I have always wanted to be on a task force.
I don’t really know what a task force does, but I think it would be great fun. First of all, when you are on a task force, you usually get fed, sometimes they even give you pineapple and cheese pastries and bagels. Warning, if you are on a task force west of the Hudson, skip the bagels and go right to the croissants.
Then, on the task force, for the first hour you just play. The activities are called icebreakers. Some people, particularly introverts, call them b… breakers. If you like building trust by falling into others arms or taking off your shoes, then these are the kind of task forces you should consider joining. I’m probably much more cerebral because I like the icebreaker where you are supposed to listen to somebody’s boring story and then retell it to the group. I like this because I say to my always willing partner….”You tell your story and I’ll tell mine and no one will know the difference.”
Usually during the icebreaker, someone in the group notices that the evaluation sheet is in the packet. When she starts filling hers out, others follow her lead. By nine o’clock, everyone has evaluated the entire day.
When you finish all of these team building activities, your facilitator is really charged up and the rest of you are thinking, “Isn’t it time for lunch?”
Sorry no. Now, your task force must establish its norms. Nobody really knows what norms are, but everybody pretends to know. I think norms are the things you are supposed to do in a task force to keep you from jumping up from your folding chair and strangling another member of the task force. The facilitator believes that the only way the group will arrive at “healthy norms that we can all live with” is if the group members engage in hair pulling, sucker punching and dirty words to establish the “healthy norms we can all live with.” Usually at this point in the norming, when the issue of “Cell phones? On or Off?” comes up, two people use bad words and one person leaves in tears.
When you’re finished with norming (A cool word, don’t you think?) it is time to take a snack and bathroom break. The coffee is cold and the only pastries left are the prune danish. Not good at a meeting.
Then , when you return, the facilitator finally gets his power point presentation to work and he skips to the slide that says. “Why are we here?”
Get into your groups and blah blah blah.” he says. “You will have fifteen minutes to work until your presentation.”
I am really hoping that my heroine, Susan Cain, and her Quiet Revolution is working on these group think sessions because every time we have one, I want to throw up my cheese Danish and coffee.
So there you are in your groups, and there’s always that one person who has to grab the markers and the chart paper. There are three reasons that woman grabs the markers.
- She has the neatest handwriting, and she gets high from the smell of new school supplies.
- She knows if she writes the damn chart, she won’t have to present it.
- She is the only one talking in the group because the others are all texting on their phones, while nodding sagaciously at her blither-blather.
Fifteen minutes later, the next slide goes up and it says “Break for lunch.” Everyone loves that slide. They love it so much that they add on an extra half hour for networking which is the real reason they joined the task force.
After lunch the “sharing” begins. In each group, the extrovert who did the least in the group, presents. He’s not worried, however, because he knows no one is listening because they are all rehearsing their own presentations.
Then, it is time to end the day and the facilitator says, “We are going to collect all of your ideas, and then send you the minutes.”
The facilitator wraps up all of the charts and puts them in back of his car. Two weeks later he takes them out, but they make no sense at all. He’s embarrassed to send them out as minutes, so he puts the charts up in his attic.
That’s probably why on Antiques Roadshow, somebody brings in a document, discovered in the attic of an old house. On The Roadshow, the appraiser verifies the authenticity of James Madison’s signature, but, he’s most intrigued by the thumbprint on the parchment…probably from Madison’s cheese pastry.