Every manager has a story to tell. Find out how one management professional tackles a fictional dilemma. The story may be made up, but the solutions are tried and true. In this installment, Patrick Bailey tells the harrowing tale of a skilled technician-turned-manager who finds himself in a sticky situation with his CEO.
With superior hardware and software skills, Mitch was a one-man show. Everyone at MakeDough Suppliers knew a call to Mitch equaled "problem solved." There was always at least one well-placed sticky note on his chair. Few noticed when Mitch's boss John, the MIS director, resigned and left. After all, Mitch was there, and he was in good company with two recent hires: Paul, an analyst, and Eric, a seasoned developer. People like Mitch helped MakeDough, a bakery equipment supplier with $70 million in annual sales, become a rising star. MakeDough was expanding, and Mitch was soon to be a key part of that.
He was summoned to the office of the CEO, Andrew Singleton, and on that fateful day, Marsha, the chief financial officer, personally escorted Mitch to meet Mr. Singleton, since information technology belonged to her.
"So, what does he want?" Mitch asked as they walked.
"I can't say," Marsha replied. "However, get used to calling him Andy."
Before Mitch could decipher the meaning of that comment and its accompanying wink, they stopped. Marsha opened the door to Singleton's office. "Andy, this is the one everyone has been talking about. Mitch, meet Mr. Singleton."
Mr. Singleton welcomed Mitch with a firm handshake. "Please, have a seat. You might need to sit down for this."
Singleton and Marsha exchanged glances. Mitch sat in the plush leather chair reserved for Singleton's visitors.
"I've heard great things about you. Marsha and I think you should be our next MIS director. Do you think you're ready?"
It was news Mitch had been hoping to hear. After Mitch's enthusiastic acceptance, Singleton quickly began to share his vision.
"Mitch, we're merging with five other companies to be more profitable by sharing resources. All agree that information technology support should be centralized here. That's why John hired Paul and Eric."
"Actually, I'm already aware of the situation," Mitch began. "As I recall, John had some concerns."
Singleton groaned. "I know. John was worried when I promised the other companies they could keep their current systems. The only thing we want is some kind of feed from them each month so our marketing folks have a complete view of all the customers. We've been calling it Project: Single-view. Do you have a problem with that?"
Mitch saw this question as a challenge.
Sure, implementing a data model for several different places would be challenging, but Mitch was already determining how to put it all together. He'd had taller orders than this before.
"I'll do my best," he told Singleton.
Mitch immediately dedicated himself to Project: Single-view. Paul and Eric were supportive, but they noticed Mitch still personally took care of all the sticky note requests. Mitch did delegate the data consolidation project to Paul, but that was after Mitch had already prototype reports to get marketing by.
Soon, Rod Johnson, the marketing vice president, demanded those makeshift reports regularly, and there was still the need for a repository to seamlessly blend the historical information of all six companies to look like one.
Things were not going well, and it all came to a head one day when Rod demanded to meet with the CEO, Mitch, and Marsha.
"Our customers seem to think we're clueless!" Rod opened. "I have to call the accountants at each of the six companies for sales information. I compare it to these reports I get, and the numbers never match."
"Rod," Mitch said, "that's because what sales people call a sale isn't always a sale to the accountants. Each division has its own definition. Some only count orders shipped, some divisions count projections-at