Chapter One

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Chapter One

Crocodile Charlie and the Holy Grail

Copyright © 2005 John Kolm and Peter Ring - All rights reserved

The Spirit of the Game

   Meet Charles Kingmore, a smart man tearing his hair out.

Charles is a good Managing Director.  But he is also a man on a Quest.

Charles wants to know the Secret of unified teams, productive people, and human happiness at work.  His reason is simple.  Kingmore Designs is losing business.

Charles started out as a plumber.  With ten years of hard work, he built a one-man business into a kitchen and bathroom design firm, fitting in an MBA at night school along the way.  Nowadays, what Charles wants most of all is a contract with the Sharpe Hotel chain.   That would mean success for Kingmore Designs.  It would mean that the company had finally arrived.

As Charles paces his office, he thinks about his interview the day before with Laura Sharpe, the CEO of Sharpe Hotels.  It took him weeks to get that interview.

“You’re a very, very small player”, Laura Sharpe had said, condescendingly.

“Sure, but we can do the job.  You’ve got the figures in front of you”, Charles had protested.

“Did you know we’ve been testing you?” said Sharpe, capturing him with a hard glance.

“No...  What do you hear?”  said Charles, unable to keep the worry out of his voice.

“Well... good things, mostly.  Good things.”  Sharpe let the silence sink in for a moment.  “But..,” she continued, “We also have some problems.  Remember the Starside Inn?”

“Yes,” said Charles, with a sinking heart.  How did she find out about that?

“You lost the design changes,” continued the grand lady.  “And then you had to re-tool their kitchen, and there were a few problems with that, too.  We build four hotels a year.  We simply wouldn’t have time for that kind of thing.”

“Yes, but that was a contractor,” said Charles reactively.  “And a new manager we just took on.  And I couldn’t be there myself.  If we did any work for you…”

“…You’d supervise everything personally,” finished Sharpe.  “Is that what you were going to say?”

“Yes,” said Charles, knowing he had fallen into the trap.

“And there you have it,” Sharpe concluded grandly.  “That’s exactly what you can’t do if you want to work at this level.  The problem we see,” said Sharpe, leaning forward for emphasis, “Is that the rest of Kingmore Designs isn’t really playing in the premiership league.  They’re technically competent, but there’s something lacking in their Spirit of the Game.”

Sharpe stood up, a clear sign that the interview was over.

“Something to look at,” concluded the hotel chain CEO.  “If you could clone yourself thirty or forty times, no problem.  But that doesn’t work.  Thanks for making the effort to see me, though- it shows you really care.”

Sharpe extended her hand, and then the interview was over.  Including coffee, it had taken seven minutes.  On the way out, Sharpe’s PA gave him a sympathetic look.  No doubt she had seen quite a few people chewed up by the great lady.

On the drive home, Charles came very close to giving up.

He was a good manager.

He praised and rewarded.  He kicked peoples’ behinds when they needed it.  He had policies and procedures.  He had the MBA, but he also had rough hands from ten years of work in the trenches.  His staff liked and trusted him.  And finally, he wasn’t a “suit” – he was one of the workers. 

What else was left?

Maybe Kingmore Designs wasn’t destined to grow any further.

Maybe the whole idea was a mistake.

Charles’ days as a plumber seemed very carefree to him, now.  Although they hadn’t seemed so at the time.

If it wasn’t for the respect the staff had for him, Charles thought, he’d toss the whole thing in and sit under a palm tree for a while.

Charles spent the night in front of the TV with a couple of whiskies, fell asleep on the sofa, and woke up at six a.m.; wondering, briefly, if the interview with Sharpe had just been a bad dream.

Want to know what happens next?

You'll have to read the book to find out!

Click here to find out how to get the book.

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