Seth Godin, always adding sensible levity to a situation, asks bureaucrats to put a name on every policy. And, why not? Like Godin says, in small companies, you can find the owner, or the one woman in the marketing department. But, in an organization of 10,000 or 25,000, finding who wrote a document is harder, even if you’re in the organization.
Taking responsibility for your work starts with put your name on your work. Don’t just put your name on some of your work; put your name on all your work. Your responsibility is not just to your technical documents or your personnel records; it extends to everything you do.
If you’re not willing to put your name on a document, you shouldn’t publish the document. The rule really is that simple.
Own what you’ve created, even if others won’t. If your boss insists on taking all names off of a document, while that’s her decision ultimately, voice your concern, as you can, and retain your copies with your name on them. Write the documents as though your name would be on them, for it is your work regardless.
(Note: Rules call for a boss’ name to be on some documents. That’s not the same as producing a document with no name on it. If you prepare a document for your boss’ signature, you’re responsible to make your boss’ signature mean the most it can through your efforts.)
When you get a presentation that has neither a name or a date, ask who wrote it and when. Put that information on your copy. You never know when you’ll need to call that person to ask for more information.
If the presentation or letter came from a top officer or manager, ask who on the staff prepared the document. Later, if you’ve got a question, while you’re not likely to get your question answered by the big boss, Sue in Accounting will probably take your call.
Adding authorship to documents is a slow process in any bureaucracy, but if you start with your sphere of influence (your presentations, those of your co-workers and friends, those you receive personally), you can start a new trend.