In some companies it seems the farther you are up the leadership ladder, the less accurate the information you get from subordinates.
For example, I was once asked by a major US service provider to determine why they were seeing an unusual number of errors from a small group of routers in their Dallas facility. Not realizing this would be one of my shortest consulting engagements ever, I booked a couple of nights at a hotel and flew out the next morning.
Upon landing I drove to the site and introduced myself to the facility manager, who seemed truly amused that I was there. I asked him to show me the equipment that was having problems and he replied that it was on the third floor, so off we went.
Standing in front of the rack it was immediately apparent that something was very, very wrong.
“Eddie, what’s this white film on top of the boxes?”
“That’s probably from the roof leaking.”
“Leak–ING? As in it’s still going on?”
“Yup. Probably six months now.”
I was incredulous. How does the roof in a switch site leak for six months without being repaired?
“Did you tell anyone?”
“Ever since it started. Even took pictures and sent those. Can’t get ’em to do anything about it.”
“Well, you might want to hold onto those emails and pictures. I have a feeling someone’s going to lose a job over this, and you don’t want it to be you.”
The person who lost his job was a middle manager who thought that his VP wouldn’t care about something like building maintenance.