Chapter 26 – Rehearsal Session
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Miss Planner was rehearsing her next presentation for the Elders in the meeting room she normally used. It was a large room surrounded on three sides with whiteboards, ideal for the projector setup she liked. Although she always made everything look effortless, the truth was that she put in a lot of practice to make that happen. A strong sense of drama and suspense was required to make the most impact on her elderly audience, and it took a lot of work to get her presentation sounding exactly how she wanted it to.

The tiny blonde tyrant dragged her flunkies in to help her rehearse this time. Alex from her research staff was there, a tall man with black hair wearing a business suit. So was Black Wolf, wearing a tank top and black jeans, and Milly, wearing a sunny yellow dress. Milly was the only one with any substantial experience helping Miss Planner with her presentations. The other two were selected because they happened to be slightly good at improvisation.

"Black Wolf, try to find a reason to disagree with everything I say. Alex, I want you to act tired and confused. You can even fall asleep. I'll wake you up when it's time to get back to work."

Alex and Black Wolf exchanged a glance and nodded. They both looked miserable as Miss Planner explained their parts to them.

"Milly, you're going to be Elder Crown this time. Take your role seriously, because you're the only one who's seen the Elders in action."
"Yes, Miss Planner," said Milly. "I'll do my best."

Miss Planner exited the room and waited a moment before coming back in. Alex was resting his head in his arms. Black Wolf was psyched up and had a ferocious scowl on his face. Milly looked very serious.

"Thank you for coming today, everyone! Today's presentation is going to be a big one, so let's get right into it. We have a lot of ground to cover."
She looked at each of her employees in turn, as if checking off items on a list. Everyone was watching her carefully.

"We're starting with a review of this quarter's financials."
She pressed play on the projector and a large spreadsheet appeared on the screen. She clicked through several pages of numbers and data, all simplified to make it as readable as possible.

"You all know how well we did. Our revenues increased dramatically, even though we scaled back our distribution network quite a bit. We've got a lot more money than we need to expand now."

She paused for dramatic effect and smiled politely at her employees. Alex felt a chill run down his spine.

"You might be wondering how that's possible. The answer to that question isn't complicated. Sometimes in business, smaller is better."

Her smile turned into a grin, and she began pacing around the room. Suddenly, Milly pounded the table with her fists, startling her two coworkers.

"You'd better explain yourself this instant, you blonde pig!" hissed Milly.

If they were startled before, Black Wolf and Alex were absolutely floored now. They stared at Milly in shock. The little Miss Planner walked to the whiteboard, smiling from ear to ear, completely oblivious to the reactions of her frightened underlings.

"What I mean is that sometimes, it's better to minimize your expenses and concentrate on the things that are most important. Right? It sounds obvious, doesn't it?"

The three employees just looked at her. Black Wolf had recovered his composure, and he was waiting patiently for an opening in the conversation. He was ready to jump on any opportunity he could find to insult Miss Planner.

"It's important that we have a distribution network, but it doesn't have to be as extensive as it was before. When you look at it, the market penetration of our product is quite low, isn't it? Scaling back was definitely the right choice, and I think our distribution network as we have it now is pretty close to ideal."

Black Wolf smirked and slid forward in his seat.
"Smaller is better? You're too short, too scrawny, and far too little to understand why having a bigger distribution division will improve our sales."

Miss Planner nodded approvingly at Black Wolf and kept going.

"Elder Wolf, small organizations have a number of advantages over larger ones. For one thing, small organizations are nimble and flexible. They can make decisions quickly. I'm sure you've noticed how much faster we've been able to adapt our business strategies lately."

Black Wolf nodded, looking confident and smug. Alex was starting to feel incredibly uncomfortable with this whole situation. He couldn't imagine falling asleep in a room filled with people like Black Wolf and Miss Planner.

"Not only did we improve our sales significantly, but we also cut down on costs. A great success, if you ask me. Smaller is always better when you have the option to choose your size."

Miss Planner clicked the remote. A new slide appeared on the screen. This one showed a graph labeled with the names of the different divisions and their budgets.
"Now, let's talk about making sure the rest of our organization shares in that success."

Miss Planner dramatically pressed a button, and each division's budget was joined by a column ominously titled 'Waste.'
"Remember, smaller is better."

Just as Planner finished her sentence, Milly hopped to her feet and started stomping on the floor, attempting to work herself up into a rage.

"Listen here, you arrogant little pest! Waste? We're not making any cuts, got it? We have to keep everything exactly the way it is!"

Milly's voice echoed through the meeting room. She was surprisingly cute when she got angry. Her face flushed red from shouting. Black Wolf and Alex watched her in stunned silence.

"Elder Milly, we can do more with less. And it's not like I intend to fire anyone."
She smiled sweetly at her employee.

"I want everyone working harder than ever before. We need to make some changes, but they don't involve a reduction in resources or personnel. If we shrink the wrong parts of the business and lose revenue as a result, then that's a problem."

Milly had her hands clenched into fists and she was staring at Miss Planner, trying her hardest to imitate Elder Crown. Black Wolf just sat there with a nasty grin and his arms crossed. 

"We need to be more efficient in all areas of our operation. Let me give an example of what we should be trying to do. The Cut Throats have a very streamlined operation. They have a few branch offices, but most of their employees are freelancers who travel from job site to job site. Their workers take care of the mundane tasks while the owners focus on finding promising opportunities and keeping them profitable."

Miss Planner was speaking rapidly now, giving her employees a crash course in business strategy. Alex found himself starting to nod along with her explanation.

"As a result of their slim overhead, they're able to offer better service to their clients at a lower cost. That's the kind of efficiency we should strive for. In fact, we could even try it out for ourselves and see how well it works. How does that sound?"

Milly didn't really understand. Alex was groaning in despair. He didn't want to become a freelancer. Black Wolf was thinking quietly, clearly planning to insult Miss Planner as soon as he thought of something hurtful enough.

"What if, instead of exclusively hiring full-time people for our security division, we created a network of freelance agents? It would allow us to handle a lot of routine jobs without having to hire any additional staff! We wouldn't have to worry nearly as much about casualties and employee morale. All we'd need to do is pay our agents a fee for every job well done."

Black Wolf couldn't believe it. He was actually impressed. The idea was so simple and easy that it almost sounded ridiculous.

"We'll be saving money on the hiring process, but we'll still get to scoop up the best talent for ourselves. Even more than before, because we'll have more options! And if a contractor doesn't work out, no sweat! We can just find another one. No expensive training process or long hours spent looking for the right candidate. Everything is going to go faster, and better quality will be the result."

Miss Planner had a broad smile on her face. Her eyes sparkled with excitement. The Elders were going to love this idea!