I thrive on a challenge. In fact, I’m bored without it. I think that’s what makes me great at what I do.
When I hear those great stories about how someone turns a situation around, how they turn a setback into a comeback, I know exactly how that feels. “Jon, I need your help”. That’s how those stories start in my world. Those are among my favorite phone calls to get. Nothing gets me going like a good challenge. After getting one of those calls, I almost can’t contain myself. I can’t wait to get started. Let me share some of those stories with you.
I was brought in to “fix” an IT steering committee for a major telecommunications company. What I didn’t know at the time was that “fix” meant babysit. In my first discussion with the client, I was told that people were “shouting”, “fighting” and “throwing things” in these meetings. He wasn’t kidding. I had a couple of aces up my sleeve, first was the knowledge that no one in the meeting had the power to fire me, and second was the fact that I’m naturally not easily intimidated. So, the first time I was supposed to lead this meeting, I walked in wearing a fireman’s helmet, faceguard and all, and said “alright, let me have it”. And boy, did they. I was told more than once that I wouldn’t last, that I would be removed before the next meeting, that I would certainly be fired. It took weeks to gain the trust of those involved, and I had to get tough more than once, even to the point of making a few folks leave the meeting until they could come back and be at least civil to the others in the room. Two years later, I was managing the IT development program from Request to Release, including this steering committee which now had a clear view of how the individual divisions needed to work together to serve the company, and not just themselves.
I was asked to help a national retailer get a project out of the ditch and completed as quickly as possible. The project was over a year old and had been managed by one of those BIG consulting companies. What they had produced was tons of documentation and very little else. I’m convinced that their goal was to produce so much paperwork that it prolonged the project so that they could make more money. I brought in a team of three people, including myself, to replace the 6-8 person team that preceded us. After digging through binder after binder to uncover what the original project was supposed to be, we got to work. The project was completed in about 9 months, I left the project after 6 months, since the project was managing itself, and the two team members I brought in were perfectly capable of completing the remaining tasks.