Standardized Education

Posted on: April 12, 2016

“It’s a simple twenty-seven step process, Ms. Dean.”


“None of the other employees in your sector are having any issues.”

“Right. Sorry.”

“We value your contributions, Ms. Dean. You’ve served this institution faithfully for the past seven...?”

“Eight and a half.”

“...eight and a half years. But surely you realize that as part of our continuous improvement process we need to collect exemplars demonstrating actual improvement. It’s quite simple.”

“You’re quite simple.”

“What’s that?”

“Yes, it’s quite simple, I said.”

“Right. Yes. Quite right. As I say, we need to actually be improving to show continuous improvements. And a day like you had yesterday is clearly detrimental to our longitudinal data. So how do you see us moving forward?”

“I feel certain you see the path forward more clearly than I do, and you’ll be delighted to tell me all about it.”

“Just so, Ms. Dean, just so. But we do value your input.”


“To move forward Ms. Dean, first we must move backwards! A full review is in order.”

“Of course it is.”

“Let’s rewind all the way back to the morning of November twelfth when you took step one. Do you remember?”

“Who could forget such a momentous occasion?”

“Ms. Dean. I do have to point out that at times during this conversation your tone has been less than enthusiastically cooperative.”

“Has it? I hadn’t noticed.”

“Yes, well, in fact it has.”

“Well I’m sorry you interpreted my tone as less than enthusiastic. Perhaps a coffee?”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Ms. Dean. What would you like?”

“One cream, two sugars please.”

“How terribly neglectful of me. I do apologize.”

“I accept your apology. This coffee is excellent, by the way.”

“Wonderful, Ms. Dean. Now, returning to step one.”

“November twelfth!”

“Yes, November twelfth. On that morning, what were you to do when you entered the Centre?”

“Log in to the platform.”

“And did you log into the platform?”



“Perhaps I took my coat off first.”

“It takes...let me refer to the spreadsheet here...nineteen minutes for you to hang up your coat?”

“It has a lot of zippers. And straps. Also a buckle.


“Yes. And I may have ducked into Mr. Brickelhurst’s workstation across the hall for a quick work-related convo.”

“And what topic would this work-related convo with Mr. Brickelhurst have featured?”

“I don’t recall.”

“Ms. Dean, you are aware, are you not, that our most recent quarterly data roundup revealed that work-related consultations with non-supervisory colleagues were responsible for a 19.7% loss of productivity company-wide? Parallel-level co-workers rarely have answers to work-related questions, and that type of conversation, ‘convo’, as you so charmingly termed it, amounts to a mutual head-scratching session with nothing to show for it. I suggest, as was clearly bulleted on page nineteen of the QDR, that you restrict such ‘work related convos’ to supervisors only.”


“Moving on to step two.”


“Excuse me?”

“Sorry, swallowed coffee down the wrong pipe. Are we going to go through all of these?”

“All of the steps?”


“Well that was the notion, Ms. Dean. A thorough review. Do you have another idea?”

“How about we skip on to the most interesting ones?”

“Define interesting.”

“The ones where trouble is most definitely a-brewing.”

“I see. You want me to leave off reviewing the routine steps you executed adequately and move on to the catastrophic, is that it?”

“I’m sure those steps are clearly noted on your spreadsheet.”

“Indeed they are, Ms. Dean. But will we miss something, I wonder? Some sort of precipitating circumstance or series of actions that may reveal themselves in the steps leading up to the really glaring screw-ups?”

“Let’s start with the glaring screw-ups, and then at the end, if we feel there are any loose ends, we’ll go back through all the steps and apply the full rigor/tedium treatment.”

“I’m not sure... ”

“I’ll buy lunch. Off site.”

“Really? Fair enough. Let’s see here. Ah! Step nineteen. That was a real doozy!”

“Oh, yeah. I remember step nineteen. Total recall on that one.”

“I mean, to think that after seven years...”

“Eight and a half.”

“Eight and a half years, you could still mix up where the electrodes attached!”

“I know, right? What a dingdong! That was so my bad.”

“I think we can both agree that the misplaced electrodes were the start of the cascade of incompetence and damage that continued...oh where are we? Yes! From steps nineteen through twenty-four.”

“Yep. All of those were unequivocally terrible.”

“The scrambling of the geometry port... “


“The reversal of the levels dial—third instead of fifth and fifth instead of third.”

“More bad luck.”

“And now we’re left with level five products who can’t tell a rhombus from a trapezoid!”

“A real humdinger.”

“It’s going to take months to sort them back out. Expensive months. Months in which our stakeholders were expecting to receive dividends, not to endure the continued investment of time, energy, and money.”

“A humdinger, as I said.”

“I mean, after all that, what you did on step twenty-seven almost makes logical sense.”

“That’s what I was thinking at the time.”

“Turning the scrambled products loose in the sensory deprivation pit may have seemed like a solution to the disastrous events of the morning. But you do realize the sensory deprivation pit is for special circumstances only, and your clearance level does not authorize you to make that call?”

“I do realize.”

“I’ve heard you and some of the other non-supervisory employees refer to the sensory deprivation pit as ‘Recess.’ I’m sure you understand this is inappropriate.”

“Your face is inappropriate.”


“Quite inappropriate, I said.”

“Well, Ms. Dean, I’m glad we’ve sorted this out. I’m scheduling you for a two-hour retraining session, and then we’ll expect you back in the workstation, continuously improving away. Now where shall we meet for lunch?”

Written by: Heidi Nibbelink
Photograph by: Matt Crump

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