Monday, December 04, 2006

Management Tools

The new yuppie Manager walked up to the CEO beaming like a million suns together.

"Good Morning BOSS!"

"Good Morning, Young Man. What do you have for me today?"

"As a matter of fact, BOSS, I have a wonderful idea to push up the speed of Operations by 200%"

The CEO gave an encouraging smile, which effectively masked the sympathy he felt for the young manager. "Excellent! Sit down and shoot!"

Perching himself on the edge of the chair in excitement, the Manager took off.

"BOSS, I've been noticing that we have been trying to use a lot of Management Tools in our work - 360 Degree Appraisals, Balanced Scorecards, Predictive Indices, Pareto Analysis, Root Cause Analysis, COPC, CMM, Time Study, ISO, Six Sigma, Strategic Planning - the whole lot. I do not see any use for them at all. Why don't we throw all these out of the nearest window and get on with Operations which is our main business anyway?"

The CEO nodded in a knowing manner and said, "Splendid idea, really. Before we go ahead and implement this, there is a small errand you need to do for me."

"Sure BOSS - Anything - Just ask."

The CEO put his hand in his inside shirt pocket and extracted a knotted pouch. Pulling the strings apart, he took out a white stone smaller than his palm.

"Go to the market early tomorrow and try to ascertain the price of this stone from people in different trades. But do not sell this. We will meet the day after."


The next day, the yuppie was up nice and early and went to the market.

The first person he saw was a young fisher maid who had just spread out her wares. "Welcome, young man. Would you like
some fresh fish for breakfast? "

"No - Thanks. But would you like to buy this stone from me?" The girl grew angry. "Cursed that I am, my first customer of the day turned out to be a troublemaker like you. Be gone or should I call my dad?"

The Manager muttered a hasty apology and moved on, seriously doubting his CEO's intentions.

The next shop he came to was a doll maker's. When he showed the stone and repeated his question, the doll maker said, "With a bit of polish, the stone will make a good crown for one of the bigger dolls. I can give you five rupees for it."

"Thanks," said the young man and moved on and reached a hairdressing saloon. The barber smiled in appreciation of the stone and said, "That will be a good whetstone to sharpen my razor. Take fifty rupees for that."

Similarly, various other tradesmen and merchants offered higher prices for the same stone for their own reasons.

Finally, the yuppie entered the jeweler's shop at the end of the market and proffered the stone. The jeweler's eyes popped out of their sockets.
"That is the largest and the best diamond I have ever seen in thirty years of this business. I can buy it from you for five million rupees. But please hold for a few days for I need to sell off all my property including this shop and all its contents." A bit surprised,

The Manager met the CEO the next day and narrated his experiences. The CEO smiled benignly and said,

"Young man, all the management tools are like the stone I gave you. If you understand their value and use them, you will see the precious diamond in them. If not, you will be like the poor, ignorant fisher maid who could not recognize its value at all."

"I am sorry," said the young manager, returning the pouch to the CEO.

The CEO winked and said, "Keep that with you. After I retire and you occupy this seat, you will need it to explain the value of management tools to some young Manager with a deep distrust of them."


The value of all management tools lies in the way they are used. By using them, these tools do not get glorified. On
the contrary, it is Operations that stands to gain by making its job better.

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