Workplace consultants’ pizza night

My blog began a year ago on Posterous with the workplace consultants’ curry night. How else to celebrate…?

Following the partial success of the curry night, as promised, our workplace consultants organised a pizza night for the team. The project had been stood down again for three months while another decision was made, but everyone agreed on a night out anyway as there was no sign of the end of the project. Or even the middle.

The planning got off to a rocky start as they were not sure whether to call it a #smartpizza, #flexpizza, #pizzashifting or #workplaceconsultantspizzanight and so there were four separate arrangements being made. Fortunately, the junior designer who has three phones and seventeen Twitter accounts soon recognised the confusion and pulled it together – and called it #pizzup. He is only eighteen.

The partner invited ten of us again, first insisting on formal e-mail confirmation that the client was paying. Three of the general contractor team decided the would attend instead of most of the design team, as they were actually doing the design work. The project manager was unable to make it as he had triple booked, still being a little unsure of how to use his diary. That oversight was offset by two cost consultants showing up that no-one knew were actually working on the project, but they maintained they had been all along. We decided to check the access control logs tomorrow just in case they had been in meetings with us, and we hadn’t noticed. Awkward. The structural engineer arrived with his own plate.

The restaurant was very noisy, albeit the acoustic engineer did advise that it was within tolerable levels. At least I think she said that, it might have been hollerable decibels. There were seventy six possible versions of the humble pizza on offer, but the design director insisted we create our own from scratch, because it was all about culture. He had brought along some picture cards of how we envisaged a pizza might look. When we had filtered out the oil tankers, fields of swaying bamboo and smiley people holding hands, we agreed on the view through the end of a kaleidoscope. He passed the final card to a junior on his team to draw into a pizza, but he spent an hour at the salad bar recreating the Shard . We were all getting rather hungry, but were assured that we had to sign off the concept, and not be tempted to rush into the detail.

When the pizza finally arrived, just as the chairs were being lifted onto tables and lights were dimming around us, we were a little uncertain. The kitchen had seemingly confused “one size fits all” with “one size fills all”.

The general contractor guys pointed out that the pizza didn’t seem to look anything like the concept, but no-one else seemed especially bothered by this. The crème freche base (white was essential, we were assured), a sparse landscape, was randomly dotted with radish, beetroot and lime clusters, connected by anchovy slivers. It represented the unpredictable language of social encounter, apparently. It made carving it up difficult, but we were told it was actually counter to the idea – we are all part of a greater unpredictable whole, and can’t just claim a slice for ourselves. But our hesitation around the mystery content of the stuffed crust was cut short by the abrupt closure of the restaurant and the whipping away of our creation – we never actually discovered what the filling was. The design team were a little reluctant to talk about it afterwards.

We left rather hungry. The team proposed a post-pizza evaluation although we were a little reluctant to take part as we hadn’t actually eaten one. This is, apparently, no barrier to an insightful case study and learning experience (promotional drive), and so they have arranged for Toby from PR to call when he remembers.

I’ve put the phone on divert.


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