The sinking of the Titanic was one of the most horrible disasters of our time. We are now reconstructing the last hours of the tragedy, which clearly shows that the causes do not lie in simple human mistakes, but a whole series of management failures costing hundreds of innocent lives. In honour of the dead we have changed the names of the characters, but beyond that, every moment of the last distressed minutes is revealed with perfect historical fidelity.
April 15, 1912 10:52 p.m., on board the Titanic
Navigator Second Officer Jenkins rushes to the Captain's bridge.
"Captain, Captain! I have an immediate notice."
"Jenkins, don’t you see that we are having the regular Cruise Control Committee Meeting? You know very well that this meeting focuses on the most important questions about our journey with the leading officers."
"But Sir, it has just been reported from the observation deck that ..."
"JENKINS!! If you have anything to report, prepare a standard Cruise Status Report and submit it in writing. I'm done. Get out!!"
Officer Jenkins is escorted from the captain’s bridge.
The Second Officer nervously fills out the Cruise Status Report, briefly summarizing that unambiguous warnings of the observation posts indicate that the Titanic will collide with an iceberg within 50 minutes. At the appropriate points, he marks the report with indications like "IMMEDIATE EVALUATION" and "CRITICAL", and returns to the bridge where in the meantime the CCCM (Cruise Control Committee Meeting) has ended. Captain Smith is not on the bridge, First Officer Müller is in service instead, so Jenkins turns to him without delay.
"Sir, I have an immediate problem to report, the observation..."
"Slow down Jenkins! I’d like to see the Cruise Status Report first."
"Here you are, Sir" answers Jenkins, handing over the paper with shaking hands.
"What is this, Jenkins? Are you kidding me? Where is the Expense Report of the Engine Department and the Food Supply Units??"
"Sir, we are in a critical situation, and according to General Ship Policy, in such cases it is allowed to issue a simplified Status Report to the bridge."
"Careful with these terms, Jenkins! You know how important this cruise is to the company, I do not want to hear the word critical. You are well aware that there is a complete unanimity among board of directors that the ship will arrive to New York without delay. No need to panic!"
"But Sir, as I wrote down in the report, the observation posts have reported that we are heading straight towards a giant iceberg."
"Listen, did you see this iceberg?"
"No, sir, but the observer..."
"Then why are you jumping around here? Lobster is served for dinner tonight, the captain's favourite, and I would not disturb him during eating with an unverified problem. Did you carry out an impact analysis about the expected risks?"
"WHAT? But if we collide, we will sink, and we are all going to die!"
"We can never get a decision from the CCCM with such an unprofessional formulation. Put together a presentation of visible risks, include suggestions of possible countermeasures, and then - if that's really so important - I'll call the committee. Move, this is a command!"
CCC (Cruise Control Commitee) Meeting, Jenkins finishes his presentation.
"Jenkins, are you telling me that I had to let my lobster go cold for THIS?" demands Captain Smith madly.
"Sir, I took the liberty of calling this meeting because I looked into the reports of the observation deck myself and it is clear that we are heading towards an XL class iceberg, and if we do not take an immediate corrective action..."
"What do you mean by corrective action? What is your exact suggestion? Your presentation did not reveal the costs of risk mitigation measures at all. How do we endorse this without a proper resource plan and a timeline?" intrigues Smithson, the financial officer.
"Well, Sir, I thought that since currently the sinking of the entire ship is at stake, no corrective action can be too expensive."
"Oh well, let’s not oversimplify, all right?? Our investors will certainly see this differently! It is completely unnecessary to try frighten us with such extremities as ‘sinking’! This presentation is far from complete, how should we make a solid decision based on this?"
"That's right, Jenkins, get yourself together! Make a proper ROI calculation, preferably ask for a quote from a few external suppliers as well."
"But Sir, there's really no time for that, we'll hit the iceberg in twenty minutes if we are not doing something right now!"
"How dare you?? If you really think this is so important, you have to make a clear list of suggestions, define exactly what do you mean by ‘iceberg’ or whatever that is, have a decent budget plan, and for God's sake DO NOT USE THE PRESENTATION TEMPLATE FROM LAST YEAR!!"
The Titanic hits the iceberg with a huge BANG.
The second CCC Meeting, the management is sitting on the somewhat sloping bridge, waiting for the next presentation from Jenkins. Lights are flickering wildly, screams are drifting in from the deck.
"Come on, Jenkins, let’s get started, I hope it won’t take too long" says Captain Smith with a frown.
"Gentlemen," begins Jenkins dramatically "the disaster has happened, we must launch rescue operations right now."
"What? Is this now the risk analysis already?" asks the Economic First Officer.
"And what about the required budget plan?" demands Captain Smith angrily.
"Don’t you understand? The ship is sinking! We must flee immediately!!!" shouts Jenkins wildly.
"So far you have not been able to put a decent presentation for the management together, and now YOU are pissed off? Half an hour ago, you were fussing about an iceberg, what happened to that? Can we avoid it or not?" asks the HR First Officer on an irritated voice.
"Well, my suggestion is to create a Summary Status Report for the company, in which we should summarize the events and name the ones responsible for the current situation, starting with you Jenkins of course. I still see the general status of the vessel green, and I’m not willing to start a discussion about this again, AND risk my bonus!" closes Captain Smith the discussion.
Jenkins runs screaming from the bridge. Captain Smith ponders for a minute, and says thoughtfully:
"Jenkins looks rather stressed to me, probably it would be time for him to attend the corporate communication and assertiveness training. It’s time he finally got himself together. Thank you gentlemen, we're done for today!"