#268 from Innovative Leader Volume 6, Number 3          March 1997

FORUM—from our readers

Hold Your Problems—for Just Two More Years!

A vice president, who is my supervisor, will be retiring in two years.  He talks about finally having the luxury of time, and to live in the seaside home he recently purchased.  He talks about the month-long trips abroad that his wife has been planning.  And he talks about finally getting away from the tremendous pressures of his office.

His mind is almost totally focused on retirement.  That turns out to be a real problem for us.  When we bring up major issues such as requesting an addition to the building or to get approval for an important project change, he isn’t nearly as eager to push things through as he was previously.  I think that he just doesn’t want to be bothered.  In his mind, he’s already retired and doesn’t feel like taking up any more battles.  We realize that it’s always difficult to argue for building funds or for new programs; but if he doesn’t do it, there’s no chance that they’ll come about.  In response to his hands-off attitude, we’re now less likely to approach him with anything major.  That’s one way to stop innovation!

Our company is in a very competitive area, and we see our supervisor as a burden to our success.  He’s been with the company for decades and is very well liked, so he’s not going to be booted out if the CEO finds out about his attitude.  I’ll bet the CEO already knows about it, but just can’t get himself to deal strictly with the VP, as they’ve worked closely together for a long time.

Wouldn’t it be great if he took the time now to mentor someone, or several people, so they will learn the ropes of getting things done through the management committee?  Things would get done, or at least seriously considered, and we’d be eager to work harder and stretch ourselves.  That’s one way to stimulate innovation!


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