This is a fiction, but based fairly closely on a true story. It’s from about a year ago, and if I can’t figure out something to use it in, there’s something wrong with me. I don’t remember what the “Possibility Farm” was called in real life, but the faucets definitely didn’t extend far enough over the washbasins.
The Power of Teamwork
One could not look at the walls of the Possibility Farm without thinking, “Wow, how vibrant.” The laws of human evolution required it. State and local law may well have required it as well, but nobody really wanted to examine the necessary codes for a law that had never been violated, if such a law even existed.
One vibrant red wall flowed into another vibrant yellow wall, which flowed into a vibrant orange wall, each clinically proven to enhance mood and energy. The fourth wall was even more clinically proven: bright lime green heavily splattered with a slightly violet pink.
The splatter effect had actually been charted on computer and handpainted by undocumented immigrants, because actually throwing a bucket of paint at the wall gave unsatisfactory results. At the Possibility Farm, the walls had to seem creative and fun, rather than the scene of a Muppet’s death by 20-ton anvil.
Wacky free-spiritedness permeated the Possibility Farm. No couch matched any other couch, and one didn’t even have cushions. Every table was littered with kid’s games—Ants in the Pants! Cootie!—and crayons and colored pipe cleaners with unevenly worn fuzz from having been bent and knotted to within an inch of their pipe-cleaning lives. Even the bathrooms were creative, to the point where the faucets only extended to a point five full inches shy of the washbasin.
Major organizations, the kind that have offices with cubicles and secretaries who direct people to the Sixth Floor, spend upwards of $80,000 for one day of creative fun at the Possibility Farm. $90,000 if they want sandwiches.
Rick’s company, a multinational that somehow held money for other people without doing anything with it, as far as Rick could tell, was using the Possibility Farm for a retreat to discuss how the various divisions could better listen to one another. At no point would the prospect of actually listening to one another be raised, for if the various divisions had wanted to do so, they already would have. It did not matter. Creativity and fun mattered, and that was available in crashing abundance.
Karyn with a Y was the specially trained Funcilitator provided by the Possibility Farm to help the company navigate the minefield of improving listening without improving listening. She was the best, and she came with a money-back guarantee: Your creativity unlocked or your money back. How one might go about proving that their creativity had not been unlocked might make for some fascinating judicial theory, but as it happens, such an event had not yet occurred.
Karyn with a Y was running the Farmers through a simple team-building exercise. Divided into groups of six, each group had been given a long, narrow metal rod to hold on the backs of their hands. Then, on the count of three, they simply had to lower the rod to the ground—but each hand had to be touching the rod at all times.
Rick’s group of six was accomplishing this very poorly indeed, and if you wished to believe popular opinion, Rick was to blame. “You have to lower your end,” squealed Jeri, for Rick’s side was listing upward at an alarming angle.
“I can’t,” Rick explained. “I’m providing no support to it as it is. If my end is too high, then your side is too low or the middle is too high.”
“We need to lower this as a team” insisted Lisa.
“Your hand is too high,” Rick snapped. “I am providing no force that is acting on this rod at all. It’s basic physics.” To punctuate his point, Rick pulled his hands away.
Jeri screamed as the rod clanged to the ground.
Oh, my, look at that,” said Kathy with a Y, faux concern dripping from every edgily chopped hair on her edgily coiffed head. “Tell me, what happened here.”
“I think our teamwork needs to be stronger than our physics,” announced Lisa, with a glare at Rick.
Rick attempted to defend himself, but resisting the tide of a properly whipped frenzy was obviously beyond him. Before long, the entire room was chanting “Our teamwork! Is stronger! Than physics!” which, inevitably, emerged as the multinational’s new official motto.
The divisions still don’t listen to each other, but that day remains fondly remembered as the most productive in company history.