Better Angels

If you would, please patronize me for just a moment and read the final paragraphs of Lincoln’s first inaugural address given on this day, March 4th, 155 years ago.

Abe says,¬†“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

And, though I don’t think the situation is as far out on the precipice as it was in early 1861, I think we could all make use of our better angels right now, don’t you?

 

Team Building the Starfleet Way

Earlier this week I took a three-day class focusing on project management targeted at those of who aren’t capital-P capital-M project managers, but who do have a significant amount of, well, projects to manage in the course of our jobs. It was an interesting course, and my fellow students came from all kinds of backgrounds: IT, construction, grant writing, accounting, and one bicycle rights activist.

Of course, one of the critical pieces of any project is going to be forming the right team and helping them work well together. We discussed a handful of strategies for this. Among the more interesting suggestions was the use of a, and I am not making this up, “zombie escape scenario”. ¬†This is where you and your team are locked in a room with an actor pretending to be undead, a handful of tools and instructions at your disposal, and a whole lot of stage craft. The goal is to figure out how to get out of the room before the zombie gets off its chain and you get eaten alive. Metaphorically, I’m assuming.

I know.

But it got me thinking. I love me a good team building exercise and, not coincidentally, I love me some Star Trek. (Of any variety. Yes, even Enterprise.) One of the reasons I love Trek so much is that it generally focuses on a team of smart, capable people coming together to solve the problem at hand, whether it’s malfunctioning Cardassian replicators or the explosion of the Klingon moon Praxxis.

All this to say, I have a killer idea for a stagecraft-heavy team building exercise that will blow today’s zombie fad out of the water. We’ll need three rooms: one set up like the bridge of a starship, one set up like that ship’s engineering section, and one set up like an alien planet. Everyone on your team will get in to their space clothes and pick a role: captain, first officer, science officer, engineer, tactical, etc. You’ll then be given a scenario that you’ll need to pilot your ship through, occasionally working to stop a warp core breach or taking a trip down to a planet. All of the aliens encountered, whether in person or over the main screen on the bridge will be actors whose job it will be to play the adversary but also to help your team progress along the task. Needless to say, there will be a high amount of lighting effects and computer graphics.

At the end of the day, you will have a complete, highly functional team and I will be as close as I’m ever going to come to having a fully functional starship.

That’s a win/win in my book.