Sunday, November 28, 2010

Planned Responsibility
Planned Responsibility

Sarah the director, the boss of my boss, said to me, “We need to meet some time today.” At the end of the day, after most people had left, we finally had time for me to go into her office. The nice thing about me being a long-term employee is I don’t get scared at the dreaded “come into my office” call. I scooted up a chair. She gazed at me and said simply, “The staff is not working as a team. What can you do about it?”

After a beat I said, “I don’t believe in team building exercises… because, as we say in the rehabilitation field, the learning is not generalized” (into the workaday life) Sarah agreed, reminding me about her own dreadful experience in team building. We laughed. Then we put our heads together.

She shared some recent observations. Some was trivial, like people passing by a growing stack of garbage, but some was serious indeed. As we swapped opinions, thoughts and old work stories, what was coming out of my mouth, I noticed, were mostly stories.

Sarah said, “ At the staff meeting I could give you 15 or 20 minutes.”

I said, “I think I could tell the staff stories…if done properly, it should only be ten minutes.”

“What ever you want to do.”

I smiled to see Sarah using Management 101: Tell the man what results you want, and by when, then let him decide how to do it. Still, I was pleased she felt safe in confiding and assigning this project to me.

So, after an introductory proverb, I told the staff stories from my life, then bridged with Stevey’s job candidate interviewing story, then applied the stories, still using “ ‘I’ statements” to some disguised not-so-hypothetical “what if?” scenarios at work. I tied up the package of stories by repeating the proverb. It all went well. I won’t relate, here in this essay, my job-specific stories of what I expect from a strong team, but here are some life stories about planned responsibility.

Planned Responsibility

 “The floor that is walked on by everybody is not swept by anybody.” – ancient Chinese proverb

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fluffy Social Media

Before I get excited about this new “social media” I have to ask: who are these folks being “social?”

 I’m not the only skeptic. In the last month two new Canadian mayors have been elected. In the aftermath of election night, lots of news stories have appeared about how their success was from using social media. For the new mayor here in Calgary, because he was a Mount Royal University professor, reporters harped on how his youthful supporters knew how to tweet and twitter. How gratifying, then, that a respected consultant, "liberal party spin doctor" and writer, Warren Kinsella, wrote a local newspaper column to say “victory from social media” ain’t necessarily so. There is no magic bullet for elections.

I’ve met Kinsella often, although he wouldn’t remember me: His last year at the University student newspaper was during my first half-year there. Small world. Yes, I’m feeling (small world) old, and yes, I have never once used my thumbs to “text” (verb) but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong for “angry old me” to be cynical.

Here’s what’s happened:

One of my favorite essay\bloggers, Scott Berkun, has recently been asked to do an Andy Rooney style ending commentary for a TV series, from the University of Washington, called Media Space. The first episode was about a “lol (laugh out loud) cats” site. Berkun put his commentary on his web site. I liked it.