html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Why don't they value my professional skills?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Why don't they value my professional skills?

My boss just asked me to write up a tongue-in-cheek, but also sincere certificate of appreciation for some people who helped us. I’m afraid he and my grand-boss asked me to do it because they think I’m the office smartass. It is true that I change people’s presentations and revise announcements on the whiteboard. I don’t deny putting pictures of environmental catastrophe on my boss’s wallpaper. I’m not sure I want that to be the basis of my reputation, though.

They also came to me to ask how to punish engineers from a different department who gave a mock presentation that scared our biologists. I had several ideas within a few minutes; punishing engineers is so easy it seems hardly worth it. Leaving labels and units off graphs is obvious and beneath us. One of my favorites is to ask engineers whether they would rather find a physical solution to a behavioral problem or increase efficiency in a system. I asked Margie that six weeks ago and she still comes up to me to clarify the question or change her answer.

Considering that the mock presentation was given in the context of a bi-weekly meeting, I thought the response should come at the next meeting. Clearly the next meeting should open with a ‘mediator’ saying that the project has been focused too narrowly on the physical system and that we would be switching to a broader approach. An approach based more on feelings, our own feelings about fish and nature, and also the fish’s feelings about the impassible barrier. Just the threat of some empathy-building exercises should be enough to make most engineers cringe. If it were accompanied by mood-setters like twangy music and incense, I’m sure I could make them sorry they ever messed with my co-workers.


Blogger Mark said...

Ask the engineers for some formula to _quantify_ the fishes' feelings.

3:48 PM  

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