Friday, April 02, 2004

Symbiotic Relationships

On my drive home from work the other day, I think I figured out why the White House seems to have such disdain for Richard Clarke. Let's call it the "Worker and the Wonk" syndrome.

Example: At my place of employment, I'm responsible for managing the operations end of the business. More folks work for me than the rest of the total population of the organization. Because of my need to be in proximity to the "shop floor", my office doesn't reside on the second floor of the building on "management row". I'm cool with this arrangement, because I've never really been into office politics -- I'm more of hands on manager that likes to cut through the crap and get things done. But my geographic location in the facility sometimes results in, shall we say, interesting office dynamics.

I recently floated an idea past the Director of Development, and copied one of the DD's minions on the email as a courtesy. For whatever reason, this minion also resides on management row, and is somewhat of a "gatekeeper". Though said minion is not a manager in the organization, it was my feeling that the minion might be of some assistance in championing the idea with the DD. Thirty minutes later, I received a very testy reply from the minion, basically suggesting that I had more important things on the "shop floor" on which to concentrate my professional energies, and that I should mind my own damn business.

I thought about it a little bit before responding. When I did respond, I sweetly (and not just a little bit sarcastically) apologized for adding to the minion's burden, and promised not to bother her further with such trivial matters. Following the body of my email reply, I added a postscript:

"P.S. I like to think that I'm pretty good at managing my personal and professional time, as I hope I've ably demonstrated in the past. Your obvious concern for my ability to prioritize my job responsibilities is duly noted."

So, here's the point of this parable. Because I'm physically removed from the epicenter of omnipotence in the organization, and even though I have the title and responsibilities of a senior manager, I've never enjoyed much of a level of professional respect on management row.

Perhaps that's how Richard Clarke felt when the Enron logo was hoisted over the White House back in 2001. As should be quite apparent by now, maybe Mr. Clarke finally got tired of banging his head against a brick wall outside of smarmmaster Stephen Hadley's office. My guess is that the passing of his close friend and long time counter-terrorism associate, John O'Neill, had the same kind of effect on Clarke that the minion had on me today (in a round about sort of way). In fact, Mr. Clarke's book is dedicated to the memory of John O'Neill.

John O'Neill died at Ground Zero on September 11th.