Survivor for Bureaucrats

The 2012 Local Government Rural Management challenge was held at Renmark in South Australia. I was part of a team of six people representing our organisation. Seven teams competed – six from South Australia and one from Victoria. Our team consisted of: Mr. Les Al Dance, Miss Ima Hugga, Ms Heaven Lea, Mr Doug A Trench, Mr Al Grandé, Ms Ginger Plum and the Team Coach Dr Tor Mentor.

We travelled the 800km in a mini bus and got to know our team mates a little better as most of us had not worked together before. We appeared to be a fairly reserved and quite bunch. We had been briefed and prepared for the challenge. So we had a logo, a flag, a motto, a vision and values, team rules, banners, and team t-shirts; as well as a heap of stationery, documents, laptops, printer, lollies and music.

We were all nervous on the day but keen to set up our designated room. We moved beds, put up posters, set up the banners, made our work areas, set up the laptops and printer, and prepared the customer service area complete with fresh flowers, sign-in book, picture of The Mayor, and welcome sign.

Then the whirlwind hit. After a briefing with all the teams, we started work on the four tasks that were delivered, with two more undefined tasks expected to arrive at any time. We brainstormed as a group, wrote up the task schedule on the whiteboard, divided the tasks accordingly, and got our heads down.

Three reports, one briefing paper, a meeting, a flowchart, and two customer service actions with file notes later and it was lunch time. PHEW! I felt dehydrated, headachey, stressed and overwhelmed. After lunch it was straight back into it with three more tasks to complete. Another report, a media release, and a presentation and we were done. Our presentation was a group effort and we kicked off the seven presentations to finish the day. FRED formed the basis of our Staff Code of Conduct Training Overview.

The scenarios and tasks formed an interesting and descriptive narrative for the District Council of Galeforz, so much so that I felt as if I knew the place and the people. Rather than dry tasks, the tasks proved to be interesting, challenging, relevant and realistic. Two women acted some parts during the day in order to provide some “real life” action. This added a further dimension to the scenarios and was well executed.

Our team performed like a Bathurst Pit Crew. There were no conflicts or power struggles. Just a team of equals working together: collaborating, supporting, sharing, suggesting, and swapping. It was a thing of beauty. Our Coach worried that we ignored the morning tea of cakes and drinks. And by lunch time we were dehydrated, tired and a bit worse for wear. The afternoon session was shorter and less intense. The seven group presentations formed a perfect way to complete the day. I was quick to volunteer our team to present first just to get it over with. FRED formed the basis of our presentation.

Back at the motel our Coach de-briefed us and provided words of encouragement and pride. We were glad she was glad.

Dinner and presentations were enjoyed at the Renmark Club on the banks of the Murray River. The winners – six young gorgeous women from the Yorke Peninsula were the stand out performers on the day. We won an award for the Best Dressed Room and so our badging and arranging efforts were recognised.

The long bumpy return trip in the mini bus was a quiet journey with the team feeling totally spent and mentally exhausted. It was an excellent experience that condensed a year’s worth of training and team building into a single day. If you get the opportunity – dive in.

Signing off: Ginger Plum, Group Manager Human Resources.

My Big Red Book

Apparently when I was just a little kid when asked what I wanted for Christmas I asked for “a big red book”. It appears that at a young age I was impressed with the importance and value of books and reading, and so began a lifetime love that has sustained me through the years.

Now I find I have My Big Red Book! And it comes in the form of an iPad. Oh the joy I find with this technology. Not only can it hold a library of books I love, but it allows me to create my lists of reminders, has space for reflections and journaling, accesses the Internet for instant answers, holds photos and images I love, music, podcasts, movies, whatever. I can forward my work appointments that automatically appear in a beautiful diary with pages that turn like my paper version. I can log my walks, eating, yoga sessions. I can download professional resources from ALIA. I can study, organise and connect online for the Masters degree. I can borrow library books from my local library. I can organise and have instant access to all those blogs by Australian librarians that I read, and food blogs, and blogs about leadership, and more. How did we ever manage before this technology arrived?

I already have an iPod and an iPhone that I use constantly everyday and so was reluctant to invest in another product with ongoing costs attached. But the thing that finally convinced me to buy one was a conversation I had with someone at a Conference. She was busily typing away on her iPad as the Conference was underway, and in a break I asked her about her connection plans. She told me that she used her iPhone as a modem when she needed Internet access. She set up her Personal Hotspot and so used her existing mobile phone plan! Why did I not know this important little piece of the puzzle? So many of you reading this (well the one or two) probably already know this small detail but for those of you who don’t I hope this sharing of information helps you as it has me.