Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon
I recently returned from the ASQ World Conference in Milwaukee, WI. After going through security in Terminal C at the Milwaukee Airport, there was an area (as is typical) for putting shoes back on, and reassembling belongings and yourself. What was different this time, was a sign hanging over this area that read: Recombobulation Area. The meaning was clear and the result was a smile, a chuckle, and the immediate easing of the stress that accompanies the challenges of travel and needed airport security. When I returned home, I googled recombobulation. The first thing I learned was that the word is defined in the Urban Dictionary, as follows: 1. Something being put back the way it was, or into proper working order. No surprise there. Next, I learned from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the sign was created in the airport maintenance shop in 2008 as a way of alleviating stress on airport personnel and travelers.
What caught me somewhat off guard was the Urban Dictionary’s second definition of recombobulation: 2. Gathering one’s thoughts or composure. Sure, why not have this meaning also. It caused me to think.
I am not proposing the addition of recombobulation to the Baldrige glossary of key terms or the Baldrige Excellence Framework. I am suggesting that we all establish a real or virtual recombobulation space in our workplace (and maybe our homes). Why might this be worthwhile?
- It may allow decompression after a tough commute to work and before interacting with colleagues or customers.
- After a stressful meeting, it can allow a calming period.
- It could prevent a stressful colleague or customer interaction from affecting the next interaction.
- Meetings could start with an intentional minute of recombobulation time to gather thoughts rather than diving right in to content.
- It is a great segue into some thinking and reflection time.
- Just seeing the image of the word in our minds may cause a smile and change of attitude from negative to positive.
- It should encourage a mindset of operational excellence and win-win outcomes.
Thank you Milwaukee, for a great ASQ conference and insight into a simple mode of attitude adjustment! How might you and your organization effectively use recombobulation space and time?