Alice in Microsoftland
This one is from my files dated July 1996(!) -- and I haven't seen it circulated since.
"I don't have a badge."
"Did you lose it?"
"No." answered alice in a puzzled tone. "How could I lose something I never had?"
"If is not lost then you must show it to me."
"I can't. I don't have one."
"Then you'll have to have a temporary."
"A temporary what?" asked Alice, more confused then ever.
"A temporary badge. What's your badge number?" requested the guard.
"I don't have one."
"Of course not, Bill Gates has 1. Give me your badge number, and your cost center."
"I'm so confused. I can't do this. I've already said 3 times why. Do I have to tell you 4?"
"Ahhh. 3XY -- badge number 4. You must be very important to have such a low badge number. I should have immediately recognized how low by your state of extreme confusion. Here's your temporary. Go right on in."
Alice pasted the sticky paper to her dress and headed down the hall. Not 10 feet ahead she saw a rather distressed looking rabbit coming toward her. He was dressed in a pair of torn, faded jeans, and a dirty tee shirt.
"What's wrong?" Alice asked.
"I'm late! I'm late!" exclaimed the rabbit as he peered at the PERT chart dangling from his pocket protector.
"Late for what?" asked Alice.
"My date. I'm going to miss my date. I've got a deadline to meet and I'm not going to make it."
"Well, if its already dead, it probably won't mind. In fact it isn't likely to be going too far in such a state. I'm sure that however long you take will be just fine."
"You obviously don't understand. Everything takes longer than it really does. It doesn't matter what you are doing, only that you meet your date, and that's always impossible."
"Well if its impossible, why would anyone expect you to meet it?" almost at once regretting that she had asked. Was this was going to be as confusing as badges?
"It's really very simple. In order to move forward, you need a goal. Any goal will do. It just has to be impossible to do. To motivate the troops, you have to make goals very challenging. It's really only there to get a stake in the ground, you know. After that we march in step until we reach our objective. The date really doesn't mean anything. You simply have to understand that we are going to do the right thing."
"But if the goal is impossible, and really doesn't mean anything, why are you trying to go there? Wouldn't it be simpler to first figure out what you are really going to do, then figure out how to get there?"
"You obviously don't understand process. And as I said before, I'm late so there is obviously only one thing to do."
"Hurry up and rush off?" Alice asked, hoping it would sound more like a suggestion than a question.
"No. No. No. A meeting. Let find the Mad Manager and a number of involved, interested, or warm bodies."
"That will obviously take a lot of time. I don't think you have any to waste."
"No it won't. All we have to do is find a conference room. There are lots of them right over here."
"But," started Alice, "those rooms are all full of people. Don't we need an empty conference room?"
"Silly thought. If we want to find the Mad Manager and some meeting attendees, why would we look in an empty conference room? Anyway, it's impossible to ever find an empty conference room."
The rabbit took Alice by the hand and promptly lead her into the largest, fullest conference room. Alice immediatly noticed that the wastebasket was quite full of foam cups and overhead projector bulbs. These people had obviously been here for a long time.
At the head of the table sat a man with a rather funny suit wearing a large hat.
"Why" wispered Alice to the rabbit "is that man wearing that funny hat? Who is he?"
"I'm the Mad Manager," answered the man at the end of the table, obviously overhearing the question, "And I'll be happy to tell you why I'm wearing this Hat, but that topic is not on the agenda."
"Why don't we change the agenda?" asked a person in the corner.
"Is that a topic for another meeting?" replied the manager.
"Is what a topic for another meeting?" voiced a third. "The reason for the hat, or why we don't change the agenda?"
"Why don't we take this offline?" queried another.
"Does everyone agree that these are all topics we should address?" asked the mad manager.
"Possibly so," injected the person in the corner. "Could it be that we have a hidden adgenda?"
"Oh no!" the Mad Manager began, the dismay obvious on his face. "Someone has hidden the adgenda again! Let me put on my Process hat and we'll see if we can work this issue."
With that, he removed his rather amusing top hat, and placed a big green fedora on his head.
"Now, with my Process hat on, I'd like to address the issue of the hidden agenda. Since we can't have a productive meeting without an agenda, it is up to all of us to find it."
"But," a voice from the corner piped in, "who is going to drive this issue?"
"Do we have an action item here?" asked another attendee.
"Does anyone here want to work this?" asked the Mad Manager.
"Who originally brought this up?" asked another.
"I believe that the woman who came in with the rabbit proposed this. Shouldn't she own it?"
"Well," the Mad Manager stated, pointing to Alice. "I'd say that this is your issue."
"What issue? I don't have any issues," retorted Alice, nervously fingering her temporary badge. "I only posed a simple question."
"I'm not sure we can accept that," the manager declared. "We need a date."
"But," Alice began, remembering what the rabbit told her about dates, "a date is impossible."
From the back of the room another voice asked, "How about a date for a date?"
"The least we can ask it that you give us a date when you will be able to give us the date for the date," stated the person in the corner.
