On the Floor: How to subject a manager to ordeal by filing cabinet

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The Independent Culture
Who'd have thought that something as innocuous as a filing system could have so much power. But then it's not just any old filing system, it's Rory's, and it's his pride and joy.

That a man universally regarded as a loose cannon should be the keeper of such a well organised collection of paperwork is a bit of a surprise. But I suspect that, deep down, Rory rather enjoys this quirk of his own character. Anyway, it's always a

mistake to assume that because someone parties hard (and no one could accuse Rory of enjoying his free time half- heartedly) they aren't efficient at work, a mistake that Rory's many enemies make all too often.

The cupboards of hanging files cover an entire wall of the office, an imposing sight when all the doors are open. At the last count there were 378 separate categories and sub-categories, and if you didn't know your way around you could be lost in there for weeks. Happily for us, Rory has produced a comprehensive index, though we are under strict orders not to show it to anyone outside the team. This includes the FX boys who, despite the fact they only ever read The Sun, are deemed sufficiently literate to understand at least some of it.

This caution on Rory's part is not paranoia; it has a lot to do with the names of some of the categories. There's the section called "Letters from idiots 1998", for instance, which contains correspondence from many of our current senior managers, including the chairman. There's another called "Stupid and unworkable ideas", bulging with memos and proposals from the much-fanfared and completely useless New Product Development Initiative Group, a recent brainwave of our managing director. And there's one called "Obviously made up CVs", which features quite a few people now working in other parts of the bank.

However, it's important to note that this filing system is not just for our entertainment. Nor is it for keeping Rory out of trouble on Friday afternoons, which is when he goes through the new mail and scrawls on it which pocket Jenny the Junior should put it into. It has practical uses, as we found out on this week.

For the past two months we've been working on a shiny new product, a variation on an old one, which stands to make the bank an absolute fortune. We are particularly pleased with the fact that we and not the New Product gang have thought of it, although, as Laura said, they probably couldn't think up a new sandwich filling, so it's hardly fair competition.

Anyway, we were all set to try it for the first time last Friday. We had a nice UK corporate and a Cayman Islands reinsurer lined up as our guinea-pigs, and all we needed was credit clearance. But we couldn't get it.

Sorry, they said, but we've spoken to our chief honcho, who spoke to his big boss, who spoke to the MD, and the MD says there's absolutely no way we should be doing these types of deals; it's not the sort of thing we want to be getting into at all. So it looked as if it was all off.

Rory looked thoughtful and rushed off to his files, returning a few minutes later with a piece of paper and a huge grin.

"I knew it was there," he said happily. "Memo from the MD from three months ago. He says he's particularly interested in this idea of ours and the sooner we can get it up and running the better. It's just the sort of deal we should be doing."

We got our credit clearance.

The trader

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