122 From the Bureau to the Boardroom
progress. Salespeople thrive on recognition, and it would be
management’s responsibility to heap praise on the salesperson
for his or her tenacity.
It is interesting to note that agent Don Roberts considers
himself lucky to be able to pursue cold cases under the FBI’s
new counterterrorism paradigm. ‘‘Finding the killer of a thir-
teen-year-old girl,’’ he admits, ‘‘is somewhat down the list of
our new, post 9/11 priorities. But I feel blessed that I’ve been
allowed to continue this work. We’re all doing things that we
feel are very important.’’
Similarly, the corporate ‘‘agent’’ who pursues lost business
must feel the importance of his or her work to the well-being of
the company and all of its employees; to his or her own career;
and to the lost customer as well, who will presumably benefit
greatly by coming back into the fold.
Publish a Ten Most Wanted Customers List
In the elevator lobby of the Los Angeles Federal Building, where
everybody can see it, the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list is posted
conspicuously on the wall. People who work for other agencies
housed in the building may walk by without a glance at the post-
ers. But when an FBI agent or one of the Bureau’s support per-
sonnel passes by, he or she casts a sharp eye at the display, as if
the photographs were bull’s-eyes.
FBI agents do not, over the years, develop a blase
toward the Ten Most Wanted poster display they see every
morning on their way into the office and every evening as they
leave. They can tell you the particulars of each poster pinned to
the bulletin board, the height and weight of the fugitive, the
Managing the Light at the End of the Tunnel 123
aliases used, the crimes committed, the sparse biographical re-
marks, and the reward offered ($25 million in the case of Osama
bin Laden). While the average citizen may look at the posters
from the hopeless perspective of his or her own limited sphere
of acquaintances, the agent is much more optimistic, conscious
of a nationwide and global network of law enforcement profes-
sionals who will scour the earth until these fugitives are caught.
They can’t wait for the day when a banner with the word ‘‘cap-
tured’’ is added to a poster.
‘‘There’s nothing that will get an office more excited than
hearing it has a ‘top tenner’ in its territory,’’ says Assistant Di-
rector Stephen Tidwell, with a smile a ‘‘top tenner’’ never wants
to see.
The FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list would be a powerful moti-
vator if it were strictly an internal communique
within the Bu-
reau. But when it is broadcast to the world at large, its effect
surely is multiplied. By making the list public, the FBI is lever-
aging its force of ten thousand agents by the general population,
but it also has created a whole new level of ‘‘oversight.’’ Now
the public knows if the FBI is ‘‘doing its job.’’ While public pres-
sure to perform is not necessary for an FBI agent to go the extra
mile, it must have been wonderful to finally still the cries of
‘‘Where is Patty Hearst?’’
Companies would do well to consider having their own
equivalent of a Ten Most Wanted Customers list, and for reasons
similar to those of the FBI.
A top ten list of ‘‘most wanted’’ customers, if posted con-
spicuously, would alert all within the organization—from the
boardroom to the mail room—of the desired business that is still
‘‘roaming free.’’ Why shouldn’t that be common knowledge? It
might surprise many a CEO to discover how few employees in

Get From the Bureau to the Boardroom: 30 Management Lessons from the FBI now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.