Good enough for government work…

At least by one assertion the phrase “good enough for government work,” was coined at an ammunition plant and signified that the product met or exceeded all technical specifications and was suitable for delivery to the federal government for issue to the Army. Then again, that was the 40s and at the time government set standards were generally in excess of those commonly in use by industry. Now, of course, Good Enough defines the Dilbert-esq incompetence and indifference that the federal government labors under.

For the record, being Good Enough defines my entire goal for the rest of this week. On Friday morning, Good Enough gets the certificate as the honor graduate. So, here’s the deal: I’ll sit here quietly and not cause too many problems and you’ll give me that piece of paper at the end of the week… Then we’re going to go our separate ways and pretend that none of this actually happened. Good enough?

False start…

I’ve started three different posts in the last two days and haven’t had the motivation to finish any of them. It’s a sad state of affairs when the thing I want to complain about most is the thing that saps my enthusiasm write it down. One of these false starts looks promising, though, so it may go up some time over the weekend if I can work the kinks out and find a reserve of give-a-damn.

The morning’s lesson ran two hours over and all I got out of it was this lousy post…

I’m not necessarily an expert in educational theory, but I picked up enough of it getting my undergrad to know that following the same research, brief, research brief, research format for three weeks tends to become less effective over time. “Inquiry Based Learning” is a fine idea and probably works well enough most of the time, but in swinging the pendulum away from the traditional training model, it doesn’t account for those actually learn from listening to Subject Matter Experts or simply by reading the text and discussing the issues. Effectively, it simply changes the type of learner that will most benefit within the training environment. Sure, you’ve picked up some of the outliers on one side of the spectrum, but you’ve lost those on the other side.

I guess what I’m saying is that mostly I just want you to tell me what information you need me to read, process, and discuss and then bugger off while I do that. I don’t need a team, or a group, or a gaggle or flock to make that happen. Really, all those extra people are going to do is slow me down. I’ve become an extremely effective army of one and I promise when I need additional help, I’ll ask for it. Until then, I’d be much happier if you would just stay the hell out of my way. You’re not going to change my mind about what style I personally find more effective so you can stop giving me the hard sell. I’m not buying.

It’s a relief to know that unless my career trajectory takes a radical departure from its current course, this is effectively my last long course I’ll need to take. The rest I can pick up in week-long chunks or online and all I’ll need to focus on is keeping my certifications current. Ultimately, the brain will only retain what the ass can endure… and at the moment, my ass is just plain worn out. The only thing that matters now is punching that ticket, checking one more box, and then clearing the hell out.

P.S. It’s interesting that one of the “coaches” commented on the need for better time management this morning, but that the morning’s instructor led session ran two hours over schedule. Go figure.

Only week three? Seriously? Uggg.

Today starts week three in the hotel and it’s not so much that I really miss Memphis or anything about it, but I really am starting to miss having all my crap in one place. Even with the volume of clothes, electronics, and sundry other goods I take on the road with me, there doesn’t seem to be a day that I don’t need to go somewhere to pick up something I either forgot or didn’t realize I needed until it wasn’t here. I use to be pretty good at living out of suitcases, but more and more it’s become just another of life’s annoyances. Add that the colossal waste of time that this class has turned out to be and the disturbing array of alleged leaders I’ve been dealing with and it’s remarkable that no one has barred the doors and set the building aflame. Seriously. It would be a welcome change of pace from listening to this bunch flounder about all day.

So, it looks like I’m going to be in a progressively more antagonistic mode for each of the next 12 days. I’m actually a bit curious to find how far I can push some of these people before they finally snap. After skipping out on today’s session, I’m pretty sure I can expect a warm welcome in the morning. A tweak here, a nudge there, and maybe I can get someone to explode. That would be entertaining for a few minutes and it would certainly break up the day. I mean, after all, what’s the point of being part of a team if you can’t deal with conflict, right?

