The division was tucked away in a not-so-powerful department. On the surface, it had an important mission, but years ago upper management and the department management itself had decided to turn the division into a Siberia. No one was ever promoted from it and the word quietly spread that being assigned there was the equivalent of career termination.
What was especially sad was the top managers of the division didn’t get the word. They planned projects that would never be funded and trained employees who would soon leave. It was difficult to determine if this failure to ascertain what was common knowledge throughout the organization was because of a willful denial of reality or a sign of the ineptitude that caused the exile in the first place.
The division was mocked, when it was thought of at all, in the executive suites and the assumption was that permitting the division to survive was an act of mercy. After all, its managers were permitted to keep their jobs and they were paid reasonably well when – the reasoning went – a more ruthless executive team would have fired them and dissolved their operation.
If pressed, the executives would have declared that creating the Siberia produced fewer problems than any alternatives and, besides, if the division ever did anything worthwhile, they’d be willing to give it a look.
What was never acknowledged is that there are worse things for people than termination.