by Remy Porter in Feature Articles on 2014-11-11
Rich had a five-alarm project. Six months ago, the legal department became aware that government regulations on labeling would change. That information slowly ground its way through the intestines of the company, until a pile of poorly documented, barely specified changes landed on Rich’s desk. If he didn’t implement those changes in the next 48 hours, a half-million units of commodity chemicals were about to pour out of a processing plant and be illegal to ship.
The problem was confounded by the nature of the labeling system. It was tied into a home-grown, supply-chain management system. Theoretically, it was a one-stop shop for everything- formulations, MSDSes. In reality, it was a complicated thicket of unrelated applications which dragged data around between various silos, and usually crashed in the process. Rich had no idea what this change was going to involve. Only one person, the head of the Supply-Chain IT team, could point him in the right direction: Blaine.
Blaine’s office was normally crammed with the awards, trophies, and various “atta-boy” certificates which honored him for a job well done around the company. Today, the walls were bare, and all of those meaningless honors were piled up in a box on his desk. Blaine ignored Rich, and finished packing his box.