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Wednesday, September 7, 2011


A colleague at work used the word "administrivia" in an email today, and I have to say that, after reflection, I am rather disappointed.  Here is a definition for the word (in case you are too lazy to click on the link):

Noun1.administrivia - the tiresome but essential details that must be taken care of and tasks that must be performed in running an organization; "he sets policy and leaves all the administrivia to his assistant"

What about this bothers me?

Well it's example of demeaning the work of others.  It's saying that, if you do administrative work, what you do is "trivia", as opposed to the highly cerebral work of others.

Now for the record I really don't do much in the way of administrative work.  In fact, we have a professional on my team who is responsible for most of our administrative work, and she does her job very well.  That work though is not trivia.   As someone in the learning business, I've seen too many instances where a training class was sent completely off track...not because the content was inappropriate or the facilitator incompetent...but rather because some nuance of administration wasn't take care of prior to the start of the session.  Equipment working?  Markers?  Registration process completed? Materials available in sufficient quantity?

No work is trivia in my mind, and there is nobility in all work.  Is all work of the same value, relative to what should be paid for it?  Of course not, but that assumes that a dollar value is the ultimate measure of somethings worth.  My daughter saying "I love you Dad" has no dollar value, but I think it is priceless.  Your son getting an "A" on a report card has no real dollar value, but if it represents hard work and commitment on their part, I'd argue that such a grade has significant value.  The dollar only measures one aspect of value, and I'd argue that there are far other...and sometimes better...ways to measure value.

In the end, what's important is that all of us who have the privilege of doing work that relies on the administrative efforts of others not lose slight of the fact that we depend on that work and the people that perform it.  Lessor work implies lessor workers...and I simply don't buy that concept.  

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