Walk on the Wild Side
Having retired in 2012, I consider myself more than fortunate that most of my 30-year, diverse career in the CBS administration took place at a time where the predominant attitude to working at CBS was one of personal responsibility, local initiative and encouragement of informal networking. We did not pay too much attention to hierarchies and chains of command. The expression of personal views, including the critical or controversial, was valued as an important contribution to achieving the best results; and formal regulations were considered not as unbreakable rules but rather as guiding principles that could be slightly bent if necessary to secure smooth problem solving.
I am convinced that this atmosphere of mutual trust and high expectations is what made everyone perform with an enthusiasm far beyond what was to be expected and is what generated a constant flow of new ideas and creative initiatives, often unconsciously being at the forefront of what became institutionalised concepts along the road – evaluation, internationalisation, benchmarking, user influence. And this is why we always found room for having fun too. Getting lost in the woods in the middle of the night with a very pregnant colleague during a seminar; sharing our innermost wishes in the exhausting heat and darkness of an Indian sweat lodge; staging in full drag the depraved chorus girls’ parts from Cabaret. Just to select few examples. “Life is a Cabaret…..”, isn’t it?
It should be added that I have had the great luck of being surrounded by lovely and brainy colleagues, staff and faculty alike. From whom I learned many a wise lesson of great importance jobwise and to my life in general. Let me pass on a few:
– Never let fear of making mistakes influence your eagerness and efforts and do not try to cover up the ones you make. What matters is to discover the mistakes and have them corrected.
– Do not get appalled having your propositions criticized even if done harshly. What matters is to ask sufficiently specific questions nudging the involved parties to clarify their aims.
– The most important thing is not to get personal credit for your – brilliant, of course – ideas. What matters is to have the ideas put successfully into practice.
– No decision maker fancies being taken by surprise in public. Be sure to have lobbied the persons in question before presenting controversial or unexpected views to them in front of an audience.
– You have every reason to feel satisfied with your efforts when managing to accomplish just one positive achievement each day.