"I'm not sure I can do that," Alice said tentatively, "since I don't know what I'm supposed to give you a date for. I'm having a problem trying to figure out what you want me to do."
"We don't have any problems here, only opportunities!" piped a chorus of voices.
"It's really quite obvious," the Mad Manager declared as he reached behind him for a striped blue and gray beret, "let me put on my Microsoft hat for a moment." He continued doffing the fedora and flipping on his latest selection. "You must do the right thing."
"Yes, yes," chimed the chorus of attendees, "Do the right thing."
"Now, who is keeping the minutes?" the Mad Manager asked as he pitched the beret and placed the fedora back on his head. "We need to record this action item so we can come back to it later."
"We obviously can't deal with this issue until we can determine whose meeting this is!"
"Should we schedule some time to cover that topic?" asked one of the attendees.
"Whose going to drive this?" asked another.
Just as the Mad Manager was pulling out a rather worn pith helmet, a voice in the back suggested "Let's take a break and work some of this 1x1 offline."
Being closest to the door Alice was the first to leave. She quickly dashed down the hall and ran up the first flight of stairs she encountered, relieved to be free of the madness.
When she opened the door the scene that confronted her made her wonder if returning to the meeting wasn't a bad idea. Seated around a large oval table were what appeared to be giant playing cards, each dressed in a gray or navy blue three-piece suit. Around each neck was a rather oddly shaped handle (or were they nooses?) made of silk or polyester.
"Off with her head!" screamed the queen of hearts who was sitting at the head of the table. Alice noticed that her tie was silk, and each card seated near her was dressed in a suit and noose combinition similar to the queen's.
"Why would you want to remove my head?" Alice asked. By now she was feeling beyond confused.
"It's not a modern, iconic, user-friendly, menu-driven, full-color, PC-compatible user interface," replied the Queen, in a tone that would need to come up two notches to be vaguely considered condesending.
"It happens to suit me just fine," retorted Alice.
"What are you, an engineer or something?" asked the 7 of spades.
"No, I'm Alice. Who are you?"
"Marketing," the group replied in perfect fifty-two part harmony.
"And what is that?" asked Alice.
There was a brief interlude of silence as each of the cards fidgeted with their ties, checked their watches and scribbled notes on the pads of paper contained in a handsome genuine imitation leather folder embossed with the company logo. Then one by one, as dominos would do, they turned to the person on the left until they all stared at the queen of hearts.
The queen cleared her throat, adjusted her tie a second time and stared directly at Alice. "We provide the strategic thinking necessary to grow this business."
"Oh," said Alice, "you figure out what products to build!"
"Heavens, no!" exclaimed the Queen, "That's too tactical. We feel it's our job to develop the vision for the long term."
"You develop things," began Alice, "so you build the products?"
In unison each member of the table made a face reminicient of the look a small child gets upon tasting spoiled dead roaches for the first time.
"Uggggh, that's even more tactical," jeered the chorus.
"No! No!" shouted the Queen. "You still do not understand. We take the pulse of the key market leader's demand curve."
"I see now." said Alice, "You sell the products."
By now the chorus of cards chanting "Tac-ti-cal! Tac-ti-cal!" was becoming too much.
The Queen was furious and repeated her original greeting. "Off with her head! Off with her head!"
"Wait!" demanded Alice. "I belive I understand. You are all responsible for driving the solution opportunities for the key client supply perceptions through strategic vision management!"
Alice wondered if she should add something about the claws catching and fruminous bandersnatches and thought that she'd best leave it at that before she became ill.
"Yes," screamed the cards, "That's exactly right!"
"And how, might I ask, do you accomplish these lofty and important goals?"
"By calling a BOD," the Queen responded.
"And what, pray tell, might that be?" inquired Alice as she looked for the quickest escape route, hoping that this jabber would keep her head attached long enough to get out.
"A Board of Directors," began the queen, just as Alice noticed the door to the left of the table. "It's a type of high level meeting."
"A meeting?!" exclaimed Alice. "Not another meeting!" With that she bolted for the door, no longer fearing for her head. Her only hope was that she make it through before the adgenda hit the overhead. In a dead run, she passed through the door just as the projector lamp flicked on. The sound of the fan was the last sound to fade as the door closed.
Breathlessly she looked up to see a large open area. Directly in front of her was an enclosed area lined on one side with triple chrome table. A stack of plastic trays was at the foyer.
As she wandered through an assortment of sandwiches, prepared foods, soft drinks and salad began their daily chant. "Eat Me! Drink Me! Eat Me!"
"Oh no," answered Alice, "I may know nothing about dates, and problems and meetings and agendas, and marketing and badges, but I do know food. I'm not gonna touch any of you. After the morning I've had, I deserve a nice cheese steak (no lettuce)!"
With that, Alice opened the nearest exit door and left. A resounding high piched whine sang its midday good-byes as Alice returned to the real world.
Posted July 18, 2004