Fluorescent Lights, Starbucks, and Management Effectiveness


Day One (10:00 a.m.): I get a shiny, new job as a “manager” for the first time. I show up on my first day and the overhead light in my 8?x 8? office doesn’t work. (There is a small techno-industrial-I-shop-at-Sharper-Image desklamp and plenty of light from outside.)

The guy I will be working for bounds in with a crisp shirt, flips an empty Starbucks cup in my trash and says, “well, it looks like your first task is to get that light fixed!” and slaps me heartily on the back.

“ha, yeah!”

What? Light? Fixed? I could work in that office for twenty years and never attempt to fix the light. I just do not care.

Day 2, (9:00 a.m.): “Just stopping by to see how things are going. Hey, get that light fixed yet?” His white teeth beeming, taking taking a big luke warm sip of a Starbies.

“Um, no.” I hadn’t thought about the light since yesterday. I make a mental note to fix light. I forget immediately.

Day 3, (8:33 a.m.): “Whoa, get that light fixed yet?” A big smile. Starbucks in hand. Elbow at 90 degree angle.

“Ha, not yet.” I hadn’t thought about the light since his yesterday. I make a mental note to fix light. I forget immediately.

Day 4, (8:09 a.m.): “Light not fixed yet, huh?” Poker face. Baby sip from steaming Starbies.

“Not yet. I’ll get to it soon. I’ve been working on …….”

Day 5: (7:52 a.m. Friday) The guy stops by pre-Starbucks and looks menacingly at the light, then down to me. I don’t see him for the rest of the day.

I decide to stay late, cruise the floor for a vacant office and exchange lights. At 5:00 p.m. I remember.

Day 6: (Monday 7:30 a.m.) “Hey Scott! I see you got the light fixed! That’s great! I changed that light out on purpose, so you’d be forced to navigate through all the paperwork to get a requisition through the system. It’s really important to build some solid contacts with those people. You’ll deal with them a lot. Let’s go get a coffee. My treat!”

“Oh, well, I was here late on Friday and I happened by an office that was vacant and I just switched lights. It seemed like the quickest way to get it done.”

A look of extreme dismay, “yeah, well, that wasn’t really what I had in mind. We’re a pretty big company and it is important to learn to navigate the channels properly so you can figure out how to get things done.”

“Yeah, um. <pause> Well, it is much nicer working with the light on.”

“Yeah. I’ll see you at the lunch meeting.”

Wise Man Say, “Tests come in many forms.”

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