Tuesday, September 23 - For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations (2015)

For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations (2015)

Chapter 19

• Tuesday, September 23

At last, I nod, too.

Patty says, “You know, Bill, I think you’ve done a fantastic job in the past couple of weeks. And I’m sorry for how I reacted when you quit. I’ve seen such a difference in how the entire IT organization works. This is an organization that has resisted adopting any sort of process and had real problems with trust between departments. It’s amazing to see, and I give most of the credit to you.”

“I’m with her. I suppose I’m glad you’re back, too, you big quitter,” Wes laughs loudly. “Whatever I might have said on that first day, I don’t want your job. We need you here.”

Embarrassed, I just smile, acknowledging their remarks but not wanting them to blather on, saying, “Okay. Thanks, guys.”

Steve nods, watching our interaction. At last, he says, “Let’s go around the table and have each of you share something from your personal history. Where were you born? How many siblings did you have and where did you fit in? What childhood events helped form you as an adult?”

Steve continues, “The goal of this exercise is to get to know one another as people. You’ve learned a bit about me and my vulnerabilities. But that’s not enough. We need to know more about one another. And that creates the basis for trust.”

He looks around. “Who wants to go first?”

Oh, shit.

Marines don’t like this kind of touchy-feely stuff. I immediately avert my eyes, not wanting to be called on first.

Much to my relief, Chris volunteers.

He starts off, “I was born in Beirut as the youngest of three children. Before the age of eighteen, I had lived in eight different countries. As a result, I speak four languages.”

Chris tells us about how he and his wife tried for five years to have children, the agony of having to administer the fertility treatment injections to her, and just not being able to go through it a third time.

Then he tells about the miracle of having identical twin boys, only to have complications, and having to stay with his wife in the intensive care unit for three months after they were born prematurely. And spending night after night, praying that they would be okay, and not wanting one twin to live his life without the other when they were destined to be able to understand each other in a way that no other person in the world could.

And how this experience taught him how selfish he was and his newfound desire to be unselfish.

To my surprise, I blink back tears, seeing Chris’ earnest aspirations for his kids’ future. I furtively notice others doing the same.

“Thank you for sharing, Chris,” says Steve solemnly after a moment and then looks around the room. “Who’s next?”

To my surprise and relief, Wes goes next.

I learn that he’s been engaged three times in his life, and at the last minute, called off each one. And when he finally does get married, he quickly got divorced because she was tired of his maniacal car racing habit.

How can a guy who weighs nearly 250 pounds race cars?

Wes has four cars, and even if he weren’t a Parts Unlimited employee, he would be one of our most fanatic customers. He spends most of his off-hours working on his Mazda Miata and old Audi that he races competitively almost every weekend. Apparently, he’s struggled with a life-long battle to lose weight, even as a young child. He talked about being the outcast.

He still battles his weight. Not to make friends or for his health, but to try to keep up with the skinny Asian teenage car racers half his age, even going to weight-loss camp. Twice.

There is a long silence.

I’m too nervous to laugh.

Steve finally says, “Thanks for sharing, Wes. Who’s next?”

I purse my lips together and am again relieved when Patty raises her hand.

We learn that she was actually an art major. She’s one of those people I’ve made fun of all my life? But she seems so reasonable!

She tells us what it’s like growing up being the “smart girl with big boobs and glasses,” trying to decide what to do in life. She switched majors five times in college, dropping out to become a singer-songwriter in Athens, Georgia, spending two years touring clubs around the country with her band. She went back to get her MFA but after confronting the potential poverty of making a living as an artist, applied to work at Parts Unlimited. She almost didn’t get the job because of a civil disobedience arrest that was still on her record.

When Patty stops talking, Steve thanks her. And then smiling at my discomfort, he says, “Thank you. That leaves you, Bill…”

Even though I’ve known this moment is coming, the room seems to fade out.

I hate talking about myself. In the Marines, I was able to create a persona where I could just yell at people and tell them what needed to be done. I got paid to keep my people alive by being slightly smarter than they were and having great vocal cords.

I do not share my feelings with work colleagues.

Or with almost anyone, for that matter.

I look at the notepad in front of me, where I’ve been writing down ideas of what to share. All I see is nervous doodling.

The silence is nearly absolute, with everyone now looking at me expectantly. Not impatiently, I see. Instead, they seem patient and kind.

