Taking a thought and running with it

In the first stages of my blog writing I used to write the everyday things I saw on my journey to work. Over time the blog has involved into something more focused. This morning though, fighting off the remnants of a cold, I’m feeling a little unfocused. So today I’m going with observation, an initial thought, and running with it.

As I approached the bus stop, I could hear the voice of a man behind me. He seemed to be talking at length to someone and it was one sided. As he passed I saw he had a handfree mic and ‘phones. As I heard a little more of his conversation, and realised he wasn’t waiting for acknowledgement from the person he was talking to, I began to get a little suspicious. 

He started to wander the bus stop area (Canning Bridge, so a few stops and the train station). He walked past me, walked back, went down the lift to the train platform to catch the Perth. Moments later he reappeared on the other side of the road, coming up the steps from the same platform. He then went over to the other lift to go diwn to the other platform for the Mandurah train. This whole time he still seemed engaged in conversation.

When he came back up onto my side again I was not surprised. I watched him walk all the way down bus port past a waiting bus, realised he could walk no further and then boarded the waiting bus. My bus arrived at that point.

Was he really talking to someone? I know some people prone to auditory hallucinations use mobile phones to disguise the fact, so that it looks less unusual. If he was experiencing such an episode maybe it works for him. On the other hand, maybe he was just an over zealous talker who got too distracted to pay much attention to where was going. 

Which would be more compelling? Sure, auditory hallucinations sound more interesting on face value, but consider the whole picture. If he was talking to imaginary person then it is simply a manifestation of his own mind. On the other hand, if he was having a conversation with a ‘real’ person then what about the person on the other line?

Who might they be, that would be willing to listen to a rambling monologue? Is it a friend? A family member? A social worker? Maybe some kind of helpline and the operator at the other end wondering ‘why am I doing this job?’ 

Now I could think that person’s response, their motivations. What if it’s a distant relative, who feels sorry for this guy having no immediate family? That would be an interesting relationship. 

I wish I could write more, but my bus stop beckons.

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Big Block of Cheese Day

Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States, famously received a 700kg block of cheese. He allowed members of the public to share in the cheese.

In the fictional series the West Wing, the White House Chief of Staff forces his staff to go through their version of the the Big Block of Cheese day. Organisations that would not normally have the President’s ear are invited to speak to senior staff. These include Cartographers for Social Justice and also campaigners to build a highway for wolves.

The actual White House under Barack Obama has held real life events using social media under the banner of Big Block of Cheese Day. Although in the context of promoting the State of the Union speech, the use of social media to engage the public is very much of the modern times.

All this got me thinking. Firstly, it gave me a craving for cheese and crackers. More importantly though, I have begun to think about how a similar event could benefit my workplace. In this context, I’m not thinking about organisations or people trying to influence government policy. What I am thinking about is creativity, and its impact on the way we think.

I was thinking about different professions and how they operate, and what that could teach us about our own business and way of working.

Architects and designers could teach about increasing complexity of design in the way they work, mirroring the increasing complexity of assessments as we gather more information.

Artists could have powerful influence about interpretation of a subject, analysis and finding new perspectives.

Photographers need to think about the multiple influences on a shot, balancing aperture, shutter speed, film or sensor sensitivity, and the framing of the photo. It’s an holistic approach similar to social work assessment.

By calling on local organisations we don’t normally work with I would hope to encourage some out of the box thinking. It would also be on a micro level. Instead of singular large all staff meetings, it would be small groups of workers, maybe just 3 or 4, meeting with an individual guest. This would allow for more informal discussion and develop personal rapport between presenter and worker. The workers could then disseminate their experience through their own networks in the workplace.

Yes, it does depend on the generosity of professionals giving their spare time to talk to an agency that I doubt crosses their path very much. On the other hand, I see a lot of opportunity for creative application in the workplace, and as experience of learning. So it’s an idea I’m planning on introducing at today’s leadership meeting, to see how far it can get.