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Each day from now to the start of the next work phase in September I'm going to memorialize the computerized process and the progress (or not) for the unit I'm assigned to. I won't post them *all* here, just the ones that I need to communicate and which help clear my mind. A few lines near the end of each day will help me, I think, when I want to evaluate what was done and by whom.

Today we had a debrief session at Central Headquarters, with representatives from every geographical area and department, including el jefe and chaired by el jefe secundus.

After the initial platitudes, the Patsy of Secundus was invited to speak first, setting the tone and the parameters of the topics. His references were mainly to data problems, which sparked prolonged discussion on those areas (areas over which we love to agonize in our organization, but over which we have no control), thus neatly avoiding the higher level problems of orgainizational structure, staffing levels, skill sets and timelines. It was a move worthy of Machiavelli.

The participants were then invited to speak around the table, starting with the person just to my left (I was seated next to Secundus and he skipped over me).

Each person lauded the efforts of the subunit in question and marveled at the excellent way the work had been handled. The computer system's capability to do a particular process automatically was praised and referred to as the way to "reduce costs" and "avoid the inefficiencies of manual work." When you hear phrases repeated several times, pay attention. Those are the correct answers, class. And every person there gave the right answer except one at the foot of the table. She was given short shrift.

Criticisms were deflected (i.e., not allowed); concerns were addressed as being part of the process to "work through". The entire enterprise was labeled a "success." I tried at one point to add something to what the Patsy was saying and he told me this was not a "faceslapping" meeting and continued with what he had to say.

I'm not likely to forget such a personal insult to me any time soon, speaking of faceslapping. Bitchslapping is more like it and that's what he meant, but he couldn't say it in a meeting. However, he's up for promotion and Secundus is the one who will sponsor him if he kisses ass, so I understand completely, though I'm not likely to forgive it any time soon. He insulted me personally--but what is much worse, he knowingly prevented a process of growth and improvement. Though Patsy is not very bright and was undoubtedly maniupulated, Secundus knew *exactly* what he was doing.

After Secundus wrapped up the long meeting with a few more platitudes he did ask me if I had anything to say. At that point it was clear to me that what I had to say was of little importance to anyone else and I would only embarrass myself by anything substantive, so I added a platitude of my own (We're doing the best we can.). Trying to raise structural and staffing issues--which were at the root of the problems we had this summer--would have been of little value at the end of a long meeting clearly aimed toward self-praise and cya statements.

Note: Although I was not allowed to say so in the meeting, one of the people I supervise and I between us created more than half the items required for our region in a few days, in spite of Secundus' claims that the subunit did 75% of the work. I think one of the members of the subunit knew better but when I started to speak up he shook his head at me. I think he was telling me not to try to say anything. Of course, he didn't have the guts to speak up and so the lies prevailed and are now part of the record.

So, in all, in a 3-hour meeting where I was a senior participant and had the most experience with the computer system in question, I was allowed two comments which I forced in between platitudes and self-congratulatory huzzahs. I had set off for the meeting feeling quite positive that I and my cohort could contribute value to the process; I left with the proof once again that ambition for promotion and ego needs for control reign supreme. It's hard to keep the faith.

Looking forward to a relaxing weekend and trying to shrug off the anger and disappointment. It is as it is, and as it will be, world without end. Selah.

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