The “frust” rate


by Major Terry CamseyIf there’s one thing I abhor, it’s what I perceive to be wasted time. My intelligence tells me that a certain amount of rest is valuable but I still feel so guilty when ­ after a period of inactivity ­ I ask myself what could have been accomplished if I had pressed on with something that needed doing.

I guess that such feelings are associated with the fact that our expectations are that everything must be done quickly. Certainly, speaking personally, I have an acute (and chronic) concern that there is not enough time left to do all that I feel I need to accomplish.

You see it everywhere, don’t you? If you drive and take pains to drive defensively by leaving adequate braking space between yourself and the vehicle in front, as sure as eggs are eggs some impatient driver in another lane will cut in…often dangerously. Their elevated “frust” rate elevates yours too! If the lights are too long at red and there is no other vehicle in sight at the crossroads, up goes the “frust” rate. (When I was young, a rubber strip across the road regulated traffic lights so that, if there were no other automobiles around, the light changed to accommodate you. These days it seems you can sit forever for a light to change even if there’s no other vehicle within miles.)

Then, what about “booting up” your computer. It may only take a minute or two but ­ since we would prefer it to be only seconds ­ there goes the “frust” rate again…up, up and away! One of my biggest frustrations at the moment is trying to get online…there are three access numbers within a reasonable distance of where I live and ­ often ­ it will go through the same palaver with all three numbers. Finally, after many minutes of trying all three numbers it will tell me access is not available. “Frust” rate and blood pressure up, especially when at times I do get on only to be told immediately “Goodbye” as it knocks me off again.

It seems to me that communications technology with its promise of speed has brought an immense measure of impatience in its wake. Not to mention the expectation that the individual can handle ever-increasing volumes of information. It used to be that we communicated principally by phone or written document, now there is the mail to read, e-mail to read, phones to answer, voice mail to respond to and so on…Is it any wonder that the “frust” rate keeps going up, and with it bad temper?

One of the challenges for any organization is to make its processes match the promise that communications technology brings. For example, three to four weeks between committee (or council) meetings may have worked well when there was only the old “snail mail” and telephone to clarify questions prior such meetings. But today, when hard copy responses can be received almost instantly, a wait of several weeks (“because we’ve always done it that way”) can do nothing but raise the “frust” rate of those on the front lines trying to get things done before opportunities disappear or are withdrawn.

In other words, one of the greatest challenges any organization faces is to speed up its processes – at every administrative support level – to match the promise of communications technology that is made freely available. Without this, more “effective communications” technology surely becomes somewhat of an oxymoron.

Not to mention the effect on the “frust” rate.

In fact, one wonders whether too much “frust” rate might ultimately lead to “frust” rage!

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