My all time favorite line from The West Wing is, “We’ve got a thing.” There are variations of this favorite line which all revolve around the same word. “Is this going to be a thing?”, “Have you heard about the thing?”, “So, here’s the thing.”

I immediately applied a generous helping of Thingdom to my work day. My staff meetings are now laced with blissfully vague references like “It’s too early to tell, but we may have a thing” or “She’s working on the thing and there is no telling when she’ll be done.”

There are two camps when it comes to Thingdom. Camp #1 has stopped reading this article already because they’ve grown frustrated with pool of ambiguity this article is swimming in. RANDS HAS BLOWN A GASKET. Camp #2… ah… Camp #2… what I love about Camp #2 is that you precisely know what I’m talking about and I have yet to actually say anything.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. Thingdom.

Thingdom when used in the White House, your work, or your home is a state of mind. The word itself is not important. What is important that it’s used in a context rich environment — that’s thingdom nirvana. I’ll explain.

It’s your staff meeting. You’re running down your list of interesting data points for your team. Your hit the tenth item and realize that it’s important to dwell on this item. For this example, it is not important what the item is, it’s important that you are able to recognize/prioritizes its value. So, you say, “I think we’re going have a thing here.”

What have you said? Content-wise, not a helluva lot. Context-wise, well, it depends on how well your team communicates. If you say, “We’ve got a thing” and everyone immediately snaps out of the staff-meeting-glaze, you’ve got a context-rich team environment. The team heard the boss identify the thing as a thingable thing and they’re ready to roll.

However, if the team stared blankly at you and each other when you landed the thing, well, I’m sorry… you’re going to have to spell out the consequences, piece by piece, to your team if they don’t get started on thinging that thing. Maybe the lesson will improve their thingdom identification skills. Maybe it won’t.

Thing-enabled teams are more efficient. They better understand sub text, nuance, politics, soft skills… the list of skills is extensive and in my years of managing people, I’ve found it’s a skill set that no one can teach. When I interview, I’m looking for the thing. When I meet you in a bar, I looking for the thing. On Sunday morning, when I’m surfing weblogs, it’s all about thing.

5 Responses

  1. Don’t forget the frequent presidential response to a thing: “Yeah, ok.”

    In a context-rich environment, that’s the correct affirmative response: Yes, i understand the consequences of the thing, and i’m right on it.

  2. West Wing. Ahhhhhhhh… Indeed. And amen for Bravo!

  3. If someone brings up a thing at a meeting, it “should” not be a private joke. I agree… that blows. Thingdom should be used for good.

  4. roryking 20 years ago

    Umm… what? Obviously I am of camp 1. Whenever people start talking to me like this, I throw a hissy-fit until I know what’s happening. On a similar note, I -really- hate private jokes, for this exact reason. Some would say it’s selfish to keep the conversation on Rory-inclusive things (there I go!) but usually with my friends the case is, there are MORE than enough things that involve everybody to talk about. Besides, only losers dwell on the past. In conclusion, I agree that Thingdom is good for situations where everybody knows what’s up. Also I use Dudedom, because referring to everyone as “dude” is much easier than remembering names.

  5. sebimeyer 20 years ago

    ‘The thing’ is one of those awesome lines. I also constantly use ‘what’s next?’ after somebody informed me of some disastrous thing that I cannot do anything about.