Marcomm vs. the Micromanager Engineer

Once apon a time, Elizabeth Perkins was considered an up-and-comer. She was in Big with Tom Hanks. She was in He Said, She, Said, with Kevin Bacon. She was in The Flintstones with.... uh-oh. So that's what happened to her career. Back to serious matters. The HBR case study this month, The Micromanager, portrays a real-life He Said, She Said. It examines the relationship between a CEO and his new marketing manager - both under pressure, both struggling to meet their performance targets, and both questioning the other's decisions.

To bring her up to speed, George had had her sit in on some of the developers' meetings. She'd accompanied the sales force on client calls to see and hear from customers directly. He'd even asked the CFO to explain the company's cash flow situation to her.

But he still found many of her decisions a bit off target. She was a solid project manager who knew how to produce handsome marketing collateral and wade through the logistics of trade shows. But that direct mail campaign she'd launched? Or the format of the seminar Retronics hosted? Not how he would have done it.

So he kept editing her work, explaining what really mattered to customers, how they arrived at their purchasing decisions, and how Retronics's value proposition could be made clearer.

And he nittered. And nattered. And badgered. And asked "don't you think?" And suggested "maybe we should." And dithered over whether "this is an interesting thought to be teased out." And wondered what reporters would think "if we highlighted the product line's features?" And then he sent it to the company lawyers for blue pencilling.