March 16, 2010

Live from Columbus, It's Tuesday Afternoon!

The clock struck two when Nancy and I entered the Redwood conference room, which to the naked eye looked almost the same as all the non-Redwood conference rooms. Why not hire a set designer and have each conference room become a mini-theme park, something like Epcot Center? Imagine a Germany Room where you go in and there's a polka playing and beer and pretzels in the corner! Tell me that wouldn't raise our engagement scores. Make conference rooms memorable and maybe we'd remember where they were.

The meeting began with the disembodied voices from Pennsylvania announcing themselves. Roy H-, with that Broadway name and voice to match, went first. Then Brian, then K. They all sound articulate and interesting if a bit somber (with the exception of the thesbian Roy). A major goal of mine is to try to get a laugh out of them and I think Ben said something that got them all chuckling.

When the moderator asked if there were any strengths the survey missed, I said "I think five strengths is pretty good" to modest applause. (We all had five strengths.) Ben pretty boldly read aloud the contents of the book claiming that his strength, achievement, includes an aversion to meetings.

The meeting was a bit grating given its superfluity but then it's all part of this cult of engagement. I don't think we're too far away from being judged on our engagement level, at least on a team level. ("Engagement meetings will continue until engagement improves!" will be the slogan.) My personal engagement is suffering from these sorts of meetings. I assume that these sorts of things are necessary because those up on high think they're effective even though that requires a willing suspension of disbelief.

Even more ominous is the return of "Interaction Day" after a nine-year absence. I picture it coming from Steve, who perhaps waxed nostalgic about the IA days of the past and said, "we should have another!" - a haze of nostalgia not dissimilar to all those folks celebrating Woodstock even though it was just a rainy concert with a lot of bad acid trips. A committee of seven has been set up to make sure Interaction Day is excruciating enough. (Gosh, do I sound like Florence King here or what? Way too curmudgeonly, I know.)

And now there are also quarterly meetings on our development. I think I should put as my development goal to attend more meetings, because that's one I'm going to meet whether I want to or not...


Bill White said...

Is there a webpage that describes this weird cult of engagement? What is The Book that so perfectly misunderstands human nature?

TS said...

If not there should be one Bill. I'll never forget the oxymoronic phrase "mandatory fun", straight from the lips of our manager.