Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Dad told me a story, a long time ago. It goes something like this.

Ted, a manager is asked by the CEO to come to dinner to discuss the possibility of stepping up to divisional chief. So on the appointed day, Ted clocks off after a day of fighting fires, goes home, gets changed, and heads in for dinner with the CEO.

On the way in, there is a terrible accident in a tunnel, and Ted is stuck in instant gridlock. (This story dates from the days before mobile phones, go with me on this one.) So after fighting his way through the accident debris, he arrives at his dinner appointment only an hour late. After explaining why he was late, due to the tragic circumstances in the tunnel, Ted was promptly told by the CEO that he wouldn't be getting the Divisional Chief position.

At the time I thought the CEO was being overly harsh on Ted, given that the circumstances surrounding Ted being late were outside of Ted's control. It is only now, looking back, that I understand the CEO's point of view.

I'm increasingly seeing that people split into one of two pretty neatly divided categories. Those who do things, and those whom things happen to. The language used by the two groups are largely not interoperable, let alone expectations over behaviour.

Odd, but true.