Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Yesterday's WSJ (sorry, no link) had an article on a DC bookstore - Politics and Prose - which its two owners were looking to sell. They found someone they liked and had the idea of having him start working in the store - first as a hired hand, then as a partner - in order to learn the business prior to closing the deal.

Unfortunately, the owners had allowed the inmates to take over the asylum... the owners were not in control of their own business (the WSJ told the story of how workers would tell the owners to go away and leave the worker alone). To nobody's surprise, the staff wasn't happy about someone coming in who might upset the apple cart. So they objected to just about everything the would-be buyer proposed. They criticized his lack of specialized knowledge. They belittled him to each other and to the owners. One went so far as to quit because he gave her a congratulatory birthday kiss on her cheek - an act that in this PC-centric city was guaranteed to cause a stir.

The end result: the buyer walked away and the two owners are now stuck with a business that, while it supposedly makes a decent profit, likely can't be sold - at least not at a price that its cash flow would ordinarily command.

I'm sure the two owners thought they were being enlightened and cool and all that with their new-age management style. In fact, they were just being short-sighted... they made their bed, now they get to sleep in it.