I was talking to my co-worker yesterday, and we picked up on the thread of that conversation we had about management by conversation. In fact, the same thing happened as what I described in that post, except that he was the one doing the asking; he walked over to my cube, and asked me a question. While he was clarifying the question, he realized what he needed to do, and went back to his cube, without me having to contribute anything of substance other than a couple interrogatories. After we commented on the joys of being able to manage without having to know anything, he mentioned that at his previous company, it was a running joke that the CEO only had four questions to ask: “How long will this take?”, “How much is it going to cost?”, “Can you do it faster?”, and “What can go wrong?” The CEO didn’t even have to listen to the answers; just asking the questions forced people to figure out their plans.
In light of that, and in light of the teddy bear story I previously related, we were thinking that we should get one of the infamous “Math is hard!” talking Barbies, replace the messages with those four questions, dress her up in a sharp business suit, and sell CEO Barbie. I can see the sales pitch now: “Tired of paying millions of dollars for your latest and greatest CEO candidate? Just hire CEO Barbie for $29.95 + shipping!”