Rule #1: Never let a rule get in the way of money

Pilot fish working for this midsize tech vendor is looking over a big proposal that's due on Friday -- and as of the night before, it looks like it needs some work.

"I found some serious problems and decided I needed to stay late to rework the proposal," says fish. "But as I went on the LAN into the proposal directory, I found the project manager in charge of the proposal had stored the proposal in his personal directory instead of in the shared proposal directory.

"I couldn't reach the project manager by phone, so unless I found some way to access his personal directory, I wasn't going to be able to make the changes to the proposal."

Fish isn't ready to give up. He calls the second-shift infrastructure team and explains the problem. But even though he's two levels above the project manager, he's also relatively new to the company, and not well known -- and he gets no access to the project manager's directory.

Next step: Escalate to the shift supervisor. Who also says no -- he'll only grant access to the project manager's boss, as defined by the HR system.

But I'm the manager of the project manager's boss, fish points out. Too bad -- only the direct manager gets access, not anyone else up the chain.

"I was furious, but there was no logic that I could use to get past this bureaucrat," fish says.

"The next morning we had a poor proposal to submit. I explained the situation to my boss, an influential VP, who was also furious."

Fish suggests that the only way to make sure this doesn't happen again is for fish to be granted root-level access and administrator-level authority over the entire server. The VP agrees, and signs off on the appropriate request.

When the infrastructure team gets the request, they hit the ceiling, and insist that it's completely inappropriate for fish to have that kind of access and control. The team tries unsuccessfully to explain to fish the error of his ways.

Fish explains to them the error of their ways that led to the request.

"They appealed to my boss, the VP, in a very passionate way," says fish. "He was not dissuaded, and explained to them how their own bureaucracy had cost us the opportunity to win new business and we had to be sure we were not put in that position again.

"I did end up with administrator access -- and after that, the infrastructure group knew my name and was very responsive on all my requests."

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