The Manager and the Engineer

by Lee A. Hart

The Manager and Engineer were counting up their score.
The Manager's showed ninety-eight; the Engineer's was more.
And both lay bunkered in the trap, and both stood up and swore.

I hate to see, said Engineer, such quantities of sand.
How they could miss its proper use I cannot understand.
Add water, lime, and pave it all; I think it would be grand.

The rules are wrong, said Manager. If I could sweep them clean,
I'm sure that I could make this hole in less than seventeen.
I doubt it, said the Engineer. Your slice is pretty mean.

The time has come, said Manager, to speak of many things.
Of ISOs, and TQMs, and where the market swings.
How sales rise, yet profits fall; and whether time has wings.

Delight the customer, he said. It's our new goal, you see.
That's easy, said the Engineer. Give better goods for free.
No, no, the Manager replied. You do not follow me.

Profit is our real goal, by management's decree.
In that case, said the Engineer, I see your strategy.
To please them with our same old junk, call Marketing, not me.

Low product cost, said Manager. And build them quick, you see?
And customers demand, of course, the highest quality.
Can't do all three, said Engineer. Pick two, then call on me.

CPDM, said Manager, sets rules for every game.
I fear this rule, said Engineer, is innovation's bane.
How differs golf from basketball if rules are made the same?

Continuous improvement will make our products shine.
This mitigates quite strong against a major new design.
You cannot cross a river going one step at a time.

With PS6 I've graphed your way, the Manager observed.
Before design? said Engineer. I'd never have the nerve.
I learned to get my data first, and then to plot the curve.

Re-engineer the company! Our course must be reversed.
That makes me ask, said Engineer, Who engineered it first?
Re-engineer could mean replace; I fear you mean the worst.

My professional career was spent at big companies (Kodak, Robertshaw, Honeywell). I could clearly see the "Dilbert" phenomenon at work. Managers were often clueless bureaucrats that got their raises and promotions by simply copying the latest fads from management seminars.

This poem was inspired by "The Walrus and the Carpenter" by Lewis Carroll. It's full of once-fashionable corporate buzz-words. Anyone who has worked in large corporations will probably shudder with recognition at each one.

A poem by Lee A. Hart, © 1984-2019 by Lee A. Hart. Created 3/6/2012. Last updated 3/1/2019.
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