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“Speak your truth quietly and clearly” – Desiderata, Max Ehrmann

Part 2 – The Rapid Response…

The decibel level in the office started rising. That meant that others had read the mail and the reactions were pouring out in the hallway. Indy started reflecting and planning a response. He brought out a pad and started jotting down the approach he would take-

Step 1: Learn about the target operating system

Step 2: Check if there were any 3rd party…

Before he could finish the sentence, Estelle had pulled up a chair and was sitting next to him, bursting with ideas, speaking at a million words per minute. If there was one thing Indy hated, it was being interrupted when he was thinking about a problem. Controlling his anger, he missed much of what Estelle was saying, and tried to catch on with the torrent of words. From what he could tell, she wanted to get everyone in a room and start brainstorming for an hour so they could get the best ideas on the table in time for the meeting with the Boss.

Indy disagreed. He hated unplanned meetings where a bunch of people just showed up and started talking. He thought they were a waste of time. Indy wanted each person to take time to reflect on the problem and e-mail a proposal on the approach they should take before they got together in a room. As usual, Indy and Estelle did not see eye to eye on the approach to solving the problem and the level of tension in their relationship increased by a few more notches.

So Estelle got a group in a conference room to brainstorm, while Indy and some others like him, sat at their desks, thinking about the issue and coming up with an approach to solve the problem.

At the meeting, Indy and Estelle were sitting across from each other at the table. The Boss could sense some tension in the room, but did not have time to probe further. The discussions started immediately, and the team settled into 2 familiar camps.

Estelle wanted to deal with the facts – focusing on the real and tangible, and then swing into action. She wanted details about the specific demands from the customer, their frame of mind and how much flexibility there was in responding. Indy, on the other hand, wanted to take a step back and look at the big picture. How would this affect the long term road map? Were there any patterns or lessons to glean from past experiences? How could they avoid some of the errors of the past and identify hidden possibilities in this challenge?

Both made passionate arguments supporting their points of view. The Boss allowed the conversation to continue for a bit and then moved the discussion forward to the topic of making a decision. Again, there was a difference of opinion. Estelle wanted to jot down the options on the board, list the pros and cons and use an objective, logical process to reach a conclusion. Indy wanted to bring up the organizational values and think about how the different options would affect people on the team. How would they handle the change? Would they have to put in extra hours to meet deadlines?

As the conversation moved on to next steps, the debate got even more heated. Indy wanted to leave things a little open ended. They needed some flexibility because this was all so new – he did not want the team to be boxed into a corner by an unrealistic plan. He would much rather leave things a little loose and adapt as new information emerged. Estelle wanted to get into specifics and create a project plan with milestones and dates, so the team could move towards closure. She preferred to have a structured and organized approach to life and preferred sticking to a schedule, getting energy and a sense of accomplishment by hitting intermediate milestones.

Looking at the clock, they all realized that they were out of time and they all had to run to their next meeting. This looked like yet another inconclusive meeting where the two camps made their persuasive arguments without agreeing as a team. The meeting ended and the Boss walked away in frustration, wondering why his team couldn’t get along with each other.

Both Indy and Estelle watched their Boss with concern – it seemed as if the weight of the world was on those shoulders. For a moment, they felt that they had let the team down by not helping reach consensus. But the moment passed, and they felt proud that they had done a good job in passionately representing their points of view because that is what they thought was best for the team.

They looked at each other with barely veiled contempt, and stomped off to their next meeting, wondering what was going to happen next.

Read Part 3: Who Are You…?

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