The Break

Attending virtually all the meetings on the Longjump project, I was in a position to hear the full range of the engineers' lamentations. After many weeks of sitting at vinyl-laminated tables in the blank-walled boxes of conference rooms, I felt overwhelmed by the burden of what I was taking in.

One day I broke it all to Alan. I expected a conventional "Buck up and carry on" speech, with a sprinkle of praise and commiseration from him, but Alan's response astonished me entirely.

"I think," he told me in his deliberate speaking style, into which he seemed to place each word with special consideration, "you should write up exactly what you told me and send it as an email to the entire company."

What a bizarre idea! Admittedly, in Edom Engineering's loose corporate culture, staff always felt comfortable using the companywide alias, which would instantly reach everybody from the manufacturing team to the CEO. The alias was used not only for official business, but to announce parties, reschedule soccer games, and exchange jokes. There was nothing sacred about the companywide alias.

But one could ask whether I had anything to say that deserved taking up people's time. Everything I told Alan had circulated freely in the halls. As I have already indicated, engineers stopped talking about these issues because they had held the conversation many times and felt it was over and done with.

Yet the thought of writing up my thoughts thrilled me. Every individual contributor felt the same away ...

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