Chapter Twenty Six

Heads

 

 


“Good morning, Mister Green,” the company president said as he entered the room.
“Good morning, Mister Osbourne.
“Gentlemen and ladies, I had a particularly trying day yesterday, as a few of you know,” the CEO said, looking at his chiefs of engineering, financial, and scheduling sitting in the small crowd of department heads. “We have some serious problems in the company and it lands squarely in your laps. Folks, we're getting complacent and sloppy and it stops right here and right now or heads are going to roll.
“If any of you think some of your employees are less than excellent, reassign them to something they're good at or get rid of them.
“Mister Osbourne has a few words to say about a few of the problems we're having, and some possible solutions to some of those problems. Mister Osbourne?”
“Thank you, Mister Green. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a severe quality control problem lately. Human Resources hired a saboteur who was employed by pirates to work in the shipyards in orbit around Mars, and it almost cost us a ship, a man, cargo, and our shipping fees for that load. That is unacceptable, we do not hire pirates. Ever. It had better not happen again, or Mr. Griffins won't be the only one turning in his resignation.
“I looked into the matter myself, and the saboteur should never have been able to pass a background check to begin with. The man should have never been hired in the first place. He was found guilty of misdemeanor retail theft and was fined for it when he was younger. We do not hire thieves or any other criminals, period. Any criminal record at all, no matter how minor, and I'm not talking traffic tickets here, use some judgment, that's what you're being paid for after all, is not suitable for employment at this shipping and travel company.
“I want everyone's records checked. If we have any felons on the payroll I want them terminated immediately; our contracts with the unions gives us the right. Anyone with a misdemeanor I want transferred to somewhere where they can't cause mischief, and that means they're not to be anywhere near one of our ships or near anything that goes into their construction or operation. If they do anything that the contract says we can fire them for, terminate them immediately.
“Mister Johnson suggested this to me, and I agree with him. He's still looking for and looking into other measures, but he's only been on the problem since yesterday.
“But what's just as bad and possibly even worse is you people are assigning the wrong people to the wrong teams, and you're not communicating with each other and neither are the teams. Our clients pay a lot of money to ride our transportation and they don't expect bad coffee and they don't expect to have to make their own. It was sheer stupidity to assign a programmer who doesn't even drink coffee to program robots that make coffee. You wouldn't assign a Jewish or Muslim person to program a cook to prepare pork, or an American to program it to cook dog.”
Larry Griffins, head of both Finance and Human Resources, went pale and said “Sir, we can't discriminate against a person on the basis of religion or national origin.”
“Of course you can't,” the president said, “but you can discriminate on the basis of competence. Don't assign a person to a project that he or she would not want to sample the end result of him or her self.
“No one is competent in building a repair robot unless he or she can repair a robot him or herself. Look, Mister Richardson, your engineers and programmers are nerds. If someone likes fixing stuff in his spare time as a hobby, have him program repair robots, not the guy who loves to cook and hates to work on a machine. If you're competent and working on something you love, you'll create excellence. If you hate what you're doing you're going to hate the work and the best work you do will never be better than mediocre. Do you think a guy who doesn't like coffee wants to program a robot to make coffee? Do you think a Jewish person wants to program a cook to prepare pork? He would have stern religious objections. Just ask your staff what they want to work on. Come on, people, this isn't theoretical physics.
“It isn't just Richardson,” the president said. “I dug up similar sloppiness, incompetence, and downright stupidity in all the departments, every single one of them. Ladies and gentlemen, you're becoming complacent and I'm simply not going to tolerate it from any of you.
“And talk to each other! We need far better communications between departments. We could have saved ourselves a lot of money and our passengers a lot of time and trouble if scheduling had been talking to orbital instead of just giving them schedules. There's probably a whole lot more money to be saved, as well. Mister Griffins, you, especially, need to listen to the other heads. Folks, if you or any of your people have ideas for saving money or for the company to earn larger profits, call Mister Griffins. If he doesn't listen, email me or Mister Green, or call Mister Johnson if neither Mister Green or I are available.
“From now on, all of our ships' captains will be making a report after each run. I want all of you to read those reports when they come in; Captain Knolls' report is in your in-box now. Read it when this meeting is over. You should expect Captain Kelly's and Captain Ramos' in a day or two, next Monday at the latest. Like I said, you need to listen to other people. Nobody knows what improvements we can make to our shipping and transportation systems better than our ships' captains, so when I say read them, I mean read them. If a captain has a problem, you have an even bigger problem.
“We are the number one shipping and transportation company in the solar system and we're not going to let the other transportation companies catch up to us.
“I want a progress report from each one of you in one week, and I'd better see results or someone's going to be updating their résumés.
“This meeting is adjourned. Now get to work, you have your work cut out for you and you have a lot of it to do.”
The president and CEO sat there silently until the last of the department heads left the room.
The president said “You know, Dewey, I haven't been in space in fifteen years, way back when we still used fusion generators on most of our boats and a lot of captains still needed degrees, before we made transportation prices drop and profits rise. I'm visiting Mars for a weekend to have a look at our repair facilities there.”
“Yes, you mentioned that yesterday and I agree. We haven't knuckled down and gotten our hands dirty in quite a while. I think I'll visit the various departments tomorrow, surprise all of them. Well,” he said standing up, “I have a report to finish reading, so I'm getting back to the office. I'll see you at the board meeting this afternoon.”
“Sorry, Dewey, I have to miss the board meeting. My flight takes off in twenty minutes, but I'll be there by teleconference.”
“Well, okay, I'll see you when you get back.”
Johnson was waiting for him outside his offfice when he arrived. “What's up, Mark?” the CEO asked.
“I think we need to split security into a different unit.”
Green sighed. “Come on in.” It looked like he wasn't going to be able to read any more of the report today.

 

 


Chapter 25
Index
Chapter 27

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