Proman A. Jecgert put the phone back in its cradle. It was a distressing call. The caller was very frustrated and negative about what was going on. “The place is in a mess,” she said. “People are doing their own thing, and managers aren’t stepping in to guide the development process or make crucial decisions. If we keep going in this direction, it will become impossible to recover in time to get products to market. Can you help?”
Proman was bothered by all the negative words used in the discussion. But something told him there was an opportunity here.
He decided to talk with his manager about the call. This particular manager used to be his colleague, and they worked very well together. Now that she was promoted to be his boss, her controlling style made him rethink his current situation. He no longer ran the team meetings and was relegated to support tasks. Maybe this phone call represented a way out.
The discussion he initiated went well. Yes, the problem in the organization was real, and something needed to be done. Was he interested to help by taking on this new assignment? You bet!
Proman decided to meet with the manager who had called. In person he got a much different impression. He discovered a very smart person who articulated issues very clearly. It was clear she was passionate about making changes. She knew how the organization worked. Even more so, she was painfully aware of the collegial environment that inhibited any one from suggesting anything radically different in how they operated. If a new way failed, it would leave a stigma on the person leading the way. What bothered her more, though, is that she needed someone to help manage the tactical side of leading the change. She would champion the cause as long as there was someone covering her back to get things done.
Proman learned how important it was for the organization to get agreement on key issues so teams operating virtually could make progress. Outside the company, the press was wondering if the company could succeed with introducing a new product platform. Knowing he had a sponsor who could guide the effort, sensing an excellent match with his process development capabilities, and perceiving a high visibility, high importance opportunity, Proman realized that this was just what he was looking for: a shift from a current untenable position to one what he could contribute big time. Wahoo!