Right: your COO has suggested you don’t belong in the company because you haven’t bothered, in her estimation, to understand the business. What do you do?
At 9am the next day Sally Gulliver presented herself in Agatha Hamm’s office, wearing a hairnet, protective glasses and a white lab coat, and said simply: ‘So tell me.’
Without another word Agatha Hamm stood up from her desk and led Sally Gulliver onto the factory floor.
This is how she told me it went.
Agatha Hamm showed her the great vats of cream, each one the size of a suburban roundabout. She showed her the gigantic whisks, each as tall as a two-storey building, whirling and whipping the cream into snowdrifts. She showed her the shadowy, secluded groves of gelatine leaves and the beaches of white sand made of caster sugar and the gentle mountain slopes of millions of almonds, all of which went to make the perfect Global Blancmange blancmange.
I can forgive people almost anything in business provided they listen.
Then she showed her the canisters of X57 – the secret ingredient that creates that inimitable shade of Global Blancmange pink.
And finally Agatha Hamm showed Sally Gulliver the fleet of huge tankers which distributed the blancmange all over the world, to shimmer on a hundred million teatime tables.
After that they returned to Agatha Hamm’s office, where they took off their hairnets and lab coats, although (given Agatha Hamm’s formidable reputation) Sally Gulliver wondered briefly whether should keep her hard hat on. There, they pored over sales and revenue figures like a couple of Generals poring over maps, until Sally Gulliver finally ran out of questions about three hours later.
She looked up to find Agatha Hamm staring at her, a twinkle in her eye. ‘I can forgive people almost anything in business provided they listen,’ she said.
And so began the alliance, not often unholy, between HR and the business at Global Blancmange plc.
Next Friday: Sally Gulliver is Out of the Office
Bingleby was confiding in Richard Goff
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