friends and expressing yourselves. Thus eo_net is a good choice both in work life balance and as a platform of testing your writing, opinions and ideas. We are among friends and in particulars EOs who all share similar working experience.

The fourth and final stage is the real work of problem solving. I think we have done much on this. Surveys have been conducted by both GGO and eo_net. There are also many suggestions for improvement by the departmental secretaries, EGRIN consultative committee, EGRIN steering group. I have also written many times to GGO. For the fourth stage to materialize, the first three stages should first be addressed. GGO, as a bureaucracy, is always considering the suggestions to the end of time. Many big brothers have much experience on this. We now have a new management there, let's see if the bottle can pour out some new wine.

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