I’m in holiday mode tonight. Doing laundry, sipping fine Kentucky bourbon, listening to music, ratting around on the Internet, and planning for a fine 3 day weekend. In fact, I’m planning to take tomorrow afternoon off and make it a 3.5 day weekend. Hell yes. It’s going to be good, even if it rains all weekend - and it's supposed to.
Gotta tell you what happened today. I had to facilitate a big meeting this afternoon. It’s something I’ve dreaded since the day I scheduled it. It was a teleconference call with 15 invitees. Anyway, the point of the meeting was to encourage 13 people to discuss and develop a test plan and a scorecard for evaluating a new software application. I blocked a full hour, worrying an hour wouldn’t be enough time while knowing none of the attendees could afford to take a full hour of their schedules. I know every member of this team well because I’ve worked with most of them (virtually, not face to face) for at least 10 years. I expected lots of discussion, some push back, and lots of politicking. Well, the shocker was that nobody said anything at all. Nobody expressed an opinion or asked questions. No collaboration. Nothing. Everytime I asked for comments or if anyone wanted to add anything or ask a question, it was silent. I even cracked a few jokes, and still silence. I almost heard the crickets chirping. The meeting was over in under 20 minutes.
When I called an end to the meeting, everyone cordially said good-bye and hung up. Really? I felt like the meeting was a total failure. No plan, no collaboration, no decisions. I was totally bummed out. Two of the invitees were co-project managers working on projects integrated with mine. They both instant messaged me right after the meeting - they were thrilled with the outcome. They have been working this project unsuccessfully for almost 3 years. Their take on the event was that people are willing to work with me. All they’ve got from this same group is negative comments and complete refusal to consider change. The result of today’s meeting wasn’t what I wanted, but they acquiesced to my proposal to distribute a questionnaire and develop a plan from the results. I'm just not as optimistic as my colleagues.
Hmmm...maybe I should threaten them with a face-to-face team building exercise. That might provoke some willingness to cooperate and collaborate. Show me some enthusiasm or it’ll be three days away from home and a night of bowling for you buster! I sure hope it doesn’t come down to that!