Understanding Your Competitor’s Slackers
The best way to understand a company is to look at the company from the point of view of those who wish to subvert the company.
Exterior subversion can come in the form of corporate raiders. Marketing companies put themselves on the shores of their competitors. Venture capitalists look at rival deal pipelines. Intellectual Property companies try and cause legal conflicts of interest as well as research and challenge competitor filings.
Interior subversion is from employees who, ahem, can figure out how to slack off. It is a unique way of the understanding how the personal dealings of a company don’t work is to head toward Human Resources Department – mostly now it is nothing more than a contract outsources management function, but to seek out and interview the company slackers. Now mind you slackers do not standout. They are production meeting and political chameleons. They are experts at seeing what has to be done and making sure it is delegated. They are masters at looking busy. They always have a coat rack in their office where than can hang a jacket. That is the visible chit that they are in the office but are otherwise doing something away from their desk. (There are no finer masters of this than the old Italian bureaucrats.)
Every time I think of this, I am reminded of the story of a friend who was hired as a mathematician and programmer for a large bank. He spent much of his time thwarting other departments so they would not bother him, began his programming in a language that many in the bank were unfamiliar with – chiefly as it was much more efficient use of code than what they were using, and memorizing the Rubyat of Omar Kyham. He attempted to introduce the saving at a high level but was told by the Division Manager that in fact he took his advice – which was correct , that he would have to layoff half of the programmer and would go from a division to a department manager. One master of work streamlining had encountered a master slacker. On the battlefield they met, each acknowledged the others skills.
Slackers have an ability to always appear hard at work yet seems to accomplish nothing, if they were even measured, and always have a knack of saying the right thing at the right time to insure others get the work they would have otherwise had to shoulder.
These are the key partisans, if you will to finding the weak points of either your or a competitors company. They can be found by many means.
Look for those who:
Have a larger on line presence.
Do not publish or author articles.
Have stayed at the same position for years.
Are regular attendees at conferences.
Describe their work as “developing relationships”.
Are not interested in talking to recruiters.
Always seems to make all of the kids’ sports and school events.
You will find more slackers at large firms as opposed to small, as it is easier for them to hide. You will find more at the bottom or at the top – typically not in the middle where everyone is watching.
It is these people who will hold a key to the deal labor within an organization as well as its management weaknesses. They trick is getting them to talk!