Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Strategic Shift

So I was having a conversation with Manager, who has considerable lack of people skills. Nice guy, but has absolutely no idea how to relate to people. We're having a conversation, which consists of President is mad over some presentation, and it has to get fixed by Friday. No problem. Until..

Manager: "OK, so you've got those changes I requested?"
Drone: "Yeah, already done, and draft sent on to you."
Manager: "Good, I'll download off my Blackberry and review later to see if I have any other edits, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah strategy needs updating blah blah changing the vision blah blah can't kill 6 million Jews in one day oh I'm just kidding totally bad metaphor blah blah..."

Hang on. Suddenly I'm paying attention. 6 million Jews caught my attention. For those of you not following, reread the previous paragraph. Slowly. And now I'm sitting in frozen stunned silence. Did he just compare the effort involved with changing a strategy halfway through a project, to the efforts of the Nazi final solution during the Holocaust?

I manage to force out, "um, you may not want to use that line at the exec presentation. Just a thought."
Manager: "Oh I know. OK, anything else?"
Drone: "ah, no. I think that does it for today."

Wow. I hang up the phone, stare at my screen for awhile. Shake my head, and ponder exactly how promotions at this company are handed out...

A Night on the Town

My company is hosting a supplier conference. For those not acquainted with the niceties of corporate life, this involves a few things. First and foremost, you need suppliers. Next, you need those suppliers to think there is a reason for them to spend airfare, hotel, and precious time away from spouses/family/mistress/etc. That reason usually involves the chance for them to get more sales (and larger paychecks) in return for their wining & dining your execs. All of this makes sense. It's spending money to make money. Now the hosting company (mine), also has to spend time and money on setting these up. Hotel preparations. Travel plans for attendees. Countless hours spent on presentations that will be tweaked and polished up until 2 minutes before they're shown. Now it should be noted that I am not at Corporate Headquarters. This is a good thing, since it doesn't involve putting in hours of office work, for no other reason than to be seen and heard. Building face time is what it's called.

Manager: "Well, we've decided to make a change of plans regarding the supplier conference..." ---Deep pause for significance.
Manager: "Due to travel restrictions and budgetary tightening, the conference is no longer going to be held at HQ, but instead at Drone's site".

Essentially, the hotels around HQ are more expensive than what the rest of the country spends on a night out. So far makes perfect fiduciary sense. But wait for it, and here it comes....

Manager: "However, in the interest of teambuilding and face time, we need all personel at Drone's site to spend the night at the same hotel as suppliers and our execs".

Puzzled silence from the crowd. To put this in even better perspective, it should be pointed out that there are about 20 people at my site who have to attend this shin dig. Conference is 5 days, 4 nights. The math on this, for those of you not so inclined is $4000 spent on hotels, for people who are within commuting distance every day of the year.

Now it wouldn't be fair for me to overlook the fact that some folks are genuinely excited with this turn of events. For workers who can't afford to take their significant other out for a night at a fancy hotel (relativity folks, it's not the Waldorf-Astoria), it's a free vacation. But for those with children or pets, they have the choice of either being separated from their families, or getting sitters.

I just don't understand in the same sentence talking about saving costs, and the next breath shelling out 4 grand on rooms that aren't needed. Arguably not a lot of money, but the logic of the two combined, just leaves me shaking my head.

Manager: "oh, and on the last day of the conference, we'll be doing a team building exercise ... minature golf!"

First Day

They say that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I was going to come up with a metaphor for Corporate America being a series of cogs, and cogs are wheels, and something about squeaking, but the wheels came off the track on that metaphor. So forget it. There is no shortage of the inane and ridiculous in today's companies. It's highlighted and lampooned in shows such as "The Office", and in comics like "Dilbert". While I don't pretend to have anywhere near the level of insight as the writers of these reflections, I can still use these posts as an outlet. So these are my stories, reflections, and general observations over the past/present and future.


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