Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – Day 24 of 61

“This is fucking fantastic, Lil,” I said. Her look didn’t soften. “Really choice stuff. I had a great idea –” I ran it down for her, the avatars, the robots, the rehab. She stopped glaring, started taking notes, smiling, showing me her dimples, her slanted eyes crinkling at the corners.

“This isn’t easy,” she said, finally. Suneep, who’d been politely pretending not to listen in, nodded involuntarily. Dan, too.

“I know that,” I said. The flush burned hotter. “But that’s the point — what Debra does isn’t easy either. It’s risky, dangerous. It made her and her ad-hoc better — it made them sharper.” Sharper than us, that’s for sure. “They can make decisions like this fast, and execute them just as quickly. We need to be able to do that, too.”

Was I really advocating being more like Debra? The words’d just popped out, but I saw that I’d been right — we’d have to beat Debra at her own game, out-evolve her ad-hocs.

“I understand what you’re saying,” Lil said. I could tell she was upset — she’d reverted to castmemberspeak. “It’s a very good idea. I think that we stand a good chance of making it happen if we approach the group and put it to them, after doing the research, building the plans, laying out the critical path, and privately soliciting feedback from some of them.”

I felt like I was swimming in molasses. At the rate that the Liberty Square ad-hoc moved, we’d be holding formal requirements reviews while Debra’s people tore down the Mansion around us. So I tried a different tactic.

“Suneep, you’ve been involved in some rehabs, right?”

Suneep nodded slowly, with a cautious expression, a nonpolitical animal being drawn into a political discussion.

“Okay, so tell me, if we came to you with this plan and asked you to pull together a production schedule — one that didn’t have any review, just take the idea and run with it — and then pull it off, how long would it take you to execute it?”

Lil smiled primly. She’d dealt with Imagineering before.

“About five years,” he said, almost instantly.

“Five years?” I squawked. “Why five years? Debra’s people overhauled the Hall in a month!”

“Oh, wait,” he said. “No review at all?”

“No review. Just come up with the best way you can to do this, and do it. And we can provide you with unlimited, skilled labor, three shifts around the clock.”

He rolled his eyes back and ticked off days on his fingers while muttering under his breath. He was a tall, thin man with a shock of curly dark hair that he smoothed unconsciously with surprisingly stubby fingers while he thought.

“About eight weeks,” he said. “Barring accidents, assuming off-the-shelf parts, unlimited labor, capable management, material availability. . .” He trailed off again, and his short fingers waggled as he pulled up a HUD and started making a list.

“Wait,” Lil said, alarmed. “How do you get from five years to eight weeks?”

Now it was my turn to smirk. I’d seen how Imagineering worked when they were on their own, building prototypes and conceptual mockups — I knew that the real bottleneck was the constant review and revisions, the ever-fluctuating groupmind consensus of the ad-hoc that commissioned their work.

Suneep looked sheepish. “Well, if all I have to do is satisfy myself that my plans are good and my buildings won’t fall down, I can make it happen very fast. Of course, my plans aren’t perfect. Sometimes, I’ll be halfway through a project when someone suggests a new flourish or approach that makes the whole thing immeasurably better. Then it’s back to the drawing board. . . So I stay at the drawing board for a long time at the start, get feedback from other Imagineers, from the ad-hocs, from focus groups and the Net. Then we do reviews at every stage of construction, check to see if anyone has had a great idea we haven’t thought of and incorporate it, sometimes rolling back the work.

“It’s slow, but it works.”

Lil was flustered. “But if you can do a complete revision in eight weeks, why not just finish it, then plan another revision, do that one in eight weeks, and so on? Why take five years before anyone can ride the thing?”

“Because that’s how it’s done,” I said to Lil. “But that’s not how it has to be done. That’s how we’ll save the Mansion.”

I felt the surety inside of me, the certain knowledge that I was right. Ad-hocracy was a great thing, a Bitchun thing, but the organization needed to turn on a dime — that would be even more Bitchun.

“Lil,” I said, looking into her eyes, trying to burn my POV into her. “We have to do this. It’s our only chance. We’ll recruit hundreds to come to Florida and work on the rehab. We’ll give every Mansion nut on the planet a shot at joining up, then we’ll recruit them again to work at it, to run the telepresence rigs. We’ll get buy-in from the biggest super-recommenders in the world, and we’ll build something better and faster than any ad-hoc ever has, without abandoning the original Imagineers’ vision. It will be unspeakably Bitchun.”

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