My Apologies to Maslow


"You’re on the agenda for 2 pm. Here is what they want you to talk about. You have an hour."

I looked at the paper that my cohort who manages the other side of IT had given me to find the list of things his team wanted to hear from me during their 2-day on-site summit.

"Business continuity, fail over, disaster recovery testing, systems architectures, the 3-year apps road map"

My face must have betrayed me by letting my thoughts reach it because my thoughts were like, "are you kidding me?"

"These are only suggestions," my cohort immediately explained.

"Uhm, okay. I’ll figure out what I can do," I responded.

I’ve been at the company for 5 months, and in my new role for about 2-3 months. If they don’t have some of these things already, then they can safely assume that I don’t have them either. I mean, how could I have these things already?

With my apologies to Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs, our IT department is still in the "basic needs" layer while the things they are looking for me to present is really in the "self-actualization" layer. To say we aren’t there yet is an understatement. Hell, we fluctuate between needing food and shelter and feeling safe. Thinking we are even where we can "reach our full potential" not only from a personnel or systems perspective is, well, far from where we should be focusing. Let’s get the base stable first, then build up.

Yesterday, the CIO asked me what I was going to talk about as he pointed to the agenda sitting on his desk.

"Fuck, not that," I told him bluntly.

He laughed, "Yeah, I’m not talking about those things assigned to me either."

I relayed to him my bastardized for IT version of Maslow’s Hierarchy, and he nodded his head as I spoke.

"I feel like we should spent more time talking about the next step – "belongingness" as it seems to be where the issues between my group and his are happening."

"So what are YOU going to do about it?" he asked with a smirk.

Well, I’m going to talk about that. I’m going to open it up and say, "so what do you need from my team to feel successful" then let them bombard me with things. I hear all of the time from my team about that team – I figure fair is fair – they should have the floor with me too.

"It’s either that," I concluded, "Or I’m pulling in my team and making them do a big team building exercising with lots of role playing in it because then they will bond over their shared hatred for team building with role playing."

It’s all about creating for both teams a common purpose. To borrow from Machiavelli, it’s better to be hated then loved. Whatever it takes to get them to bond – over some fun or pain. Either works for me at this point.

I let my cohort know this morning that I am rejecting the agenda. I explained what I planned on doing instead. Then he gave me a few more ideas – more realistic ideas given where the team is at on the hierarchy.

We shall see how it goes. Here’s hoping they are ready to move up instead of down on it.

What do you think?

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