Secret CIO

Secret CIO is out of practice and out of luck when it comes to disciplining his staff.

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By  Administrator Published  March 27, 2008

Secret CIO is out of practice and out of luck when it comes to disciplining his staff.

After last month's debacle with finance and a certain acute absence of backup tapes - fortunately resolved to most people's satisfaction - my department seems to have gone rather quiet. While I myself escaped with some lingering dirty looks from the head of finance, I didn't want to let my staff off the hook.

Truth be told, I'm not much of a disciplinarian - at home I tend to leave that to She-who-must-be-obeyed (simply because I can't evoke the same feeling of unchecked terror in our wayward offspring), and at work, well, I don't usually have cause.

Let me make perfectly clear at this point that I am not one of those granola-chewing, hug-giving new-age-style advocates of a caring, sharing workplace. Oh no. I'm perfectly happy with the notion of having a good shout if the occasion requires it - but, as I discovered, I'm seriously out of practice.

I thought I got off to a good start, walking purposefully up to the desk of the offending underling, and, in a brisk but calm tone, saying "Can I have a chat, please? In my office?"

Here we go. "Sit down. I expect you know why you're here..?"

"Ummm, the finance backup, yes?" he replied, with guileless eyes looking straight at me.

"That's right. Suppose you run through exactly what happened."


This was the part where I was expecting my minion to detail his own guilt, thus helpfully meaning I won't have to do it. Unfortunately, as his story unfolds, it appears he is, in fact, the saviour of the day!

"...and after we'd checked the tapes, we restored the data and reloaded the system." Again that direct eye contact and calm demeanour - sure signs of a guilty man.

"Right." A pause. "That's not quite how it happened, though, is it?"

"I'm not sure I understand..."

"I was thinking about the part... (deep breath) ...about the part where you wiped the system and only by chance found a copy of recent backups that had fallen down beside the fridge."

"Well..." and cue another Karl Rove-esque spin cycle, this time firmly incriminating several of his colleagues, "... although I think it would be wrong to single them out."

"Right." Frankly, at this point, I'm at a loss. How do you deal with absolute denial?

Luckily, at this point my phone rings - the CEO, with an "urgent" query (which turns out to be how to get Bit Comet working on his desktop). This suits me fine - I suspend the debate with a - hopefully ominous - "We'll continue this later..."

Back home that evening, I consult my better half on how I can get my underling to admit his guilt and get on with a bit of shouting.

She considers the problem thoughtfully while cutting chewing gum from the brat's hair. "I'd say it was pretty simple, darling. All you need to do..."

The next day: "Sit down. I've been thinking - from what you said yesterday, it looks like you're clearly one of the few people with vision and leadership around here. I'm promoting you to deputy CIO."

The offender perks up, and smirks with pride. "Thank you..."

"My pleasure. Now, your first task - after last month, I think we need to make sure that the correct backup procedures are in place right from the get-go."


"I'm glad you agree - because I've arranged a two-hour briefing session for the whole IT staff for this afternoon. You can explain the situation to them, the way you explained it to me..."


"... and to the head of finance, who's coming along as well - he's taken a keen interest, I believe."


"Oh, I'm sorry - is there a problem?" I look at him with wide, guileless eyes.

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