What Phil Coulson hated the most
was not bullies or hackers or even HYDRA.
It was poorly designed paperwork.
He had attempted to explain this
with words, with numbers, with charts --
how it cost everyone in terms of time
and energy and money that could
have been spent on better things --
but he rarely made much headway.
So Coulson simply accepted
that if he really wanted to fix
the Byzantine perplexity
of SHIELD's paperwork,
he'd have to do it himself.
People often asked him
why he bothered, and he
would sigh and try again
to explain that bad forms
yielded bad information
which tended to put agents in
the wrong place at the wrong time
or without the necessary ammunition,
and left people languishing in Medical
with no care for their condition, or worse,
care that exacerbated the problem
instead of improving anything.
It made him anxious in a way
that he could never quite describe,
an eternal gnawing fear that someday,
somehow, his assets would get hurt
or even killed because he had failed
to request the crucial data clearly.
So Coulson made his way through
the maze, one bad form at a time
clearing each level as he came to it.
He merged or separated related forms,
changed conditionals to specific questions,
and clarified countless instructions.
His coworkers smirked and
called him the Red Tape Ninja,
joking that Coulson was in love with
his paperwork, but they never realized
how often he saved the world with it.
* * *
Byzantium was not the first bureaucracy in history, but it remains one of the most famous, its very name synonymous with arcane convolutions of procedure. Its complex titles and voluminous paperwork are remembered to this day.
The cost of poorly designed paperwork is ruinously high and affects everyone, even those who never have to fill it out. Consider the design principles of effecient paperwork. If you have any influence over your workplace's paperwork, use your power wisely. Nobody will notice you saving the day, but at the end of the day it will in fact still be saved.