How To Talk Your Way Into Getting A New Panelboard

“It’s a fossil,” said Bob, referring to the venerable old panelboard with which he was working unenthusiastically. Bob was less than impressed to be working with a panelboard which looked like it had been designed by deranged dinosaurs.

The problem was that the old panelboard, which had probably been great 30 years ago, before Bob was born, had absolutely nothing in common with modern electrical systems or power technologies. Irving, his fellow sufferer and fellow electrician, agreed.

“Why is this thing still here?” asked Irving. Irving never felt safe around old wiring, so to be working with an old panelboard wasn’t exactly his idea of fun.

“… They know perfectly well it has to go some time, surely,” he went on, looking with distaste at the dusty innards of the panelboard.

This conversation went on for another few minutes before they decided that the only option was to start campaigning for a new panelboard. They went to see the building manager.

Sam, the building manager, was well aware of the problems, but not sure how to make a case for replacing the panelboard. He went to see his manager, John, who was more concerned about getting senior management to agree for paying for a new panelboard.

If the mysteries of corporate management were continuing revelations to Sam, they were much less mysterious to John. John suggested writing a report, detailing the problems with the panelboard and showing the benefits of getting a new panelboard.

It so happened that John had been working on the acquisition of new plant and equipment. He now showed these plans to Sam, who scurried off back to his office to talk to Bob and Irving.

The first thing that they agreed upon was that the new plant and equipment was simply too much for the old panelboard. The specifications for the big machinery in particular were like an indictment of the antiquated old wreck they’d been working with.

They wrote the report, sent it to John, who then had to present the request for extra money for a new panelboard to senior management. If senior management weren’t exactly happy about having to fork out more money, they were much more interested in the fact that building management had been working with obsolete equipment for so long.

Sam was brought before the senior management and asked to explain why this was so. Sam, whose bureaucratic instincts were pretty good in his own field, brought with him a five year old memo saying that all managers had to try to restrain costs.

There was a silence. One of the senior managers commented that the cheapskate approach to building management had never been any use to anyone in recorded history. The CEO agreed. John and Sam were commended for their efforts. Sam went happily back to tell Robert and Irving they had their new panelboard.

Another memo arrived, about a week later. It requested that managers and staff refer any deficiencies in equipment to senior management immediately, preferably, as the CEO put it in the memo, prior to hell freezing over. There was a deluge of reports, but nobody seemed to mind.