a little east of reality

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

if you fail to plan...

We had our Branch Planning Days yesterday and today. Yesterday was a huge day. A bus took us from work at 9am to a little town outside Canberra called Bungendore. We spent the whole day at the Carrington, a quaint little pub/restaurant that also hosts small conferences and other functions. They fed us at regular intervals and kept the temperamental coffee machine working.

Our branch manager facilitated the first day and he wasn't particularly prepared. We spent half the morning deciding what we were going to do. Still, once everyone got into it we had quite a productive day. Usually these things are a bit of a wank, but we've just been through a huge merger and restructuring process, and these planning sessions are going to rearrange the teams we work on, so everyone has a vested interest in them working out well. Our group came up with a branch structure that we think might work well, and it looks like they might be going with it. The actual formation of the teams hasn't been finalised yet, but we contributed to that discussion, too. I like the feeling that I'm actually having some input into my own work environment. I do hope, though, that I end up with my same supervisor. She's pretty good.

Bungendore is a nice little town. One of its attractions is the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery, featuring furniture (chairs, tables, desks, beds), homewares, art works and small gifts. The stuff was fabulous (though well out of my price range) and I had a great time looking. My favourite things were the sushi sets and the lattice bowls. I wish I had a close up of the lattice bowl so you could see the workmanship and the beauty of the woodgrain. My least favourite thing was a big, ugly, huntsman spider who was perched above one of the artworks. /shudder/ We had an hour for lunch, so I also looked around the leather shop, a small art gallery and a secondhand bookstore. It was good to walk around and clear my head before heading back for another full-on session in the afternoon. We finally wrapped things up at 6pm.

After our sumptuous dinner (3 courses, free drinks...Aussie tax dollars hard at work!) we all piled back on the bus and snoozed our way home. The bus arrived back at work about 10pm. I let the cool night air wake me up, drove home, and then fell on my bed and slept. Dragging myself out of that bed 8 hours later was much harder, but we were starting at 9am and our little group presentation was being done again for the Division Manager, so I had to get to work early to transform our scribbled whiteboard design into a lovely printed handout he could refer to. I didn't do the presentation, sadly - I quite like that sort of stuff. But no big deal. The day went well and now it's up to the execs to figure out the details.

Here's our proposed structure, by the way (click to enlarge). The main change is the fluid project teams. At the moment the team with the most relevent expertise gets the project, but sometimes there are staff in other teams they have to keep asking for advice because they know one aspect better than the members of the team that are running it. Fluid teams for projects that don't fit neatly into one area make sense. It's also a good chance for staff development, because you can put an inexperienced person into a project teams without their team having responsibility for the whole project. We occasionally use teams like this for inter-branch projects, but have never used them within the branch before. If you're wondering 'why have settled teams at all?' it's because we need established lines of reporting for things like applying for leave and performance reviews.