1) Visual Identity.
I might have written about this previously. Some high ranking person in DC decided that we should all be uniform in everything we presented. That meant that all Reclamation web pages had to look alike, all Powerpoint slides had to be a particular format, and all correspondence had to be a particular way. There is something to say about uniformity, but they obviously spent $$$ to print out these booklets to tell us exactly what font type and size must be used at all times as well as what templates with proper logos should be used for anything that went out to the public. Being the good little soldier, I prepared my Powerpoint presentation with the proper template which had "Reclamation" clearly (and in the proper color) printed on each slide. I did a presentation several weeks ago with just a simple blue background and was told I should use the proper new format.
We knew we wouldn't get the data necessary for the presentation until the 8th. I had wanted to schedule the meetings for the week of the 18th so that there would be enough time to prepare and make sure the data was correct. Management shot me down and said that that was too late. Fine. We could scramble and get everything done in 2 days. We could have had 3 days, but we couldn't miss that oh-so-important team building exercise.
3) Us vs Them
We have a love/hate relationship with the Corps of Engineers. Our reservoirs are intertwined so one must coordinate with the other. It seems, however, like they are always bad mouthing us. When we need a favor, we get shot down. When they want a favor that will negatively impact us, we complain and are then labeled as non-team players. They will then go over our heads and management caves to their demands in trying to preserve that "team spirit."
So yesterday all 3 factors collided in a train wreck. My presentation went up and down the management chain getting tweaked. Fine. I can change things quickly. I protested lightly the desire to "dumb things down" for the public, but I complied. Finally a draft was sent to the Corps for their approval. Up until Monday I had thought that I would be doing the entire presentation. It turned out that the Corps wanted to present the data from their own reservoirs. Ummmm. Ok. There's not much to say. Besides, I will be presenting their reservoirs at my other meetings. Why should this meeting be different? I smell politics.
I get a call from the person who will be presenting. He used to work for us but jumped ship a few years ago for a promotion. Ever since I have known him and even worked for him he had been a presentation slut. It seemed like the only thing he ever did was prepare for and do presentations. He frequently lamented that he never had time to do any real science/engineering because he was always doing meetings/presentations. He had major heartburn with my slides. He hated the fact that "Reclamation" was prominently on every slide. I told him it was part of our visual identity. He wanted me to remove it. I refused. He told me I could easily remove it in Powerpoint. Nope. No time. He then "threatens" to pull out of the presentation if I don't remove it. I told him I was fine doing the whole thing myself. KTHNXBYE! At that point he hung up and I threw the receiver, flipped it off, and yelled, "Fuck you!" at the phone. My boss was standing there with a deer-in-the-headlights look. I told her I had had it trying to deal with that turd and I would do the presentation without him. She backed out of the office and returned a few minutes later with a chocolate bar. OK. She knows how to calm down an angry bear. She agreed to have her secretary do a global template change on the presentation so that it would have a plain blue background. I made my point perfectly clear that if we are going to abandon the ridiculous requirement for uniformity, then I don't want this to ever turn around and bite me in the ass at a later time.
She further placated me by buying me a burger for dinner since there was no time to have dinner. The presentation went off without a hitch. There was very little public interest as opposed to years past when we were in the throes of severe drought. I put on a good performance. I made nice with the Corps although I still think they're turds.
As we were packing up, the subject of the visual identity fiasco came up. It turns out that they may be bringing back some sort of uniform for when we do public presentations. My boss said there was no way she would ever go that far. I laughed. I told her that if they pushed the issue, I would wear the uniform. I think I would look quite sexy in the official dress or skirt. Don't think I wouldnt do it ;o)