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Monday, February 21, 2011

The Longest Year: Big Boss Unhappy, Everyone In Doo-doo.

The big boss was not happy.

Mr. J is the head of the largest, most lucrative division in this massive organization, wielding the largest budget and commanding a fleet of the most experienced employees. His power is the envy of the organization.

With graying hair, an unremarkable face, and an expected paunch, Mr. J looks every day of his 55 years of age, perhaps a few months more. He has a flat voice that tends to ramble on and drift into a hypnotic drone in meetings when he has the floor. The eyes were too dull to penetrate his thick glasses and too unfocused to engage people to whom he speaks. There is neither force nor conviction in this man.

In other words, he is the perfect head of this high-profile division.

Today, his irritation was provoked by the article being read, at the moment, by the Boss Lady whom we shall call Ms. B from here on. In the article, the authors criticized the organization for one of the defects in their products --- by no means the only defect, but it is always easier to conduct a study and collect concrete data on just one defect at a time. This defect happened to be on the periphery of Ms. B's turf.

It was one of the rare moments that Ms. B. wished she had been a little less aggressive in her own turf-grabbing greed. In this oversized division within this massive organization, nobody knows the exact boundary of any responsibility any more. People slug around in half-blindness until they hit someone or, more often, Mr. J. parachutes one of his honchos onto someone's turf because he is unhappy with the guy who has been occupying this patch. Ms. B is an enthusiastic trooper and, in recent years, has expanded her colony quite a bit with Mr. J.'s backing.

"We should make it a priority to correct this problem," said Ms. B, knowing her boss's mind down to his every predictable thought.

"No kidding," Mr. J spat out a low grunt. Although nothing short of murdering an employee on the premise would make a dent on his position, Mr. J does not like to lose face in public. An old friend he went to medical school with had forwarded him this article, published in a rather obscure journal --- He had always suspected this friend had been jealous of his success, but this felt nevertheless like a personal slight.

"We gotta do something," he gave the order and waved Ms. B out of the office.

Ms. B's entire career in this organization has been built on such vague orders. She had a preternatural gift for pulling solid FTEs and real power out of the bosses' vacuous brain and airy orders like this.

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