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A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am." The woman below replied, "You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude." "You must be an engineer," said the balloonist. "I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?" "Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is, technically correct, but I've no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip." The woman below responded, "You must be in Management." "I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?" "Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you've no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault."
The American and Japanese Team
The American and the Japanese corporate offices for a large multi-national corporation decided to engage in a competitive boat race. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance. On the big day they felt ready. The Japanese team won by a mile. Afterward, the American team was discouraged by the loss. Morale sagged. Corporate management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found, so a consulting firm was hired to investigate the problem and recommended corrective action. The consultant's finding: The Japanese team had eight people rowing and one person steering; the American team had one person rowing and eight people steering. After a year of study and millions spent analyzing the problem, the firm concluded that too many people were steering and not enough were rowing on the American team. So, as race day neared again the following year, the American team's management structure was completely reorganized. The new structure: four steering managers, three area steering managers and a new performance review system for the person rowing the boat to provide work incentive. The next year, the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, the American office laid-off the rower for poor performance and gave the managers a bonus for discovering the problem.
Five Monkeys, a Banana, and Corporate Culture
Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result - all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it. Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted. Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been done around here. And that, my friends, is how company policy begins.
A doctor, a lawyer and a manager were discussing the relative merits of having a wife or a mistress. The lawyer says: "For sure a mistress is better. If you have a wife and want a divorce, it causes all sorts of legal problems." The doctor says: "It's better to have a wife because the sense of security lowers your stress and is good for your health." The manager says: "You're both wrong. It's best to have both so that when the wife thinks you're with the mistress and the mistress thinks you're with your wife -- you can go to the office and do some work.
A new manager spends a week at his new office with the manager he is replacing. On the last day the departing manager tells him, "I have left three numbered envelopes in the desk drawer. Open an envelope if you encounter a crisis you can't solve." Three months down the track there is a major drama, everything goes wrong - the usual stuff and the manager feels very threatened by it all. He remembers the parting words of his predecessor and opens the first envelope. The message inside says "Blame your predecessor!" He does this and gets off the hook. About half a year later, the company is experiencing a dip in sales, combined with serious product problems. The manager quickly opens the second envelope. The message read, "Reorganize!" This he does, and the company quickly rebounds. Three months later, at his next crisis, he opens the third envelope. The message inside says "Prepare three envelopes".
A man goes into a pet shop to buy a parrot. The shop owner points to three identical looking parrots on a perch and says, "the parrot on the left costs 500 dollars". "Why does the parrot cost so much," asks the man. The shop owner says, "Well, the parrot knows how to use a computer". The man then asks about the next parrot to be told that this one costs 1,000 dollars because it can do everything the other parrot can do plus it knows how to use the UNIX operating system. Naturally, the increasingly startled man asks about the third parrot to be told that it costs 2,000 dollars. Needless to say this begs the question, "What can it do?" To which the shop owner replies, "to be honest I have never seen it do a thing, but the other two call him boss!"
Failing organizations are usually over-managed and under-led. Warren G. Bennis
By three measures a manager is known:
- The thickness of the carpet in his office. - The area of his desk. - The volume of his car's engine.
Never arrive on time, or you will be stamped a beginner. Don't say anything until the meeting is half over; this stamps you as being wise. Be as vague as possible; this prevents irritating the others. When in doubt, suggest that a subcommittee be appointed. Be the first to move for adjournment; this will make you popular it's what everyone is waiting for.
Harry Chapman Committee: a group of men who individually can do nothing but as a group decide that nothing can be done. Fred Allen
A CEO throwing a party takes his executives on a tour of his opulent mansion. In the back of the property, the CEO has the largest swimming pool any of them has ever seen. The huge pool, however, is filled with hungry alligators. The CEO says to his executives "I think an executive should be measured by courage. Courage is what made me a CEO. So this is my challenge to each of you: if anyone has enough courage to dive into the pool, swim through those alligators, and make it to the other side, I will give that person anything they desire. My job, my money, my house, anything!" Everyone laughs at the outrageous offer and proceeds to follow the CEO on the tour of the estate. Suddenly, they hear a loud splash. Everyone turns around and sees the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) in the pool, swimming for his life. He dodges the alligators left and right and makes it to the edge of the pool with seconds to spare. He pulls himself out just as a huge alligator snaps at his shoes. The flabbergasted CEO approaches the CFO and says, "You are amazing. I've never seen anything like it in my life. You are brave beyond measure and everything I own is yours. Tell me what I can do for you." The CFO, panting for breath, looks up and says, "You can tell me who the hell pushed me in the pool!!"
The manager of a large corporation got a heart attack, and the doctor told him to go for several weeks to a farm to relax. The guy went to a farm, and after a couple of days he was very bored, so he asked the farmer to give him some job to do. The farmer told him to clean the shit of the cows. The farmer thought that to somebody coming from the city, working the whole life sitting in an office, it will take over a week to finish the job, but for his surprise the manager finished the job in less than one day. The next day the farmer gave to the manager a more difficult job: to cut the heads of 500 chickens. The farmer was sure that the manager will not be able to do the job, but at the end of the day the job was done. The next morning, as most of the jobs in the farm were done, the farmer asked the manager to divide a bag of potatoes in two boxes: one box with small potatoes, and one box with big potatoes. At the end of the day the farmer saw that the manager was sitting in front of the potatoes bag, but the two boxes were empty. The farmer asked the manager: "How is that you made such difficult jobs during the first days, and now you cannot do this simple job?" The manager answered: "Listen, all my life I'm cutting heads and dealing with shit, but now you ask me to make decisions."
I sit here all day trying to persuade people to do the things they ought to have sense enough to do without my persuading them. Harry S. Truman
The first myth of management is that it exists. Some people manage by the book, even though they don't know who wrote the book or even what book. Give all orders verbally. Never write anything down that might go into a "Pearl Harbor File". We are too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet. Management by objectives is no better than the objectives. "I've given you an unlimited budget, and you have already exceeded it!"
The Light Bulb
How many executives does it take to change a light bulb? A roomful - they have to hold a meeting to discuss all the ramifications of the change. None, they like to keep employees in the dark. "This topic was resumed from last week's discussion, but is incomplete pending resolution of some action items. It will be continued next week. Meanwhile..." "We've formed a task-force to study the problem of why light bulbs burn out, and to figure out what, exactly, we as supervisors can do to make the bulbs work smarter, not harder." How many managers does it take to change a light bulb? "I want a detailed memo about this issue till tomorrow's morning." "You were supposed to have changed that light bulb last week!" "We haven't got a policy on that". "I am on my way to a very important meeting, so we'll discuss it some other time." Three. Two to find out if it needs changing, and one to tell an employee to change it.
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