I see Patty’s expression turn sympathetic.

I purse my lips together for a moment, and then just blurt out, “What influenced me most? When I realized that my mom did everything for us, and that my dad was completely undependable. He was an alcoholic and when things weren’t going well, all my brothers and sisters hid from him. But it got to a point where I finally had enough and ran away. And I left them behind. And my youngest sister was only eight years old.”

I keep going, “You know, getting arrested was one of the best things that ever happened to me. The alternative was having to go home. So instead, I joined the Marines. That introduced me to an entirely new world, where I learned that there was a totally different way of living your life. It taught me that you could be rewarded by doing things right and taking care of your fellow soldiers.

“What did I learn? That my main goal is to be a great father, not like the shitty father I had. I want to be the man that my sons deserve.” I feel tears starting to fall down my cheeks, which I wipe away, angry that my body is betraying me.

“That good enough for you, Steve?” I say with a lot more anger than I had intended.

Steve nods with a half smile, saying slowly, “Thank you, Bill. I know that was as difficult for you as it was for all of us.”

I exhale slowly. And breathe deeply one more time, trying to regain some equilibrium that I hadn’t realized I’d lost.

The uncomfortable silence goes on.

“I know this isn’t my place to say, Bill,” Wes says slowly. “But, I’m pretty sure your dad would be incredibly proud of you. And he would realize what a total piece of shit he was, compared to you.”

I hear laughter around the table, and Patty says quietly, “I agree with Wes. Those kids of yours are luckier than they’ll ever know.”

Wes grunts in agreement, and Chris nods at me. And I find myself crying for the first time in over thirty years.

Embarrassed, I pull myself together and look up at everyone.

I’m relieved to see everyone shifting mental gears and turning their attention back to Steve, who looks around the room.

“First, I’d like to thank all of you for giving of yourself and doing that exercise with me,” he says. “Although it’s nice to get to know each of you better, I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think it was important. Solving any complex business problem requires teamwork, and teamwork requires trust. Lencioni teaches that showing vulnerability helps create a foundation for that.

“I know it’s unrealistic to think we’re going to leave this meeting knowing exactly what we need to do, with priorities and owners assigned,” he continues. “But I would like to have a joint vision as we move toward a solution.”

Steve puts both hands in front of him, and says, “Just to get the ball rolling, I’d like to propose that one of our main problems is that we blow every commitment and schedule that we make. People outside of IT are always grumbling that we miss whatever expectations we set. By a mile.

“Which makes me think,” he says, looking around the room, “that we’re probably not good at making internal commitments to one another here within IT. Thoughts?”

Uncomfortable silence.

“Look, I don’t want to split hairs,” Chris finally says defensively. “But if you look at the actual metrics, my group has delivered almost every major project on time. We make our dates.”

“Yeah, just like you hit the Phoenix date, right?” Wes says, jeering. “Now that was a huge success. I heard Steve was really proud of your performance last week.”

Chris turns red, raising both hands in front of him. “That’s not what I meant.” He thinks for a moment, adding, “It was a total disaster. But, technically, we did hit the date.”


“If that’s true,” I say, digging in, “there’s something really wrong with our definition of what a ‘completed project’ is. If it means ‘Did Chris get all his Phoenix tasks done?’ then it was a success. But if we wanted Phoenix in production that fulfilled the business goals, without setting the entire business on fire, we should call it a total failure.”

“Let’s stop pussyfooting here,” Steve interrupts. “I’ve told Sarah that Phoenix was one of the worst executed projects in the history of our company. What’s a better definition of success?”

Thinking for a moment, I finally say, “I don’t know. But this is a recurring pattern. Chris’ group never factors in all the work that Operations needs to do. And even when they do, they use up all the time in the schedule, leaving none for us. And we’re always left cleaning up the mess, long afterward.”

Chris nods understandingly. “Well, you and I are fixing some of this. Part of it is a planning and architecture issue, which you and I have talked about fixing. But you’re underestimating how much of a bottleneck your group is. We’ve got a bunch of other applications that need to be deployed, but because your team is tied up, all the other deployments waiting in line get delayed as well.”

He adds, “On any given week, we’ve got five or six application groups waiting in line for your group to deploy something or another. And when anything goes wrong, everything gets stacked up. No offense, but when you guys are late, it’s like an airport that closes down. Before you know it, you have a bunch of airplanes circling, all waiting to land.”

