Friday, November 15, 2013

Bernie's Words, Their Words

I'm home today.  On the one hand, that's a nice relief.  On the other, it's time dedicated to detailed spreadsheets displaying all the flight information for the Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) from 2007 to 2012. It's valuation exercises with Free Cash Flows and Residual Income to prep for a midterm Monday.  It's a massive project about Health Care process flows, along with preparation for drilling at Devens all day tomorrow and Sunday, prior to MAG engagements every night next week.

Someone please be sure to let me know when mid-December gets here.  Let's celebrate with a Clausthaler.

But, today at least, 'working' means I get to listen to the City Council meeting in the background, not shave, and wear pajamas.

One exchange that I loved came at the very end of the meeting.  CC Mercier had introduced a motion about existing lawsuits involving the city.  On more than one occasion, she asked CM Lynch, "Whose responsibility is it to make these decisions [in reference to the city's response to the suits]?"

His answer: "That'd be the City Manager's decision."

Her response to that: "Well then that's you -- you're the City Manager."

His comeback: "Yes, I am currently the City Manager.  I happen to be the City Manager.  But the statutory responsibility for that falls with the City Manager."

Mercier:  "Yes, with you."

Lynch:  "Well, with the City Manager.  I was not the City Manager when this came up in 2002, or when the appeal decision was made in 2006."

CC Elliott jumped in later on and  played the same 'who is responsible' word game, which was equally worthy of Abbott & Costello.

Words matter.  If you've spent time around large organizations, you should know that responsibility and authority should rest with the holder of a particular position, but not with that specific personality.  It may seem like a picayune, nitpicky point...but it's not.  Well-designed organizations are not built around personalities.  Bernie was completely right to make that word choice distinction, and then to continually emphasize it throughout the exchange.

On a word choice tangent that's not CC-related, listen to the way the people you work with choose their pronouns. Watch how quickly 1st-person pronouns (we, us, our) get thrown around during times of success, and then how quickly they turn to the 2nd-person (you) when things start to go sour.

If I'm driving (figuratively or literally), I want a person in the shotgun seat who says, "We're lost, let's fix this" after a wrong turn.  The person who coughs out a "you're lost" without seeing the irony of the statement is the person who can (figuratively or literally) take a hike.

If you're trying to make character assessments, listening to the way people selectively choose their pronouns during good and bad times ain't a bad place to start.

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