Climate survey…

Every job I’ve ever had was driven, at least in part, by the recurring rhythms unique to the organization. Cycles are everywhere if you’re paying attention – fiscal year end, annual conferences, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports… and my very favorite, changes of command.

One of the perks of working for our Big Bureaucratic Organization is that someone new ends up occupying the top spot every two or three years. When you’ve got a good one, the time goes a little faster, but when you have a bad one at least you know they won’t be there forever. In the age old tradition of the bureaucracy, when all else fails, bureaucrats know we can outlast even the worst of the worst in their tenure. The bureaucracy was here long before any individual leader and will endure long after any individual has departed. To quote Ronald Reagan, the bureaucracy “nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.”

As sure is night follows day and summer follow spring, a change up at the top of the org chart is followed by conducting a climate survey. It’s one of the tools by witch the new guy is supposed to “get to know” his organization – or at least what people are brave enough to say about it when they’ve been promised anonymity and non-attribution.

I’ve lost track of how many of these surveys I’ve responded to over the years, but I can count on not all the fingers of my left hand the number of things that have ever been improved in any meaningful as a result of them. Still, I play along, mostly because if the bosses are dumb enough to ask me how I really feel, I’m absolutely dumb enough to give them an honest answer. Since it might be the only chance during any particular boss’s tenure where I’m invited to tell truth to power, it feels like it’s just too good an opportunity to pass up.

Fortunately, after years of answering questions and very little changing I have built up quite a repository of stock responses that, after a bit of tweaking, are every bit as applicable today as they were the day I first wrote them… two, five,, seven years ago, or more. It’s just another in a increasingly long line of times when saving every scrap of previous work products as part of my Official Papers archive really pays dividends.

Take Out the Trash Day…

In an episode of the West Wing, Josh and Donna have a conversation about why Friday is called “Take Out the Trash Day.” To boil it down, Friday is the day that the week’s bad news stories get released to the media. That’s mostly because except for a few hard core news junkies, people don’t tend to pay much attention to the news over the weekend. What little attention a bad story gets in the weekend press is swallowed whole by the new cycle before anyone logs in to the Washington Post on Monday morning.

While the chances of breaking a national scandal wide open here by yours truly is pretty slim, blogging faces much the same hazard as most other kinds of media – namely that Friday and Saturday tend to be low-volume events. It generally means what you’re reading on those days isn’t exactly “A” level material. When you throw in the fact that it’s a fair size portion of the country will be acknowledging Easter this Sunday, the viewership statistics drop right through the floor. Apparently, people spend Easter doing something other than tending to status updates on Facebook and catching up on the blogs they follow – to each their own, I suppose.

Don’t worry though, I’ll be right here posting my regular updates throughout the weekend, like some kind of evil, godless heathen. It’s ok, you can thank me later. I hope you didn’t mind this little bit of inside baseball discussion. It’s Friday after all and it only seemed fitting in celebration of Take Out the Trash Day.