A management consultant, whose client was an international manufacturer, was asked to evaluate an inventory management procedure that the client had used with stunning success in their French operations. As part of his study, he wanted to compare the performance of the French procedure with procedures used in other locations, using historical data from several countries. A programmer with a strong management science background was given the job of programming the simulation of the French procedure.
When the consultant received the results he could not reconcile them with the ﬁgures supplied by the French company. After extensive checking he initiated a series of long telephone calls to France, suggesting that perhaps the procedure had not actually performed as well as they had claimed. The French management took offense at the implication of incompetence.
The French manager complained to the manager who had hired the consultant. Tempers mounted and international relations were strained to the breaking point.
By sheer chance, someone examined the programmer's simulation program and noticed that one term was missing and a second term was negative rather than positive. These findings led to a full technical review of the formula as translated. The review showed that the programmer's formula did not match the formula supplied by the French.
The consultant, much relieved, took the program back to the programmer and showed him the error. "That's not an error," the programmer protested. "Actually, the formula was in error, so I corrected it. The formula I programmed is correct, whereas the original formula was simply wrong."
That's the end of Part 1.
Note to Readers
Now, for you readers, the question is this:
"If you were the consultant, how would you handle this situation going forward?"
If I receive a few comments, I'll publish the rest of the story—what actually happened.
And please note: I don't accept anonymous comments. They're automatically rejected. By all means, use a pseudonym, but don't waste your effort trying to post anonymous comments.
“A Murder at Bletchley Park” by Peter Clements
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