Wes grumbles loudly, “Yeah, well, that’s what happens when the airplane you’ve built crash lands, totally destroying the runway.”

Then Wes raises a placating hand. “Look, I’m not blaming you, Chris. I’m just stating a well-known fact. When deployments don’t go as planned, whether the plan was written by your group or mine, it affects everybody else. That’s all I’m saying.”

I nod, agreeing with Wes’ characterization. And surprisingly, Chris is nodding, as well.

I reply, “Erik has helped me understand that there are four types of IT Operations work: business projects, IT Operations projects, changes, and unplanned work. But, we’re only talking about the first type of work, and the unplanned work that get’s created when we do it wrong. We’re only talking about half the work we do in IT Operations.”

I turn to look at Steve, saying, “I showed you our project list. On top of the thirty-five business projects, we’ve got another seventy-five or so Ops projects we’re working. We’ve got a backlog of thousands of changes that apparently all need to execute for some reason or another. On top of that, we have an ever increasing amount of unplanned work, mostly caused by all our fragile applications breaking, which includes Phoenix.”

I say flatly, “We are way over capacity, given the amount of work in front of us. And we haven’t even counted properly the big audit finding remediation project yet, which Steve says is still top-priority.”

I see the understanding start to dawn on Steve and Chris.

Speaking of which…

I look around, puzzled. “Hey, where’s John? If we’re talking about compliance, shouldn’t he be here, too? And isn’t he a part of the IT leadership team as well?”

Wes groans softly, rolling his eyes, saying, “Oh, great, that’s just who we need.”

Steve looks startled. He looks at the index card he was holding earlier. Then he runs his finger down a printed calendar in front of him. “Shit. I forgot to invite him.”

Chris mutters, “Well, we were getting so much done. It was probably a blessing in disguise, right?”

There’s more uncomfortable laughter, but people seem embarrassed that we’re making fun of John without him here.

“No, no, no, that’s not what I meant,” Steve says quickly, looking most embarrassed of all. “Bill is right—we need him here. Everyone, let’s take a fifteen-minute break. I’m going to have Stacy track him down.”

I decide to take a walk to clear my head.

When I return in ten minutes, I see the strewn remains of a corporate meeting in progress: Styrofoam cups half-filled with coffee, plates of leftover food, crumpled up napkins.

Across the room, Patty and Wes are having an animated discussion with Chris. At the other end of the table, Steve is talking on his cell phone with someone, while Erik looks at the pictures of automotive parts hanging on the wall.

I’m considering joining Patty and Wes when I see John walk in the room. Underneath his arm, of course, is the black three-ring binder.

“Stacy said you were looking for me, Steve?” he said. He makes a point of looking around slowly at the evidence of a meeting started without him long ago. “Did I miss a meeting notice? Or did I just get left out from yet another one?”

As almost everyone goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid eye contact with him, he says even more loudly, “Hey, it smells like people just had sex in here. Did I miss anything good?”

Chris, Patty, and Wes break off their conversation, and with exaggerated nonchalance, grab their original seats.

“Ah, good, you’re here. I’m glad you could make it,” says Steve, appearing completely unfazed. “Please grab a seat. Everyone, let’s get started again.”

“John, my apologies for not sending you an invite. It’s completely my fault,” Steve says, as he makes his way to the head of the table. “I organized this meeting yesterday at the last minute, right after the audit committee meeting. After recognizing my part in making all the IT problems worse, I wanted to assemble the IT leadership team to see if we could agree on a general direction of the solution to the issues we’re having around projects, operational stability, and compliance.”

John looks at me questioningly, lifting an eyebrow.

I’m curious at Steve’s omission of the vulnerability exercise and all that. Probably he figured if he can’t redo it, he might as well not even bring it up.

I nod reassuringly at John.

Steve turns to me. “Bill, please continue.”

“When you brought up the word commitment, it reminded me of something Erik asked me last week that stuck with me,” I say. “He asked on what basis do we decide whether we can accept a new project. When I said that I didn’t know, he took me on another tour of MRP-8 manufacturing plant. He took me to Allie, the Manufacturing Resource Planning Coordinator, and asked her how she decides on whether to accept a new order.”

