Friday, July 17, 2009

Everything will be ok!!

I happened to meet a leader of a critical project of restructuring recently. One striking thing I noticed was after every 15 minutes he said "Everything is under control and will be ok." While till that time he makes such a statement, we were discussing very rationally the issues and trying to address them at ground-the discussion will skew for sometime around not so rational things after the statement.
While the intention of my visit was not to find faults I found that people have not done enough thinking around the scenarios that can emerge making them believe they were ready. Surprisingly most of the key members were interested to do the thinking but were dissuaded by the belief of the leader as in the subject. After the fourth time he made the statement just before lunch I had to put my cynical hat and tell him politely " Can you define what control is and what ok is after lunch?" He was taken aback and tried to tell me "That I should not be pessimistic". But I persisted and said we can take this discussion for 30 minutes after lunch so that everyone is on the same page on this. A young lady seemed to be waiting for this and said " I think it is a good idea as I had this question but never asked for more than 3 months". The lunch time was unusually silent except for the sounds of munching. There was discomfort in everyone's body language and people refused to look at each other in eyes.
We assembled again and the leader said with a loud voice" So Ramki wants to discuss this topic though we all know what it means. Except the lady who else thinks it will add value to our discussion?" Surprisingly there were four more who put their hands up and said " Maybe we can discuss it briefly". With no choice the leader said "Ok. I leave to the group to discuss". I smiled (which probably was villianic) and said to him "Before we discuss I want you to explain what you really mean by these two words". After some reluctance he came with a sketchy explanation of what he thinks. I wrote this down on a board and asked the group to build on this basic idea. Surprisingly nobody agreed-so we split into two groups and discussed it threadbare expanding a little more into what needs to be done by the team to ensure they have done a good scenario planning. The outcome was fabulous. People spoke of their concerns and there were solutions for each scenario. A more concrete plan emerged. A decision was made to communicate to all relevant stakeholders what are the potential problems in the next 3 months and how they will be fixed. There was more clearer view on the extent of service level impacts and how it can be managed. Finally there was a feeling of what Control was and why everything will be ok. With this positive feeling the team leader felt a little puzzled and said " I thought we will end negative with such discussions and therefore wanted to be a moderator. Maybe I am wrong". I said to him" Whoever advised you that you should moderate active planning has given you an advise which will make you perenially fail. You may have managed thee moment but are sitting in a landmine". He seemed to agree. I hope everything will be ok though I know OK is a relative word.

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Gothenburg, Sweden
Still finding introspecting to find who am I? Waiting for a Guru!