Without hesitation employees launched a hail of complaints. Was hired as an engineer not a pencil pusher. We spent over half of our time writing silly reports in triplicate for top management, and no one reads the reports. We have to account for every penny, which doesn’t give us any time to work with customers or new developments. After a two hour discussion, Terrible began to envision a future in which engineers were free to work with customers and joined self-directed teams for product improvement. Terrible concluded he had to get top management off the engineers back.
He promised the engineers, ‘my job is to stay out of your way so that you can do your job and will try to keep top management off your back too’. He called for the days reports and issued an order effective immediately that the originals be turned in daily to his office rather than mailed to headquarters. For three weeks, technical reports piled up on his desk. By the month’s end the stock was nearly three feet high. During the time no one called for the reports. When other managers entered his office and saw the stack, they usually asked, “what’s all this’?
Terrible replied, technical reports. No one asked to read them. Finally at month’s end, a secretary from finance called and asked for the monthly travel and expense report. Terrible responded, ‘meet me in the president’s office tomorrow morning. The next morning engineers cheered as Terrible walked through the department pushing a cart loaded with the enormous stack of reports. They knew that the showdown has come. Terrible entered the president’s office and placed the stack of reports on his desk. The president and the other senior executives looked bewildered.
This, Terrible announced, is the reason for the lack of productivity in the sales engineering department. These are the reports your people require every month. The fact that they stay on my desk all month shows that no one reads them. I suggest that the engineers’ time could be used in a more productive manner and that one brief monthly report from my office will satisfy the needs of other departments.