Is it common for "organizational issues" (such as politics, organizational inertia, and selective hearing -- think Dilbert) to cause more IT problems than computers and servers do?
Likewise, is it common for one's employers to not really know what said person's job entails, or even care, until such time as they have a computer glitch, and want everything dropped to have it fixed now?
What can be done to ameliorate such situations? (How about in a setting one step removed from business concerns -- not needing to increase profits or make clients happy -- such as in a governmental organization?) How do you take satisfaction in a job well-done when no one knows or really cares what you are doing? Indeed, how do you stay focused if it doesn't seem to matter if you do anything or not?
Assume that I'm exaggerating a little bit, and don't have a pressing desire to quit.
Edit: now a community-wiki question.
*Edit:*Thanks for all of the great answers. I wanted to add a few comments.
It is my opinion that a good manager should know what those he/she manages do, and those above him/her should have some idea. The head of IT here really doesn't know. If I go to a mechanic, I may have no idea what he/she does, but I will listen strongly to his assessment, and would get a second opinion before ignoring the advice, and the people running the mechanic shop really ought to know what they hired him for!
As for dropping everything to fix a computer glitch, upper management has been known to have one of the system administrators leave problems (such as users being unable to log in or use a computer that works reliably) to move contacts from one phone to a newer one, or to make their calendar synchronization.
The most frustrating thing is that nobody seems to have the power to change things. The people with the greatest ability to effect change have the least interest in doing so as they don't even understand what is broken.
It is hard only being noticed when things go wrong. A person needs a little bit of understanding or catharsis.
It is difficult to align oneself to the business objectives, as our stated mission seems to be contrary (and, indeed, as times in opposition) to what the people with clout in the organization are pursuing.
As for being the change I want to see in the world, that is definitely a factor of why I am still working for this organization.
Congratulations on the Joel Test for system administrators. That was an excellent idea.