friday reflections

Many fail to grasp what is right in the palm of their hands

Story Line: "Many fail to grasp what is right in the palm of their hands."  -- Quote by Roger von Oech

1. Sherlock Homes and Dr. Watson (from Roger von Oech)

Sherlock Homes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. They pitched their tent under the stars and went to sleep. In the middle of the night, Holmes awakened and exclaimed, Watson, look up and tell me what you deduce.” Watson opened his eyes, and said, “I see billions and billions of stars. It is likely that some of these stars have planetary systems. Furthermore, I deduce that there is probably oxygen on some of these planets, and it is possible that life has developed on a few of them. Is that what you see?” Holmes replied, “No, you idiot. Somebody stole our tent.” (Source: the book “Expect the unexpected or You Won’t find it” by Roger von Oech, one of my favorite authors and an "Out of the Box Thinking" teacher)

2. True story that happened in the 1980s, at a company with unique high tech products

On one Friday morning, while the director of operations (Cody) was chatting with his employee, the CEO walked in to his office and said “Cody, I am on phone with a (major) potential customer. He is not happy with the performance of his current supplier and has approached us. I need build forecasts and availability for xyz product."  Cody assured the CEO that he had the information (handy) and he would bring it to him.

Istock_000000254103xsmallNow Cody was one of those guys, a great devotee of PC and all wonderful gadgets and tools that PC was bringing to this world. He had discovered “Harvard Graphics” (a software for presentations) only a month ago, and he had non stop fascination for this new toy. So he picked up the sheet of paper on his desk, on which there was already all the information about product builds and availability that the CEO needed, and started entering the data in the “Harvard Graphics” program. (Cody was not happy that the original information was written in pencil with few mark up notes)

A few minutes later, the CEO walked in to Cody’s office, with the color of his face as red as seen only on some special species of South American monkeys, and said “Cody, the customer just hung up the phone. I lost the opportunity. No executive in the United States has to put up with the bull@#$% that I have to put with you, Cody.” And the CEO left.

Fuming Cody asked his employee to close the door. (Irony of fate or what, but the small company did not have a "360 degree feedback" process for Cody to get back at the boss. Small companies could not afford that level of luxury). Cody told his employee, “the CEO is unreasonable, insensitive, does not get it ... all that I was trying to do was to give him presentation style material, since it is for the customer.”

The employee being loyal to Cody, gathered all his courage and told him “Boss, all that you needed to do was hand him the original sheet of paper on your desk when CEO walked in the first time.”

Sequel:  Cody is retired and lives in the Rocky Mountains. “That Employee” is still employed in the semiconductor industry and doing bigger and better things. The whereabouts of CEO are unknown. He may have found serenity in the forests of the Amazon (after dealing with more Codys in his career)

Due to many requests from the readers, these stories have been repeated from previous emails. I wonder why people want to hear these stories again and again?



Thanks, as always for such thought provoking reflections.
May be, sometime,in certain situations (to be honest), I have been Cody.
Thanks again for enlightening.

I truly think that all of us have some Cody in us. The degree may vary from person to person, as well as from time to time!

We're no longer in the 80's but this mindset is still very prevalent.

Witness the explosion in "Web 2.0" startups that are reinventing to-do lists and note pads by adding AJAX technology, gradients, and social collaboration features!

Or, in my company, the software tools I need are always delivered by our IT group late, to accommodate various bells and whistles that have nothing to do with the reason we requested the tool in the first place.

The picture you have illustrates it very well. If the tool you have (or enjoy) is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

So you could not resist sharing our story to the world. Anyway, it was entertaining and educational for both of us. Thanks for not revealing my real name and sparing me instant celebrity status. Keep up the reflections. Enlightening.

I'd say the story, as printed above, shows the CEO's failure to communicate that he needed the info "NOW".

In my industry, video games, the most important thing for getting your product approved is the flashiness of the presentation. We all complain about it but it's the reality we live in.

Cody did the wrong thing for that specific situation.

For other situations, his actions may have been that little bit extra that made his employer stand out from the crowd.

However I apparantly missed the bit of the story where the manager took 20 seconds out of his busy day to teach Cody the right thing to do. (Although the bit where he took the time to teach Cody to scream abuse at anyone who isn't psychic was quite clear.)

If the manager hadn't been an idiot the first time Cody made that mistake then it probably wouldn't have been an issue again, and everyone would be better off. Fool me (or lose me a sale) once shame on you, fool me (or lose me a sale) twice, shame on me, fool me a dozen times (or lose me a dozen sales) and somebody please just shoot me and replace me with an actual literal monkey.


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Previous: Persistence Pays, Part 2: Silicon Valley’s Midas: What it takes to win; and win a customer.
Next: He was so afraid of dying (making a mistake) that he forgot how to live (missed great opportunities)


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