Captive’s Log – Day 1

I really shouldn’t be so snarky with the title, but I feel like I am a captive for the next two days at a strategic planning session. But I have decided I get to be snarky because, well, I just spent from 2:30-10:45pm in a the first day session. This, after working a few hours this morning making today a 10 hr day easily. I think I deserve snark.

So now, I am sitting here on one of the two queen sized beds in the room that I don’t have to share …. Side note about that comment: we usually have to share a room with someone – and for women especially it is a total crap shoot in terms of which one of the handful of woman you get stuck with. Thankfully this time, there were no duds in terms of women in attendance, so it was less stressful than the time before. But still – it’s nice to have some alone time after spending 8 hrs with people.

So now, I am sitting here on one of the two queen sized beds in the room that I don’t have to share trying to wind down after tonight – trying to make a list of the things that came to mind as different topics were discussed – things I want to follow-up on. I am also sitting here reflecting on the fact I am horrible at small talk – and really wish I was better because mingling and chit-chatting with people I don’t know well is just something I’m fucking awkward about doing. What can I say? I don’t do superficial well.

Though I did have a funny moment tonight – late in the session – when the facilitator was sharing a story about root cause analysis. He was telling a story about how the government discovered that the Jefferson Memorial was deteriorating faster than the other memorials in DC. So, they did a study. They found that park maintenance was cleaning the exterior 3 times more than other memorials. They were doing that because of the pigeon population – it was greater than other memorials causing a greater mess. Why? Because the memorial was home to a greater number of a particular spider the pigeons liked to feast one. Why? Because the spiders were feasting on a particular fly that was in abundance at the memorial. Why was this fly in abundance? Because these flies hatched at a greater rate at the memorial. Why? Because the lighting conditions were such at dusk when the lights came on at the memorial that the flies were hatching faster. At this point the facilitator asked, “Do you know what the fly was doing after it hatched and lived its short seven hour life?” Different people said different things – and finally I said – at the same time as the guy next to me, “they are reproducing before they die”. There are sixty people in the room – maybe 10 of us are women – and I am the one who states the obvious. The guy next to me who started saying the same thing high fives me. “I’m glad I wasn’t the only one in the room that thought screwing was a natural thing to do before you die.” I smiled innocently. If he only knew…..

In preparation for attending this set of meetings, we were asked to fill out some questionnaires about the company, our competitors, etc. What I learned from the process was this: I had no fucking idea how to answer these questions.

What I hated about the last company was the fact I felt entirely disconnected from what the company strategy and execution was. I was given a project or a specification document and told to go execute that without understanding how this fit into the greater company – how it connected to what the business was needing or doing. It drove me crazy not knowing the business – but crazier because no one seemed to be bothered by that except me. I had written that off to the fact I was working for a global company with about 60,000 employees in 67 countries. After leaving there, I had vowed not to work at a place where I felt that disconnected.

Two years into this job, and I learned the issue wasn’t the size – it was a silo mentality.

Playing softball like I did for a chunk of my life, you all have to have your positions – you have to have your skills for those positions – you have the things you are responsible for in your position – but, at the end of the day, everyone has one shared goal: to win. At the last company and this one, everyone is working towards their own personal goal without consideration about what it could do (positive or negatively) to the overall company. It would be like a 3rd baseman fielding the ball cleanly, but throwing it to the wrong base. Hey, the 3rd baseman’s stats are good – it’s someone else’s issue that they didn’t get the out. It is like they forgot the battle is against the other team – not within the team.

So, today, I spent the day learning. I am in a position like a catcher where I see everything happening on the field but have no good idea of what I should prioritize first in terms of fixing because, well, no one seems to be of the same mind in terms of the objective. Is it to win? Is it to have good personal stats? Is it to make sure we relay the ball cleanly while not doing it quick enough to make the out? I have an idea of what should be happening, but it’s also like the coaches are giving out different orders to different parts of the team while withholding info from other parts of the team.

Today, I learned something important: who are our competitors. Today I learned what our customers want from us that we do not give them. Today, I learned where we sell as well as who we should be selling to. I learned all of the things that, well, everyone should know who works at the company. Two years since my first day, and I’m finally learning what I should have learned that first week.

Better late than never?

Knowledge is power if shared.
Knowledge is an anchor around your neck if held tightly & not shared.

Tomorrow we will find out if people realize that as we do a deep dive.

Tomorrow, we start at 8am and end at 10:30pm.
Tomorrow is going to suck.

What do you think?

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