My wife thinks it's funny that I once had a job with the title "Flow Manager."
Backing up just a thrice, I woke up from a dream in which I was struggling to get all the orders out of our book warehouse on time. The people with whom I worked were, as my memory has it, dedicated but only slightly less than they were to their after work pursuits. Everyone had some sort of side hustle, but all of this mildly concentrated energy served useful purpose. In my dream, however, most of the folks with whom I was interacting were busy doing something but seemed to have lost track of the details of their jobs. It fell to me to unscramble the details.
Because this is how I see my place in the world. When I arrived at the employee-owned book wholesaler known as Bookpeople, I understood precious little about warehousing. But since I am a hard worker and a fast study, I moved quickly from the packing line out into The Flow. The Flow was the sea of shelves upon which copies of books were placed so that pickers like myself could head out and assemble orders that had been sent in by phone fax or computer. Orders of fewer than fifteen books were collected in small batches and thus given the name Small Batch.
During my initial trial as a picker, I proved my mettle time and time again by working without a break, often skipping the lunch that was lovingly prepared by our in-house chef. This obsessive dedication was probably what eventually got me the job of being King of the Pickers. Flow Manager. Which was just about the time that our computer department delivered a newfangled shelving system that meant that as soon as a new title came in, it could be assigned its own spot, and the pick sheets we used to assemble the orders would reflect this location. And then we split the warehouse into zones, dropping off the enormous blue refrigerator-sized carts off once we had completed our zone to the next lucky group.
And then some clever Bookperson got it into their head that we didn't have to be tied to this procession of dangerous blue monoliths. We could send out bits of those computer processed orders to each zone, and the books from that area could be pulled, and then reassembled later at the end of the process. Yellow tubs on convenient conveyer belts that would alleviate the strain on the backs and brains of The Flow.
I'm telling you all these facts because I want you to know that these were all bits for which I was responsible. And if things worked out right, it was a flow. My challenge was being the type of person who was never comfortable with gravity or momentum. I felt the need to push. Not that I was cracking the whip behind my employees. Instead, I was out there with them, leading by tortured example.
Which is why my wife laughs at the idea of me being a "Flow Manager." And why I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes, dreaming about all the ways I could have done it differently.