Three months back I attended a conference named 'Brain Storming ‘ sessions which included heady mix of professionals with more than three decades of experience , not expertise, top executives including the directors of a big public sector corporation.
After the morning session and one and half hours into the second session it was my turn to speak up. I am recollecting the relevant points to the observation made in your mail.
I asked all the participants [definitely I cannot call them delegates, rather a better way to put that up would be to call them passive receivers] what sessions we have been having from the morning? When my turn came up it was the fourth session. Much to the irritation of the top bureaucrats I pointed my question to them and they had to reply because I was representing the trade union. So they felt it would be better to give a reply and silence me rather than allow me a longer rope. The heads who led the three session said, ' Why any doubt sir? We had very detailed brain storming sessions on bla bal bla etc' I thanked them and continued like this,
“Respected sirs, well in my opinion we had four and half hours of verbal and theoretical masturbation and interrupted by menstruation of tea breaks and lunch breaks. Kindly excuse me for using very harsh terminologies but I believe in calling a spade a spade though this may not be liked by all. However if at all we want to engage in any collective thinking to effect any purposeful and meaningful change or improvement we must first desist from duping ourselves with meaningless and useless exercise which in my humble opinion is colossal waste of public money and meaningless drain of man hours, especially of such high officials. Let me make it very clear. I may be wrong. Please do correct me after I finish my quota of 25 minutes plus 5 minutes of question and answer session".
One executive interrupted with a good joke, ' Sir, you have already used three minutes of your question and answer session by asking us questions at the beginning of your speech'. There was loud laughter all around.
I acknowledged the humor and proceeded , "Well, to me questioning is the process of learning, understanding and unearthing wisdom and this is how all great discoveries and wisdom have come about and being a wise man I prefer to continue to use that method. I know many of you here may have felt shocked at my opening remark but I stand by that. We have assembled here to decide about a specific purpose what we need to discuss and focus must be the following things though this may not be the complete list.
1. What are the relevant facts that we must take into consideration regarding the main purpose?
2. What are the major factors either at the level of individual employees, or our corporation or policy decisions of the government etc which can have an impact on this issue either negatively or positively?
3. How are we going to address those factors?
4. Is it necessary or essential at all in the first place to entertain, much less give so much of importance to the main purpose of this meeting as a matter of priority over many other pressing issues that requires our attention on a priority basis for example bla bla bla…..?”
Then I proceeded with an example, “again turned to the top officials on the dais if I say I want a cup of milk what will you do now?”
One official who wanted to prick me said, “I would to get it immediately and love to see you drink it rather than trouble us with more questions”.
There was laughter all around. This gave me the correct launching pad, I started off,
“ Sir, in fact I appreciate you for many things, which includes your sense of humor, the top most I appreciate is your answer now and this is precisely I want to do about the purpose of the conference. The purpose of the conference was to get milk. That is it. For four and half hours we discussed what milk whether cow’s, camels, goats, donkey’s etc? Then we discussed about which breed of cow we must buy? What feed we must give it? What must be size of the cow shed? Who or how must we milk the cow, either manual or with machines? Under which head can we account for all these expenses? How long will it take to get the first cup of milk? How are we going to help their procreation? Can we cross breed? Are we going to tie the cow with a rope or chain? Whether we must paint its horn? What color is preferable? How many veterinary doctors we need? What must be their emoluments and when can we get government approval for that? We discussed some 100 such wonderful and relevant facts throwing in our well chosen verbal jargon and pet theories which we have studied in the management manuals, peppered with , in the interest of bla bla bla….and many more such load of irrelevant things when all that was asked was just a cup of milk and considering the present climate we should have just replaced milk with lassi or butter milk or if we feel that the industry needs to stay awake probably a black tea or black coffee or any other alternative beverage of choice or relevance. So sir, your immediate offer of milk to me is all that I want and appreciate. Sitting in the front row for four and half hours I did use the letter pad given to me. Now when I take a look at this I can see a sense of renewed irritation to many presuming that I am going to attack on specific points discussed. Sorry I always like to bowl googlies. I can show or mail to those who are interested that I have noted down the types of logical fallacies which wetted the issue during those four and half hours of verbal masturbation.
Thanking everyone for your patient listening.”