Saturday, March 14, 2009

How to Completely Ruin a Good Thing

I had a meeting with a potential client not too long ago. As is often the case, there usually are several phone calls back and forth prior to the meeting, where each side gets to ask all the preliminary questions, to ensure there is a good fit.

After much telephone tag, we both agreed a face-to-face meeting would be in order, as there was the potential for us to work together. We agreed to meet at the potential client’s offices, and that they would provide a projector, and possibly even a sound system so I could hook up a laptop and go through my very slick – if I may say so myself – presentation.

When I first got to the offices, a bitter taste was already tormenting this meeting. The projector I had requested wasn’t there, and the key management-type that should be running the meeting, was letting someone else run his show.

I carried on, sans slick presentation, but to my dismay, I was being bombarded with the very same preliminary questions which we had already answered over the phone. They were worded slightly differently, but essentially they were the same questions.

Being a communications nut, with a lot of management experiences, I tried to steer the meeting towards the discussions that needed to take place to move forward. But the person running the meeting on the potential client’s side – who really needn’t be in the meeting at all because he wasn’t a key stakeholder – kept drawing things back to the initial basic info, which I thought was already well known to all involved.

What should have been a pleasant next-steps meeting, turned into a complete waste of time, because of the potential client’s own political baggage.

Essentially, from what I understood upon reflection and discussions after the meeting, the person running the meeting was the former manager of the person who should have been running the meeting.

See, the real key player here, the Manager of Learning Development was recently appointed to that role. Previously, he worked for this other arrogant bastard, who was leaving the team, to pursue other professional avenues. Why someone who had chosen to leave their team was even in on the meeting is beyond me. But what happened is clear.

It was a pure show of political might – at the cost of us doing business with them.

The new manager was put into an awkward position, because his former boss had taken it upon himself to continue to be his boss, even though he isn’t. Though the new manager, should have – and probably would have if he had more experience and some – ahem – balls – told his former boss that this was his meeting, his project and he was running the show.

I don’t know if this happened because the guy was forced to leave the team, and was essentially getting back at his soon to be ex-bosses at the executive level, or if this happened just because this guy is arrogant as hell, and I don’t care.

But what a loss! Everything looked so very good from our emails and phone calls prior to meeting, but then everything crashed and burned.

Hopefully that outgoing manager will be gone sooner than later, else the project which this company really wants and needs, may never happen.

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