Secret Departments -

Secret Departments

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A colleague presupposed I knew about the hidden departments that lurk inside one's organization. Presuming I understood what he was talking about, he went about describing them in great detail.

At first my skeptical nature doubted his claim. By the time lunch ended, I was in complete agreement that most companies may have a few dozen hidden departments intent on screwing up the original business intentions of the company.

According to his theory, almost every company has a secret department with the responsibility to screw up sales. He referred to one particular example as the "Sales & Reputation Destruction Department." Mind you, there are many others. It goes something like this:

Good morning, SRD Department, Terry speaking.

Oh, yes sir. I'd be glad to help you. You've called the right place.

Yes, I see your order right here. You placed it two months ago.

No, we haven't ordered the parts as yet.

Yes, you're credit's fine. Your check cashed seven weeks ago.

No, the salesman placed the order within a few hours of your purchase order in our system.

I see. You're wondering why your parts haven't arrived. Give me a few minutes.

Ah, here it is. You ordered seven Model 3 flay rods. Is this correct?
Excellent. No, the seven flay rods haven't arrived. We haven't ordered them from our vendor as yet.

Why? Well, we get a substantial discount when we order 10 flay rods at a time. You only ordered seven.

Uh, yes. We're still waiting for someone to order the remaining three flay rods to get the discount, according to our new company policy.

Hmmm, that's a great idea. Perhaps we could have ordered 10 and only taken delivery of seven now. I'm sure our vendor would have gone for it. It's better than selling nothing at all, now isn't it.

Good point. You'd actually have your flay rods now and not have to wait another six weeks.

What do I mean another six weeks? Well, we're expecting another order about that time, and according to the new policy.

You say your project completes later this week, and you expect it to have been taken care of?

Well, that's a little rude sir. Uh, no thank you, sir. I'd rather not store the flay rods in that particular orifice when they come in.

Now perhaps I'm getting a bit jaded lately, but it does seem that this type of nonsense happens too often in many operations. Do some bureaucracies do this intentionally? Mind you it could be a hidden procurement, human resources, engineering, installations, or service department intent on not getting it as intended.

No. I'm willing to accept that from someone's perspective it is not perceived as intentionally screwing things up. In fact, most of the time there is some justification for their actions accompanied by an honest belief they are doing the right thing in following the policies and procedures set down by the company. Life has a funny way of not caring much about company policies some days though. There is a point to making sure that every "T" is properly crossed, but not at the expense of losing a customer.

Reading a history book about the Marquis de Lafayette and the American Revolution recently, I read a passage where the French king expressly forbade the young Marquis to sail to the New World and fight.

Fortunately for us Americans, the king did not send his orders to the local port agent in Bordeaux in triplicate. The single copy was insufficient, and the port agent allowed Lafayette onto the ship to America.

Maybe this sort of nonsense has been around awhile.


Too Clever By Half

So what do you do when you underbid a major long-term project? Even with the best of intent and procedures, it still happens. I've found there's 600-year-old expression, "Too clever by half," which often sums up the situation quite nicely.

Margin Of Error

Ever walk into a large department store and wonder why the same items are consistently located near the entrances and exits?

On Manners

For some time I've been pondering the basics around the office lately, especially with regard to what is truly important to long-term personal and business success. Why do some relationships seemingly last forever, others never bond at all, while others fade away after many years?