Forming, Storming… and that’s about as far as we’re going to get…

OK, “Team” Four, I’m going to be perfectly honest with you here. We’re not a team. We’re barely even a group. Maybe the most generous description is that we are a bunch of people sitting in the same room chatting from time to time and occasionally tinkering with a few PowerPoint slides.

Realistically, I’m not at all sure that giving a few sentences of explanation, four hours, and a group completely unwilling to trust the actual technical expert in their midst is the best way to ensure that we develop a well researched, articulate, fully-justified, and detailed analysis of an issue. Of course deciding to change direction completely at 4:30 on Friday afternoon is not necessarily a constructive use of time, either.

With that said, I want to let you know that I’m done with the unpaid overtime racking up while we sit with our thumbs up our collective 4th points of contact. So in general, I need you to stop being jerkoffs and get your expectations a little more aligned with reality. Otherwise, I’m pretty much finished with the lot of you.

Getting mooned…

I know this is slightly old news, but it was sort of a busy weekend and I’m just not getting around to commenting on the fact that we friggin’ bombed the moon… The friggin’ MOON! That’s some old school flag waving, there, son! Now I’m not at all surprised that we can bomb the moon. After all, we got pretty good at getting there in the 60s and 70s, but the fact that someone had the fortitude to sit in a meeting with very serious people and say, “You know, if we spent a few hundred million dollars, I bet we could throw a big rock at the moon and then test whatever it kicks up.” Seriously, I want to sit in meetings like that. The last meeting I was in involved looking at how many investigations were ongoing into people who lost government property. Guess which meeting was more fun.

I’m sure there was plenty of legitimate science to justify bombing the moon, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’m glad we did it for no other reason than because we can. The last half of the 20th century was full of “that’s friggin’ sweet” moments and I, for one, would like to see more of them in this century. So, whatever you guys at NASA are dreaming up, I say go forth and do great things. The more your experiments sound like the next episode of Mythbusters, the better off you and your budget are going to be in the long run. I just hope you’ve got something good dreamed up for your next act, because following this up is going to involve some serious work.

Drying up…

You’ve probably noticed lately that the volume and length of posts haven’t exactly been lighting the world on fire. It’s certainly not that the world has stopped pissing me off or that people have suddenly become less obnoxious. The routine of nine hours in class, grabbing some dinner at the nearest chain restaurant, and then heading back to the hotel to try keeping up with my actual job hasn’t been terribly conducive to generating new and interesting complaints (not that Sunday afternoons in Western Maryland are any more helpful in identifying issues, really). I get the sense that seven or eight consecutive posts about what asshats my fellow students are doesn’t exactly make for interesting reading. Of course the president has now won a Nobel Prize for having displayed great potential for influencing the future development of peaceful international relations, so I suppose anything is possible…

Another "Dear Colleagues…"

Dear Colleagues,

I understand the concept of strategic thinking may be new to you and that you may not be use to looking at the interconnectedness of world events from the perspective our both our allies and our adversaries. I get that this is new for you and I even get that it’s not something that everyone will ever do for a living. By the same token, you need to come to terms with the fact that you don’t have a bleeding clue what you’re doing and leave the heavy lifting to the people with the big brains.

I certainly am not claiming to have all the answers or even to be the finest strategist in the room, but I recognize my own limitations and make allowances accordingly. You, on the other hand, seem doomed to second guess yourselves ad infinitum and to work into the late hours of the evening drafting and redrafting a presentation that by the instructors own admission they are going to cut to pieces no matter how well developed the ideas it contains. Here’s a hint: that friendly comment was their way of telling you not to stress over it too much, because it’s just a first effort and bound to be full of holes.

So, in the future, I would encourage you to try to get your shit together – Particularly when you have six hours to put together what will end up being a five slide, 10 minute presentation – because I’m going to continue leaving at 1700 on the nose, finished or not. I simply do not have the time, energy, or inclination to waste covering the same ground three or four times each day.

Thank you for your attention.

Very respectfully,