I used to have a boss that was quite a character. He was an amazing guy; he just didn’t always make the right decisions. You see, he was this up-and-coming young firecracker. His name was Rick. Everyone one at work loved him the moment he started. He was hired in as a Supervisor, but was fast tracked to management. He just had this, this, …. I dunno. This air about him that exuded excellence and hope. It didn’t matter what he did, all he had to do was open his mouth and he could disarm even the most hostile client. We kept a lot of accounts because of him. Great guy.
Even though he had all of those amazing qualities, he was still lacking in some areas when it came to judgement. Most of you know that I work with computers. Well, most people work with computers, I guess. But I work in software development and design. Quite a stretch from the Theater degree that I got. But that’s a different story. Well, one day we got a virus on our system. Don’t know how it got past our anti-virus software. But like most viruses, it entered our system via someone’s email. Luckily, we have an off site back-up that it didn’t affect. Bad thing was that it hit everyone’s computer. So, we were all out, at most, a day or 2 of work. Our Kansas office was unaffected though. I don’t know how, but they were okay. Anyway, it was pretty chaotic when it went down. Everyone at the office was freaking out. Now you gotta understand, we had about 105 people in our office. Our Kansas office is just a remote office that had about half of that. So, everyone was running around like Chicken Little screaming that the sky was falling.
The few of us that worked in the Software/IT division knew it was going to be okay. We knew the procedures for when something like this happened. Basically, we would have to push the reset button; format all the hard drives and restore from the offsite backup. Well, here comes Rick to the rescue. He gathered everyone into the conference rooms (we had some big rooms). We got the Kansas office on the phone and he told us not to worry and that everything was under control. We were all given the rest of the day off since no one could work anyway. That really made a lot of people happy. At first they were scared, but now they were pretty psyched that they were getting the rest of the day off…with pay. So, we all went home and enjoyed our day off.
Nothing could compare us for the next day. I got to work earlier than most, because I had a pretty long commute. So, getting there early lets me leave early so that I can spend more time with the family, but I digress. Anyway, as soon as I got to my desk, I noticed that my PC was gone. No big deal, I thought. IT was probably still working on it. So, I took a stroll through the office and noticed that all of the computers were gone. I thought it was pretty weird that IT would still have all the PCs. Once everyone got to work that day, it looked like a scene from Night of the Living Dead; people aimlessly wandering around the office. They even had that “I haven’t had coffee yet” look on their face that made them actually look like zombies. Anyway, once everyone rolled in (and were properly medicated with their daily dose of caffeine) we were called into the conference room again. Rick was there to meet us with that perfect face of his and that solid stance that seemed to say, “I did it again. I saved us.” He proceeded to tell us that since all of the computers were infected they decided to throw all of them in the dumpster.
At first, a few people just chuckled. And then we realized he was serious. Now it really was like Night of the Living Dead. The horror of the situation spread throughout the ranks. Still, some people thought it was cool, because since we didn’t have computers, we would more than likely get another paid day off. But Rick stepped up and said, “It’s okay. We are purchasing new computers for everyone. Since the old ones were infected, we decided the only option was to buy new ones.”
Everyone was quiet. Then one of the guys from IT spoke up. “Uh, Rick. We could’ve just formatted all of the hard drives and then restored from the backup. Why buy all new computers? This is going to cost us a lot of money.” Okay, you gotta understand, that up to this guys question, a majority of our company thought this was a good idea. They didn’t know that much about computers, so they thought that was what you did when your computer was infected. But when IT spoke up, it turned a few heads. I was sitting in the back of the conference room with my jaw on the floor. I was waiting for Rick to say April Fool’s or something like that. But he was serious. He also didn’t take too kindly to being questioned about his decision. He stated that something had to be done. We couldn’t sit around and not do anything, so he acted. He said that doing nothing was not an option from his perspective.
IT spoke up again, “Uh, okay, Rick. I don’t really agree with that approach. Essentially, reformatting the hard drives is pressing the reset button. We’re down for a couple of days, but after restoring the backup, we’re back on our feet in no time. Your “solution” is going to take weeks, if not months, before we are able to recover from this incident. Also, if you threw away all of the PCs, where are the printers and monitors?”
Rick didn’t miss a beat, “Well, you can disagree all you want, but we need everyone to be team players here. We have to do what’s best for the company right now. It may take us longer to see the results, but we have to act or our company is going to suffer. Oh, and I threw out all of the printers and monitors with the PCs. I figured that since we had to spend the money on new computers, it seemed like a good time to upgrade to the flat panel monitors and laser printers.”
I thought the IT department was going to demonstrate spontaneous combustion. You could tell they were livid. I’m still thinking this is a joke. I mean, c’mon, who throws away perfectly usable equipment to spend a ton of money on something that is not necessary at the moment. To top it all off, our company had been struggling, so this is not what it needed.
Then Rick stood up and put on his best smile. The sunlight was beaming through the window at just the right angle, bouncing off of the whiteboard behind him to make it look like he was glowing. At that moment, he said, “The plan is not perfect. No plan is. I can’t tell you for sure that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope, but I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure to act will only deepen this crisis as well as the pain felt by all of us. At this particular moment, with the company so weakened by this incident, the management team is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our company back to life.” And all of the zombies were nodding their heads in agreement. I wanted to jump up and shout, “What the hell are you talking about? I feel like Will Ferrell in Zoolander. Doesn’t anybody notice this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” But I didn’t.
And just when we thought it couldn’t get any more insane, Rick told us that the new computers wouldn’t be sent here. They were going to our Kansas office. Now even some of the zombies were confused. Rick said that the new PCs (and monitors and printers) would go to Kansas and that their old ones would be sent to us. Once again, blank stares from the audience. Someone, I don’t know who at this point, asked how that was going to benefit us. He said that the IT department would be moved to Kansas during the transition to configure all of the new computers. And that since the Kansas computers were already configured, they would bring them back to our office and set them up so that we could get back to work. This would all take a few weeks, maybe months to get underway. There would be a lot of time dedicated to the planning of the move and a lot of logistics that would occur. The company would have to hire a few logistics experts to do all of the planning.
Meanwhile, our office would have to close temporarily, since we didn’t have the computers we needed to work. Someone, reluctantly, asked the question if we would get paid. Rick put on his best concerned face and said that the company didn’t have the resources to cover the paid time off. He encouraged everyone to sign up for unemployment during the transition.
Luckily, I was attached to the IT department, simply because my company didn’t really understand how to categorize me. They kept us on so that we could coordinate with the PC manufacturer. So, after the 6 week planning phase that was conducted by a (rather expensive) consulting company, we shipped off to Kansas. Once we got there, we were able to get the Kansas PCs sent back to the home office pretty quick. And it took us about a week and a half to get all of the new PCs up and running. I really wasn’t a lot of help, but it was better than being temporarily laid off.
As soon as we got back from Kansas, I started looking for a new job. No matter how impressive Rick was, I had lost all confidence in his ability to make the right decisions. Sure, he was a great guy, but he wasn’t cut out to make the big decisions. I’ve since left that company and have found another job. Last I heard, my old company was filing for bankruptcy. Rick had also moved on to manage an even bigger company. I saw a picture of him in the paper the other day. He still has that same smile and that glow about him that says, “I have everything under control.”
Oh, yeah…here’s his picture.