Stanley Bing

Tell me about it

I want to know what I need to know and only what I need to know, and I want to know it now! Is that clear?

By Stanley Bing

(Fortune Magazine) -- I live to avoid explosions. I'm sure you do too. Then why do they happen every day? Could it be that there are no right answers to the central questions of existence? That either way we turn, we run into a wall of flaming fat? It would sometimes seem so.

Yesterday a very nice person who works for me gave me a heads-up. I hate heads-ups. To me a heads-up is somebody's way of saying, "Hey, I should have told you about something earlier, but now that you can't do anything about it, I don't want you saying I never told you, so here it is. Gotta run."

At any rate, this person says to me, "Hey, just a heads-up. We're about to announce that deal with Butz & Futz." And I say, "What deal, Morty?" And he says, "Aw, it's nothing big, really. Don't worry about it, I just didn't want you to see it on a blog or Twitter or something like that." I have plenty to think about anyhow, so I say, "Okay, Morty," and forget about it. In the rush and crush of assorted bushwah, I do not tell my boss, Bob, about this, because I perceive it to be a microsituation not worthy of his attention. Oops.

Two hours later the phone is going nuts. The item has been picked up on, and then the Journal got hold of it, and look at this. It's huge news, because nothing else is happening in our sector for the next 15 minutes.

Pretty soon my caller ID lights up with that very special number. "How come I didn't know about this Butz & Futz thing?" says Bob. This gives me a choice. I can sell out my guy Morty for not telling me in a timely fashion. But that would puncture the illusion of my omniscience, which is one of my main assets. So I say, "Yeah, Bob. Sorry. I should have brought you in on it earlier."

"I don't need to know everything," says Bob. "Just the important stuff."

But, ah -- there's the rub. What's important?

Is the menu for the upcoming YOUR EVENT HERE important? You would think so, by the frequency with which people who report to me keep me up to speed on the subject. Guys who won't share major problems until it's too late will call to ask whether I prefer little cheeseburgers to empanadas for the summer picnic. Why is that?

Is the agenda for a meeting about a meeting to discuss a getaway scheduled for November important? People love to chew that over too, to create the impression that (1) they are strategic thinkers, and (2) they are working. What they are really doing is clogging up your brain with crud.

Is the fact that you have done a deal with Butz & Futz important? Perhaps. But wasn't the information that you were going to do a deal more crucial? When are you guys going to learn? I'm not interested in stuff that's a fait accompli. On announcements, deals, strategic actions -- things that could bring us glory or trouble -- I want to know while it's happening. If you told me about the mini-cheeseburgers, didn't you think I might want to hear about your plan to acquire Butz & Futz? Are you stupid?

Or is it something else? Yeah, that's right. It's something else.

You don't want me in your face on anything important. You think that if you keep me focused on canapés and agendas and a bunch of effluvial junk, I'll be fooled into thinking that you are really subject to my management. Throw in a bunch of late updates on stuff you truly care about, and you just might succeed without my intervention. Well, you won't get away with it! I want to know what I need to know and only what I need to know, and I want to know it now! Is that clear?!


Oh, and by the way. I was at the cocktail party we threw to celebrate our advertisers. Who the !@#!$ decided to ax the pigs-in-a-blanket this year? Whoever it is, he's in big trouble, baby.

Stanley Bing can be reached at For more Bingstuff, go to his website, To top of page

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