As I left the office, the food fight was in full swing. If everyone were throwing actual food, then the first step would be clear. “Stop throwing food!”
Instead, I am dealing with individuals throwing up process to avoid work while others are accusing them of ducking their responsibilities. One sides uses process as the entry salvo, following it up with documentation references and levels of authorities. The other side counters with documents of their own while challenging any authority other than their own. Both are trying to establish legitimacy while weakening the foundation of the Other.
The flurry started mid afternoon. By the time I left around six, it was in full swing. Metaphoric food was flying everywhere! As it splattered one, the retort was increasingly vicious. It was clear someone was going to get hurt.
Using legitimacy as a weapon is an old trick. Depending on the intent of the individual, otherwise useful processes can become weapons of evil. Power is grabbed. Communities are suppressed. Individuals stumble from the shots.
As I step back, I think of Paul’s admission. He spoke how he “went off to our brothers in Damascus, armed with official documents authorizing me to hunt down the followers of Jesus there, arrest them, and bring them back to Jerusalem for sentencing.” (Acts 22.5) He could see now what he was blinded to then.
In the office fight, there will be no winners. Everyone will lose something. At the top of the suffering will be the business and the clients we serve.
As I explored alternatives with a friend, we could only see one way out; paint a bigger picture and invite everyone into it. We cannot focus on the issues both sides are raising. Even if they are legitimate, there are bigger issues at stake. We must wrestle with the question of how we will service our customer. Answer that, and the issues resolve themselves. We will answer in the context of what is required by the law. We will answer in the framework of guiding principles of service and simplicity.