Magazine article Management Today

When Are We Going to Get There?

Magazine article Management Today

When Are We Going to Get There?

Article excerpt

I know you've only just started reading this but I'd just I like to ask you one little question.

`Are we nearly there yet?'

Infact I'd like to ask you a lot of little questions. `Will we be there soon? How much longer will it be before we get there? Why is it taking so long?' Indeed I would like to keep asking you these questions, in no particular sequence, but in an increasingly irritating fashion. And from time to time I'll add; `Can I go to the toilet?' for variety.

It's quite extraordinary really. Travelling a few thousand miles business class with the director of finance is such a doddle. Dull but a doddle. You gaze for the nth time at the perfectly-defined crimson lips and the perfectly-starched white blouses and the perfectly-bored beautiful eyes of the air hostesses as they explain once again for our safety; how to fasten our seatbelts (which can be adjusted like this); how to put on our oxygen masks (which fall from overhead like this); how to inflate our life-belts (which tie at the side like this); and how to jump down the emergency slide (like this).

And remember to first extinguish cigarettes and remove high-heeled or stilettoe shoes and ensure that your seat is upright and the table is safely stowed away. And then it's just a matter of sitting still until an inevitable sequence of complimentary drinks and snacks and meals and breakfasts and hot towels moves you from one side of the world to another.

In contrast, travelling a few thousand miles in steerage with a four-year-old and a seven-year-old (for purely theoretical example) is a nightmare. Such an appalling nightmare that, it has been known for people to wish they were back at work trying to cope with the ordinary everyday problems of running (for purely theoretical example) a lossmaking profit-centre.

Children quite simply don't sit still but they do spill drinks (theirs and yours) they don't like the food on offer but they do like playing with life-endangering cutlery. And most of all they do want to know whether they are nearly there yet.

At which point they raise two interesting insights into modern management theory, the consideration of which - rather like a Zen Buddhist saying - may allow the holidaying manager to maintain some sanity, reach an inner tranquillity and indeed gain a useful perspective on loss-making profit-centres. …

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