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The Single Tiny Manager
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A management book arrived at work, with a promising title. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be as exciting as I thought. So, I decided to write the book I wanted to read. I changed the title to avoid copyright problems. (It’s an alternative translation from the original chinese.) Here’s the first draft of the first chapter:

The Single Tiny Manager Meets the Monkey

Chapter 1

It was raining. That made the heat more bearable, but still the monkey demon was not happy. He didn’t like the rain. He didn’t like much at all. After the first hundred years of imprisonment, he had concluded that he hated all the weather. He hated the heat, he hated the cold, he hated the rain, and most of all he hated the Buddha for trapping him here after he’d defeated all the Heavenly armies. If he had a little less pride, he might have hated himself for causing all this trouble, but pride was something he had a great deal of.

"Excuse me!"

The monkey demon looked down. Then he looked further down. Standing before him was the smallest man he had ever seen.

"Are you the former Keeper of Horses to the Jade Emperor?" the minute individual asked.

"I am the Great Sage Equalling Heaven!" bellowed the Keeper of Horses. "If you were in reach of my cudgel I’d teach you some respect!"

"Yes" said the small man. "You do have well known problems with anger management, don’t you?"

"Who are you to talk to the Great Sage Equalling Heaven about problems?"

"Of course, I haven’t introduced myself. I am the Single Tiny Manager."

"You certainly are tiny. I’ve never seen anybody so small."

"You should judge me by results, not my physical appearance. In this case, you should be happy, because my goals coincide with yours. I have been sent by the Jade Emperor to supervise your release."

"Ah, so the time of my freedom is at hand!"

"Yes, I think we can manage it very soon. You were only supposed to be kept here for five hundred years. But you know how the time passes in heaven. And the Jade Emperor’s organization really was in a mess. That’s where I came in, of course. A simple application of the latest management techniques and it’s amazing how much more efficient the whole operation is. Back in the Tang Dynasty, which you will not know about — they really were well organized. But that’s not what I came here to talk to you about. Back then, it seems that nobody in Heaven had the slightest idea about time management. From what I can make out, you were scheduled to serve as a bodyguard of a monk who had had some books to collect in India. Well, got them all right, but only because the Bodhisattva Guanyin cleared the path of various demons that he would have had no idea how to deal with. The Bodhisattva registered a complaint about your services not being supplied as promised, but nobody did anything about it. After the Jade Emperor brought me in as a consultant, I instituted a policy of tackling the backlog of unactioned tickets, and I discovered that you had been left here far beyond the term of your sentence."

The Single Tiny Manager stopped, and checked his watch. He didn’t have time to explain the whole situation, and would an ancient demon with no recent experience of management learn the correct lessons from the appraisal anyway?

"But now the Great Sage Equalling Heaven will be given his freedom?" the monkey demon asked hopefully.

"I have to tell you, there are certain aspects of your behaviour that I’m not at all happy about" the diminutive executive resumed. Your attempt to overthrow Heaven shows a failure to set achievable goals. And when the Buddha became involved, you should have given up, quite frankly. Those Eastern deities had difficulty repelling your strong but poorly organized attack. The Buddha, though, he transcends the illusion of material existence, and a physical attack was unlikely to defeat him, don’t you think? Well, of course you have first hand experience of it. And you’ve had plenty of time to think about it, haven’t you?"

"The Buddha tricked me!" blustered the monkey demon. "If he stood and fought me, I’d have given him a beating he wouldn’t have forgotten in a hurry."

The Single Tiny Manager sighed. "You still have a poor idea of risk management, then" he said. "But don’t let me spend all my time on negatives. Your achievement of immortality was a true example of focused project management. And for a self made monkey demon to give the Jade Emperor a run for his money, well, that shows real management potential. I have confidence that, if you learn a few simple rules of management, you can achieve great things. That’s why I took on your case, you know."

The Great Sage Equalling Heaven looked at the small person before him in a new light. Maybe he wasn’t such a bad judge of character after all. "So, you’re going to set me free?" he asked.

"That’s what you want, I suppose. We’ll discuss your goals next time, you might like to prepare a list. It doesn’t have to be too long. Ideally we will be able to go through it in one minute. That’s it for now. I won’t take up any more of your valuable time."

"You mean you’re going to leave me here?"

"I think you have enough to do now. Be ready to discuss your goals for when I get back. If you had a telephone, you could call me any time except for Wednesday morning, because I’m never busy. Unfortunately you haven’t been kept up to date with advances in technology, have you? I’ll speak to the Jade Emperor and see what I can get for you. Well, good bye!"

And so the Single Tiny Manager left, and left the monkey demon to the rain, the heat, the misery of imprisonment, and the first task of a new management career.


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