Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Public Service Recognition Week

Since this is something that got publicly announced I think it's safe to talk about it here despite it being a work thing.

On Monday I attended the Public Service Recognition Week awards luncheon, along with several of my coworkers and our guests. Of the dozens of people who worked on the Warehouse Management System project (WMS) over the last few years (and particularly towards the climax last spring and summer), six of us were picked out as representatives to be nominated for, and to win, recognition as one of the fifteen Outstanding State Teams.

For this, we got to have a moderately good lunch, at the cost of having to dress up. (My first time wearing my new tie, and in fact my first time wearing a tie in 11 years -- the last time was also for the same recognition -- so I needed to find directions on how to tie them.) Then we listened to Governor Douglas give short presentations on each of the winners (we got to go last, joy!), and get handed a certificate and photographed with the Governor.

The almost-ironic thing is that this project actually went quite badly, the worst of any in my career. So why get recognized? Perhaps because the failures weren't the fault of the team, really; or in recognition of the enormous amount of effort we went to to make up for the problems; or because ultimately despite all the catastrophes we got a usable system out of the deal that has made a big improvement (and hopefully will make even more in the future).

In 1999 I and my team won the same award (it's still up on the wall here) and back then Governor Dean's appearance at the ceremony was much less pronounced and more brief. He spoke far more briefly, was in a few snapshots, and ran off to do whatever he had to do next. By contrast, Douglas is a grandstander. He got into every photograph, announced every award, chatted and made jokes, and was there almost the whole time. He never missed a publicity opportunity.

Lest you think I think better of Douglas, quite the contrary. Dean gave the impression of someone who was too busy running the state's executive branch, but managed to eke out a little time to thank us. Douglas gave the impression of someone who liked the idea of a lunch and some good press, which are more important than anything else he has to do. More than a few times he used his glib, witty remarks to poke at political issues (very mildly). Not that there's anything wrong with that -- I am a fan of the Daily Show! -- but it does erode any sense that his attention was to us, rather than to himself.

Still, I got in a picture with Douglas and shook his hand, but the best I managed with Dean was being in the same room. So I suppose it's a silver lining of sorts.

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