Monday, January 30, 2017

Collaborative Space

I won't get the order on these statements quite right.  And I'm going to paraphrase. But this catches the spirit of an exchange I had with facilities on Friday morning about an area at the end of a dead-end row one of my teams sits in - and only my team members - where we merged four empty cubes and that we use for some collaborative time because my team members have been moving around within the three teams I manage.  Generally a quick game on Friday that I hope highlights communication and which is run in rotation by me or one of my six coaches: Fuse (it was very interesting to see who froze during a quick decision making process), the Marshmallow Challenge, Concept (it was interesting to see how in sync the developers were when it came to thought process), Werewolf (who do they go to when they pick the untrustworthy person/s), sometimes a quick TED video, volunteer events and technical sharing including the start of a little tech library, and more.

So facilities - in the form of one person who had been seen loitering in the collaboration area - visited me.  They were angry about the table and that my admin had not set up a meeting to discuss the table. I asked, what's the problem with the table? They told me it shouldn't be there.  So I asked why they had been willing to put it there instead of telling me I couldn't have it when the request was filed.  Because we had gone through facilities to procure it. I'd have been fine with being told "no table" in the first place. should have never been approved.  And the first request was for a table in the wrong location and facilities had put a table in the wrong place.  I noted I hadn't filed the request personally, so I couldn't vouch for the content, but that I had included a photograph of the cubes with numbers visible and a note that there was tape on the floor marking the edges of where I approximately wanted it to fit.  I added if they didn't want a table in that space, they could just take it back.  The response: ...well....maybe.

We moved to the next related topic: why wasn't there a meeting with J, the admin?  I replied that J was only filing requests I asked her to and it wasn't her job to verify I'd pre-cleared a request with facilities...she didn't need to be involved. If facilities needed additional removal requests filed, they could tell me what they wanted removed and I'd file them personally and we could leave J out of it.

Well....never mind.

Facilities continued...but you shouldn't have that space.  Someone else needs to use it.  Me: that's fine; we never assumed we'd have it for long and that we'd give it up as soon as it was needed by another team. Facilities replied: we might need it.  Me: do you need it?  Them: we might. Me: if you need it take it; we'll move the loose items.  Them: there's a table there. Me, biting my tongue and not pointing out we already discussed they didn't have to move the table there in the first place if it was a problem: remove the table. Them: it should have never been there in the first place.  At which point I wanted to quote Westley from The Princess Bride when he tells Vizzini, "Truly you have a dizzying intellect."

She moved on...and it's a risk to move the file cabinets. Me, think back on a coach I had who had been lectured about a contractor moving his phone and laptop without a facilities request: we turned them sideways. They're empty. And if you want the space back, we'll move them back.  Did someone file a complaint?  We move to another, closed room, if we even think we'll be noisy.  We try to respect our neighbors.

Facilities: well, you really shouldn't meet other than in approved spaces.  Me: like our dedicated room?  The project takes priority when they need it.  Facilities: there are three other collaboration rooms nearby.  That left me confused until I realized: you mean those little offices? We don't fit, but we have the alternate room if there are noise complaints. Facilities: Well it's not really fair to anyone else that you have additional place to meet when they don't. Me, at this point incredibly confused because I feel we're venturing into some very strange logic that says no one should do anything unless we all agree beforehand and divvy up the resources even for those who don't want or use them: What are you talking about?

Facilities gets a little glint in the eye, like they have me right where they want me.  And maybe that's me being paranoid in retrospect, but I heard the big intake of breath before they dropped this one signifying it was of extra importance:  Games.. You're playing games. Me, a bit incredulous to say the least: you mean having team building activities. Them: no, games. Me: and team building activities inclusive of those games. Them, with what really seemed like literal derision: no.

Just no.

Big pause.  Facilities: And there's food. Me, thinking back on a few corporate "you should celebrate milestones and anniversaries and birthdays" directives that we liked to celebrate anyway, but the company had assured us were important: like donuts?  muffins?

Facilities: no, loose food. Me, realizing where we were: The canned food for the corporate food shelf event that's already moved on to a cart and then on to the Eagan foodshelf?   The toilet paper and canned food?  Facilities: There were boxes. Me: closed boxes. Them: they can still attract rodents. (I literally thought at this point about how floors in the cube areas are no longer vacuumed unless you make an official request and the cafe meeting area has seen two separate requests from me to clean it after a week of food, plus one for the tops of the dividers, one for a bathroom you could smell from nearby work areas, and two for a bathroom with drain (or as my tech calls them "shit") flies. I'm know for filing cleaning requests).

Me: so what do you want me to do about the area?  You haven't told me anything concrete? Facilities: we need a meeting with J the admin and you. Me: J isn't involved.  I told you she only filed what I asked her to file. Are you asking me to involve my management?   At this point it got even weirder, facilities: I'm trying to be reasonable here, my boss wants me to be less reasonable (yes, that's right...good cop fucking bad cop because of a table in a dead end row where no one sits). Me: Again, what do you want to happen?  Facilities: Well, nothing now. Let me take it back to my manager.

At that point I headed off six minutes late to my CTO's all hands meeting on the other side of the building. I've been thinking of recommending to HR that our culture initiative/training expand to include contractors.

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