Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I find myself in a world where how many hours you put in and how much you are willing to do with your own hands is highly valued. Working smart is not.
If I had to cast my client in a some sort of mold or type, I would best say that he is a penultimate defensive fighter, one who can ward off what is coming in but cannot develop and offensive strategy to win a war (in a manner of speaking). So everything is in response to. There is no real counter punch or an overall strategy where his people take the initiative. They are a nice group of very passive folks but they are also drones. Scared of their own shadows. Hard working but frightened.
Today I recommended that we have a brief meeting to update all concerned on an important topic that has been plaguing the company recently. The idea seemed to terrify those I asked. They would rather throw an issue around like a hot potato, while no has a real idea of why we are even dealing with potatoes, than sit down and develop an approach that might head off future issues. I could never pull the meeting together and frankly everyone seemed relieved when it didn't come off.
So the problems are not skin deep and fixable. They are at the core level. They have become part of the DNA and not fixable. This group needs a year of Dan, my very esteemed CFO friend, because the present CFO has taken them as far as they are going to go. He is the Claude Auchinleck of North Africa. The man who stopped Rommel at First El Alamein but could mount an offense. It took Montgomery to develop an effective offensive strategy to throw the Germans back to Tunisia where they eventually were surrounded and lost that part of the war. He is James Longstreet who always counseled that Lee fight defensive battles rather than risk attacking the enemy on their own ground.
So I am headed out to meet my friend Kathy for a Jamba Juice (our place of choice). One of the CFO's right hand men grabs me and ask for me to be involved in a call. I say that I will be glad to do as soon as I get back in about an hour. Everyone else is canceling their respective lunch plans and is looking on in horror.
I say, "Is it not OK for me to take lunch? I didn't take lunch yesterday and worked straight through. Is this the way it is here?"
I don't know anything about the issue anyway (I was never briefed) so before I start making calls I would like to understand what the problem is and why does it always come up just before lunch. Hence the meeting that no one wanted. It's like some unwinnable game. I know what I look like. I look like someone who is not a team player. I look like the short timer I am. I look and sound like everything I have always hated in other people.
But I act very contractorial, go to lunch and check in with the "team" when I get back. They have things under control. They don't need my help. They may have discounted me and that may have to be part of my own strategy. If I go along with this defensive, response oriented approach, I may go mad. I am already getting very snappish and that is very unconsultant-like behavior.
Last year the SF 49ers had a pretty good defensive team and they really did well as long as they never expected their offense to score. A 5-11 record says how that well that worked.
Kathy tells me I should get out. I know she is right. Everyone is telling me to get O-U-T. What's the matter with me?
By the way, I ran 10 minutes this morning after I walked Amber.