I flip back to my notes. “She said that she would first look at the order and then look at the bill of materials and routings. Based on that, she would look at the loadings of the relevant work centers in the plant and then decide whether accepting the order would jeopardize any existing commitments.

“Erik asked me how we made the same type of decision in IT,” I recall. “I told him then, and I’ll tell you now, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure we don’t do any sort of analysis of capacity and demand before we accept work. Which means we’re always scrambling, having to take shortcuts, which means more fragile applications in production. Which means more unplanned work and firefighting in the future. So, around and around we go.”

To my surprise, Erik interrupts. “Well put, Bill. You’ve just described ‘technical debt’ that is not being paid down. It comes from taking shortcuts, which may make sense in the short-term. But like financial debt, the compounding interest costs grow over time. If an organization doesn’t pay down its technical debt, every calorie in the organization can be spent just paying interest, in the form of unplanned work.”

“As you know, unplanned work is not free,” he continues. “Quite the opposite. It’s very expensive, because unplanned work comes at the expense of…”

He looks around professorially for an answer.

Wes finally speaks up, “Planned work?”

“Precisely!” Erik says jovially. “Yes, that’s exactly right, Chester. Bill mentioned the four types of work: business projects, IT Operations projects, changes, and unplanned work. Left unchecked, technical debt will ensure that the only work that gets done is unplanned work!”

“That sure sounds like us,” Wes says nodding. He then looks firmly at Erik, saying, “And it’s Wes, not Chester. I’m Wes.”

“Yes, I’m sure you are,” Erik says agreeably.

He addresses the rest of the room. “Unplanned work has another side effect. When you spend all your time firefighting, there’s little time or energy left for planning. When all you do is react, there’s not enough time to do the hard mental work of figuring out whether you can accept new work. So, more projects are crammed onto the plate, with fewer cycles available to each one, which means more bad multitasking, more escalations from poor code, which mean more shortcuts. As Bill said, ‘around and around we go.’ It’s the IT capacity death spiral.”

I smile to myself at Erik mangling Wes’ name. I’m not sure what kind of mental game he’s playing, but it’s amusing to watch.

Uncertain, I ask Steve, “Are we even allowed to say no? Every time I’ve asked you to prioritize or defer work on a project, you’ve bitten my head off. When everyone is conditioned to believe that no isn’t an acceptable answer, we all just became compliant order takers, blindly marching down a doomed path. I wonder if this is what happened to my predecessors, too.”

Wes and Patty nod slightly.

Even Chris nods.

“Of course you can say no!” Steve replies heatedly, with a look of genuine irritation on his face. He then takes a deep breath before saying, “Let me be clear. I need you to say no! We cannot afford to have this leadership team be order takers. We pay you to think, not just do!

Steve looks increasingly angry, saying, “What’s at stake here is the survival of the company! The outcomes of these projects dictate whether this entire company succeeds or fails!”

He looks right at me. “If you, or for that matter, anyone knows that a project will fail, I need you to say so. And I need it backed up with data. Give me data like that plant coordinator showed you, so we can understand why. Sorry, Bill, I like you a lot, but saying no just based on your gut is not enough.”

Erik snorts and mutters, “That’s some pretty nice, soaring rhetoric, Steve. Very moving. But you know what your problem is? You guys in the business are punch drunk on projects, taking on new work that doesn’t have a prayer of succeeding. Why? Because you have no idea what capacity you actually have. You’re like the guy who is always writing checks that bounce, because you don’t know how much money you have and never bother opening your mail.

“Let me tell you a story,” he says. “Let me tell you about what that MRP-8 plant was like before I arrived. Those poor bastards would get these manila envelopes that would just show up, containing all sorts of crazy orders. The business would make absurd commitments to ship something at some impossible date, oblivious to all the work already in the system.”

He continues, “It was a nightmare everyday. They had inventory piled up to the ceiling. And was there a systematic way to get WIP through the plant? Hell, no! What got worked on was based on who yelled the loudest or most often, who could engineer the best side deals with the expediters, or who could get the ear of the highest ranking executive.”

Erik is as animated as I’ve ever seen him. “We started restoring sanity when we figured out where our constraint was. Then we protected it, making sure that time on the constraint was never wasted. And we did everything to make sure work flowed through it.”

Erik then grows still and merely says, “To fix your problem, you need to do a lot more than just learning how to say no. That’s the tip of the iceberg.”

