ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - June 2000

Issue Highlight - Safe Return Doubtful
--- Much of the attention in human resources seems to be about how to recruit and retain good people. The conventional wisdom is to offer people the possibility of big benefits and instant wealth.

In This Issue...
The Real World at MTV
New American Revolution
Basic Training
Bringing Values to Life

Peter Block Column
Views for a Change

Heard on the Street
Diary of a Shutdown

Sorry We're Closed
Diary of a Shutdown - The Final Installment

Saturday, April 1
--Okay, here we go; the very last month of the diary. My 15 minutes are just about up. It's almost over, just like this plant. But I am still alive... It figures that my one shot at fame is anonymous.

Tuesday, April 4
-- The more we talk about moving leftovers to the transfer site, the unhappier Noah Walsh is. Too bad, pal. You have been here a year and now the program is all yours. Congratulations, you won.

--I take most of the day off today because I have an appointment with my therapist, a networking interview, hair coloring (the gray seems to be gaining these days) and soccer practice.

Wednesday, April 5
-- Twenty-two days left

-- Four more production meetings!

- -I'm leaving at 10:30 a.m. today to head for an interview. People seem amazed that I would even look at a remote location, and I respond, "What are you talking about? You live here, hardly a bustling metropolis."

-- Before I leave the house I mail the mortgage payment.

-- I feel like I am right in that in-between spot of the change process that always causes all the problems. Planning change is no problem, doing the change is fun, but right now I'm not in one place or another. It's that moment when I have let go of one trapeze swing and I'm spinning around to grab hold of the other one, but for right now I'm just in the air, not holding onto anything, carried by momentum and faith.

-- I need help with endings. There is a marriage ceremony, but with the high percentage of divorce, why not a divorce ceremony? I think that beginnings always take care of themselves, but special care is due endings. I usually have some sort of getting-ready routine when I start something new, but I never thought about a letting-go routine. Usually the end of one thing is the start of another, so I just focus on the next new thing.

-- But that's not really ending anything. We try to disguise endings by calling them transitions and changes, but this is absolute ending, plain and simple. All of our talk about cycles is just a way to deflect attention from the pain of ending. You never hear, at the beginning of a new venture, "Well, I know the beginning is good, but don't worry, it's all a part of the cycle. Soon you'll have another ending."

Thursday, April 6
-- Our computer systems are down because they pulled the plug somewhere. They say it's an error, but maybe they just thought we were already gone.

-- The production meeting is light with relief because they know there is only one week left to go, come hell or high water. Production stops the 14th; we all leave the 28th.

Monday, April 10
-- I answer an ad today that reads:

-- "Production plant looking for a hero to run or help run well-established manufacturing business."

-- A call for a hero? I can't resist. Apparently this old habit has some life in it yet.

-- It has been so long since I have enjoyed work that even the possibility gets me excited. How do people go through their lives hating the work they do? Doesn't that hate slowly poison everything else? Well, I guess it's like suffering through a bad marriage; some people have the capacity to make a life that way.

-- Not me. I'll take loneliness over fear any day.

Tuesday, April 11
-- The fact that the "Transition Team" reps from the transfer site that have been camping out here for a year haven't done a damn thing is now painfully clear, even to the executives. We have three days left before we stop production and start shipping, and they are asking questions today that are so elementary that it's hard to take seriously. Basic questions about how to ship and who to ship to start surfacing, so I ask the leader, Noah Walsh, "So, isn't this what the team that we met yesterday is working on?"

-- He replies haughtily, "Yes, they are still here, and they were quite impressed by your people yesterday." This makes the entire room laugh down at him, to which he stiffens even more, which I would not have thought possible unless I saw it firsthand. .

Wednesday, April 12
-- I hit a nasty cold call, which is rare. She is impatient and actually yells into the phone, saying that her name should not have been given out, who do I think I am calling her, etc. Jeez, I hate to think what she says to telemarketers. I get off the phone, recheck the lottery numbers and remind myself, 13 more days. Get a job!

-- What a relief! I found some more money! And it's mine, all mine! The company's savings investment plan is available to me upon termination, lock, stock and barrel. This means that I probably won't lose my house and I can panic a little less.

-- Wow-it seems like I did win the lottery, after all.

Thursday, April 13
-- The last production meeting is this morning and I have no idea what to do. The moment is so big for me that I don't want to ignore it, but I don't want to trivialize it, either. So I do what I always do. Leave the house at 7:00 a.m., pick up the breakfast and coffee.

Tuesday, April 18
-- This is my daughter's 11th birthday. Boy, I sure hope I can get my life straightened out by her next birthday.

Thursday, April 20
-- I am very nervous about the last day. It is so final.

-- I will be alone and this company that we built will be gone forever.

-- I bring in two breakfast casseroles and then I wonder-are there enough people here to finish them both?

Monday, April 24
-- The entire day today I only see three people.

-- I am too tired to get out of my office.

-- I am too tired to clean my office.

-- I am too tired to cry.

-- I am too tired to write.

-- However, I find that I am not too tired to get a manicure/pedicure, so I decide to call it a day and pick up my daughter and get our nails done together.

Wednesday, April 25
-- Sixty-six of us exit on Friday. Mike lists the names of those of us that are leaving at staff meeting and says, "Uh.. Okay, bye."

-- He compliments us on the production floor cleanup, and tells us how great it looks. Hank Smith corrects him mildly, "Oh, I don't know, I kinda liked it better the other way."

The Last Day, Friday, April 28
-- I wake up feeling nice and warm and connected to all of the friends that helped me this past year and a half. I get in the office early because I still have a lot to pack and throw away, and I want to do it quickly and privately.

-- By 7:30 a.m. I have accomplished this mission, and some guys help me carry the items to my car. The security guard looks at nothing throughout all of the carts of boxes that I bring out, and I don't even have a badge anymore.

-- I fill out my last time card.

-- Adam Jones from HR does a wonderful job at the exit interview and I can't even imagine how many times he has gone through all these details. He is patient and funny and it takes an hour, but we are finally done. I am no longer an employee.

-- I am home, time to finish this column.

-- I look for a theme, some great wisdom, but I don't see any around. I know who I am, who my friends are and what I want.

-- I know that I am grateful to many people.

-- Thanks to God for a full life, a terrific family and the strength and health that I need to enjoy this journey.

-- Good-bye.

June 2000 News for a Change Homepage

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