This Issue: Vladimir Tepes

For some good process improvement tips we need only look to Prince Vlad Dracul (Vlad the Dragon) aka Viad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler) whose staff management skills were legendary.

On inheriting the throne of his country, Vlad noted that the upper class (the boyars, roughly equating to the board of directors) were less than loyal to him. He invited them to a meal where he had the whole lot of them clapped in irons and transported to an outlying mountain top. There they were put to work building a castle.

Sadly, none of the boyars survived the poor diet and hard work regime, but they did learn the value of hard work and their demise meant that Vlad could appoint his own upper management class instead of putting up with the senior management inherited from his predecessor. In modern times, it would be possible to invite disloyal senior staff to a conference, prior to finding them suitable hard work, with long hours and poor canteen facilities, of a career-limiting nature.

An even more graphic example of how to deal with poor quality staff was highlighted by Vladís treatment of "slackers". Vlad built a huge feasting hall and invited all the elderly, infirm, sick, disabled, feebleminded and anyone who was just generally poor and ragged to a feast. While these underprivileged persons were feasting from tables groaning with magnificent fare, Vlad locked all the doors from the outside and torched the place, thus eliminating the lower classes.

Defending his actions, Vlad claimed that he had only invited criminals in the first place (though being poor was not officially a crime, even in those days, something the government could quickly have rectified). Anyone with an empty building, good insurance and a need for huge redundancies (or any other downsizing, skills restructuring or streamlining exercise) could do worse than deploy all the "at risk" staff in said building along with anything insurable and then torch the place, having first obstructed all emergency exits with scrapped equipment.

Finally, Vladís method of dealing with complaints should be an example to us all. The first army of Turks who tried to complain that Vladís country was not part of the Ottoman Empire were captured. Some while later, the Ottoman Empire tried to make a second complaint with their next army. This army was greeted by the sight of the initial complainers impaled on long poles all around Vladís capital city. Demoralised by this sight, they turned round and decided not to press their complaint after all. This was a huge step forward in terms of customer liaison services and complaints dropped to nothing literally overnight.

Next Issue: Process Improvement, Man Management and the Third Reich.


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