Tuesday, July 29, 2008

WTF? Karma gone mad?

This month has been absolutely hellish.

It started with some consulting competitors (overseas consultants paid bazillions) writing an absolutely rubbish report about an area that includes part of my project. Things had been going really well, and then I had to respond to a load of rubbish and discredit each piece of lame feedback. It really was one of the worst pieces of consulting I have ever seen. Junior consultants left to their own devices, who interviewed a selection of people and then reported back a whole lot of opinions without verifying their truth or checking with the people directly involved.

Of course I'd be the first to admit that perception is reality - if people held those views, then I needed to deal with them. Unfortunately, many seemed to be the consultants own uneducated views.

Conference call to one of the fuckers after he had returned to the UK leaving me to mop up his shit:

Me: So Rajeev, you have made a point on page 5, 6, 8, 10, 14 and 15 that the exception process is high level and needs to be taken down a level. In fact, my boss says the remark was made that the process needs to go three levels of detail deeper. Help me understand what you think it should look like.

Rajeev: I'm not sure where this three levels deeper came from...

Me: My boss who was in the presentation.

Rajeev: Anyway, you need to detail each of the exceptions that can occur and how they are fixed.

Me: That sounds like a good idea. Except: there are thousands of potential exceptions. They could include trades being booked incorrectly to a data error, to a technical problem.

Rajeev: So say how they must be fixed...

Me: Uh, typically once you know the exception, the solution is pretty self-evident. You want us to detail, say, 2000 self evident fixes?

Rajeev: Perhaps pick the major ones that occur the most often.

Me: Right. And this would solve the issue you've highlighted in your review?

Rajeev: Yes. And show how they would be corrected in which system.

Me: Silence.

Rajeev: Would you be able to do that?

Me: So you want us to show how an incorrectly booked trade is corrected in each of the 17 trading systems?

Rajeev: IITQ, let me give you some advice...

Me: *going purple at a condescending snotty nosed consultant offering a partner patronising advice*

Rajeev: ...people just need to understand how the process will work in real life. You need to make it real to them.

Me: Thank you Rajeev, we'll include some examples. Thanks for your time. Good bye.


So after I then went home and hit a pillow, things got worse. I had to tour the exco and explain the misinterpretations. Agree new next steps.

And then.

Two dysfunctional idiots on my client project team decided they were unhappy. One was almost booted from the organisation. I saved his arse and ended him up on my project team as a result. The other wouldn't know his arse from his elbow.

After much corridor chatter, one approaches me to let me know how unhappy he is. Except he says, "IITQ, the team is really frustrated with you right now."

Now one of the first rules of feedback is "Speak from the I." Don't talk on behalf of others.Keep it to your own issues. Anyway, I let him carry on.

After another one-on-one - where he interviewed me: "So IITQ, what do you see your role is?" After some response from me, he said, "I noticed you did not say 'Build the team' - that should be your primary role."

FARK. Anyway, I sucked it up and then interviewed the whole team to find out if they had any issues. Almost all the others did not. I then presented a plan of action and got feedback. Pretty much two weeks wasted.

In the meantime, I'd been preparing for a workshop with a client in Canada. Except I discovered 5 weeks prior that my passport had expired. Fuck a duck. My travel agent put me in touch with a shady character to "expedite" the process and get it done in two. I'll spare you the gory details on this one - I'm sure you can see where it is going.

Friday comes and I'm supposed to be flying out via London. No passport. Move all flights to Monday upon more promises. Still nothing. I had to phone my client and let them know I could not get my passport and visa sorted out. They had been in the loop, but hit the roof anyway. They had 20 people flying in from all over to the workshop. 20 business class fares. Months of organisation. Just the airfares = R1m. It was the worst call I've ever had in my life.

Client then calls one of their SA directors who is very well connected. He speaks to a top government official and arranges for me to get my passport the next day - today. They redo the whole minimum 6 week process overnight.

I phone the Canadian Embassy - can I go straight through their process and get a visa in an hour? Who am I working for? X - ok.

It ends there? Oh no. So I have not slept in days due to work for clients. I traipse out this morning with everything triple checked. My bags packed for my evening flight in case I am held up in our nations capital. 08h00 and I walk to my car. Ignition. No. Flat battery - from nowhere. For no rhyme or reason. Frantic call to visa specialist who is meeting me in Pretoria. Can he pick me up? Anyway, he jump starts my car and I follow him to Pretoria. Whole process sorted out in 2 hours - both Home Affairs and Canadian visa.

I'm in the airport lounge now. I'm too scared to tie my own shoelaces in case something goes wrong. This episode has reduced me to a quivering wreck. Yesterday, the tiredness and stress virtually made me lose my voice.

Karma? Funnily enough, there is a psychological equivilent. Our psyches are like see saws. If we overplay our strengths we become overconfident, we ignore our weaknesses and they become under-practised. The whole thing tips and we are then flung out of our comfort zone. So life has a way of putting us through these cycles.

But it just seems like too much out of my control has gone wrong. Of course, me being me I'm beating myself up about it.

Now I have to face my client. A client absolutely fuming. I missed the first day of their management breakaway and they had to reorient the whole thing to have the fun event on the first day when I couldn't be there. I spoke to the MD last night in Canada. There was a lot of fuming silence on the other side of the phone.

This means I'm going to have to grovel and offer some free work to make up for it. Which will cost me a fortune.

But not as much as if I hadn't made it and been sued. That could have cost me my house. Worst case I could still lose this client. That would be a disaster in itself.

But karma owes me some upside. Dammit.

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