25 ways to make yourself unpopular: #13 Do as you’re told

What could be worse than not doing as you’re told? The answer, of course, is doing what you’re told – and no more.

This is actually very difficult advice to abide by, and not a policy I always manage to stick to myself. Most people like to do their best, so that when someone like their boss or their client says, Could you also just do …?” their natural inclination is to say “Yes”. Unfortunately, that is not always the right answer.

This is especially the case in the world of ICT. For example, a request to upgrade to the latest version of Windows should be considered in the light of the ramifications for devices and software currently on the system, and training implications.

In the realm of teaching and learning, possible unforeseen consequences need to be considered. When I was much younger and greener, I managed to persuade my Principal that, having found myself in a situation where, because of a long-term teacher absence, one group of students needed extra tuition and an opportunity to catch up, the school should organise an intensive weekend study/adventure course for that group. Unfortunately, the parents of those students saw that as an admission of failure of the school to provide a proper education, not as an attempt to help bring the students up to scratch in a very short time span.

Basically, the rule is that any request for a change in the original requirements should be dealt with by going through a proper change request procedure. That may be quite short and take very little time, or it may be quite involved and take several months of discussion with all the parties who might be affected by the change. Unless questions like “what could be the effects of this new requirement be on the rest of the work or on other people?” can be answered satisfactorily, by far the most sensible option in the long run is to stick to the original brief. In other words, to do exactly as you were (originally) told.

See also:

FITS For The Purpose