Sunday, March 8, 2009

Getting the Vision

Years ago, I worked on a massive GIS (geographic information system) data conversion project. It occasionally meant working round the clock over weekends, but the work itself was fun for a geek like me. However, there is a downside to working at a company big enough to in-source a large project like that. A company that big is also big enough to require its employees to genuflect before whatever self-actualization / motivational / empowerment / diversity scheme happens to be in vogue.

Back then, it was all the rage for Fortune 500 companies to send their senior management off to seminars where they'd hash out corporate "Vision Statements". Obvious visions like "We Sell Electricity!" were deprecated in favor more fanciful visions that used words like "synergy", "world-class" and "matrix" (especially when used as a verb).

So during one of those all-nighters, we (as the misfits among the misfits, the five-man data-conversion team) felt it behooved us to get with the program and develop our own "vision statement". Such a task is not to be taken lightly since one must remain true to the corporate "vision" and any subordinate visions that have been promulgated to support that great vision. Hence one is constrained by the hierarchy of visions one supports. So ... we figured plagiarism was the best policy.

In the corporate vision statement, we read "BAC (big-ass company) will enhance shareholder value by..." Thus, we figured mentioning "shareholders" in our vision would be particularly visionary of us. We also noted that the Information Technology Vision Statement said: "I/T will be an enabling partner within BAC in providing high-quality information technology solutions which contribute to successful company performance." Being seized by the words "enabling partner" and "information technology", and remembering that we'd been recently baptized into the gospel of "diversity", along about 2:00 or 3:00 AM we managed to craft the following vision statement for our data conversion team:

Conversions -R- Us
------------------
"Diversely Enabling Each Partner and Share-Holder with Information Technology"
6-million features converted; 11-million to go!

Mighty proud we were of our handywork -- so proud we used one of the company's big 36-inch plotters to print a bold banner, emblazoned with our new motto, and hung it over our section of cubicles. Later that week the banner even drew compliments from management, "That's a good idea to show the data conversion progress like that."

Henceforth, after each conversion weekend, we'd re-print our banner with updated statistics. (We also used this as an opportunity to incrementally upsize the font on the initial letter of each word of our vision statement.)

We got all the way to "14-million features converted; 3-million to go!" before middle management noticed the real import of our vision statement:
Diversely
Enabling
Each
Partner
     and
Share-
Holder with
 Information
Technology

Our banner was ripped down and we were told to grow up. Shux, I guess management at BAC just aren't visionaries like us.

9 comments:

Mrs. Who said...

Love it! And who says IT guys don't have a sense of humor.

LadyBugCrossing said...

LOL!! I love it!
Those middle management guys made you take it down because they didn't think of it first. They were jealous!

Bag Blog said...

I think you guys are so smart - very impressive.

It reminded me of my first job. I was given very good advice before my first parent/teacher conference. The veteran teachers told me that I should prepare statements to say to parents that were positive toward the students. Things like "Why yes, I think your child will do quite well in prison someday."

Teresa said...

Damn - almost makes me want to go work for BAC just so I can figure out how to do something like that. ROFLMAO.

JAMIE'S CREW said...

That is a good one! Thanks for the laugh!

Bob said...

Jamie--
Yeah, we thought it was a good one, too.

Teresa--
BAC could use a techie like you. As I say, we misfits came out at night. Our group adopted The Lumberjack Song as our theme: "We're the Conversion Team and we're okay. We work all night and sleep all day ..."

Bag Blog--
I couldn't handle being a teacher -- sure I could teach, I just couldn't deal with the parents and the administration.

LadyBug--
Actually, I don't think my boss's boss was what one could call jealous (unless by "jealous" you mean "humorless").

Mrs Who--
So are you telling me that someone named "who" says IT guys don't have a sense of humor? Who (one wonders) could that be?

Hula Doula said...

Oh my word you are such visionaries! HIRED HIRED and almost fired in a day. LOLOLOLOL
This was hysterical

Gladys said...

I love it! The last place I worked they went through a Total Perfomance Assessment T.P.A. Every memo that was sent had TPA on the the header and it was all management could talk about. The project manager and I took all the toilet paper out of the store room and stacked it in the conference room. Then we made up pie charts, graphs and assesments of the toilet paper. Management didn't think it was funny.

Buck said...

Late to this party, I am. But I've seen this "Vision Statement/Mission Statement/Exercise in Futility movie before, and even starred in a few sequels. That said, one of the first things I did following retirement was to do a complete and total brain-scrub to erase the memories of these VERY painful experiences. I was successful in that and have NO war stories to add...

You done good here, Bob. It says something about your management that you were able to get away with your joke for so long, LOL!