Sales-pitch alert! This is a plug. There is a tie-in to IT management, but it’s thin. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. – Bob

I’ve always thought someone should stage the climax of a thriller at Disney World, in the “It’s a Small, Small World” ride. Imagine Jason Stratham and some equally lethal opponent, splashing around the boats and cutsey exhibits, exhausting their supply of bullets until, finally, they resort to hand-to-hand combat, all with the exhibit’s impossible-to-get-out-of-your-head theme song playing in the background.


It is a small world, as my wife Sharon and I discovered while having dinner with my friend and client, Dave Kaiser and his wife Jean. That’s when a chance comment revealed that Dave and Sharon both grew up in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.

Then Dave asked a consequential question: Had Sharon heard of the elephant murder? Turns out, some years back a Wisconsin Rapids woman had been killed by an elephant under suspicious circumstances (as if there might have been any other kind).

Dave’s father found the body, close to the backyard of his good friend, Kissy Knuteson — the man with the irresistible name, and also, as it turns out, someone with whom one of Sharon’s uncles used to build houses.

Very small world. Also, an irresistible premise for an “inspired by a true story” novel, or so Dave and I concluded.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Actually, it isn’t history at all. It’s pure fiction, with deep meaning only if you measure depth in millimeters and not many of them.

Yes, this is a thinly disguised plug for our new book, The Moral Hazard of Lime Daiquiris (by Bob Lewis and Dave Kaiser). Through the end of the year you can buy it for a mere $3.99, exclusively for the Kindle platform.

Should you buy this bit of mayhem, for yourself or for friends as (ahem) a seasonal gift (assuming you have any friends, that is, and assuming you don’t care that they might then become former friends after reading it, perhaps because, hypothetically, they have actual taste) … anyway, Dave and I would appreciate a review, too.

Not a good review, necessarily. We aren’t trying to pack the house. If you think it’s awful, say “this book is awful!” If you like it, that’s even better.

But even bad reviews beat being ignored. Thanks.

So … how do a CIO and IT management consultant go about co-authoring a piece of fiction? Answer: We started by defining our process, of course.

We started by taking stock of the fiction we both enjoy, and concluded (none of this is profound):

The stories we like the best have engaging characters. They have plots moved along by action and not just internal dialog. They don’t waste a lot of space with endless detailed descriptions of the scenery, either.

They have a strategy, too — an order to telling the story.

Very important (and this week’s alleged point): The characters have to be plausible — we figured people do things for reasons that make sense to themselves, which meant we needed to know our characters’ biographies and personalities.

I promised there’d be something this week that has some actual value to you as an IT leader. Here’s what it is: It isn’t just fictional characters who have to be plausible. The real men and women you work with have to be plausible too.

See, no matter how much each of us tries to deal with people as they are, the best we can actually do is to deal with our mental model of who they are … our inferences regarding how they were raised, what they’ve experienced, their biases, the hidden assumptions they make … how they think about the world and how they’re likely to respond to it.

Many managers just aren’t very good at this; some don’t even understand why it’s important.

It’s important because if you want to lead them, which means if you want them to follow you, understanding them as individuals is superior to understanding them as generic members of a class. Whether the class is “millennials,” “boomers,” “geeks,” “bureaucrats,” “bean counters,” “empty suits,” or “horrible human beings,” for every employee some stereotype helps you understand there will be at least two where it misleads you.

In baseball, batting .333 is quite good. In leadership, if that’s the best you can do when assessing the people you work with you have three choices: get better at it, get out of management, or buy yourself a copy of Moral Hazard.

No, Moral Hazard won’t make you a better leader. But it might take your mind off your inadequacies.

Not a bad ROI for four bucks.

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Nearly forgot. If you like it, tell your friends. We’ve always wanted to go viral.