Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Meta-Clipboardery

I feel like a child, who, having experienced mini-candy bars and fun size bars is finally introduced to the King-Sized Snickers.. and now is in awe of its magnitude and nuttiness.

As you all know, I work with a set of clipboards with different functions. It is well known that I'm in the cheese business, so, here's the lay of the land. Q is the clipboard that manages the cheese production. For example, next quarter we might opt to launch Swiss Cheese Slices, individually wrapped with lots of holes. He would be responsible for ensuring that the team that wraps the cheese has talked to the cheese culture team, to ensure that minimum tackiness requirements will hold the wrapping sufficiently near the cheese. He also interfaces with me to ensure I have my cheese marketing messages down. For example, I might market swiss cheese as being the low-calorie option, as each slice has more holes, and thus, less fat.

Now, Q doesn't spend a lot of time concerning himself with the broader marketing problem. Naturally, we'd be working on a billboard campaign with a tongue in cheek message like "Hole-i-er than Kraft!" with our cheese and a halo on it. That would be bolstered by unique packaging of the 25 and 50 slide packs, and a plan to send cheesehead women in cheesy costumes to local bars to induce people to try our cheese. But to Q, I have a limited set of plans. Market Cheese. Check.

I act as the clipboard for the rest. Yes, I too am a clipboard. But, I also have some best practices by which I am guided. For example, someone has put together a spreadsheet that says that I am meant to launch cheese with a separate packaging for 25 and 50 slice packages, because the nutritional labels have to change slightly. That makes sense, right? And on that spreadsheet there are also other things I might forget, like submitting my new cheese to the Cheese Council Awards For Packaged Dairy. Good to know.

If you're counting, that's 2 layers of of clipboardery on my side, and one layer on Q's side. That's not enough, really... So I got a call today from the King Size Snickers Bar of Clipboards.

This patient soul called me to tell me that she was creating ONE LIST TO RULE THEM ALL. Given the number of lists, and the glory of our experiences marketing cheese far and wide, she would like to create one giant master plan to ensure that everyone does everything they ever need to do in order to create cheese and bring it to market. Any cheese. The universal spreadsheet of cheese tracking. A unified theory of cheese. Lest any single drop of milk get spilled along the way.

Holy Cheetos. I don't even know what to say. Godspeed? May the graph paper be with you? And, at what point will organizations learn that the way we do things - the way anything really ever gets done - is not according to clipboards. It's according to good will, relationships, and favors we do one another along the way.  There is no ISO9000 of cheesemongering. And even with the best list, one PIA will toss a wrench in the plan. So, what will I tell her when she documents my dependencies on the melty-quotient statistics and the slice-dimension team? I'll tell her what I always say... it's a darned good thing I have the head of cheesemaking on Instant Messenger.

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