Game Day – Geek Style

Every year, the “mothership” of my organization* convenes a technical review board to assess our investment strategy for future program funding.  Typically, it’s a two-week ordeal for the members of the review board, and about a month-long frenzy of preparation for the mid-level management-like-objects, such as myself.

Maybe it was the buzz of the recently completed Winter Olympics, but i found myself making direct comparison to the realm of athletics as we prepared, and delivered, our strategy. 

Pre-Game Strategy:  Our Division Tech Director was responsible for developing the game plan.  He is a master of ‘strategery’ and knows the minds of the review board members (judges and referees) better than anyone else.  He started working the plan a month ago.  He determined the ‘line up’ of presentations**, sticking the weaker presentations just before, or just after, lunch.  Start strong, finish strong…

Training and Game Prep:  For the past three weeks***, the team has been slaving away.  Defining strategies, building cross-organizational teams.  We studied our excel spreadsheets.  We practiced and practiced and practiced answers to potentially challenging questions.  Cranial muscle memory must be developed!

Game Day:  It wasn’t a locker room, but the break room was abuzz with quiet anticipation this morning.  Everyone****  in early.  Pots of coffee – “geek gatorade” – were prepared and consumed.  Loads of “smack talk” tossed around.  My division secretary was quite the smart ass when i showed up wearing professional attire.  “Excuse me, Ma’am.  Can I help you?”  he queried as i stumbled around the corner looking for coffee.  “Hey, i dug out the ‘big girl’ clothes today.  Figured yoga pants and slippers wouldn’t help me deliver the goods…”.  Yes, down to our uniforms, we were all spot on…

Good Luck Charms:  Of the five tech advisors “in the game”, we all have different styles.  As a result, we each have our own ritualistic approaches to delivering a big presentation.  One sat down for a final flip through with the boss.  Another?  Frantically tweaking and tuning his presentation materials.  Me?  Coffee and reading the news online.  Checking my trusty back up laser pointer.  Stopping by the restroom en route to the auditorium to check for ‘nose goblins’.

The Pistol:  And we’re off!  Division Tech Director masterfully scripted the introduction, and one by one, we performed.  Holding tightly to the allotted times, he looked relaxed, but he was keeping track of the clock, taking notes on questions for clarification, moving dawdlers forward, deferring tough questions til later in the day.  The baton?  The wireless “clicker” and laser pointer.  Passed seamlessly to the next presenter.  Through the entire day, we were all there – encouraging our team mates.  Seeing a stumble coming – “oh, man, don’t bring that up!  It’s a trap, a TRAP!” – but sitting silently because it is not an audience participation sport.  We were ON!

Post-Game Wrap-Up and Analysis:  There were high-fives, low-fives – everything but towel-snapping and a ceremonial dumping of the coffee pot on the head of the Division Tech Director at the end of the day.  We rocked the house!  Several comments from the board, thanking us for being succinct, providing just the information requested, and answering all questions.  The “Beer Call” is scheduled for Friday, once we get the final report from the review board, but it looks like a sweep…

Geeks.  Who says there’s no sport in research and development?

Physics makes me strong!

* Called the “Front Office Group”, or lovingly “The F.O.G.”

** He put me first, against my protestations.  Finally he said “Look, that theatrical crap you do makes you a strong presenter.  Shut up.”  Ah, the benefits of cross-training!

*** One week for me.  i’ve been around long enough to know that the original marching orders would change over time.  Rather than get my job done, then spend many hours tweaking it and revising it?  i waited.  Cost me a sunny weekend, spent in the office, but net investment of time for me was waaaaaaay less than the other tech advisors.  “Interval Training”?

**** Including me.  Damn it.

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12 thoughts on “Game Day – Geek Style

  1. I wonder if you gave out gold, silver, and bronze medals for placing, and if the gold medal’s anthem was played–and sung to. Or does that happen Friday at Beer Call?

    Sounds like it was a lot of hard work and some fun.

  2. Wow your divisional meetings makes ours look like I work for a bunch of Hobo’s, minus the campfire and bean cans.

  3. “Hard work pays off over time, but procrastination always pays off now!”

    That’s my motto too. I hate doing work for nothing, even when I’m being paid to do so.

    Do you guys have to take any changes in funding into account year after year? i.e. budget shrinkage during economic downturns?

  4. fragrant liar – oh, they kinda give out ‘gold, silver and bronze’. if they approve your strategy? you get to spend the money. if not? they can give it to someone else…

    sonny – i prefer going early, but first was stepping into the unknown. my first year in the new group, and they do things differently than my old one. wasn’t sure my ‘style’ would be appreciated… but yeah. done.

    carlae – oh, i made it sound FAR more interesting than it was. i was bored, and started jotting down some notes to stay awake…

    rob – constant adjustments. this was for 2011 programs. by next year? things will have changed again. downward is the only way the budget goes…

    chris – i like my compatriots, but will not be showering with them soon! beer? yes. whirlpool? notsomuch…

    syncopated eyeball – he’s adorable, isn’t he?

    nursemyra – you know what they say? “Short legs, short trousers!”

  5. That’s just freaky.
    I don’t think I would enjoy it.
    There’s nothing I despise more than meetings, and this sounds like nothing more than an endless round of meeting after meeting. Talk about a waste of time! This is why mid-level management exists. Worker-bees don’t want to deal with this shit, they just want to get things done. And upper level management just wants to stamp something and go get drunk.

  6. writerdood – if i didn’t get paid to do it? there’s no way in hell i’d do it for free… it is endless. there will be another big-ass review in the autumn. at least 2 major ‘dog and pony’ shows every year. better than ‘donkey’ shows, i suppose…

    blazngscarlet – we rule the earth. it’s a shame that most people don’t know it… i’m still waiting for groupies.

    tNb – ABSOLUTELY! moneymoneymoney and mo’ money! all about the benjamins, and we can’t count benjamins without Excel!

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