am + da

John, Pierre and Marguerite are seminar-bound

6.45 am – Pierre and Marguerite are on a plane. Destination: the annual seminar for the company’s top 200 managers.

Pierre: What a busy end to the year! I haven’t even had time to check out the seminar agenda.

Marguerite: John is going to announce the new organization. Have you heard what people are saying?

Pierre: Yes, I have. Rumour has it that we’re going to switch to a matrix management model, with shared responsibilities and cross-functional working groups all over the shop.

Marguerite: And to “support and facilitate the change process” we’re having this seminar.

Pierre: That’s it exactly. John will give us a 50-slide presentation explaining why our company’s survival is at stake…

Marguerite: … and I bet that they will ask us to tweet our live reactions while he’s speaking. It’s quite good fun at the time, it keeps you awake, but it nevertheless remains quite superficial.

Pierre: Then they will bring on a whole host of “VIP” guest speakers, including probably a famous football manager who will tell us how, by devising “new cooperative solutions”, he enabled his team to win a major championship.

Marguerite: I’ll be sitting at the back of the auditorium in any case. I’ve got loads of e-mails to catch up with.

12.45 pm – Top 200 seminar – Lunch

Pierre: Well that was certainly a surprise! Who’d have guessed it? John only showed us 3 slides! Very clear, straight to the point: the direction that he wants us to take and why. Without any hard selling or purposeless dramatization.

Marguerite: I found the participative workshops that followed his presentation to be very pertinent. A simple worksheet to make us think about the impact of the reorganization on the way we go about our business, and identify all the issues that we need to deal with to ensure that we reach our target and, furthermore, within the expected lead time.

Pierre: This project seems to hold water. And for me, if a project holds water, I feel confident about it and am willing to put in the required effort!

7.45 pm – Departure lounge for the return flight

Marguerite: Well done Pierre! You were spot on about the football manager!

Pierre: Yes, but it provided us with a meaningful breather after lunch and before the afternoon workshops.

Marguerite: Afternoon workshops that you had not foreseen however! During the morning session we had focused on the issues that need to be addressed and then in the afternoon we were put into mixed professional groups to find solutions to get these “pebbles” out of our shoes. And at the same time it fostered within us a culture of cooperation; much more effective and useful than a long speech.

Pierre: Yes – back to basics!

Marguerite: What I liked most was that we didn’t have to feed back the findings of the workshops to the whole audience! We got away with not having to sit through that never-ending, tiresome exercise in style!
Pierre: …which was constructively replaced by a presentation by John and his inner circle of the post-seminar action plan that will enable us to put the output of our workshops into practice.

Marguerite: Yes, a credible option; we know only too well that you can’t resolve every issue in one day.

Pierre: I’m so looking forward to debriefing my team on the day’s activities, to bring them on board the project. This seminar has really got me fired up!

Marguerite: Yes, me too. Come on, let’s get on board ourselves…

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