Knights of Gray

Once upon a time in a land not so far away, there were many knights who guarded the Kingdom.  Although the knights came from various backgrounds, they received similar knight training once they joined the Kingdom. There were generalists and specialists among the Kingdom’s knights, but all were highly-motivated and excelled at their work.  Some had grown and prospered more than others, most notably those who were selected to lead Kingdom Improvement Teams (KIT’s).  Many of these KIT leaders had attained their green-lance or black-lance certifications. The KIT’s were hugely prolific in their ability to improve proceses and streamline operations throughout the Kingdom.   Drawbridges were raised, moats dredged, parapets patrolled, damsels distressed, and business boomed as tolls, tariffs, and ransoms were collected with clockwork efficiency.

Due largely to the work of the KIT’s, the Kingdom had become so successful that after awhile it seemed to run itself.  What a success story that the benevolent King and Queen had created!  So naturally, they did what any successful King and Queen with increased time and money on their hands would do.  They put the Kingdom’s operations on auto pilot, went off to conquer new lands, and moved to a more temperate climate to live the good life in their new Shangra La.

One of the first things that the King and Queen did upon arriving in Shangra La was to set up important banking arrangements to maintain their cash flow.  Careful attention was paid to ensure that the new accounts were able to accept the direct deposit ACH transactions sent by the Kingdom.  Because New Land Bank & Trust was in the process of acquiring Shangra La Federal, this endeavor was not without its challenges.  Aided by the best transition team that money could buy, the King and Queen worked tirelessly to achieve their top priority.

“Keep the checks coming”, said the King and Queen.  Life was good.

Then one fine morning, as the King and Queen surveyed the land from the balcony of their new castle, they saw a rider approaching on a most impressive steed, richly adorned with the New Land Bank logo on its colorful silks.  The rider had been sent by the Bank to inform the unsuspecting royals that the amount of outgoing payments from their account would soon exceed the incoming deposits from the Kingdom.  New Land needed to know whether or not the King and Queen had other sources of income to cover their rapidly escalating expenses.

After the initial shock and embarassment of this news had subsided, the King and Queen demanded answers from their most senior knights.  “Why is there no money?”, asked the King, now in a cross of panic and rage.   “How could they let this happen?”, said the Queen as she lashed out with her characterically laser-like focus.  Sadly, there were no easy answers, as even the most senior and trusted of the Kingdom’s knights just stared blankly back at the King and Queen.

At a loss for answers, the King and Queen  flipped to “C” in their royal rolodex and hired a consultant to help them unravel this mess.  Like any good consultant, this one set up a series of kingdom walk-thrus and  interviewed the knights to gather information.  As they observed operations in the kingdom and spoke with knights, a very interesting finding emerged in the final report they presented to the King and the Queen.

“Our review of operations has uncovered that processes, controls, and efficiencies have significantly eroded.  Although the Kingdom’s financial statements show profits, you have no money. In speaking with the knights, we have uncovered a division in the ranks.  On one hand, there is a group of knights who remain true to standard operating procedures and have continued to serve you well.    For the most part, these knights tend to see things in plain terms.  Collectively, we will refer to this group as the Black and White Knights.  On the other hand, there is another group of knights that seems to bend the rules and follow standard process only when it suits them.  Collectively, we will refer to this group as the Gray Knights.  They have an amazing ability to rationalize how they can so adeptly move from one shade of gray to the next and are seemingly able to influence others to follow suit.  Often at the heart of this influence is a combination of beguiling charm, border-line coercion, and financial incentive.  Apparently, the Gray Knights are able to perceive even the most miniscule differences in gray-scale color.  While the Black and White Knights remain largely color blind to the shades of gray, the Gray Knights have thrived in these shadows.  And you see, that’s why you don’t have any money.”

The King and Queen expressed outrage at this finding and fired the consultants because they apparently had told the royals something that they did not want to hear.  Fortunately, no beheadings here, just contract termination. Left to ponder the situation and pursue possible remedies on their own, the King and Queen were in full agreement.  “We have to do something about this before it’s too late.”, said the King.  “Yes, perhaps tomorrow”, agreed the Queen.


About Thomas W. Smith
Bizsinc - Bringing Business to Life

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