First panel of a recent Dilbert cartoon:
The pointy-haired boss is looking at us; the other four people are facing away, looking in his direction. The p.h.b. has recently instituted a five-minute huddle, every morning at 10:00. It is supposed to encourage, challenge, and motivate the troops. It is obviously something that p.h.b. recently read about in an article. As is usual in the Dilbert-world, the sarcasm, futility, and cynicism are thick.
“Who has some successes to share at our five-minute daily huddle?” He asks.
The silence is deafening in the second panel. Going back to the first is and looking at the other members of the team explains why. The characters personify:
· Hostility—we can be glad she didn’t speak.
· Cluelessness—“What are we trying to succeed at?”
· A devotion to avoiding all productive labor—“I refuse to answer that; it might lead to someone expecting more of me in the future.”
· And in the title character, an above-it-all knowledge (at least that’s what he thinks), reinforced by experience, leading to the conclusion that none of this will amount to anything anyhow, so “Why try?”
In the final panel, the boss tries to salvage his mini-meeting by asking, “Okay, are there any obstacles?” The mostly clueless one answers for the group, “Everything.”
Dilbert is one of the most popular comic strips in history because Scott Adams connects with real life.
Change the scene just a bit. The gray-haired pastor is standing in front of a group of you. Like the flat people in Dilbert-world, you represent a spectrum of emotions and states-of-mind. “Does anyone have anything to share?” G.h.p. asks, which is, basically, the same question p.h.b. asked his group. Often the rest—silence, followed by the general conclusion spelled, D,E,F,E,A,T—could go utterly unchanged.
I fear that the reason is the same, as well. We are doing nothing of significance, and therefore have nothing worth reporting. Five minutes ought to be way too short, but it is really infinitely too long.
In Dilbert-world it’s funny.