Of Camlocks And Men

When you’re a manager, you get to see some pretty strange things. In all of Ian Jackson’s career, the current conflict between Morgan, his accountant, and Frank, the electrical contractor, ranked as one of the most bizarre. He’d never before seen two guys arguing quite so enthusiastically over camlocks.

Morgan, unfortunately, was being Morgan. The guy was pedantic; there was no doubt about it, and he had a particularly ponderous “checklist” way of addressing issues. Even Ian, who was trying to stay neutral, couldn’t really appreciate the slow delivery of information.

The problem was the power system. According to Frank, the power system needed to be upgraded. If Morgan was pedantic, Frank was obsessively meticulous, but in fairness, he was talking about electrical safety. The clash occurred when Morgan and Frank got around to the issue of risk management.

Things really got interesting when they started speaking to each other directly and arguing with each other over specifics:

Morgan: Risk management costs have to be managed as a whole. We can’t simply manage risk when something needs fixing.

Frank: Why not? Risks happen, and they’re called risks because they represent possible serious problems. How can you know about a risk before it happens? You ask someone like me to check for possible risks, that’s how.

Morgan: Frank, rhetoric aside, what I’m talking about is actually managing our budget for risk management, not specific risks.

Frank: OK, so tell me how you propose to include this specific risk into a funded or enshrined if necessary method of dealing with dangerous electrical faults.

Morgan: We have to fund risk management according to an estimate of costs of prevention, and include the funding in a revised budget.

Frank: What if the building burns down in the meantime?

Morgan: We use our off-site backups to manage the budget.

Ian had heard enough. Morgan had just talked himself out of any further input into the issue. He apparently knew that, because he shut up abruptly.

Ian asked Frank, “What exactly are we talking about here in terms of risks? I know that the power supply is the major issue, but what’s your solution?”

Camlocks- Meaning upgraded power system connections,” he explained, when it looked a bit blank at the mention of the word camlocks.

“How much money are we talking about?” asked Ian, looking through Morgan.

“Oh, actually they’re pretty cheap, really, and they last forever. The new ones are much better, because they…”. Frank decided to stop there on the cue from a raised an eyebrow from Ian, because it was pretty obvious Morgan hadn’t thought of checking that.

Morgan, quite rightly, looked sheepish.

“Well Ian, I’m not saying that…”

Morgan was silenced by the lights going out. The meeting ground to a somewhat sarcastic halt, punctuated by some unidentified chuckling from the other people at the meeting.

In pitch darkness, Ian continued:

“For those wondering, this blackout constitutes just as much of a risk has the power system. It only takes a couple of people falling down fire stairs to cost us a lot of money. Frank, fix whatever needs fixing and just send us an invoice. Morgan, if we have the luxury of lighting tomorrow, come and see me.

Fortunately, somebody in the building had a torch, and managed to let them out of the meeting room. They got the camlocks, and Morgan got an education.