Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Kurt has passed on, and the world is marginally a better place.

In a world of tough senior managers, Kurt was terrifying. Grown men would furtively enter the washroom to throw-up before his legendary 8 a.m. reviews. The only relationship he tolerated from his subordinates was abject submission. To offend him was to organisationally die.

I first met Kurt on assignment with his corporation. We had spent a while developing a complex relationship with the client which was showing results. When Kurt turned up, it was apparent he had spent no time getting briefed and was only concerned that the project get back to his deadlines and budget.

After horrifying us all with his stupefying ignorance, Kurt then proceeded to lay the law down to the client. ‘Shape up or die’ was his message. I have rarely seen a bunch of people visibly shaking with anger after a meeting.

The next day Kurt breezed past my desk as I was talking to the project manager. In 300 milliseconds of complete stupidity I allowed my feelings to show. “Hello,” I said, in that jocular way which indicates you don’t take the person particularly seriously.

There is a way a reptile looks at a small mammal which, in a spirit of overconfident impetuosity has deigned to pop up in front of it. It is a mixture of massive, overwhelming contempt, a tiny admixture of amazement at such squeaky impertinence, and the lazy aggression of the supreme carnivore in swat mode.

His eyes shifted back to the project manager as he was wafted away to do Kurt’s bidding.

I never worked for that organisation again.