Sales Engineering Division
When DGL International, a manufacturer of refinery equipment, brought in John Terrill to manage its Sales Engineering division, company executives informed him of the urgent situation. Sale Engineering, with 20 engineers, was the highest-paid, best-educated, and least-productive division in the company. The instruction to Terrill: Turn it around. Terrill called a meeting of engineers. He showed great concern for their personal welfare and asked point blank: “What’s the problem? Why can’t we produce? Why does this division have such turnover?
Without hesitation, employees launched a hail of complaints. “I was hired as an engineer, not a pencil pusher.” “We spend over half of our time writing asinine reports in triplicate for top management, and no one reads the reports.” We have to account for every penny, which doesn’t give us time to work with customers or new developments.”
After a two-hour discussion, Terrill began to envision a future in which engineers were free to work with customers and join self-directed teams for product development. Terrill concluded he had to get top management off the engineers’ back. He promised the engineers, “My job is to stay out of your way so you ca do your work, and I’ll try to keep top management off your backs, too.” He called for the day’s reports and issued an order effective immediately that the originals be turned in daily to his office rather than mailed to headquarters. For three weeks, technical reports piled up on his desk. By month’s end, the stack was nearly three feet high. During that time no one called for the reports. When other managers entered his office and saw the stacks, they usually asked, “What’s all this?” Terrill answered, “Technical reports, No one asked to read them. Finally, at month’s end, a secretary from finance called and asked for the monthly travel and expenses report. Terrill responded, “Meet me at the president’s office tomorrow...