We all look at him, waiting for him to keep going. But instead, he stands up, walks to his suitcase, and opens it, revealing a jumble of clothes, a snorkel, a garbage bag, and boxer shorts.

He starts digging, takes out a granola bar, closes the suitcase, and returns to the table.

We all watch as he opens up the granola bar package and starts eating it.

Steve, looking as mystified as the rest of us, eventually says, “Erik, that’s an intriguing story. Please keep going.”

Erik sighs. “No, that’s all I intended to say. If you can’t figure out from that what you need to do, then there’s really not much hope for any of you.”

Steve slaps the table, exasperated.

But my mind is racing.

What we need to do isn’t merely to prioritize better. I’ve already learned what the priorities are, however inconvenient: Phoenix. Making the audit findings go away. All while keeping everything running.

We think we know where the constraint is. It’s Brent. Brent, Brent, Brent. And we’ve already taken steps to protect Brent from unplanned work.

I know I can’t hire more resources.

I also know that the workload in my organization is totally out of control.

No amount of heroics on my part can make a big dent in the tidal wave of work that’s been allowed to get into the system. Because no one ever said no.

Our mistakes were made long before it came to me. The mistakes were made by accepting the project and all the resulting shortcuts that Chris had to make before it reached me.

How can we reverse this insanity?

Then a strange idea hits me.

I think about it for another moment. It sounds utterly absurd, yet I can’t find any flaws in the logic.

I say, “Steve, I have an idea. But please let me finish telling you the entire idea before you react.”

And I tell them what I’m thinking.

Steve is the first to speak. “You must be out of your right mind,” Steve says, his initial disbelief turning into exasperation. “You want to just stop doing work? Who do you think we are? Subsidized potato farmers paid not to grow crops?”

But before I can respond, John speaks up. “I agree. Your idea seems like exactly the wrong thing to do. We’ve got a burning platform right now to finally do the right thing. We need to strike while the iron is hot. This is a perfect storm for us to finally get the budget we need to not only do the right things, but do the right things right.”

He starts rattling off the points on his fingers, “We’ve got the audit finding that has board visibility, the high-visibility project that can’t fail, and an operational failure that can’t happen again, either. We should pour on the gas and put in the security controls we need, once and for all.”

Wes interjects, chortling to John, “I’m stunned! I thought you would love Bill’s idea. I mean, you love stopping things from getting done and saying no, right? This should be like a dream come true for you!”

John turns bright red, obviously preparing a scathing reply. But Wes puts his big, meaty hand on his shoulder, and says with a smile, “Hey, I’m just kidding, okay? Just making a joke.”

Everyone starts talking at once when Erik suddenly stands up, crumples his granola bar wrapper, and throws it across the room into the wastebasket, missing it completely. He leans back in his chair, saying, “Bill, I think your proposal is very astute.”

Looking at John, he continues, “Remember, Jimmy, the goal is to increase the throughput of the entire system, not just increase the number of tasks being done. And if you don’t have a trustworthy system of work, why should I trust your system of security controls? Bah. A total waste of time.”

John looks back at Erik, puzzled. “What?”

Erik sighs and rolls his eyes. Instead of responding to John, he turns his gaze to Steve. “You’ve been a plant manager. Think of it as freezing materials release until enough WIP completes and leaves the plant. In order to control this system, we need to reduce the number of moving parts.”

When Steve doesn’t appear convinced, Erik leans way forward in his chair and asks him pointedly, “Suppose you’re managing the MRP-8 plant, and you have inventory piled to the ceiling. What would happen if you stopped releasing jobs and materials onto the plant floor?”

Surprised to be the target of the question, Steve considers it for a moment. “The amount of WIP in the plant goes down, because work will start leaving the plant as finished goods.”

“Correct,” Erik says, nodding approvingly. “And what will likely happen to due-date performance?”

“Due-date performance goes up, because WIP went down.” Steve says, looking increasingly suspicious and reluctant about where Erik might be leading him.

“Yes, very good,” Erik says encouragingly. “But on the other hand, what happens to inventory levels if you allow the plant to continue to accept orders and release new jobs?”

He says after a moment, “WIP goes up.”

“Excellent,” Erik says. “And what happens to due-date performance?”

Steve looks like he’s just swallowed something that isn’t agreeing with him, and he says eventually, “Everyone knows that in manufacturing, as WIP increases, due-date performance goes down.

