An Experiment in Corporate Lubrication


A few weeks back, I was lamenting the fact that Kate , the Irish woman I work with, was out due to a back injury.  She had surgery about 3 weeks ago and was released back to work about a week ago.

I’m very happy she’s back.

She is very happy she’s back.

Have I mentioned, I’m happy she’s back.

Kate’s humor and personality is infectious.  And, she has a wicked sense of humor.  Throw in that Irish accent of hers, and I would gladly spend all of my time with her.  It’s the accent, I know.

Anyway, moving away from my girl crush….I also like the way she approaches problem solving.  I respect her personality and her mind 😉

We have both been thrown into the middle of this big project.  And, both have been trying to get people to think outside of what they do today in the systems they are using today.  Many of them have been taught how to do tasks in the system, but have no idea why they do the tasks or how they relate to their  jobs or those around them.  Some of these people have been put on the core project team – their job is to create the new business processes that will be created in the new system.  In simple terms, they need to figure out how to take an order, ship an order, take a customer service call, etc.  Once they figure out how to do it on paper, we’ll do the system stuff.

You can see where the problems would occur.  If they don’t understand how their current process work, they are challenged to create the new ones needed for the new system.  Some of the team members have just been gun-shy on taking on this task.  So, we lured them out of their shells  and got them working well on the project.  So far, we have about half the team in that boat.

Others have been dragged kicking and screaming into the boat.  My post earlier this week was a demonstration of this method.  The plan I created for them was presented the other night to the executives.  My boss said it was funny.  You could tell the core team members were pissed that they had to present my plan, but were trapped.  The plan was good.  They couldn’t make a case against it.

The last of the group are three guys who handle Service – customer calls and the process behind repairs and customer swaps.  These guys are fighting it kicking and screaming.  Unlike the others we dragged kicking and screaming, we have to try a different tactic.  The others were not as clever as these guys.

Kate and I spent about 2 hours trying to figure out how to get these guys in the boat.  Kate is an engineer, so she had some interesting ideas on how to approach the situation.  The problem, as we concluded, is they have too much baggage.  Many of these guys have had 3 bosses in 6 weeks.  They don’t know what their departments are trying to do as far as strategy.  And, they all react differently when prodded.  Jimmy, the guy who oversees customer repair stuff, gets pissy and argues about everything.   Hans, the call center manager, just shuts down.   Tom, the guy who oversees shipping/receiving just leaves for his cigarette.

We decided that maybe we were looking at the problem wrong.  We needed them to loosen up, relax, and think outside of the box.

What’s the best way to do that?  Beer.

So, we have a meeting scheduled with them Tuesday afternoon.  Our agenda will be to prepare them for their executive meeting.  We will be serving beer and homemade cookies.

Mr Chatty upon hearing the plan just shook his head.  “The Irish woman and the woman of Scottish decent are going to use alcohol to get the guys to come around to your way of thinking.  Brilliant!  Do you need Scotch?  I’ll be happy to contribute a bottle, if it would help.”

Wonder if HR overheard our plan.  I hope not.  I don’t think they would take too kindly to our approach.

Our boss laughed at it, walked away, and is probably thinking its a joke.

I guess we’ll find out if it helps us get them onboard.

I should mention that having a beer or two in our company – on premise – is permitted by management.  Usually management usually just asks for whoever brings it to share with them.  Two years ago, that would not have been the case.  See, change can be good.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Just me... says:

    Corporate lubrication with alcohol somehow got a bad rap in the 90’s (80’s if you’re outside of the Midwest) and I never understood why.. Most people drink, at least socially. Most people are fine with a drink or two.. Just take care that the one who doesn’t stop with one or two is held in check.. :):)
    Good Luck!!

  2. I think its a good idea, just have some pretzels and water as well.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.