Saturday, 7 April 2007

The idleness of March

I took the month off. Obviously I still went into the office, but I have been pretty much inert. I reached a level of indolence that even I found troubling.

But, I managed to prevail. The business took care of itself, and I coasted into the last week, facing the final hurdle of a monthly Board meeting on Friday. No small challenge, as I had a brace of action points to contend with.

I parked the first, citing the complexity of the problem, and the need for a meeting dedicated to it alone - four weeks hence. At the aforementioned meeting it is true to say that the MD will eviscerate my proposal with forensic efficiency. Because, A: he is, and this is depressing to acknowledge, smarter than me. And, B: it's frankly, a piss-poor proposal. But, that's a month from now, a lot can happen in a month.

The second action is more troubling. At the Feb meeting there was a disturbing outbreak of altruism. People wanted to give the customers a better sales experience. Not to increase revenue or market share, just to be...nicer!?!??! Madness in principle, but more pressingly it's going to cost me about 1% in profit. I was a little more vigorous than is politic in my disagreement, but took the action to 'look into it'.

Being that I've been indisposed for the past few weeks, this 'looking into' had not progressed very far. So, Thursday evening arrives and I'm out on the town enjoying good gin and very agreeable company; but resigning myself to the fact that I'm going to have to swallow a 1% hole in the profit forecast the next morning. Facing the most unpleasant prospect of having to say yes something merely because I haven't got a decent argument against it.

But, fate, and Network Rail, intervenes. A points failure maroons me in the suburban hinterlands. I have nothing to occupy the hours but think. And think I do.

I arrive at the meeting, Friday morning, with a plan so cunning it could count the change in your pocket. A towering edifice of half-truths and inferences. Which presented in just the right light, at just the right angle; is cast in stone. And present it thus, I did.

Balance returns to the world - customers will continue to get a level of service which is good enough for them; and the money stays where it belongs, on my balance sheet.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Think of a number

The end of December saw some frankly dire performance against plan; wiping about a third off the surplus I’d been building up. Looking at January, if things don’t pick up, I’ll be well into the red before the month’s out. This is not, good.
Now obviously I want the figures to tail off towards year end - coasting to a respectable 100-105% of plan. But I expect to be intentionally stifling growth, not the victim of some unforeseen events.

This calls for some concerted effort to get things back on track - I'm off to see Finance to have the forecast revised.

Now the plan numbers are clearly wrong, but the usual response, at BigCo or elsewhere, would be 'mmm, yep we fucked up, good luck with achieving it'. However, in the warm and fluffy world of Stuff-u-Like, they're all very apologetic, and give me a figure lower than 06 actual.
The unreality of it all is comical. I'll do just as little work; make just the same amount of profit; but now it'll be 5% over plan, rather than 20% below. Not bad for 1/2 an hours work - I take an early lunch.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Office party

The party is industrialised yuletide - 1,000 plus revellers in a warehouse, decked out for the evening in some theme - Egypt, Siberia, Amazon whatever. The company makes it tolerable; the Stuff-u-Like crowd are so gosh darn nice. And friendly too - I'm propositioned by two young ladies. Now, to be fair, they made up for in enthusiasm what they lacked in looks, but an offer to "do us both" is not to be sniffed at. Sadly, an offer I was unable to take up - they're stretchered off by the paramedics before the main course is served.

It was, the high point of our table's entertainment. I'm in the group of death. Not really having a team of my own, I'm stuck with all the social misfits who couldn't get a group together. All around me, fun is being had; but not here, across the icy steppes of conversation.

Thankfully, service is quick and we're soon released to the dancefloor. For, what is customarily the aural equivalent of being gang-raped by vagrants - the Christmas DJ mix.

The experience is eased somewhat by the sight of one of our new recruits making a complete tool of himself. Keen to impress the ladies he attempts his party piece (anyone who has a party piece....) a B-boy power move - which he fails to execute, miserably: medic!

The corpsman do take some time to arrive, as the evening is rapidly becoming the Somme, with tinsel: pitched battles at the bar; trench foot in the carpark