Thursday, 5 January 2017

Soft power, furnishing and touches

The office was a good size for pacing, but pacing was probably a sign of frustration at lack of control, so Jeronica wasn’t going to give in to her desire to stand up and stalk from one end of the room to the other.  Instead she leaned back in her chair and took three deep breaths, holding them for four seconds each before exhaling again.  The chair creaked slightly.  When she was sure that she was calm enough she unlocked the computer again and navigated to the corporate intranet.  The blue logo appeared in the corner of her browser and she noted with interested that it had been updated slightly.  She had to pinch the monitor screen to zoom in to be able to see the exact difference, and even then she had to open an art program and find the eyedropper tool to sample colours, but all the vowels in the name of the logo were now in a slightly different shade than the consonants.  Clearly internal-IT had finally succeeded in getting their list of changes made with the vendor.  She tapped her desk intercom and instructed her PA to find out exactly when, overnight, the change had been made.  Diarmarthid, Head of IT, would be looking to capitalise on a success like that.  Then she summoned up the corporate org-chart, full-screened it, and leaned back in her chair again.
Jeremy had exactly no direct reports; he occupied a gold-hued box at the top of the org chart with no lines connecting him anywhere.  In actual fact the immediate top level below him all reported to him, but a careful matrix management structure had it so that they technically reported in to each other in non-transitive ways so that no-one could gain an advantage.  The layer below that was even more complex in its organisation, with reporting going upwards except where it occasionally went sideways, and in one case, down.  Jeronica was in the middle of the second layer, as was Manguy, Margoyle, Diarmarthid and had been Stephanotte.  The lines around them were a spider’s web of treachery and political connivance which they all walked with the careful skill of a tightrope walker with detached retinas.
Jeronica had responsibility for Foreign, Romantic and Domestic Affairs with a side-interest in Healthcare in Developing Nations; Manguy was a specialist in Military, Political and Demographic rearrangements, and Margoyle had lately been tasked with the problem of Sweden but typically took responsibility for Trans-local and grass-roots uprisings and Steganography.  All three of them could reasonably consider Soft Power to be an area that they could manage, so Stephanotte’s departure was going create infighting.  Well, she thought, more infighting than usual.
A thought crossed her mind, and she leaned forward again, tapping at the keyboard.  It took a little bit of work, but inside five minutes she established that the org-chart had been updated late last night and that the last two revisions were password protected.  She tsked softly; Manguy was unsubtle in her opinion, and opened the org-charts stored on her computer.  Even evening a new copy was downloaded and compared with the previous.  The difference was slight, but not unexpected: a single reporting line had been removed.
Jeronica leaned back again.  Margoyle had reported into Stephanotte.  Which meant that now she was uncertain if Manguy had changed the org chart or if Margoyle had.  Curiouser and curiouser as a silly little girl had once said.
A message box slid up in the corner of her screen.  “The intranet was updated at 02:47.  The contract with [REDACTED] was signed at 21:23.”  Jeronica committed the numbers to memory and sent a message back.  “Purchase two bottles of Champagne and deliver them to Diarmarthid.  The card should read ‘Congratulations’.  Make sure that the consonants and vowels use exactly the same shades as the logo.”
She leant back in the chair again.  What to do about Stephanotte?

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