WEAK AT THE TOP: John Weak's diary

WEAK AT THE TOP: John Weak's diary - SATURDAY

by JOHN WEAK, who can be contacted at john.weak@smokehouse.co.uk
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


Rugby trip cancelled due to call from Sir Marcus summoning me to an emergency board meeting. As far as I'm concerned, asking people to work weekends is like shooting someone after they've surrendered. Was in foul mood by the time I got to the office, but almost worth it to see Sir Marcus in casual gear. His jeans looked like standard issue in the Greek navy. No wonder he doesn't want dress-down Fridays. Bill Peters turned up in a suit and tie, which impressed everyone except me because I knew he'd gone to bed in it. IT Director Malcolm Denby stood up, probably to announce that we were finally Y2K compliant. Instead he said essential maintenance on the server had resulted in a complete meltdown. Sir Marcus demanded a contingency plan by first thing Monday.


Emergency board meeting. Denby started by saying there was good news and bad news. The good news was that we had a multi-million pound back-up server. The bad news was that this was undergoing essential interim maintenance and wouldn't be available for three months. Sir Marcus started his own presentation with a thermo-nuclear bollocking in which the ratio of the F word to other words was 2 to 1. He said we now knew nothing about our customers, products or sales and to all intents and purposes we were dead in the water. Giles Renton-Willets (weirdo HR director) said he sensed a lot of negative energy in the meeting. Sir Marcus threatened if he didn't shut up he would arrange for 50,000 volts of negative energy to be passed through his low-hanging fruit. Finally, a sensible strategy for dealing with HR.


Emergency board meeting. IT system still dead as a dot.com. Denby began his presentation explaining our IT-driven trip back to the dark ages. Sir Marcus stopped him after the first detailed technical slide and asked him how many slides there were. When Denby replied that it was in the region of 140, Sir Marcus countered with a quick personal view on the merits of technology, including the fact that IT was the main reason why things didn't happen in business and that IT people were fifth columnists bent on destroying capitalism from the inside and that anyone without a personal hygiene problem was unlikely to be any good at IT. All fair points, well made.


Sir Marcus in one of those moods where you feel that anything you say will be taken in evidence and used against you. Denby said he was going to make a swift presentation on how quickly the technology would be up and running but he couldn't get the projector to work. He then told us that the back-up server was operational but the files in the data whorehouse (I'm sure that's what he said) were fatally corrupted. Sir Marcus was on the point of going berserk when Giles Renton-Willets' nostrils quivered as he sensed negative energy. Oblivious to the fact that Sir Marcus's expression said 'terminate with extreme prejudice', he chirped that the technology may be down but people were still our greatest asset. I pointed out that most of our greatest assets had been staring at blank computer screens for the past two days.


Exceptional emergency board meeting. Empty chair where IT Director used to be. Sir Marcus explained that Denby was taking personal charge of the server repair in a remote location. I casually observed that the server should be called the IT Director and the IT Director should be called the server because that's the way it seemed to work in real life. Seizing the moment, I then suggested that it was time that Marketing took charge. We should introduce a 'Back to Basics' campaign where people actually talked to each other and customers. Internally we should brand it as a culture-change initiative, externally as a customer-delighting initiative. Sir Marcus looked impressed. I immediately delegated all this and got tucked into a day-and-half-long session in Mr Bojangles with Bill. And you can't get more basic than that.

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