Crocodile Charlie and the Holy Grail
Copyright © 2005 John Kolm and Peter Ring - All rights reserved
The Spirit of the Game
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,
“Sure, but we can do the job. You’ve got the figures in front of you”, Charles had
“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.
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
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
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.
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