I love my colleagues in Information Technology. I also love greasy doughnuts. Why then, do I not love it when I.T. people bring in a big crate of greasy doughnuts to reward each other for their hard work? They only do this occasionally. Still, my latest way to chide them about it was to put a recent section of the Wall Street Journal right alongside their gloriously globby booty. The full-page feature, complete with pop-out quotes of long-suffering dieters feeling sabotaged at work, was titled: “Colleagues Who Can Make You Fat.” The article notes that fully 30 percent of dieters cited worksite colleagues as the culprits in foiling their dieting plans.
As everyone knows, annoying one’s colleagues in I.T. is something you do at your peril. In the military, you play nice with the barber and the cooks. In the private sector, you pander to I.T. lest your PC mysteriously crash. So let me reiterate: I adore my colleagues in I.T. One plays in a rock band and can reassemble his Rubik’s cube in world record time, another went to a Florida boot camp to shore up his baseball umpiring skills, another can sleuth out programmers’ bugs like she’s Agatha Christie, and yet another could win Dancing With the Stars except, well, he’s not a celebrity … yet! So they’re a brainy, fun-loving, interesting, accomplished lot who I love to death. Far be it for me to tell them what to do, except, for example, if their bad habits were expensed to the company. I’ve checked; their globby treats most assuredly are not.
So, this is an appeal to their problem-solving prowess. If A is my attraction to doughnuts and B is my belief in freedom, why doesn’t A + B result in being cool with bringing in doughnuts? With their training in algebra and Boolean logic, they surely have a better chance than I at solving for why the “commutativity” of the elements, that is, the order of the numbers, does not in this case affect the result.
But perhaps there’s more to this equation than A and B. Here are just a few properties to bring to the calculus:
And here’s perhaps the hardest variable to compute of all. Like most growing firms, we drive our I.T. team members incessantly for ever-greater output, which undoubtedly burdens them with more than their share of stress. What workplace policymaker can wield endless demands on one hand and reprove a simple pleasure like comfort food on the other?
So here’s the nub of this calculus problem I need help solving: If making healthy choices the easy choice is good, does that mean making unhealthy choices the easy choice is bad?
I’m going to go puzzle over this question with some sweet purple grapes.
Did I mention that I love my colleagues in I.T?
Paul E. Terry, PhD, is CEO of StayWell Health Management