Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 65: Sweet Dreams

This is the 65th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

Sweet Dreams, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 4th February 2013

Word count: 873

The story:
“Your lives are over. I don’t care that you have families, I don’t care about your sports events,” thundered the maniacal Carl Blacksmith , “You want those things? Then you get this done!”

The meeting room full of normally cool confident executives withered in the face of Carl’s vitriol.

Foolishly the Sales and Marketing executive piped up, “What if it can’t be done?”

No one warned him to shut up, everyone just averted their gaze and prayed the bloodbath would be contained.

“I know that’s a fear we all face,” Carl said softly, “It’s understandable,” everyone braced themselves the boss was being too nice. The Sales and Marketing executive took a deep breath, believing himself to have gotten away with it.

Carl walked round the room and over to the meeting room door, which he opened.

“Yes it’s a fear. Fear is powerful, even helpful at times. Fear is a powerful motivator, but when fear pushes towards failure it’s useless. You’re useless. So, you see this door? Through it, until this is done, lies just two things failure and the toilets. If you walk through it, and you’re not pissing or shitting yourself, you’d best get yourself a newspaper because you will be looking for a new job, ” his voice was rising but he was still remarkably calm,” Do I make myself clear?”

Everyone nodded.

“Right get to work, I want this business plan complete. This deal will establish this company for the next ten years, or doom it.”

Carl left the room, he was a harsh manager and he knew it, but he also knew well enough that once people were motivated you let them get on it.

Two hours later he went back in, “How’s it going?” he asked. The answer was better than he expected, they had all but finished a first draft, it was rough, and underwhelming but it was a start. He rewarded them by not being on their arses over every failure, and instead offered constructive advice.
He went back in at six pm, three hours later, it was pitched warfare. The product, sales and marketing, and manufacturing executives were at logger heads. Everyone else had taken sides, depending on which gave most benefit to them.

They fell silent when they realised the boss was listening.

“Okay what’s going on?” though he knew exactly what had occurred, and the team of executives confirmed it, once you cut through the partisan bias and bullshit.

The Sales people wanted more, and cheaper products to sell. They wanted to reduce manufacturing costs, and cut margins, in doing so they could hit ambitious sales targets with only a modest budget. If they couldn’t get more and cheaper products, they wanted the lion share of the budget to overcome this obstacle.

Production wanted increased budget, and maintained output, but felt increasing the prices could offset higher production.

Pricing felt that costs should be reduced and prices increased in all areas.

Fulfilment and dispatch wanted bigger budgets to cope with any change to demand.

The Planning team were calling for postponements to get better data on market affecting activities over the period.

Peacocks preening, trying to court the wallet of the business.

“Okay,” Carl said, “Let me stop you right there. You obviously need some guidance, so let me just say that we need to increase production so we can bang out sales. Without increasing sales this is all pointless. I want you to generate demand, and meet that demand with supply.

“Work to this number, thirteen thousand more sales year on year. What do you need, when do you need it. You’re meant to be a fucking team, not squabbling school girls. If one area can’t meet that challenge then you’re all screwed.

“Of course, if you think we can sacrifice an area and put in a viable alternative that meets the requirements, screw each other over all you want,” Carl paused, for affect he would admit of anyone asked, “But you better be damned sure on a drastic change like that.”

He left again, with the room in a state of shock. The sales increase was a little overwhelming, and the opening of the outsource door would change the dynamic.

And it had, Carl went back two hours later, it was now half past seven at night, people were tired, worn down, untrusting, but ready to concede points for safety’s sake.

They had however finished draft two.

Carl looked it over, “Seems reasonable,” he said. “I’ll need to spend the weekend going over it. I’ll give my feedback on Monday morning first thing.”

“Really?” the compliance executive asked.

“Yes go on, get out of here and enjoy your weekends.”

They had done well there was a plan, seemingly reasonable targets, very little room for error, but all areas had found a balance. It wasn’t quite what Carl wanted, but it was a start he could work on. When he produced the finished draft, it would be a business plan they were locked into having helped design it – though they might struggle to recognise it.

Carl was here to get things done and retool the countries biggest product, and exporter of candy rock, and seaside confectionary.