Alice in DIGITALand

"Where am  I?"  asked  Alice,  as she peered at the large 7-lettered sign
with the standard blue letters.

"You're in Digitaland,"  replied  the  security  guard,  "May  I see your

"I don't have a badge."

"Did you lose it?"

"No." answered Alice in  a  puzzled  tone.  "How could I lose something I
never had?"

"If it's not lost then you must show it to me."

"I can't.  I don't have one."

"Then you'll have to have a temporary."

"A temporary what?" asked Alice, more confused then ever.

"A temporary Badge.  What's your badge number?" requested the guard.

"I don't have one"

"Of course not, Ken Olsen has 1.  Give me  your  badge  number,  and your
cost center"

"I'm so confused.  I can't do this. I've already said 3  times why.  Do I
have to tell you 4?"

"Ahhh.  3XY, badge number 4.    You  must  be very important to have such
a low badge number.  I should have immediately recognized how low by your
state of extreme confusion. Here's your temporary.  Go right on in."

Alice pasted the sticky paper to her dress and headed down the hall.  Not
10 feet ahead she saw a rather distressed looking  rabbit  coming  toward
her.   He was dressed in a pair of torn,  faded  jeans,  and  a dirty tee

"What's wrong?" Alice asked.

"I'm late!  I'm late!" exclaimed the rabbit as he peered at the pert chart
dangling from his pocket protector.

"Late for what?" asked Alice.

"My date.  I'm going to miss my date.  I've got  a  deadline  to meet and
I'm not going to make it."

"Well,  if  it's  already dead, it probably won't mind.  In fact it  isn't
likely  to be going too far in such a state.  I'm sure that however  long
you take will be just fine."

"You obviously don't understand.  Everything  takes longer than it really
does.  It  doesn't  matter  what  you  are doing, only that you meet your
date, and that's always impossible."

"Well if its impossible, why  would anyone expect you to meet it?" Almost
at once regretting that she had  asked.    Was  this  was  going to be as
confusing as badges?

"Its really very simple.  In order to move forward, you need a goal.  Any
goal will  do.    It  just  has  to be impossible to do.  To motivate the
troops, you have  to  make goals very challenging.  Its really only there
to get a stake  in  the  ground,  you  know.  After that we march in step
until we reach our objective.    The  date  really doesn't mean anything.
You simple have to understand that we are going to do the right thing."

"But  the if the goal is impossible, and really doesn't mean anything why
are you trying to go there.   Wouldn't it be simpler to first figure out
what you are really going to do, then figure out how to get there?"

"You obviously don't understand the process.   And  as  I said before I'm
late so there is obviously only one thing to do."

"Hurry up and rush off?" Alice asked, hoping it  would  sound more like a
suggestion than a question.

"No.  No.  No.  A meeting.  Let find  the  Mad  Manager  and  a number of
involved, interested, or warm bodies."

"That will obviously take a lot of time.  I don't think  you  have any to

"No it won't.  All we have to do is find a conference  room.    There are
lots of them right over here."

"But,"  started  Alice,  "those rooms are all full of people.  Don't we
need an empty conference room?"

"Silly thought.   If  we  want to find the Mad Manager and some meeting
attendees, why would we  look  in  an empty conference room?  Anyway, its
impossible to ever find an empty conference room."

The rabbit took Alice by  the  hand,  and  promptly  lead  her  into  the
largest,  fullest conference room.  Alice  immediately  noticed  that  the
wastebasket was quite full of foam cups,  and  overhead  projector bulbs.
These people had obviously been here for a long time.

At the head of the table sat a  man  with  a  rather funny suit wearing a
large hat.

"Why" whispered Alice to the rabbit, "is that man wearing that funny hat?
Who is he?"

"I'm  the  Mad  Manager,"  answered  the  man  at the end of  the  table,
obviously  overhearing the question, " And I'll be happy to tell you  why
I'm wearing this Hat, but that topic is not on the agenda."

"Why don't we change the agenda?" asked a person in the corner.

"Is that a topic for another meeting?" replied the manager.

"Is  what  a topic for another meeting?" voiced a third.  "The reason for
the hat, or why we don't change the agenda?"

"Why don't we take this off line?" queried another.

"Does everyone  agree that these are all topics we should address?" asked
the mad manager.

"Possibly so.  " injected the person in the corner.  "Could it be that we
have a hidden agenda?"

"Oh no!" the Mad  Manager began, the dismay obvious on his face, "someone
has hidden the agenda again!  Let me put on my process hat and we'll see
if we can work this issue."

With that, he removed his rather  amusing  top hat, and place a big green
fedora on his head.

"Now, with my process hat on, I'd like to address the issue of the hidden
agenda.  Since we can't have a productive meeting without an agenda, it
is up to all of us to find it."

"But, " a voice from the corner piped in,  "who  is  going  to drive this

"Do we have an action item here?" asked another attendee.

"Does anyone here want to work this?" asked the mad manager.

"Who originally brought this up?" asked another.

"I  believe that the woman who came in with the  rabbit  proposed  this.
Shouldn't she own it?"

"Well" the Manager stated, pointing to Alice.  "I'd say that this is your

"What  issue.    I  don't  have  any issues.  " retorted Alice, nervously
fingering her temporary badge. "I only posed a simple question."

"I'm not  sure  we  can  accept  that," the manager declared.  "We need a

"But, " Alice began,  remembering what the rabbit told her about dates,
"a date is impossible."