“Wait a minute, here,” he says, squinting at Erik. “You’re not actually suggesting that this applies to IT, too? That by halting all work except for Phoenix, we’ll reduce the amount of WIP in IT, and that this will somehow improve due-date performance? Is that seriously what you’re suggesting?”

Erik leans back in his chair looking pleased with himself. “Yes.”

Wes says, “Won’t that leave most of us just twiddling our thumbs with nothing to do? That’s 130 people in IT Operations just sitting around. Doesn’t that sound a bit…wasteful?”

Erik scoffs and says, “I’ll tell you about wasteful. How about over a thousand changes stuck in the system, with no apparent way of ever getting them completed?”

Wes frowns. Then he nods, saying, “That’s true. The number of cards on Patty’s change board keeps going up. If that’s work in process, it’s definitely spiraling out of control. We’re probably only a couple weeks away from having those cards stacked to the ceiling, too.”

I nod. He’s right.

The idea is for IT Operations and Development to not accept any new projects for two weeks and to stop all work in IT Operations except for work related to Phoenix.

I look around. “If we single-task on the most important project for two weeks and still aren’t able to make a big dent, then I think we should all find new day jobs.”

Chris nods. “I think we should give it a shot. We’ll keep working on the other active projects, but we’ll freeze all deployment work except Phoenix. From Bill’s perspective, it will look like that’s the only thing we’re working on. Make no mistake, Phoenix will be everyone’s top priority.”

Patty and Wes nod in agreement.

John crosses his arms. “I’m not sure if I can support this insane proposal. First, I’ve never seen any organization do anything even remotely like this before. Second, I’m very concerned that if we do this, we’ll lose our shot at getting all the audit issues fixed. As Steve has already said, those audit findings could kill the company, too.”

“You know what your problem is?” Erik says, pointing a finger at John. “You never see the end-to-end business process, so I guarantee you that many of the controls you want to put in aren’t even necessary.”

John says, “What?”

Again, Erik waves John’s question away. “Don’t worry about it for now. Let the inevitable happen, and we’ll see what we can learn from it.”

Steve turns to John. “I understand your concerns about security. But the biggest risk to the company is not the unresolved audit findings. The biggest risk to the company is that we don’t survive. We need Phoenix to regain competitive parity.”

He pauses and says, “Let’s give this project freeze one week and see if it makes a difference in the Phoenix work. If we don’t, we’ll put the remediation work back on the front burner. Okay?”

John nods reluctantly. He then flips to a page in his three-ring binder, and makes some notes. He’s probably recording Steve’s promise.

“Steve, we definitely need your help to make this happen,” I say. “My guys are routinely strong-armed into doing pet projects by almost every manager in this company. I think we need an e-mail from you to the entire company, not only explaining why you’re doing this, but what the consequences will be if someone tries to put unauthorized work into the system.”

Erik makes an encouraging noise.

“No problem,” Steve quickly replies. “I’ll send you all a draft after this meeting. Revise it and I’ll send it out to all the company managers. Good enough for you?”

Trying to keep the disbelief out of my voice, I say, “Yes.”

It’s astonishing what we agree to in the next hour. IT Operations will freeze all non-Phoenix work. Development can’t idle the twenty-plus non-Phoenix projects, but will freeze all deployments. In other words, no work will flow from Development to IT Operations for another two weeks.

Furthermore, we will identify the top areas of technical debt, which Development will tackle to decrease the unplanned work being created by problematic applications in production.

This will all make a huge difference in my team’s workload.

Furthermore, Chris and Kirsten will review all Phoenix tasks not being worked, and steal resources from other projects to get them in work again.

Everyone seems energized and excited to put the plan into place—even John.

Before we all leave, Steve says, “Thank you all for your good thinking today and for sharing something about yourself. I feel like I know all of you better now. And, as unbelievable as I think Bill’s crazy project freeze idea is, I think it could work. I look forward to this being the first of many great decisions this team will make.

“As I said, one of my goals is that we create a team where we can all trust one another,” he continues. “Hopefully, we made a small step in that direction, and I encourage you to keep demanding honest and truthful communications between you.”

He looks around the room and asks, “Is there anything that you guys need from me in the meantime?”

There are no requests, so we adjourn.

As we all get up to leave, Erik says loudly, “Great work, Bill. Couldn’t have done it better myself.”