Point to Ponder:
Story Line: An opening Scene from the Play: All That Glitters is NOT GOLD.
The Boss, a weasel of a fellow named Norton has informed unsuspecting Employee, Andy, that his services are no longer needed.
Boss: Andy, I didn’t have anything to do with this, The System did it.
Andy: What do you mean by The System?
Boss: You see, HR pushed the button, and well, The System spit out some names… Unfortunately your name was on the list.
Andy: Just randomly…?
Boss: You know we’re in the days of Artificial Intelligence. The System takes care of many decisions for us.
Andy: But Boss, The Artificial Intelligence system also works based on some rules and algorithms. Who decided and programmed those?
No response from the Boss.
Andy: This is inhumane.
Boss: Andy, Artificial systems are not supposed to be Humane. There are no emotions involved. It is all business. Nothing personal.
Andy: Boss this hurts… This hurts a lot. I got wife and kids.
Boss: I understand.
Andy: Then why did you go along with this?
Boss: Because I got wife and kids too.
A bit of a stalemate.
Andy: I remember the quote a very senior manager had put on a mega screen in the leadership conference you had sent me a few years ago. It said “We hire workers, but those who arrive are human beings.”
Boss: Andy, those kind of things are for the conferences and presentations, they’re prepared by some good meaning assistants. Assistants Andy! Real life is different. Many times the presenter does not even know whose quote it is or fully understands the implications but says it anyway. Sometimes in the heat of the moment the presenter goes overboard.
Andy: So what happened to the teaching “Do what you say and Say what you do?”
Boss: Enough Andy. Now you’re pushing it.
Andy: So the next time when such so called leaders make this type of statement on the stage I should know that we’re being a load of horse --
Boss: There’s not going to be the next time for you Andy. You’ll be leaving in the next hour.
Andy: I spent 30 years of my life in here! Blood! Sweat! Real tears! Sacrifices of my family time to serve YOU! And this is what I get?
Boss: That is why you got this 30 extra minutes with me. Consider yourself lucky. We have made this process LEAN and others were not as lucky. Many exits were RAPID; in less than an hour.
Andy: Boss, You always said the employees are a valuable Asset.
Boss: Andy, but in a financial definition, employees are a variable asset and relatively easily disposable.
Andy: This what you call uncompromising integrity? Something that was often emphasized as a value.
Boss: Oh! Andy. Oh! Dear Andy. This is why I always liked you, but also pitied you… There is a dictionary definition and then there is a situational pragmatic definition. It changes depending on how much….. is on the table. We are all here to make prudent “Business Decisions.”
A knock on the conference room door.
Boss stares hard at Andy --
Boss: Time’s up.
The Boss leaves his seat and moves to the door. He hesitates before opening it –
Boss: Per legal excellence in communication, I am not supposed to tell you this, but I will take my chances (as long as it is verbal). You were a dedicated, a loyal team player who (no adjectives to be used per legal guidance) contributed to the (adjectives banned) success of this organization. As you know I didn’t do this, The System did it.
The door opens. There is a GUY at the door who looks at Andy.
Guy: “I am from HR. I am here to help you. Are all your bags packed and are you ready to go? I am standing here waiting at the door…. I hate to walk you through the Freeeeeee….dom Traiiii….l.” (But The System is forcing me do it)
As Andy starts the ‘Freedom March’, he starts singing:
Andy looking at the other offices: (sings) “Cause, I am leaving on the Freedom Trail and I don’t know when I will be back again. Oh dear friends…”
The Boss joins the chorus:
Boss: (sings too) “And I don’t think you will ever be back again. Oh! Andy….”
As HR is leading Andy through the Freedom Trail, a faint voice comes from one of the survivors’ office…
Survivor: Andy, you are liberated! We are the Prisoners.
Reflection: When carts start running the horse, The System degenerates.
As one may have noticed, The Boss in above story seems confused, powerless and at times inconsistent. He/She has lost control over his business to ancillary groups and lets them dictate how to run the business. The System.
In my 40 years of career I have respected and admired the business leaders who understood the core of their business and directed/ordered ancillary groups to deliver what they needed rather than let them dictate how to run his/her business.
Support groups are necessary and there are many good people there. The main point of this story is that the leader can't let The System drift where the core (Product, Technology or Service) of business falls at the mercy of people who do not have direct skin in the game.
I hope that our readers have been fortunate not to have encountered the situation like Andy's.
But for the workplace covered in this play, there is a scene where one executive office has a wall hanging.
Disclaimer: The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.
No person or entity associated with this work received payment or anything of value, or entered into any agreement or connection with the depiction of ……. products.
No diversity issues were affected in the making of this Play.