Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
The Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.
I really can’t talk about my work past or present. It is and was always confidential, sometimes even secret. Stakeholders moving in the shadows, keeping track of everything anyone says, using it to their advantage at any unsuspecting moment. There are many of them, disguised as colleagues, customers, suppliers, visitors, or worse, friends.
I sometimes feel I can actually really trust only two people and when I look in the mirror while shaving, I am aware that I’m on thin ice. It couldn’t be I can only trust her, is it?
I am not a spook. In fact, I really don’t think I do anything that is even remotely secretive, perhaps not even interesting. But they think it is. Very much so.
Sometimes I feel very much alone.
They decide on things, moving pawns on the playing field, unhindered by an actual understanding of the situation at ground zero. Guessing their way forward, which to me feels like empirically crossing a minefield. Perhaps they don’t see the signs with the skulls and crossed bones. “Achtung, Minen!”.
How the fuck can you lead a company if you don’t know where you are going?
I always thought that one day somebody was going to write it all down, story by story, line by line, a collection of ridicules. It probably should be called a “management book”, but can be found right next to the fairy tales and children’s books. I also thought it wouldn’t be me doing the writing: I can’t remember having read one of those books to the end without having the feeling that it really is fiction, perhaps even just a chapter in Alice in Wonderland. Oh well, I might as well get started.
I’m biased. I regularly meet with “managers” and see how they translate the lessons in these fine lectures to nauseating depths. Just check the illness reports on the one hand and the effectivity of that organisation on the other and draw your own conclusions.
If I take the first financial handbook I can get my hands on and hold that against some average company’s results over a somewhat longer time period in time, I only can conclude that “entrepreneurship” means that managers just lose a lot of money and get paid for it. With additional bonuses. I sometimes wonder how “Our Society, Inc.” can exist.
They think “making money” is a primary goal. Well, in this society, where you get measured against this year’s progress – if that – that is understandable. And hey, you already switched jobs when it turned out that after that one year things broke down. So it’s someone else’s problem. And of course that person does some magical tricks and the stocks rise again, so it must be good.
Another bonus gets paid out and everyone is happy. For a while.
I am not a cynic. Not even close. Actually I was tested in that respect and came out with a flat zero result. That surely is a statement in it self: nothing is good. Terrific, even. Funny world this. Most probably the test program is set up like the company, with rules and regulations, processes and directives. Oh, and a nice organisation chart.
I am mostly unschooled business wise – quit an MBA course after three months out of sheer boredom and was the only one of my class to quit a top level management job after having finalised a master program on management. The professor summarised me nicely: a strange mixture of deep thought and absolute toughness.
I think he was scared of me. Deep down, on bone marrow level. I just did not understand what my class mates wanted from life. Total strangers after having shared a year’s worth of knowledge and experience being exchanged.
Most people, when meeting me for the first time, kind of take a step back.
I’m not cute.
But I’ll trade your “unpolished” for “clear” and your “pushing” for “effective”. I can handle differences of opinion. Mistakes, even.
I am less good with laziness. And really, really short with regard to stupidity. Although I am aware that you can’t beat it.
People like to work with me. When they can keep up. And the good thing is, that I don’t measure you against my scales. I will, however, hold you against your own. Brutally so.
I was once characterised by one of my team members – I rarely think in terms of “boss” – as a “friendly bastard”. Mostly people don’t understand that there is only a very narrow margin between the two and that more often than not, you – not me – are the one to push the latter switch.
As I said, I hold you against your own scales. Drop the ball because you don’t know how to hold it, I’ll help and explain. Or if there simply are too many balls anyway, I’ll reduce the game to a more acceptable level. Drop it only because you thought you could get away with it …
In the end, I only manage – or better “lead” – on effectiveness. Because I’m aware that out if the triad “cost, time and quality”, the only thing people remember is quality. And time is closely related to that. For a while.