Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The best job I ever had.

Walking to work this morning I saw a few hoodie-clad men on scaffolding knocking down a four-story building. They weren't razing it with a crane with one of those Looney Tunes wrecking balls, instead they were knocking it apart, floor by floor with sledge hammers.

That reminded me of the best job I've ever had. When I was twenty, I got a job working for a guy called Olindo Nocito and his brother Frankie, who spoke virtually no English. Olindo and Frankie were aluminum-siders. They also installed casement windows. I was their helper and their prep-boy. That meant that I was given the job of removing all of the old siding before we could put up the new siding. So a couple mornings a week, they would drop me off at a site with a ladder, a crowbar, a hammer and a few canvas bags and tell me to rip off every shingle on the place.

It was pretty brutal work, but cathartic. At the end of eight or ten hours the house was de-nuded down to the plywood. And the next day we'd be there to insulate and galvanize it.

I bring this up because it occurs to me that a lot of agencies need to be torn down and refurbished. I know there are weaknesses to this metaphor--that aluminum siding is ugly and we don't want to make agencies uglier and that the changes were primarily cosmetic. I hope, however, you'll get the point. The agency business needs to be remade. It's going to take more than a couple of Chief Change Officers to do it. It's probably going to demand a couple of people armed with ladders, crow bars and hammers. And few canvas bags--for carting off the old carcasses.


echo said...

hi,this is from China.


george tannenbaum said...

yes...how are things in china.

Unknown said...

man, you're getting a world wide audience. I wonder who echo is?
Well, i hope i am not one of those old carcasses that needs to be out in a bag and put away.

Laura said...

Sounds like the cosmetic refurbishing these days comes with renaming, not necessarily rethinking. No shortage of unusual sounding agency names, but do they really do things differently. I'll take a smart thinking fully revamped interior with those traditional names on the door. True updating and radical change seems too difficult for too many.