Day 80: Smartest person in the room

I’m not a morning person. I used to actually cry when I had to get up really early.

So, when I lead a team meeting for our project in Pakistan, I’d rather that it wasn’t at 8 a.m. But we have team members in Vienna, Lahore, Tokyo and Sydney, and this is the only time that works for everyone.

I woke up late today – 7:20 – and I’m flapping between various devices in order to initiate the team call. My iPad touch screen refuses to respond. My iPhone, with newly installed iOS 9, is also uncooperative. And the Mac mini at the condo where I’m staying will not recognize my taps on the touchpad.

Seriously? What’s up with my fingers – are they not hot enough?

This tech mess leaves me with no time to drink my tea or eat my breakfast. It’s 7:55 a.m. and I’m pissed off.

I ask a colleague to initiate the call and grab a pen to take notes on paper, working from memory for the agenda. I stumble through the basic updates about our project, and explain the major dilemma we’re facing: how to mentor Pakistani journalists in a cost-effective way, while avoiding the ugly hierarchical dynamic of a bunch of foreigners telling Pakistanis what to do.

Then I throw it open for ideas – and that’s when the day begins.

We air our frustrations, and make bad jokes to brush them off. One by one, ideas break through and get kicked around.

Just when a good idea starts to get backed into a corner, someone shakes it and takes it by the hand and flings it into the middle of the room again. And at the end of the call, we have a really fine concept.

I love this team. We’ve been working together for three years, and we are the personification of David Weinberger‘s “The smartest person in the room is the room.”

When I am tired and grouchy and bereft of creative energy, I don’t have to rely on my poor solo brain. I don’t have to prove that I’m the smartest person in the meeting. All I have to do it throw it to the team.

We are the smartest person in the room.

Today’s penny is a 2012, for the year this team was formed. Shield side up.

E pluribus unum.