Gregg and Bill

In a hurry as always, Gregg, the CEO of Global Manufacturing Services Inc., paces through the company’s production plant, on his way to Bill, the company’s Operations Director. Although Bill  has a private office on the executive floor of the main office building, he spends most of his time in a small, unassuming office on the factory work floor. Bill feels that from here he can keep a better eye on the details of the complex manufacturing process.

Gregg is in a hurry because this same afternoon he has a meeting with the shareholders about the latest efficiency improvement measures, and he urgently needs some input from Bill. Earlier this morning Gregg sent Bill a quick email asking for some information:

“Bill, I need your help with info about the mould changing times, and I need it asap. Thanks!  Gregg.”

Gregg sent the email at around 6:30am, but by this time, it is about 9am, he hasn’t had an answer yet, hence he decided to swing by Bill’s office for some quick answers.

Gregg, with a big grin on his face and in his typical swagger, swings open Bill’s door and enters into his office, cordially joking: “Haha…!! Here you are Bill… Found you…!! Man, it is always so hard to find you… You are always hiding out here in your little dark dungeon…!!”, followed by: “Anyway, Bill, did you get my email…?”

Bill, who sits behind his desk hesitates for a moment, and then calmly says: “It is okay to say good morning, Gregg”. Then, with a calm and composed voice he asks: “Which email did you mean Gregg…?

Gregg immediately responds with: “Ha! The one about the moulds of course…!”

Bill: “I guess you mean your last email with the question about the mould changing times?”

Gregg: “Yes of-course the one about the mould changing times! That’s what I just said! What else would I need you for…??”. He gives Bill a cordial slap on the shoulder.

Bill mutters: “Well Gregg, you just now mentioned an email about ‘the moulds’, which is not necessarily the same as an email about ‘mould changing times’…”

Gregg, feeling slightly impatient now: “Oh, come-on Bill, don’t be such a stick in the mud… of-course you know which email I meant!”

Bill: “Well Gregg, I have received at least twelve emails from you since last night…” Bill pauses for a moment, and then continues: “Some were about mould repairs, some about mould replacements, some about mould changing times. So how can I know which one you meant…?”

Gregg is feeling annoyed now. It is always the same with Bill. He always gets stuck in details, afraid to make mistakes. Bill can be such a drag. With an impatient voice Gregg says: “Okay, Bill, whatever, yeah, I meant the one about the mould changing times! Okay, so what about the mould changing times?”

Bill answers: “Well Gregg, indeed, what about the mould changing times? What exactly do you need to know? I just answered your email with a few questions I need answers to if you want me to help you out. So, I suggest that you just take a little time to read my email first”

Gregg, who is getting angry now shouts: “For Pete’s sake, Bill, can’t we just discuss it here and now?”

Bill: “Well Gregg, as you wish…” Bill looks down, and after a few seconds of silence he continues with: “As I wrote to you this morning in my answer to your email, I am prepared to help you with finding answers to your question”.

Bill pauses for another moment, and then continues: “However, in order to provide you with the right answers, I need to know, in as much detail as possible, what kind of information you are looking for regarding exactly which injection moulds”.

Bill suddenly re-establishes eye contact with Gregg, and with a stern face he adds: “Do you have any idea, Gregg, how many injection mould configurations we work with…?”

Gregg stares at Bill with a blank face, thinking: “How difficult can it be to give a simple answer to a simple question… Why can’t Bill never give  me a simple straightforward answer!” Bill then continues: “Please, Gregg, carefully define the level of detail you require, because it will help us decide what we have to look for, and it will of course determine the quality of the answers I can get you”.

Gregg, who feels that his head could explode any time, impatiently says: “Okay, okay, Bill…, just tell me what you need…!”

Bill: “Well Gregg, that is what I am trying to do right now. Based on the information I just mentioned, I will do a preliminary research to determine if I can obtain the information you are looking for, at the level of detail you are interested in, which of course I still need to receive, and then I will discuss your question with our mould engineer for his input”.

Bill pauses for a moment, and then says: “Please also specify in more detail when exactly you would need the information, Gregg, so we can accurately plan for it.”

Gregg, turning red in his face now: “Yeah, okay Bill, whatever you need… just get me the info by this afternoon, because I urgently need it”.

Bill, after another pause and with the cold voice that drives Gregg mad: “Well Gregg, that is exactly the point, as I was just trying to explain. What info exactly do you need…?”

Gregg, angry now, with an elevated voice: “Oh, what the heck Bill, just send me all the mould changing times, of all our configurations, whatever…!! Just make sure that I have it by 3pm!”

While finishing his sentence, Gregg paces out of Bill’s office, slamming the door while he leaves. Agitated he paces back to his office in the main office building, irritated by the conversation with Bill.

As always Gregg feels that he is wasting his valuable time with Bill, and he hates the fact that he cannot just discuss things off-the-cuff with him. Everything always has to be sent ahead of time and explained in the smallest details before Bill will move ahead, and even then he will come back at least three times with more questions. It drives Gregg insane. How can you ever run a business this way?

Gregg lives in the presumption that too many details just keep one from moving forward. It is not that details are not important, sometimes they are, but Gregg just doesn’t have the time nor patience for it. After all, there are plenty of people like Bill who will take care of the details. To Gregg, everything is about moving things forward, and about inspiring people to free-fall into the future, head-first. Follow-through is not their biggest strength; expressive people are quickly bored with the many humdrum details needed to warrant best results. Life is too short to do boring things. Boring things are for boring people, according to Gregg. This leads to a management style of ‘act first, think later’, which is really opposite to that of Bill, who will never act without thinking things through first.

Obviously, the expressive way of doing things requires a well-developed ability to quickly improvise and swiftly change the course of any plan, which is exactly the way expressive people like it. According to them, being agile and creative is much more efficient than the endless planning and plodding of analytical people, before they ever get to move.

Read this case from Bill’s perspective →

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