Water Cooler Management

You've probably heard of Management-By-Walking-Around. When I was an administrator at Fuller Theological Seminary, we came up with a new term-"Water Cooler Management."

The two programs for which I was responsible were merged into one office operation. An excellent team was forged, but one problem remained: the water cooler. Half the team had had their own office water cooler prior to moving into our office.

Early in the transition, members of the transplanted office group approached me requesting a refrigerated water cooler. "We're a little short of space in this office," I replied, "and besides, there's one just across the hall." However, wanting to be a good participative manager, I delegated this decision to the combined staff team: "You do the research and make the decision."

A week later they came to me with a recommendation to buy a certain model and handed me the papers to sign to implement their decision. Again I expressed my reservations about the project, but I signed the papers. ...

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