Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Another Edition of Tales from Management Consulting!

:::cue spooky music and thunder clap:::

I thought I'd pop in with another quick story of stuff that's happened during the course of my project.

We're wrapping up my current engagement, the details of which are not important for the purposes of this story. Suffice it to say, there was a conference call scheduled earlier this week with the CEO of our client and other top executives.

Our project team leaders, partners at our firm, had requested the meeting at the end of one of our steering committee meetings (It's called the steering committee because it's made up of leadership that will periodically guide, or "steer" the ongoing effort. You know, like the captains of a large ocean liner like the Titanic only without the large giant iceberg and thousands of hypothermia-related deaths)

Anyway, because we had attended that steering committee meeting, we (myself and the other associate on the project), were included on the invitation to the CEO conference call that was put together by the executive's assistant.

Good for us, because we wouldn't typically be included on such a high-level and relatively impromptu discussion.

Of course, the client executive team, and our own project leaders, didn't exactly give us permission to attend.

So, our plan was to dial in to the call early, to be there right at the beginning when everyone joins, mute our phone, and simply listen to hear what was going on and what the next steps of the project would be.

Simple, right?

So we dial in to the call, when the conference system announces that we'll now be placed into conference and that there are only three people on the call.

:::Electronic Beeps:::

Client Executive: Hello this is the team at Client X, who else has joined the call?

Consulting Firm Manager: This is X with Y Consulting Firm

Client Executive: Hello...


Client Executive: I thought there was someone else on the call?"

At this point, we're not sure exactly what to do. We've just been made, but dropping off might be too blatant. Also, we had received specific instructions NOT to introduce ourselves because of the whole lack of specific permission thing. If we were Allied spies in Nazi Germany...this is the point where we'd dash off for a high stakes life or death chase through the Alps.

But this isn't a movie, so we just cursed in our conference room.

Suddenly, more beeps came on the line, a few, maybe two, maybe four. People began to announce themselves, and we breathed a sigh of relief.

It won't matter, we thought, we just got lost in the shuffle.

The new attendees introduced themselves over the phone, and then there was another awkward pause...

Client Executive: I thought there was one more person on the call..."

At that point we received an email from our team...

"Just drop off the call, now"

We hung up on the conference, leaving them to guess who dropped off, and leaving us to wonder what might be said


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