Inside the mind of the Boss who went mad
We all knew my boss James would lose his mind someday. We just didn’t know it would happen so soon. Here’s the thing…
Remember how I told you I am in love? With Glamour Magazine?
Well, James is in love too.
Here’s how it started. About a year ago, James decided that our team needed our team processes documented, preferably in blood. Thankfully we were able to convince him that corporate would frown upon that, so he decided on the next best thing: flowcharts. And guess who he suckered into implementing his idea? You got it. Just the Assistant.
The first meeting started out by James describing the benefits of flowcharts and how we were all going to work like magic with them in place. He kept saying things like, “And boom, you’ve got your answer right here. Boom.” I just nodded at what I hoped were the appropriate times and watched him scribble furiously on a notepad while he told me the big plan.
The curious thing about all this is that I have no experience with flowcharts. James just bought me some software and sent me on my way. Told me to make it happen and report back to him in two weeks.
And so it began. My five month project of charting flows. It was the most important sounding project I’d ever worked on in my life. Up until that point, my most crucial role was making sure our printer had ink, so I made sure to mention my new task frequently at parties. “I’ve been super swamped at work, creating these flowcharts for my bosses. Mmm hmm, up to my ears in flowcharts.” Whenever I brought samples into the office I made sure to carry them print side up as I rode the elevator in hopes someone would give me an impressed whistle at the importance my position surely must carry.
Not long after I began working on the mess I realized each symbol on the flowchart actually symbolizes something. Hmm. I reported my findings to James and discovered, even though James is in love with flowcharts, he doesn’t actually know a ton about them. Together, in his office, we made the decision, ah forget the symbols. Nobody else will know if we just choose the shapes we fancy. When it comes time to present it all to the team, we’ll forge ahead with, “Behold Memorial Branch of Envoy Mortgage! We present to you – the FLOWCHARTS!” We also made the decision that if anyone mentioned we used the wrong shapes in the wrong places, we would make a big deal about reminding everyone not to talk out of turn in the team meetings.
But soon, the glitter wore off. I began to hate flowcharts. I had dreams of murdering flowcharts with an ax while they begged for mercy.
But James demanded more. As I slaved away, he grew more and more in love. I think he had dreams of marrying flowcharts. He wanted me to create a flowchart for everything in the world.
“Christina, I like the way I tied my tie today…could you whip up a flowchart for me about that? So I can have it right there the next time I wear this tie? Boom. Right there?”
He tried to sell my other Boss Chad on the glories of flowcharts as well, but Chad wasn’t buying it.
Have you ever seen two hens fuss? I haven’t either, but I imagine it looks something like when my Bosses fuss with each other. Imagine one hen holding a sign in her beak that says “Pro-Flowcharts,” stamping back and forth in the dirt from one foot to the other. Imagine another hen pacing back and forth clucking and clucking with worry. That about sums them up. James trying to sell Chad on the idea. Chad fretting that I was doing all this work for nothing.
It’s only fair to tell you who won. In a way, they both did. All those flowcharts ended up in the trash, but we used the project as a springboard to implement a lot of other procedures, gears and gizmos that make our team work even better together. We (I say “we” but I really mean “the people on the team who are more important than me”) are now able to handle more loans at once with smoother communication amongst the team, and that automatically gives our borrowers a better experience. However, James still keeps those old flowcharts in a folder titled “Lovelies.”
Which brings me to a few weeks ago when I overheard the Bosses fussing in the next office. I couldn’t make out any words, but I definitely could tell James was trying to convince Chad of some other great idea. Later on, Chad called me, whispering. He told me a bit about the fuss…something about whether we should use new software…but his point was to tell me this:
“And then James grabbed a piece of printer paper and started making a FLOWCHART to prove his point. Christina, you’ve got to see this thing.” A few hours later something very interesting came to my inbox.
James’ therapy starts next week.