This paper is an edited version of an article by A. Wyrcan, first published in Management Today, March 1975.
Published here July 2010

Editor's Note | Introduction | The Interview | The First Day
From "Chaser" to General Manager | Authority Confused with Management
Labor and Management Confrontation | The Business Must Be a Winner
At the End of Four Months | Conclusion | Issues for Discussion

From "Chaser" to General Manager

At starting time in the afternoon I sought out the Works Manager. He, it transpired, was always 30 minutes late when the Boss was not around. I finally stood over him while he produced a list showing the priority of demands. Back to the Foreman who immediately flared up - the list was not a bit like the one he had prepared for me.

I told him I would work to the Works Manager list. Taking several items that were common to both lists, we extracted a number of parts that were stopping production. These were bought out. Off I went to the Buyer. He at once claimed they were not short, that deliveries had been made and that the works did not know what it was talking about. Despite this, he promptly added that he would chase the vendors himself.

I pointed out that stock control had no records of his transactions that could be relied upon. He at once claimed they were useless, but in the next breath had to admit he bought according to that record. So, what record could I go by?" "The Purchase Order Copy of course" he replied. "Let me see them" I demanded. "They are in the process of being collated" he responded. ("Collated" - nice word, that!)

I am not a particularly patient man and by now everyone had had their run at my expense. I thought that this fellow, the Buyer, would make as good an example as any. He was a tiny young man, and I am six feet, with a forceful manner, if I want. I said softly, so that his temporary typist would not hear: "Get out the copies of your orders on this list of shortages right now or I will haul you by the scruff of your neck in front of the chairman".

Finally, armed with information of a sort, I set about rousting vendors. What floated up to the surface from this stirring was remarkable. Apart from what it revealed about my company, I was taken aback by the attitude of the suppliers. It seemed that my old fashioned methods had long been dead.

My pressures of cajoling, harassing, and demanding shocked the vendors and my telephone conversations had a marked effect on people who chanced to overhear them. It served to show that I knew what it was all about. I had the company's transport chasing all over the place picking up stuff. I had vendors shipping by Securicor special service, passenger train and air freight. This company wanted parts and it got them.

After three days I went to see the Chairman. Briefly I explained that there was no reliable record of any sort that would enable me to "chase" with any measurable degree of profitable usefulness. I was not even assured that the works, on which I was finally forced to rely, did not already have the parts, mislaid, hidden, lost or even stolen. Most important of all, it was clear that I was bringing in stuff we could not use for a variety of causes not normally the concern of a "chaser". This, I pointed out, would exacerbate the cash flow problem. It was obvious that action must be initiated at once on Stock Control, Purchasing, Production Control, Costing, Customer/Works Liaison, etc.

Without preamble, I was asked, only three days after joining, to take the job of General Manager. I did so on the undertaking that I would suffer no interference from him or his colleagues on the Board. Now I had the authority to delve and the opportunity to evaluate the attitudes of the work force and, most importantly, the reasons behind the attitudes.

The First Day  The First Day

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