Sunday, October 19, 2003

Playing in the sandbox

Cleveland, following two flights on Southwest Air. Let me get the negative comments out of the way first: I can't stand Southwest. No other choice, however, as Southwest is the federal contract carrier for ORF-CLE. Sardines. No leg room. Open seating. Flight attendant smiles don't make up for the deficiencies. Give me reserved seating, a chance to pass through first class, a complicated frequent flyer system that remembers me, rather than my need to remember it. Southwest is the Greyhound busline of the air (okay, I could go off on observations about bus vs. train vs. air travelers).

On the flight out, struck up a conversation with a NASA engineer, Brenda. Interesting to hear about other agencies, other bureaucracies, other opportunities. Brenda mentioned that at NASA they no longer have the time or the structure to "play in the sandbox." Huh?

To play in the sandbox... Meaning 1: to be able to pick your own projects & your own work. Meaning 2: to try stuff out; to take time out to think.

Here in America, whether or public or private sector, we have ripped middle managers, middle leaders, and middle thinkers out of our organizations. Claiming it not cost effective, we're obliterating any semblance of fat -- now we're driven by the tactical and day-to-day ops and crises. We don't expect employers to think. When accounting for our daily hours, there's no "think" code for our timesheets.

I think it's time to play in the sandbox. Anyone want to join me?

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