The Ponder-Rama Meetings
Ron Ponder: Era of the Ponder-rama
Ron Ponder as CIO oversaw rollout of Cosmos IIB, International, and a host of new innovations.
One thing he will always be remembered for is starting a group of Project Review meetings that his staff affectionally named the Ponder-rama
What started as a simple update meeting for projects turned into confusion. A project that was due in a month, is now 6 months late. Two other projects were designing systems without talking to each other. Another project needed to buy a 3rd party package and didn't know how to get a decision done.
Ron decided that he would chair a weekly meeting for project reviews and to get strategic decisions made.
Although these were tense meetings, they eventually evolved to normal and even fun meetings, unless you were on the hot seat.
As updates were given, Ron would sometimes pace around the room, sometimes stopping to massage the shoulders of whomever was where he stopped pacing. Stopping to comment about the update…or commenting on the person where he happened to stop. You were always guessing if where he stopped pacing, was when he had a major thought ….or he was signaling out the person where he stopped in the room….
Sometimes, reorganizations happened based on these meetings; and decisions were getting expedited.
Occasionally someone would bring a dead rubber fish or other creature, and when an update fell on bad times, and someone hadn't been communicating, Ron would direct the fish to that person to oversee….until another person was chosen, who had performed much worse than the current fish holder.
Although intense, it did expedite communications and interaction, and started stronger communications between the departments.
These ended when Ron left to become CIO of Sprint, which is a Telecommunications company. Ron's background had been Ops Research and Info Systems.
The Complete Telecom Course --
To assist Ron in getting up to speed on Telcom technologies, Winn's department pulled together an 8 hour intense tutorial on all aspects of voice & data networking for Ron.
I started the tutorial with how electrons flowed thru wires, how transistors worked, and circuits were formed, to basic protocols and System Signalling #7 and advanced ACD networking. Others went over how call centers were organized and systems were interconnected. David Pike, Dale Browning, Randy Roy & John Yearwood were some of the teachers.
Ron stated at the end of these sessions, that he was amazed how much technology there was in our group, and how much he had learned.
At Sprint & Beyond:
I got a call from him about two months later. It turned out that many of the problems at Sprint were people, process and communications issues. There was no process for even bringing new systems online, or advising other groups of change management.
Dr. Ponder's career at FedEx well prepared him to the changes, and help Sprint departments start communicating, and within a year he was promoted to COO of Sprint.
After two years, Dr. Ponder took the job of CIO of AT&T's Info Systems group.