Polish ceramics organizING HP Bank Clients

We’re getting very excited about our forthcoming trip to the USA to see Melika’s graduation. This is not only a major milestone for The Martin Family, it also marks successful conquest of a substantial financial hurdle. Although the travel arrangements are relatively simple, Nazy has heard far too much about the risks of travelling with me. So she will leave on a different flight, starting from a different city and arriving on a different day. In fact, she even decided that flying on Friday the 13thby herself – was more likely to result in a smoother trip (and an on-time arrival) than flying, with me on the 12th. And, adding insult to injury, Mitra will join Nazy on the leg from New York to Los Angeles. Both are steering clear of my Houston flight.

june juggle hats

Nazy delayed her trip in order to attend a ‘Hat Garden Party’, the final ZIWA monthly meeting of the membership year. Although Kastle Kapfsteig has magnificent multitudes of beautiful bonnets, it is (more than) somewhat unlikely that existing apparel will be adequate. When my own offer (“You can use my cowboy hat.”) was greeted disdainfully, I decided that it wouldn’t be wise to mention my baseball cap collection. Other ideas, like the ‘sleeper hat’ for commuters (see right ) were ignored completely.
june sleeper hat

This week, in the final task of my old job, I spoke at a joint BEA/HP event in Warsaw. Unfortunately for domestic tranquillity, the trip was cleverly scheduled to coincide with a major holiday in Switzerland: Ascension Day. So, while I was in Poland giving a speech, back in Zürich, Nazy was in the midst of a four-day holiday weekend – alone. When I agreed to do the talk, no one knew that about the holiday conflict. Moreover, because this particular event was the only part of my old job that provided any pleasure at all, I was really looking forward to it. Nevertheless, it would have been much nicer if I had brought Nazy along. In fact, as it was mentioned (more than once) upon my return, it would have been nice if I had thought about the possibility.)

As you may know, Nazy has a great collection of dinnerware from Poland that was built up during our previous stay in Holland. The day before I left, a minor cosmic anomaly jostled a teacup out of my hand. As a result of gravity created as a result of millions of tons of matter, the cup plunged toward the marble countertop where one of the rare Polish dinner plates was silently waiting. The ensuing collision created a mass of plate particles – most of which were subatomic in size. Given the situation, it seemed like a good idea for me to acquire a replacement while in Warsaw.

If fact, I was
firmly reminded of the importance of my mission. I was given explicit instructions about the pattern – blue and green. (Or was that blue and red?)

When I got to my hotel, it looked like things would be simple. The gift shop had a massive collection of dinnerware in the same genre. And, although they didn’t have our precise pattern, I got the address of the ‘factory’ and was assured that it “had everything”.
June polish sign

An HP colleague, for some reason convinced that I might have trouble with the street names, volunteered to drive me to ANZO, the ceramic factory. Located at 79 Krakowskie Przedmiescie, it was not easy to find because the buildings on the street were numbered from 42 to 77.

Marcin Bezpalko, my colleague, was local. He called information on his mobile telephone – and got a busy signal. But, Poland is no longer communist, so he called a competitive information provider – and got put on hold.

“That’s Poland!” Marcin was annoyed. “We finally have an information ‘service’, but we still can’t get any information.”
June polish piggy bank

He called his girl friend – confirming the address and getting a telephone number. When no one answered at the shop, I assumed it was closed. He, on the other hand, stopped a passer-by and was able to discover that the ‘factory’, while having an address on one street was actually located on another one (Modzelewskiego). When we got to the shop, which was open, Marcin asked why they hadn’t answered the phone.

“Ah,” the clerk (Anna Baczkowska) replied. “That’s my mother-in-law’s telephone number. She never answers the phone.”

The ‘factory’, about the size of the dinning room in our apartment, was stacked floor to ceiling with a variety of Polish ceramics in an even more extensive selection of colours and patterns. I couldn’t find our dinner plates and I couldn’t find our exact pattern. I got a few items – including a piggy bank and a teapot that seemed ‘close’, but since I wasn’t rewarded with unbounded joy when I got back to Switzerland, I’m forced to conclude that my selections were not completely appreciated. Next time, I will remember to bring Nazy along. She would probably be able to talk them into making exactly what she wants.

The speech in Poland went well. I’ve done this presentation in three countries: Denmark, Poland and Switzerland. I’m forced to conclude that the company believes that I’m most effective in countries with
Red and White flags. (I can still do Canada and Japan.)

This week, I assumed my new job working with
ING. Once again, I will be spending a lot of time in Amsterdam. The job global, so I will be travelling a lot, but if it turns out that almost all of the trips are to Amsterdam, then Nazy and I will have to consider (another) relocation. However, history here indicates that planning more than a day or so ahead is not productive.

The week began inauspiciously at HP’s Amstelveen office. Security send me an eMail directing me to the ‘third floor’ to get my photo ID. I walked to the elevator: it didn’t go all the way to the top. (I had to climb stairs from floor 2 to floor 3.)

Part of my job at ING is to get them to use
HP services. For a normal company, you approach the chain of command and get the ‘top dog’ on your side. Sometimes you run into difficulties finding or convincing the ‘Chief’, but done, you are in good shape. The situation at ING is rather more complex.

June normal org chart fixed

ING is a Dutch company featuring, like Shell, a Polder (organizational) Model. Essentially, this means that
everyone has to agree before anything actually happens. (In short, everyone is a ‘chief’.) To make it more complicated, the roles and responsibilities of the various ‘players’ are opaque and things remain in a continual state of flux. So, figuring out how to get an actual decision disgorged from the ‘structure’ is a major challenge. Nevertheless, ING is beginning to get its act together.

june fixe ING org chart

Just for reference, the HP structure is something of a hybrid.

june fixed HP orgchart

While I was whiling away my days in Amsterdam, Nazy, still annoyed by the Poland fiasco, found an 18th century dressing table (“Sale!!”) that she just had to have.

June nazy deks