• Celebrating coastal and marine spatial planning (South Coast Today)

    From: South Coast Today 

    If you have ever had to endure one of those workplace team building exercises, you know how much you kicked yourself for not calling in sick.

    Then again, these sessions are usually mandatory, employees being a captive audience for expensive management consultants who dream up silly and stupid “fun” ways to supposedly build mutual trust and cooperation.

    When the government does it, managers can really go to town. A ranking manager at the U.S. General Services Administration famously had to step down when Congress got the details of the $823,000 GSA spent on a five-day conference in Las Vegas. The bill included $75,000 for bicycles that attendees had to assemble to foster teamwork.

    (The manager got his job back under a civil service ruling, wouldn’t you know.)

    Over at NOAA in 2012, General Counsel Lois Schiffer brought 145 of her lawyers to Philadelphia to participate in “Kingdomality.” That’s a “self-understanding exercise” to determine what roles in a fictional medieval kingdom the lawyers supposedly imagined themselves playing “bishop,” “benevolent ruler,” “shepherd,” “black knight,” “scientist,” “discoverer,” “merchant,” “prime minister,” “engineer-builder,” “dreamer-minstrel,” “white knight” and “doctor.”
    Cost of the conference: $288,500.

    Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown last year sniffed out another one, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had to yank a help-wanted ad for a magician to appear at a leadership training event for its staff in the Washington area.

    At least most organizations do not publish photos of their employees being humiliated by this kind of management hazing. Not so the The Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning project, which the Saving Seafood website has found is holding seminars in coastal regions to make policy-makers familiar with the tools of what jargon-impaired civilians usually call “ocean zoning.”

    This one, along the Gulf of Mexico, was privately paid for by the $5 billion Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and it included everyone joining in on a rewritten version of the song “YMCA,” like they might at a drunken wedding reception, forming the letters with their arms.

    Then they posted embarrassing pictures of these professionals, some with their polo shirts and pot bellies, on their website, singing along to “CMSP,” which, of course, stands for Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning.

    I imagine that had the seminar been called “ocean zoning,” they would have been forced to follow the yellow brick road in “The Wizard of Oz.”

    Mercifully, the names of the participants in the photos weren’t disclosed. But somehow the organizers thought it would be a good idea to post the rewritten lyrics on their website along with a link to the karaoke version of the music so we can all sing along in our offices, our living rooms, or in public places.

    Here’s a sample:

    Stakeholder, there’s no need to feel down.

    I said, stakeholder, launch your vision off the ground.

    I said, stakeholder, ’cause you’re in a new town

    There’s no need to be conflicted.

    Stakeholder, there’s a process to use.

    I said, stakeholder, it may require some tools

    If you can plan it, then I’m sure you will find

    Many ways to manage your dime.


    It’s fun to plan using C.M.S.P.

    It’s fun to plan using C.M.S.P.

    It goes on like this for 12 verses, because they had to fill out the whole song. It was a musical root canal for these poor people. Who thought it would be a good idea to put it out to the rest of the world?
    Now if I can only get that tune out of my head after writing this.

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