"Now remember - there are no wrong answers in this exercise," Janice, the huggy-feely HR type says in a non-threatening manner. "What about SH*TBAG?" the PFY blurts.
"Well that's more of an outburst than an answer," I point out gently.
"Oh," the PFY responds. "My mistake."
Getting caught up in exercises designed to "enhance the workplace experience" is always a painful time for me. Today we're going to spend some fruitless hours renaming the IT department...
"What's wrong with just leaving it as just I.T.?" I ask foolishly.
"Because it's no longer I.T.," Janice burbles.
"We don't have to do IT any more?!" the PFY asks, abruptly dropping the Boss's tablet onto the desktop mid-fix.
"No, you'll still be doing I.T. per se, but you'll be doing more than that!" the Boss says.
"MORE work!?" the PFY gasps.
"No, the SAME work," the Boss says.
"I.T. work?" I ask.
"Yes, it's I.T. work - but I.T. is a movable feast," Janice says.
"Oh, is it morning tea time already?" the PFY asks, looking around for scones.
"No, what I MEAN is that what we traditionally think of I.T. services are no longer just I.T. services. Some I.T. things are now just things that people can do for themselves - like printing documents or burning CDs. As that has happened, tasks requiring more technical ability - like the management of your virtual machines - have replaced them."
"Oh," I say, "So what you're saying is that while the individual tasks of I.T. have changed over the years, the I.T. department itself still has a tangible place in the organisation - although calling ourselves the I.T. department is actually reflecting a much simpler role than the one we're actually performing?"
"So if I'm hearing you correctly..." the PFY adds, "there's no scones?"
"NO!" the Boss snaps.
"You'll have to forgive my assistant," I say, "as I believe he's somewhat confused about the change you're proposing. This is not a discussion about scones..."
"Not at all!" the Boss nods.
"...because we'd probably call them, what - gougères? - which are essentially the same thing, but with a stuck-up new name to make it sound great."
There's a bit of a pause in the room, and then, like a reboot from flash, the conversation restarts from scratch as if nothing had been said.
"I quite favour Information Department," the Director says, obviously hoping to take over any other department that deals with "information" in the process.
"Or Division," Janice adds helpfully.
"Or... Bureau?" the Boss asks, palming through his phone's thesaurus. "Precinct?"
"I think Department will be fine," the Director decides.
"I like the word Synergy. Like Information Synergy," the Boss suggests.
"Information Synergy," the Director says, rolling it round.
"What about Synergy of Information and Technology?" I suggest.
"That could just mean Microsoft Word," the PFY says. "It doesn't even mention servers!"
"Synergy of Hardware and Information Technology," the Boss says, in breathy tones, quite pleased with himself.
It all turned to crap just after the business cards were delivered, but still, it made sure the PFY and I weren't required at the next - emergency - renaming think-tank.
But just when you think you're out, they pull you back in.
"We've got a name we think you'll like," the Boss says. "Janice wants to know if you'd like to come down and see it."
"Oh I'd like to go and see Janice but I can't," I say.
"Oh, uh, Medical reasons."
"What medical reasons?"
"I have a nut allergy."
Even though that one went down like the Hindenburg, I still feel a bit pleased with myself.
"We really do think you'll like it."
... 5 minutes later ...
"Information & Troubleshooting?"
"No, not I.T - we can't use that because that would be confusing. We were thinking 'I and T'."
"Because that will never get abbreviated," the PFY quips.
"The company pays you actual MONEY to come up with stuff like this?" I ask, suppressing the red haze.
"It's perfect!" Janice says. "It's different, but the same. Non-threatening. It implies a change, but not one which suggests that we need to learn the same lessons again. It's a safe pair of hands in troubled times."
"Sorry to cut you off mid-ramble," I say, "but is there a new logo to go with this? I mean in the old days we just had an IT in block caps, but it seems like a good opportunity to shake things up a little. Maybe use a different font?"
"I see what you mean, Maybe one font for the 'I' and 'T' with a different font for the 'and'?" Janice says. "We could use Blue for the 'I' and 'T' and maybe a Red for 'and'."
"Well it certainly sounds like you've got a lot to think about," I say, making for the exit. "Keep me posted".
"So you're OK with all of this?" the PFY asks, once we're safely back in Mission Control. "I was sure you'd be out with the box of matches and a couple of magnesium-impregnated chairs?"
"Absolutely. By the time they've finished picking fonts and colour schemes I'll be ready with foreground and background shading styles, then icon orientation and dimensions. When they've decided on that I'll start on proofing sheets for the website launch. HR will eventually run out of enthusiasm about the same time as they run out of rebranding cash. Besides, the chairs are stashed behind a lot of junk in the basement."
"Uh, I think we're paying for the rebranding," the PFY says. "The Boss was talking about it at the department meeting earlier in the week."
">BEEP< >BEEP< >BEEP< >BEEP<
"Hi, it's Simon in IT - or whatever we're called now. I just need some stuff brought up from the basement.. Oh, and can you tell security there'll be a fire alarm test in about 15 minutes."