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Just Pour The Drinks

August 25, 2014


Hey Lloyd, there’s a problem with the order for table 3.

What do you need?

See, I thought they had ordered rum and coke, but it turns out the guy was just talking to his friend about other drinks they had here and he wasn’t actually. . .

What do you NEED!

Oh. . .ah. . .return on a rum and coke. Corona with lime.

In addition to being a professional gambler (Looking For The Answer In The Back Of The Book) my dad was also a bar tender at one point in his life. He’s been gone for 5 years, but I had a chance to talk to my mother about him this weekend. (I Never Again Had Friends Like When I Was Twelve…Does Anyone?)

At work, I get involved every time something breaks. Ironically I cannot fix it. But, I provide two important functions. First, I bring the right people together. Secondly, because I am familiar with all aspects of the customer installation, I often get involved in drive for a return to service.

I don’t remember anyone ever teaching me how to drive for resolution or results. But, I must have picked it up simply by growing up in my house. My brothers and I are really good at managing in a crisis.

I’m sure there’s a some official name for it. Personally I call it “Tank driving.” If you are in a tank, you don’t really have to worry about whats going on around you. You can point your tank at the objective and drive straight for your goal.

A good tank driver can boil a situation down to its essential elements. Like a couple of weeks ago when I had a problem with Baking Pans and Wiring Closets, I didn’t really care about the look. I just needed it to be functional.

However, there’s a problem with tank driving. You miss the niceties. You tend to be viewed as arrogant, or insensitive. And your arrogance factor is directly related to how fast your drive your tank. If you have the luxury of time, you can build consensus. This method hands down beats every other method of decision making. But, it takes a long time. Sometimes a REALLY long time.

I was part of a team that was rolling out Microsoft Lync. However, our telecom team really wanted to go with Cisco’s instant message product. As the engineering manager, I knew we were going to go with Lync. The project manager knew we were going to go with Lync. But, he refused to announce that as our decision. Instead, week after week we met with the telecom team, talking about their concerns and working toward a consensus opinion. It was maddening. However, after several months the telecom team was on board and the PM moved forward confident that he had turned telecom from a potential stumbling block to an ally.

It’s a skill I still struggle to master.

What does all of this have to do with my dad the bar tender? My mother related the above story to me. Typically during a rush a bar tender might be filling 300 per hour. That’s one order every 12 seconds. He doesn’t have time for a lengthy explanation about why the order was screwed up. Like Officer Joe Friday on Dragnet, he just wants “the facts.” The story can wait for a time when it’s not busy. In the middle of the rush he just needs enough information to pour the drinks.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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One Comment
  1. Shanna permalink

    And it was such a good thing we went with Lync instead. Although the testing was lots of fun 🙂

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