From the back of the  room  another  voice asked, "How about a date for a

"The least we can ask it that you give us a date when you will be able to
give us the date for the date."  stated the person in the corner.

"I'm not sure I can do  that," Alice opened, "since I don't know what I'm
supposed to give you a date for.    I'm having a problem trying to figure
out what you want me to do."

"We don't have any problems here, only opportunities!"  Piped a chorus of

"It's  really  quite  obvious,"  the mad manager declared as  he  reached
behind him for a striped blue and gray beret, "let  me  put on my Digital
hat  for a moment," he continued doffing the fedora and flipping  on  his
latest selection, "You must do the right thing."

"Yes. yes. " chimed the chorus of attendees, "Do the right thing.

"Now,  who  is  keeping the minutes?" the manager asked as he pitched the
beret  and  placed the fedora back on his head.  "We need to record  this
action item so we can come back to it later."

"We obviously can't  deal  with  this  issue until we can determine whose
meeting this is?"

"Should we schedule some time to  cover  that  topic?"  asked  one of the

"Whose going to drive this?" asked another.

Just at the Mad Manager was pulling  out  a  rather  worn  pith helmet, a
voice in the back suggested "Let's take a break and work some of this 1x1
off line"

Being closest to the door Alice was the first  to  leave.    She  quickly
dashed  down  the  hall,  and  ran  up  the first flight  of  stairs  she
encountered, relieved to be free of the madness.

When  she  opened the door the scene that confronted her made her wonder if
returning to  the  meeting wasn't a bad idea.  Seated around a large oval
table were what  appeared  to be playing cards, each dressed in a gray or
navy blue three piece  suit.   Around each neck was a rather oddly shaped
handle (or were they nooses?) made of silk, or polyester.

"Off with her head!" screamed the queen of hearts who was  sitting at the
head of the table.  Alice noticed that her tie was silk,  and  each  card
seated  near  her  was dressed in a suit and noose combination similar to
the queen's.

"Why would you want to remove my head?" Alice asked.  By now she was
feeling beyond confused.

"It's  not  a  modern,  iconic,  user  friendly, menu driven,  color,  PC
compatible user interface," replied the queen, in a tone that  would need
to come up two notches to be vaguely considered condescending.

"It happens to suit me just fine," retorted Alice.

"What are you an engineer or something?" asked the 7 of spades.

"No, I'm Alice.  Who are you?"

"Marketing." they replied in perfect fifty-two part harmony.

"And what is that?" asked Alice.

There was a brief interlude of silence as each of the cards fidgeted with
their ties, checked their watches  and  scribbled  notes  on  the pads of
paper contained in a handsome genuine  imitation  leather folder embossed
with the company logo.  Then one  by  one,  as  dominoes  would  do, they
turned to the person on the left until  they  all  stared at the queen of

The queen  cleared  her throat, adjusted her tie a second time and stared
directly at Alice.   "We provide the strategic thinking necessary to grow
the business."

"Oh," said Alice, "you figure out what products to build!"

"Heavens, no!" exclaimed the Queen, "That's too tactical.  We feel its our
job to develop the vision for the long term."

"You develop things," began Alice, "so you build the products?"

In unison each member of the table made a face reminiscent of the look a
small child gets upon tasting spoiled dead roaches for the first time.

"Uggggh, that's even more tactical," jeered the chorus.

"No!  No!" shouted the Queen.  "You still do not understand.  We take the
pulse of the key market leaders demand curve."

"I see now." said Alice, "You sell the products."

By  now the chorus of  cards  chanting  "Tac-ti-cal!    Tac-ti-cal!"  was
becoming too much.

The queen was furious and repeated her  original greeting.  "Off with her
head!  Off With her head"

"WAIT!" demanded Alice.  "I believe I understand.  You are all responsible
for  driving  the  solution  opportunities  for  the  key  client  supply
perceptions  through  strategic vision management!"

Alice wondered if she should  add something about the claws catching, and
frumious bandersnatches and thought that she'd  best  leave  it  at  that
before she became ill.

"Yes," screamed the cards, "That's exactly right!"

"And how, might I ask, do you accomplish these lofty and important goals?"

"By calling a BOD," the queen responded.

"And what, pray tell, might that be?"  inquired  Alice  as she looked for
the quickest escape route, hoping that this jabber  would  keep  her head
attached long enough to get out.

"A Board of Directors", began the queen, just as Alice  noticed  the door
to the left of the table.  "Its a type of high level meeting."

"A meeting????!!!!" exclaimed Alice.  "Not  another  meeting!"  With that
she bolted for the door, no longer  fearing  for her head.  Her only hope
was that she make it through before the  agenda  hit the overhead.  In a
dead run, she passed through the door just as  the projector lamp flicked
on.  The sound of the fan was the last sound to fade as the door closed.

Breathlessly she looked up to see a large open area.  Directly in front of
her was an enclosed area lined on one side with triple  chrome  table.  A
stack of plastic trays was at the foyer.

As she wandered through an assortment of sandwiches, prepared foods,
soft drinks and  salad began their daily spiel.  "Eat Me!  Drink Me!  Eat

"Oh no," answered Alice,  "I may know nothing about dates, and problems and
meetings and agendas, and marketing  and badges, but I do know food.  I'm
not gonna touch any of you.   After the morning I've had I deserve a nice
cheese steak (no lettuce)!"

With that, Alice opened the  nearest  exit  door  and left.  A resounding
high pitched whine sang its midday good-byes as Alice returned to the real