Kara: [Points to bag of candy.]
Martin (who is next to the bag of candy): [Digs through bag of candy looking for Kara's favorite candy. Offers a Reese's peanut butter cup.]
Kara: [Facial expression reflects a certain lack of enthusiasm.]
Martin: [Throws peanut butter cup back into bag. Offers box of Milk Duds]
Kara: [cups hands]
Martin: [throws candy]
This whole candy-related subtext is going on all day long. My manager can't keep away from the bag of candy for more than five minutes at a time. When he walks into the room he sits down and then immediately stands back up and walks over to the candy. He is pretty skinny, but if he keeps this up he may start to look like the rest of us.
I like to think that the candy facilitates communication. All the other communication in the room is fraught with a certain amount of tension and anxiety. I think having a parallel conversation going on that's comparatively trivial gives people who represent opposing views or interest groups an opportunity to interact in a friendly way, thus greasing the wheels for consensus on the stuff that matters.
Or maybe I just like candy.
*JAD = Joint Application Design. This means we lock everyone in a room--Business Analysts, technical folks, and human end-users--and don't let them out until they've designed a system that we think will work. Candy and caffeine are frequent guests at JAD sessions. Management typically stops by the room periodically to throw in fresh candy and hose us down with coffee and then locks the door again and wanders off.