I know that I said this was going to be a regular thread, but alas, it doesn't seem to have turned out that way. There are a couple of
- I have not been to too many meetings (or the Ring Lady hasn't been there)
- Nothing really good was said that warrented taking up space on my blog
Today's meeting gave us this quotation, but it's not the best I've heard:
"...a living, breathing interchange..."
Here is an actual email that was sent around my office. This girl tried to impress me yesterday with her prowess at the keyboard. She was bragging that she was published, which meant that one of her papers from graduate school was posted on her class’s website. Now, I don’t mean to brag, but I have several publications in a journal, a trade magazine, and an international magazine. Anyway, here is what this young woman wrote:
“Is anyone holding the time below on RADM Soandso? Please let myself or Cynthia know so she can continue to hold it or reclaim that time if it is not being used.”
When will people learn that it is far simpler (and you sound a whole lot smarter) if you NEVER use the reflexive pronoun?
Today’s Staff meeting quote isn’t really a quote, but a note that the expression “term of art” was used 3 times in one meeting.
I am going to try to keep this new thread going. It is going to be devoted to the things that are said in our Staff Meetings. I have a feeling that the Ring Lady is going to be the major contributor, but only time will tell.
Today’s Staff Meeting quote is:
“…bring that tool into currency for the best practices of our business.”
In an ongoing effort to brand NASA and gain national support, there have been some meetings designed to create a unified NASA message. The Hispanic Girl is on that team, and today she sent out a list of possible taglines:
I know that was hard to get through, but here were my suggestions:
(that last might need some explaining to non NASA folk)
On a serious note, I did come up with these. I like the second one best:
Today, instead of going to work, I went to the Holiday Inn for an all day retreat. I honestly thought that I was going to luck out and be left behind to man the phones. As such, I did not pay as much attention as I perhaps should have to the agenda. Needless to say, I did not have to stay in the office to answer the phones, and I attended my very first retreat. I found it an incredible waste of time.
We got to the meeting room around 8:15 in the morning. The room was arranged for maximum communication. Food along the back wall—coffee, tea, juice, bagels, and Danish. Chairs arranged in a large circle in the center of the room. Tables scattered around the room prepared for us to use as group space and for lunch. Tables on the right wall set up for the lunch buffet. Along the left wall the facilitators, standing by a table that held nametags, pens, stickers, and Post-it® notes. I created a nice nametag with an orange smiley face on it. Upon the Post-it® notes we were supposed to write one goal we had for the day. As I mentioned, I really had no idea what the retreat was about, so I wasn’t sure what to write for a goal. I asked the facilitator if “Get up tomorrow morning” was a worthy goal, and she said sure. I chose to cheat and look at what others had written (we had to post them on the wall, so they were available for all to read). I settled on the trite “to become a stronger member of the team.”
Next, we sat in the aforementioned circle of death—I mean “theatre in the round” as the Ring Lady called it. Because 2 of the 35 of us were new, we had to go around the circle and say who we were, where we worked, and what our goal for the day was. Of course to go clockwise or counterclockwise would have been entirely too easy, so Facilitator 1 procured a nerf ball that looked like a small, spongy Mars. The ball was tossed around the circle and whoever had the misfortune to catch the ball had to commence with the monologue. There is little humor in my office, and only one person made a real joke at this point. The Dude (named for the frequency with which he uses the word) caught the ball, looks very serious, and says, “Hello, my name is Dude, and I have a communication problem.” It was priceless, and I gave a hearty guffaw as people slowly began to get that it was just a joke.
We broke up into groups of two and interviewed each other about times either in our NASA career or elsewhere where we were a part of a team and how it was a wonderful experience. I wanted to pair off with someone I didn’t know all that well who might be interested in trying to get something out of the task. Alas, Dude was too far away as was the SEAL Leader, or any of the others I would like to have worked with. DogLover cornered me and there really wasn’t any way out. She “enlightened” me that at all costs I should only have positive things to say at these retreats because that is all they (management) want to hear, and I should always bear in mind that no one at the office is my friend. They aren’t my enemies, but they will all (her emphasis) turn on you in a heartbeat; I should not trust any of them. (I felt that I was talking to another person from my past, who will remain nameless.) She was just telling me what her mother told her when she first started working.
I talked about my experience as a stage manager in college and how it was a wonderful team experience. I mentioned that theatre is a great example of proper teamwork since the most important thing is that the stage is set properly when the curtain goes up. In the heat of the moment, it’s more important to get that couch off stage than to worry whose job it was…find out what went wrong after the show. Do whatever it takes so the audience sees only a wonderful show. DogLover talked about her dog shows and how she and the dog make a team, which is built on a relationship, not respect, not trust, not friendship, only relationship. I helped her tease this out into an intelligent thought.
Next, 3 2-person groups merged and we introduced our partner to the rest of the group. From the 6 introductions, we needed to find common themes, discuss them, discover what sorts of things we all needed to have a good, strong team. From there we came up with ideas that would help create such an environment.
This led to the only original thing the facilitators did. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing so far that the facilitators didn’t get straight out of a book. I can’t figure out how these people make so much damn money. Anyway, we had to take all of our ideas and pretend that it was 5 years in the future and write a headline praising our office and the first 3 sentences of the newspaper article.
Finally we returned to the circle where the nerf reemerged. This time, instead of saying who we were and what our goal was, we had to say what we would take away from the retreat and mention one specific suggestion that we would commit to working on. Again, everyone was overly serious. When the nerf ball came to me, I said that I would definitely commit to drinking at the Happy Hour idea. Then I decided to end my experience in a serious, sincere, and positive manner and praised the group for their creativity and their hard work trying to make a great office even better.