Project Management Competence: Building Key Skills for Individuals, Teams, and Organizations

By J. Davidson Frame | Go to book overview

Chapter Six
Developing People
Management Skills
The Soft Side of Project Management

In the mid-1970s I had the dubious distinction of being screamed at by an internationally renowned physicist. My company was in the last stages of negotiating a sole-source contract with the Defense Department when we received notice that the division we were dealing with had just acquired a new director—the highly accomplished physicist. A colleague and I were asked to provide a briefing on our proposed project to the new director. This was no inconvenience to us because we routinely conducted such briefings.

When we arrived, the new director was sitting at the head of a table. He had a terrible scowl on his face. We were introduced to him, after which my colleague launched the briefing by describing the problem we were addressing. Then he stated that we would be using an eigenvalue formulation to solve the problem.

At tins point—perhaps two minutes into the briefing—the new director slammed his hand against the table. “I know what an eigenvalue formulation is!” he screamed. “Do you think I don't know what an eigenvalue formulation is? I understand you contractors! You're just trying to do a snowjob on us. You're trying to impress us with fancy talk.”

With that he ended the meeting. He knew nothing about us or our capabilities. His attitude was governed solely by a stereotypical image of how government contractors operate. Our proposed project was killed on the spot. About ten months of preparatory work went down the drain.

-79-

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