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Going through the motions

My youngest daughter had “summer assignments” to plague us this summer. Not only was the summer vacation shorter, but it’s always a delight when there are the dreaded summer assignments. Do junior high teachers really think children will forget how to read in a little over eight weeks? Do they think that they will forget how to do homework?

I think reading a few books over the summer is great. It’s writing lengthy essays about the books that’s an annoyance. OK. So they need to verify the kid read the book. How about a five question quiz that nobody could flunk if they actually did read it. Like, “what was your favorite part of the book… why?” I’d probably be tempted to say “the last page, so I could get back to my now shortened summer vacation.” But hey, that’s why I’m not in eighth grade.

So…. the summer science assignment. Read a book that is beyond the reading comprehension of some college students is one thing, but giving an assignment that is vague, and non-specific is another. It said the “worksheet” would be graded, but not the rest of the assignment…. that was “extra credit.” Whatever that means. Unfortunately, the “worksheet” wasn’t to be found. So she did it all. Except for one part.

Yesterday, only a MONTH after school started, (do you think teachers forget how to grade assignments over the summer?… perhaps there should be summer grading exercises for teachers as a summer assignment), she got her grade back. It was a 100. And right there, scoring ten out of a possible ten points, was the part of the assignment she clearly did not do.

Not a single word, check, or even a red pen mark was to be seen. Clearly she didn’t really look at the material, or was hallucinating about the full credit for the missing part of the assignment. Or was she just going through the motions?

How often do we make our customers go through the motions when it really doesn’t matter? Filling out endless forms that really don’t matter. I can’t tell you how many times healthcare bureaucrats asked me to put my “John Hancock” on a meaningless piece of paper. And I did… clearly written, “John Hancock.”

Even today, as a speaker, because there are bureaucrats that must have multiple forms completed in order to dole out continuing medical education credits, I must complete forms every time I do a cme program. And they almost all my clients apply for, and receive CME credits. (another blog posting on the expenses association to go through the motions, no doubt.) Objectives, how I plan to accomplish the objectives, goals, how I plan to achieve the goals… and now I discover I must not use certain verbs or adjectives… .they’re not “right.” So we go through the motions.

I wish they would simply let me say… “I plan to discuss with this audience some cool ideas, (at least I think they’re kind of cool), that they probably haven’t thought of, and that I think they may find stimulating and perhaps spark ideas from the audience that will give them a more meaningful life both at work and/or at play. But if I suck, they can leave and should be given full credit for cme hours because they actually had to use their brain to decide I sucked. If I engage them and stimulate thought that doesn’t involve leaving the room, (other than to use the bathroom), they need credit too.”

I’ve been speaking long enough, and especially for repeat engagements for clients to just be able to say, “If they’re not getting some value out of these programs, why in the world would they agree to pay my not-insubstantial-speaking-fee if they weren’t getting some value out of it?”

“Why, just because you feel obliged to go through the motions, are you making me? I deal with creative ideas and solutions to problems. You give me paperwork to read and fill out that, in all likelihood you won’t actually read. Because you’re just going through the motions.”

Signed, Very Sincerely,

Signed, John Hancock

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