Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Dog Ate My Business Plan

The task force had gathered in Jimmy’s office, huddled around a table with four pizzas on it, to wait for the business plan to come in from the other task force down the hall. Personally, I was there just for the pizza, but I couldn’t help getting involved in the discussion.

“I think we should tell them, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day,’” one man said.

“How about, ‘The dog ate it’?” suggested another.

“Excuse or not, shouldn’t someone go out there and say something?” I said, probably sounding worried. “From what you were saying, this business plan was supposed to be ready between four and five, and it’s already almost an hour late. And there’s a crowd out there waiting to find out if we’re still in business or not. I mean, I’ll go out and tell jokes if that’ll help, but . . .”

“You could start by telling them that automakers don’t know the meaning of the word ‘plan,’” one of the accountants suggested. “‘We had to look up “business plan” in Wikipedia just to figure out how to get started.’”

“Joking aside, we need a believable excuse,” a lawyer said. “We can’t just go out there and say, ‘We know the report is due now, but it isn’t done because we just started on it a week ago today.’ We have to do better than that.”

“Doesn’t anyone have a kid in college?” I asked. “If anyone knows about excuses for a late report . . .”

“I’m on it,” the accountant said, pulling a phone out of his jacket pocket. Barely a minute later he had the solution. “We can just go out there and talk like the report is done, making sure to emphasize what a terrific plan it is,” he said. “Then later, when people complain they don’t have it yet, we can say we’re trying to log into the email server to send it, but the email server says we can’t log in because we have a virus or something.”

“What a great excuse!” someone said. “It sure beats the heck out of, ‘The dog ate it.’”

“Yes, well, it’s that kind of creative thinking that put this company where it is today,” the lawyer said. “Now, who can say, ‘We’re very proud of this plan,’ with a straight face?”