Value added synergy…

In recognition of my first day back at the office under 2019 working conditions, I’m excited to provide an exhaustive list of things I did at the office that I couldn’t have done if I were home.

– Cleaned off a shelf in my cubicle to restock with coffee, tea, and corresponding additives and accessories. If I’m going to have to be here, mass quantities of caffeine are absolutely going to be necessary.

– Cleaned out a drawer in my cubicle that was filled with crackers, ketchup packets, and sundry foodstuffs that mostly expired early in 2020. Mostly this was just gross. For the record, I should note that mustard packets absolutely do not age well even when stored in a cool, dark place.

– Found two banker’s boxes with lids that someone was sending to recycling. Banker’s boxes are great for book storage. They’re now stashed in my cubicle awaiting a dry day when I can liberate them.

– I spent an hour in a meeting this morning. It was probably one of only 3 or 4 meetings I’ve attended in person in the last 30 months. I have no idea why I was invited as none of the topics were anywhere close to my lane. But there I was, because that’s where Outlook told me to be at 10:00. I could have dialed in for this meeting, but since I was there in person, I’m claiming it as an accomplishment for the day.

– Pushed the button to unlock our room door thrice. As far as I can tell, this is in fact one of my mission essential tasks. In light of that I’ve begun tracking how many times a day I push the button. If it’s going to be the thing that keeps us here in person, I want to make sure I get credit for it on my next performance appraisal.

– Got to listen to at least one person hack up a lung in each and every room I entered today. No idea if it was flu, cold, allergies, plague, or some new and exotic illness, but there they were, spraying the room and everyone in it with their aerosolized gunk throughout the course of the day. I’m just going with assumption now that the office is 100% where the Great Plague will finally catch up with me.

– It was Taco Tuesday featuring a selection of hard- and soft-shell tacos, homemade empanadas, all the appropriate toppings, and a selection of deserts. It was one of the rare occasions when I willingly violated my personal rules against participating in lunch events in badly lit conference rooms. 

There you have it. That’s what extra value you get for your money when I’ve schlepped over to cubicle hell instead doing business from the ease and comfort of my office at home. I’m sure it was all very “value added” or “synergistic” or “team-focused” or something.

The deep end…

We’re reorganizing. By my count that brings me up to the 5th full scale reorg I’ve participated in since coming to work for Uncle in 2003. For purposes of this discussion I’m leaving out the myriad of minor moves, tweaks, and changes that have only tangentially touched whatever position I happened to occupy at any given time. If those were included, we’d easily be well over one reorg a year. As it is, one major reorganization every other year feels like it happens far more often than it really needs to.

Reorganization. Realignment. Operational efficiency. Synergy. Improved customer focus. Empowered team members. Leveraged resources. Cross-leveled workload.

Yep. All the right buzz words are there to make sure that this reorganization gets it just right and that six months from now we won’t all be engaged in a counter-reorg to undo most of what was just done. Except of course that we will. Maybe not in six months, but certainly before the year and a half mark some or all of this brave new structure will fall away as ungainly, unworkable, and ultimately unsustainable. They all do in the end.

There will be some new boss at echelons higher than reality who, applying every little thing he thinks he learned at B-school, will have some brave new scheme for how things can work better. Or he’ll need a job for a favored underling. Or he’ll just want to “leave his mark” on the organization.

Big organizations are surprisingly resilient to the finicky twiddling of the Olympians on high. They tend to muddle along despite what damage transient leaders try to do to them. Organizational inertia pushes things along, ensuring that today looks a lot like yesterday and that tomorrow won’t look all that much different. Wait a while and all the changes, both good and bad, will be undone in favor of some other idea. There will always be another reorg just over the horizon. They ebb and flow like the tides.

For some reason I can’t help but think about a ship steaming across the deep ocean. A massive tsunami may pass under its keel unnoticed and unremarked. It’s only when that vast wave washes up on a far shore that it’s really a problem. Get too attached to what you’re doing and where you’re sitting and you’re the one sitting on the shore… but if you stay out there in the deep water, you can just watch it slide on past and inflict its damage on other people.

If anyone needs me I’ll be out here paddling in the deep end until this whole thing blows over.