Sir Marcus has been on holiday, which is great while it lasts but hell when he gets back. That's because the only time he reads a business book is when he's on holiday. We all pray it's not a long-haul flight in case he gets ambitious and reads a serious one. Of course, he might have completely de-stressed on holiday and decided to take a more relaxed, hands-off approach to the business, but the chances of that happening are slim to anorexic.
We're all bracing ourselves for cheese-moving, minute-managing or elephant dancing. My personal management fad at the moment is to make sure my door is always open. This isn't for idiots to come waltzing in with half-baked ideas but so that I can have an unobstructed view of the delicious Celeste Nibelle.
Bad news. Sir Marcus has flown in from the Maldives having read Tom Peters cover to cover. He immediately announced that Smokehouse could become a more effective business overnight if we all Managed By Walking About.
At the same time as Managing By Walking About (MBWA), we also now have to Walk the Talk. I suggested the management team should all be given walkie-talkies, which would neatly kill two birds with one projectile.
Sir Marcus wasn't impressed and did some Management By Shouting At Great Volume. After he calmed down, we noticed that he spent the entire meeting walking up and down. At one stage, Bill Peters surreptitiously left the boardroom door open to see whether he'd walk straight out, but he didn't fall for it.
To try and take some of the sting out of all this new management stuff, I've put word out on the street that Tom Peters is actually a close relative of Bill Peters and that they both have roughly the same amount to offer in the way of management expertise.
Tragically, the more gullible areas of the business (shorthand for HR) are now looking at Bill with a new-found respect. Bill and I managed by walking down to Mr Bojangles for a little light lunch and a couple of big red motivators. Bill suggested we leave some literature for the Ramblers Association on Sir Marcus's desk to redirect some of his walking energies. After work, went to the gym with Howard. We got on the treadmills and worked out that MBWA for half an hour could burn off calories equivalent to a fun-size Milky Way.
Day two of MBWA and there have been three noticeable results. The first and most obvious is that no-one with any sense has moved a muscle. The second is that there has been a mass exodus from the IT department, who all now walk in tight circles around Celeste Nibelle's desk. She now has more patches on her computer than old Mrs Topping in the canteen has HRT patches. The third and most unwelcome result is that Sir Marcus is marching around like the Gestapo.
Fortunately, he tells his PA where he's off to.
She phones ahead and it's then five minutes of mayhem while everyone prepares for the Royal visit - desks are cleared, project management charts heavily edited, mission statements dug out of waste bins etc.
Sir Marcus is still speed-walking round the building and the rest of the execs have decided that they've had enough of this industrial-strength muppetry. We have now started a system where as soon as Sir Marcus leaves his office, his PA phones ahead and the person he's visiting immediately leaves their office for a spot of MBWA.
Then about 20 of us converge on Sir Marcus's office and we all put Post-it notes on his desk saying things like 'Urgent news for you/wanted to take you out for lunch/have your children etc but you were out walking somewhere'.
Amazingly, Sir Marcus has now seen the benefits of Managing by Working at Your Desk and Arranging Meetings When Necessary. The old MBWA has disappeared and me and Bill Peters can get back to what we do best - Management by Arsing About.
Contact John Weak at firstname.lastname@example.org.