Oh dear, in my excitement to report my success with the Euro, I forgot to finish the sad tale of Microtop. Management gurus such as Tom Peters are always telling us how important failure is. Without the occasional disaster we never grow. It's by learning from our mistakes that we improve.
I have now said this so often that I believe it - but my employers at Slaughter McTone Regis may not agree. The chances of convincing Mr McTone that my incredible cockup is going to be a rich learning experience are minimal. By next week I might be spending more time with my family.
I'll admit the task of reducing Binary UK from a 2,000-strong corporate fat cat to a 20-person outpost of its purchaser Microtop was challenging, but I never expected this.
I had succeeded in getting Binary out of its headquarters and into temporary accommodation. I had slashed the workforce to 500. Admittedly, both these exercises were very expensive, but cost came a poor second to showing the investment bankers that Microtop meant business.
It was the next step that proved my downfall.
I launched a two-way offensive. By using statistics that were so dodgy that they weren't so much economical with the truth as downright miserly, I managed to show that the apparent workforce of 500, when reduced by various salient factors, was actually only 39 full time employees and a St Bernard dog (even I am not sure where the dog came from). At the same time I started a strong rumour with the Binary employees that Microtop was in financial trouble. If the deal fell through they might be left unemployed, so it would be extremely beneficial for them to take severance while they could.
Both these pieces of misinformation would have been highly effective if they had stayed with the people they were aimed at. The trouble is, the financial markets picked up on the Microtop rumour, and its share price collapsed. The Binary board was furious. Suddenly, all the attractive share options that had been dangled in front of them were worthless.
At the same time, they were seeing quite remarkable productivity from their 39 employees (and a dog) in Binary UK. Its response was to trash the US site, launch a counter-bid to buy Microtop and move wholesale to Britain (gaining a government grant in the bargain).
As our original contract was with Microtop rather than Binary, Slaughter McTone Regis is unlikely to be paid. This will not make me popular with Mr McTone. The Binary board will soon discover that my strategy has cost them well over half a billion. This will not make me popular with them either, especially when they experience the reality of moving from California to Slough. Everyone at Microtop hates me. And the Binary UK staff are already sending offensive Emails, when time allows in their frantic attempt to make 500 people look like 39. Perhaps only the St Bernard is happy.
Could anyone ask for a richer learning experience?
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