PICK THE RIGHT WEAPONS
What was he doing?
He was busy taking notes when all else around him was going to bits.
The project that the whole team had worked so hard for was canned. We didn’t know what our future was going to be.
Bhargav was our project manager. The writing was on the walls, and here he was, with a poker face. Bhargav was sitting at the head of the conference room table, taking notes. He looked up a couple of times, eyes focused on the distant horizon.
In slow motion, the head dipped down. His right hand, though, continued to scribble something.
Pin drop silence except for the scribble of the pen nib on paper. Bhargav still preferred to use the Fountain pen and a customized journal to jot his notes.
He looked up, and very slowly, smiled at all of us.
We didn’t know how to react.
Bhargav got up as if in slow motion, walked up to the whiteboard, and turned around to face us.
“Now, I would like to know each of your experiences in the project, what went right and what went wrong.”
It was our turn to laugh.
“Bhargav, the project is dead in the water. Can we stop this nonsense, please”.
Bhargav repeated in a whisper, which was loud enough for the last person standing way behind in the conference room:
“The project is dead in the water.”
The pause after the whisper was louder than any din. He let the pause linger till it was very uncomfortable for all of us, especially Raja, who commented.
His voice grew louder.
“The project is dead in the water. NOT US”.
The same pause again. Man, Bhargav was the master of silence, and more so, the pregnant pause.
“We aren’t dead. Aren’t going to be for a while”.
Right about that time, the office receptionist walked in with an icebox. She opened it and started distributing ice cream to all of us.
This was definitely madness going on, I thought. Ice cream celebrations when the mood was funereal. How much more uncomfortable was it going to get?
While we had the ice cream, Bhargav was slowly but thoroughly wiping the whiteboard clean. A grid on the board. What the heck was going on?
“Let’s start with the good news. What worked right in the project?”
What happens when someone asks a question in a meeting? Silence. There we go again. Until it was Raja again who started off. He mentioned the one thing that worked right: the ideation sessions we had for the project.
That started off a ripple, and many positive comments started coming in. Bhargav wrote all of that on the board.
It appeared as if the ice cream had loosened the tongues. It definitely had improved the mood significantly.
Then, Bhargav changed the question. “What do you think could we have done differently?”
The train was well and truly chugging along now. Comments flowed in. The board was filling up.
Time for a surprise happening, though. The laughs were back in the room. The jibes, comments, light-handed banter, Bhargav had managed to turn it around.
Silence again. Nobody wanted to fill in the gap this time.
Except for Susan, the receptionist came in again. This time, wheeling in a rather large cake shaped like a sword. Bhargav continued:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, yes, the project bombed big time. There were some events we could have controlled. A lot that was out of our hands.
BUT, we are taking this learning along with us. So much learning that will help us in the next project, job, or business. For years to come.
I am opening up a shared document where I will put down everything we captured. This was a mammoth project, and there is so much for us to share.
I want a few collaborators to complete the writing — and sharing — as a pdf.
Sharing Jason Statham’s words from the movie Blitz:
“If you’re picking the wrong fight, at least pick the right weapon!”
These learnings are weapons. For us to use for our future, for our success.
That’s why I keep writing, folks. Ammunition.
For the wars that lie ahead!
What and where is your cache? Of weapons and ammunition for the work/career battles that we are bound to face?
Start journaling folks. Compile your own ammunition.
- All stories in this “52” series:
1. The Cycle Wheel
2. The strong polish their fangs and the weak….
5. What happens to nice guys?
7. Growth: How did she do it?
9. When would you fire yourself?
11. What happened to soft-spoken Radha?
12. Simplicity needs common sense, not education!
14. Rushing to Conclu….
17. The importance of competition
21. A division with minimal acrimony?
22. The Everest sighting that turned out to be…
25. What does it take to win? RAHUL PART 1
26. Vagabonding as a way of life RAHUL PART 2
27. Which past experiences are you mixing up? RAHUL PART3
Pravin Shekar is an outlier marketer, parallel entrepreneur and a raconteur.
Connect with me at Outlier @PravinShekar.com
For creative collusions, join: http://bit.ly/JoinMyOutlierTribe
Pravin is the author of multiple books: http://tiny.cc/PravinShekarBooks
Devil Does Care, Marketing lessons from The Art of War, Marketing lessons from Mythology, Getting paid to speak, a Virtual Summit Playbook, Climb your way out of hell, a collection of travel pics/romantic poems, and stories from the heart!
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