Friday, July 29, 2005


One of the things I’ve learned after nearly 20 years of being engaged in corporate culture is that school really doesn’t make any sense until you’ve entered the working world. Only then can you appreciate how all those years of sitting behind a desk has prepared you for sitting behind a desk.

And I’m not talking about College, particularly. Or High School, for that matter.

No, I’m talking about those formative years. The years of lumpy paste, finger painting and construction paper.

I’m talking about Kindergarten.

It takes some getting used to at first, but eventually you come to terms with the fact that all of this looks strangely familiar. The cheery sloganeering in large letters on every wall. The ice cream sundae rewards for a job well done. People who talk to you loudly and in small words.

Most of this is done in the name of morale. There’s nothing dearer to the heart of large companies than exercises that are intended to build a sense of teamwork among the rowing crew. The preferred tools for this are usually available for a reasonable fee at your local arts and crafts store.

I remember one time, recently, when we were encouraged to make our own hats. Tables were laid out with scissors and glue, sequins, glitter, and assorted hat frames that employees were encouraged to let their imaginations run riot over.

Determined to work towards a “personal best,” however, I opted to create my own headgear out of some simple things I found at my desk. By merely stapling together two sheets of paper and cutting a fringe along the edge, I had something approximating a party hat.

On both sheets of paper, however, I had written in large letters in black magic marker “Please Kill Me.”

A slow murmur seemed to build in my area, almost impossible to hear at first. People kept getting in and out of their chairs until, eventually, my supervisor paid me a visit.

“Your, uh…hat…”


“Some of your fellow employees aren’t happy with it.”


“I’m just letting you know. I’m not telling you to change it. I’m just letting you know what they think.”

“Ok. Thank you.”

I suddenly began to see images of my friendly fellow workers marching towards me with torches and pitchforks.

“There’s the hat!”

“I can just make out the fringe!”

“Satan loves magic marker!”

So I kept the hat on for a while longer until finally removing it and retiring it to my overhead cabinet. Not long after this, I found myself inexplicably transferred to another section of the enterprise.

Once again, I had helped to build team morale.

Next: Building Blocks of Achievement!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A corporate hat? Who's bright idea was that? It sounds like a Dilbert cartoon. "Please Kill Me" - although a bit dark & edgy is simply brilliant! Although no doubt a major buzz kill for corporate management. Sure beats "Let's Get Mobilized!" or "It's a Group Effort!" or my favorite "We are on Way!"- out the door of Corporate America. Adios!

Monday, August 01, 2005 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Count Screwloose said...

Actually, I got quite a few laughs and thumbs-up signs from fellow workers who passed by and saw it. It was only the folks forced to be in close proximity to me that ran to Teacher to tell on me.

Isn't that frightening? People felt the need to tattle on somebody's paper hat. Maybe it's me.

It's interesting how quickly Corporate America moved to co-opt Dilbert, printing selected strips in company newsletters in magazines to demonstrate that they've "got a sense of humor" and can "take a joke".

I bet Dilbert could wear a paper hat without fear of reprisal.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005 9:33:00 AM  

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