Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I'll call him Larry.

When he was named to head the executive committee, the unanimous reaction was favorable. Larry was amiable and he always presented a professional image. In fact, if you were to cast a chairman role in a movie, he'd have been an excellent pick.

I had to deal with Larry because I'd been designated as a liaison to the group and the chairman was my prime contact. I'd seen Larry's work only from a distance and only in circumstances in which he was part of a group. Nonetheless, I looked forward to seeing him take charge and get things moving.

That's why it was a shock when he did nothing.

And by nothing, I mean nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip.

Oh, he would talk a good game. Things were always about to take off. Plans were in motion. People were being consulted. Research was being conducted. The schedule was going to be finalized. Hey, wait until you see the flow charts!

All neat things, but nothing of substance ever happened.

I don't know if Larry was suffering from depression or if some other pressure was affecting his life. He was eventually moved out of the chairmanship. Shortly afterwards, there were some other career changes. When I reviewed his overall job history, however, the recent years didn't seem to be unusual. Larry had held a number of very good jobs but then he always moved on.

I wondered if the same lack of productivity had happened before and if Larry's entire career was based on his image. It doesn't seem possible. Many organizations will tolerate mediocre performers or inconsistent performers but Larry was a absolute nonperformer. Few places are that tolerant.

Or are they?

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