It's come to my attention that this office hasn't been managing time efficiently lately, so I'd like to use this open forum to address just a couple of the more pressing motivational concerns not covered in my last series of staff-wide e-mails. This is just a launching-off point to get the dialogue started. Obviously there will be more issues arising in the next few weeks—especially during Special Projects/New Goals week—and some of these issues will change slightly or completely, so we'll have to readdress those specific challenges at a later date or as they occur.

First order of business: meetings. Our meetings have become disorganized and sprawling, and far too much time is lost to non- actionable items. As you all know, production is down 7 percent company-wide, and I think we can attribute this to working hard and not working smart. I really want to get the machine running smoothly again, and the best way I know how is to get together and start shooting ideas around.

So let's plan to have a few ad hoc powwows next week to discuss the meeting situation, vis-à-vis the workplace. The prioritized goal of these meetings will be to draw up a comprehensive road map for what we should be aiming for while avoiding the stumbling blocks we've encountered in the past. The point here is to take a step back and reevaluate how we do things here, on a macro level.

Please bring a minimum of 15 topics to discuss, with a focus on "how to minimize wasted work." Of course, more ideas are always welcome. We'll be going through these point-by-point and selecting the top 20 to be discussed at next week's Productivity Enhancement off-site sit-down.

Once we've highlighted a list of problems, we're going to break up into smaller groups to tackle inter-group communication problems and idea bottlenecking, and then hopefully do some real blue-sky thinking. These groups will spend the majority of Thursday's retreat developing proactive steps that they, as a group or as individuals, can implement post facto. These groups will be called "solution-innovators" (SI for short) and each SI will meet every other week to track overall progress and facilitate productivity improvements.

I'll be floating between the two groups to gauge the temperature of the room.

The team that comes up with the best solutions at the end of each week will be rewarded with doughnuts. So by Wednesday at noon please e-mail me your top five doughnut preferences so we can have a good selection for the winners. Or, if you'd rather have muffins, we can do muffins. Totally up to you.

The first task of the groups will be to appoint a team leader and team manager, and to hammer out what each job entails. I'll be checking in weekly with both so they can report their  progress directly to me so that I can provide feedback and make sure the meetings are going in the right general direction. At the end of each month we'll all come together again to touch base and do a postmortem on lessons learned. We want to keep all the feedback in these meetings mission-critical, so if there's any additional feedback in the one-page feedback reports you'll be bringing, I'll put that in a separate feedback overflow list to discuss at a later date.

I'll try to have Samantha schedule those meetings for Friday meeting-blocks, but we may need one or two quick conferences to figure out where to fit in the overflows, so please send her your daily schedules by EOD Wednesday so we can pull the trigger on this.

Finally, I'd like to address this office's morale problem. I've noticed everyone has seemed a bit sluggish lately, and our meetings have suffered as a result. I'd like everyone to brainstorm 15 functional ideas to create a better atmosphere, like new office furniture, some wacky clocks, or better stationery—anything that can inject a little more fun into the workplace. We won't have time to go over everyone's list one by one, so please send them via e-mail so everyone can get a chance to comment on them and get feedback. This is not optional.

I'm confident these new changes will get us moving in a forward direction, at all costs. But don't worry about all this over the weekend. Just come prepared for Monday morning's meeting. I want to get everything in place and humming along on this new timetable before I leave in February.