Recently, I was briefed on the global engagement efforts of a three-letter government organization that has neither a "C" nor an "A" in its acronym. Unknown to me, and not mentioned at the beginning of the briefing, was that the back to back presentations would last about four hours. My expectation was for two hours at most so I scheduled one casual meeting (over cocktails) afterwards, which, fortunately, was easy enough to push (and, as it turned out, ultimately cancel).
I learned a fair amount and I was impressed by the breadth of the programs. Presentations were made by the principal actors, some of whom I knew, some I knew of, but many I didn’t know. This group is dynamic and trying hard to move up the metaphorical knife toward the pointy part.
Overall, I was impressed with their efforts and saw great potential. A question I frequently asked when they mentioned how they are tracking their success was to the effect of "So what are you doing with this knowledge? Does Congress or anybody else in USG know about your success?" Invariably, the answer was "no" which was sometimes coupled with a stare as if I had a third eye.
Besides not anticipating a 2p to nearly 6p meeting, the briefing very clearly was not a discussion. Granted they had a ton of information they wanted to present to me and there was not a moment when we dived into minutia, but answers to my questions were frequently followed by comments by the briefing chair that there was a tight schedule to keep.
There’s a certain irony that a presentation about dialogue itself stifles dialogue. I wonder if they saw that? I know they do now.