ITEM 1: ADDED VALUE. Two weeks to go before Scary Paula assesses our think tank. She's sent an ominous email to us all. "In what sense would you say the Futures Delivery Taskforce 'adds value' to the Department, if at all? You may wish to consider how a 20% reduction in your think tank complement could impact on the quality of future thinking, if at all ...". It's clear enough. One of us is for the chop. Sandra who reports to Communications, Caz from Terms and Conditions, Owen from Compliance, Max from Customer Services and Resources, or me. We all agree that we add value as a TEAM. None of us is thinking about who might be the 20% value adjustment. (Sandra, say.)
ITEM 2: EASTER. How should a school assembly "think about" Easter? It is by some distance the most problematic of all Faith Days as the story is so horrible and the world is only redeemed in the end by chocolate. Still, the point about Faith Days is you always have to look for the positives. Max suggests we merge traditional belief with contemporary myth. "Sort of, I don't know, a bit of Bible mixed with Star Wars?" During the break for coffee and florentines, Max shows us a great Princess Leia children can type for themselves: @(-_-)@. Well done, but nevertheless. Not very Easterish. In the end we go with a positive, workshopped message: "This week, we reflect upon the Crucifixion. How uncivilised 1st Century Palestine seems compared to our own society, with its religious tolerance and No More Nails adhesive ...". Now that's value. Sorted.
ITEM 3: PETS. Bollocks. We've wasted precious value-added time, having a thought-shower all the way through to lunch on the mysterious theme of National Pet Mouth. Stupid memo from Broadening Horizons. What do they mean, "devise ideas for the classroom"? Perhaps it's aimed at primary schools, encouraging them to "give voice" to their pets. Oh God, not another shower of awful essays on global warming, signed "Peter Rabbit The Rabbit, four years old but 30 years old in Rabbit Years". Then Caz has a brainwave and Googles it. "Did you mean National Pet Month?" A useful prompt, which we forward to Broadening Horizons with our compliments, advising them we've run out of thinking time as we're breaking for lunch. Seafood risotto, veal escalopes, tiramisu, nice booze. I envy the in-house catering people. Their jobs are safe enough, as they definitely add value.
ITEM 4: COMPLACENCY. Memo from Corporate: "As the recession worsens, we can no longer afford to be COMPLACENT. Ideas?" We value-engineer the concept of complacency until afternoon tea. Reply to Corporate: "What about being SMUG instead? It means more or less the same but is 60% shorter, therefore much better value."
ITEM 5: FORUMS. Kill time by trawling online teachers' forums. Hot Topic: "Take That - Yay!" God, no wonder our children are getting thicker. Take That - Pfff! I notice nobody's suggesting Robbie shouldn't rejoin a four-person band because he won't add value. Inchworm.