I heard this story from my friend, who a is senior executive. My friend is quite perceptive and he is able to see things as they are. As it happens, a casual conversation gets us into a deeper interaction on the business of knowing. He then tells me this story.
“As you know our top boss is a fanatic. Fanatic about hands on control, fanatic about meeting the sales numbers, fanatic about cost cutting. His famous quotes are: “Spend 26 hours a day and get this done” “When you can travel by train, why do you travel by air?” “Review, review, and review (debtors)”, “Execute this project in this month itself” “It is your business to know everything” Whenever he visits any regional office, it gets paralyzed preparing for three days. It gets paralyzed during the actual review on the day of his visit. And it stays that way for three more days after his visit.”
“But this is the story of our regional sales head who is in charge of our Delhi office. Let’s call him Amit. Amit is an IITian. He previously worked in sales departments of our competitors before he joined our company 4-5 years back. He is very courteous. What makes him special is his knowledge. He knows his people well. He knows their first names, spouses’ names, status of their children. He knows company’s current and past dealers and their families. He knows who is where and why they aren’t in some other place (where they should have been)”
“What delights our boss the most however, is that he can rattle out sales figures, overdue debtor collections and their reasons. He can fill in whenever anyone gets stuck for details and data”
Now my friend turns to me and continues.
“You should know that under Amit’s watch the sales haven’t grown much. Amit will tell you why. The debtors’ situation has actually worsened because some dealers turned belly up. Amit knows their financial situation too well. Of course, some his people now know much more than they ever did. In every review Amit impresses his and our boss with his command over the details. Our boss often scolds Amit’s people asking them despite of such a hands on boss why aren’t doing better. Amit then sits back smugly.”
We don’t need to state the moral of the above story. We don’t have to guess how the story would unravel. Do we?