We all have those things that happen at work that somehow turn into something other than expected, and sometimes in quite humorous fashion. I've got a few to share over the next couple months, but had to start with this one!
Several years ago the company I worked for issued a mandate that we needed to look more "high tech". Now in truth we were fairly tech savvy for a company our size (perhaps $25 mil in revenue and 500 employees), but it was stuff that worked, not necessarily stuff that was sexy. So being the dutiful team player I proposed a few things, among them that we replace the projector in the main conference room with a flat panel TV, and also put one in the lobby to welcome guests (which were frequent and typically high level types). At the time a 42" plasma was around $3500, I found a deal to get them (lesser quality no doubt) for about $2400 a piece, went and got them, so far so good.
Of course, it's not quite that easy.
The one in the conference room had to be mounted on the wall, so we had to bring someone in to do that. Then there was the matter of running the cable, power, etc. Finally got it working, but it was a long room, and seeing everything from the far end was barely doable. So done, sorta. The one for the lobby (which was directly in front of the mentioned conference room) had a nice layout for traffic, but no good place to mount a TV that size. We proposed putting it just out in the hallway on a cart (public hallway, but really we were the only ones that used it) so we could move it as needed. Didn't meet the elegance test of the big boss. So...
I had already purchased the cart. Standard roll around TV cart with room underneath for DVD player or whatever. So since we're not going to be able to make it work in the lobby, maybe in the conference room? We try that, which works out better because its about 7 feet closer to the table, which now makes it usable for those at the far end, and we can run the power cable to a box right under the table. One problem though, the powers that be decided the table wasn't quite high enough, the bottom edge of the TV was just slightly below the table top.
At this point I've spent $5k (no, not my money, but tracking back to me) and haven't really accomplished the goal of "high tech", so I'm a little frustrated with the 'TV isn't high enough'. I'm a problem solver at heart, so after a little thinking, the answer is obvious - the cart needs a lift kit! I head home and cut a bunch of blocks of 3/4" plywood and get some really long bolts, bring it back to the office with a drill and a can of spray paint. We needed room to work, so we grab the CIO's office (who wasn't in) and soon my whole team is cheerfully drilling the holes and bolting on the lift kit. We spray painted the blocks silver (was what I had) and as you probably know, doing so inside isn't highly recommended...large cloud took a while to dissipate. We also dinged up the laminate on the CIO's desk where a drill bit went through just a little, but a quick touch up with a black sharpie fixed it up nicely.
Deployed it (hey, we're IT, everything gets deployed) to the conference room, roll it right up to the edge of the table, ask my guys what they think - is it going to be high enough? Bottom edge of screen maybe up an inch and half from the table. One of my more...creative....guys goes to the seat at the far end of the table, slouches down in the seat so you can just see his eyes, and says that he's checking it from the perspective of a very short manager on another team. I'm probably not a good enough writer to capture the humor in that one bit of theater!
The first picture below (both via my friend Kevin who still works there shows the TV still mounted in the conference room (and possibly even used, who knows) and the cart which is actually backwards, designed to be looked at from the other side, with a PC on it for running presentations from. The second photo shows the lift kit still in place. Just part of my legacy. If they ever retire it I'll try to buy it back for $20 and use it at home for something!
So in a strange way it was team building. Team building doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Anything a bit unorthodox, competitive, or problem solving usually works, and they add the fun all on their own.