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Friday, January 16, 2015

A New Policy Yesterday, but An Old Day Now.

It could have been a hundred years ago, but it could have been yesterday, too.  Three guys, well two guys and a dog, unable to find a job, started their own company, Life Explained.  It was a top secret, covert, research and development facility (seeking to unravel the riddles of the universe, and make some money) with no clients.  

The United States government found out about this top secret organization somehow, it might have been the article in a local paper about the grand opening, and jumped at the chance to enter a partnership.  It is why top secret laboratories and governments are formed, to provide for each other.  Kind of like an oppressively expensive, clandestine social circle.  

Soon, the company grew, and three employees became one hundred and thirty two.  But, it was difficult to get anything done, work schedules were lax, progress came in short bursts.  Projects that were finished in one department, moved to the next, and sat there waiting for somebody to arrive.  Experiments languished in empty labs.  It was a mess, and it was getting worse.

It was obvious to the three owners, two guys, and a dog, that something needed done.  If the small company was going to become a big company rules were necessary.

A consultant was hired, a man with an impeccable resume, a man who understood the needs being on time.  He was brisk, efficient, and to the point.  One phone call and they knew they had found the right guy.  “If you implement my system you will have no more problems,” he guaranteed.

Monday the twelfth the email went out.  There was going to be a new attendance and tardiness policy.  The meeting would be on Thursday, the seventeenth, at Eight AM, in conference room B, the large room with theater style seating.  Be on time.

Thursday dawned, bright, early, and with a vengeance, the air smelled like a jail cell, and the sun looked fluorescent.  And the man was set up by 7:30.

At 8:00 he started, promptly.  At 8:15 Bob, from accounting came in.  “Sorry, stuck in traffic.”  The man was perturbed, but went on with the presentation.  It involved points, on a sliding scale of severity.  If a person was less than 5 minutes late it was ¼ of a point.

At 8:25 Bob, from R and D showed up, and said, “hey, I am really sorry, my alarm didn’t go off.”  The man was getting upset, noticeably, but continued.  At 8:30 Bob, from Marketing came in, his car wouldn’t start.  8:45 and a tardiness, accident on the freeway, 8:52 “sorry I’m late, my basement was flooded.”  By now the man was shaking, and his voice was cracking.  For the next several minutes a litany of excuses, and associates paraded in the door.  A fire in the garage, a snake in the toilet, spiders, aliens, and snoring in-laws, contorted the man’s face with rage. 

Finally, when Bob, from Human Resources stood up, saying “I am going to Dunkin’ Donuts for a croissant and a coffee, anybody want anything?” the man had had enough.

He threw down his notes, kicked over the table, and swore his way out of the room.

The three owners were shocked.  Still, something needed to be done.  Since they had heard part of the presentation, and were felt themselves to be fairly intelligent people, and dog, they decided to make it their own, the Life Explained Omnibus Tardiness and Attendance Policy.

Having heard the parts about accruing points, on a sliding scale, they extrapolated.  Surely, they felt, anybody, or group, who could build such a fantastically successful and innovative company could come up with something much better than the original.

Here is the scale they conceived, and executed, but something was missing. 

Less than 5 Minutes Late
Less than 30 minutes Late
Less than 60 Minutes Late
More than 60 Minutes Late
Missing Day

What would the results provide?  They locked themselves in an office, until they came up with the ideal solution.   

An announcement went out, with the details above, and the implications that whoever had the most points at the end of the year would win this nice clock radio.   

People were scurrying out the door, a tsunami of humanity, as they rushed by, they yelled “I need to take a day off tomorrow, and I will be late the next day."

Soon, they gave up on the idea, and went back to the old way, just relying on the common decency of their employees to do the right thing.  What could possibly go wrong there?