Shark Tank: Managing Management

Oh, They're Focused Now, All Right

New corporate CIO sends a memo around the divisional IT group. "It said the development and support group was being reviewed for possible offshore outsourcing," says a pilot fish there. "The process was intended to be 'open,' and employees were urged to remain focused." Four weeks later, one of the IT staffers notices a managers' meeting scheduled on a shared calendar. Topic of the meeting: "Managing offshore resources." Result: "Resume-polishing is now in overdrive," fish says. "The previous period of uncertainty mentioned in CIO's e-mail has been replaced by widespread certainty that offshore outsourcing isn't being 'considered' -- it's the plan."

Just Catching Up

User calls pilot fish to complain that while she's accessing her e-mail via the Web, she's getting prompted with a meeting reminder every five minutes for the same meeting. "I investigated," says fish, "only to find that the department manager sent out a meeting request with a two-week recurrence. Unfortunately, the manager made the effective date 2004, not 2007, so the user was clicking through 69 reminders -- one every five minutes -- of meetings that never took place."

Not That Smart

Manager complains that his department's printer isn't working, so pilot fish checks it out -- and finds nothing wrong. "Everyone else in the department can print to it, and there are no jobs waiting in the job queue," says puzzled fish. "I ask him to print the report again. As I watch, he selects the printer in his office. I ask him why he's selecting that if he wants it to print on the department printer. His answer: 'The printer in my office is out of ink, so it should print on the other printer.' He had a hard time understanding that his PC isn't smart enough to automatically go find the printer that has ink."

Doin' That Thing

It's the early 1990s, and this pilot fish working at a local school system knows his boss has a vision problem -- and is too stubborn to admit it. "While reading the manual for his printer, I discovered that if you pushed two command buttons while turning the machine on, it would print double-high/double-wide text," says fish. "I made the mistake of showing him the trick. For the next several years, despite my retraining him regularly on how to do it, several times a week he'd page me to come to his office and 'make that printer do that thing.' I figured out that he really hadn't been able to read the regular printouts in years."

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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