#16- The Story of Mr. Busy

“Ugh, I’m sooo busy,” the man said, as he leaned on his favorite hallway wall.

His prey, a helpless, glassy-eyed coworker, politely kept the conversation going.

“Yeah, these lead times are making everything crazy. I just got quoted 8 weeks.”

Mr. Busy, ever so helpfully, chimed in,

“Psh that’s nothing. On one of my projects, lead times were twice as long! But I took care of it by calling the manufacturer. Did you think to do that?”

“Uh… yes, and I was going to ca-”

Mr. Busy dutifully cut in,

“Yes of course you did. But it sounds like you’re not getting anywhere. I can call my guy since your guy isn’t taking care of it. As a matter of fact,” Mr. busy took out his cell phone, “give me your guy’s number I’ll call him right now.”

“Well I feel like I can handle the situation on my ow-”

Mr. Busy, knowing his next words could not wait, stopped his coworker again,

“Actually! No need. I already have your guy’s number. I’ll let you know how it goes” he said, and headed back to his office.

As Mr. Busy pulled himself from his favorite wall, an indentation the shape of his shoulder remained, from years of repeated leaning, no doubt.

The coworker, mouth agape, was speechless- not that Mr. Busy would have heard him speak anyway.

Mr. Busy dropped everything else he had to do in his overly busy day, and spent the afternoon making phone calls about lead times.

“8 weeks isn’t good enough!” he said, slamming his fist on the desk.

After a few hours of verbal tennis, Mr. Busy made a breakthrough.

“Okay, we will try to make 7 weeks work,” said Mr. Manufacturer.

Feeling sufficiently satisfied, Mr. Busy stood up, rubbed his belly, and said to himself,

“Well, tomorrow is going to be another busy day. If only everyone would stop dropping all their problems on me, I’d be able to get something done.”

He turned off the lights, closed his office door, and headed to his car.

As he did, his computer dinged with an email from Mr. Manufacturer.

“Sorry, Mr. Busy, I just got word from my boss that the lead times are actually going to be 8 weeks, just like we told your coworker…”

But it was too late.

Mr. Busy was already on his way home, thinking about his day.

He couldn’t wait to tell Mrs. Busy, bless her soul, all about how busy this week was going to be.

The morals of the story?

  • Don’t invent work for yourself to do
  • Trust your people to take care of their own problems
  • And above all else, no matter what you do, don’t be Mr. Busy


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