Monday, March 25, 2013

Who Gets the Shaft When Slick Dick Comes To Town?

I remember one client we had worked with for ages. A real mom-and-pop shop, these guys never had much money and always had lots of needs. But they would usually scrape together enough coin to bring us in every few months to tweak a system or patch up an RFP. Sometimes they'd even pay me to talk to their staff about "technology advances" - in other words, I'd just show up and throw up about whatever I felt like.

I usually felt a bit guilty about taking their money. For one thing, it wasn't much so their projects were always scheduled "as available". Maybe I'd get it done this week, maybe next month. Whatever. And we never put in much effort on their tasks, either.

Then one day a funny thing happened. Somehow "Slick Dick" came in and convinced "Mom" to make him CIO of the place. He even negotiated a nice budget for services and equipment!

Our sales rep was drooling. Dick was a shyster and she knew it. But rather than letting Mom know to show him the door, Mrs. Rep pow-wowed with Dick and convinced him to hire us to build a Strategic Plan. This, of course, because there was no way he was capable of strategizing his way out of the can!

I was the lucky SoB to work with Dick on this plan. This left me deeply conflicted: Should I do it right and make Dick shine or should I torpedo his ambitions out of respect to my long-time friends there?

I was especially conflicted once it became clear that Dick wanted to outsource the whole thing to a certain sub-continental consulting firm. He figured the immediate savings would make him look like a god so he could parlay his own way out of there and into a cushier office with a bigger budget.

In the end, I did exactly what I was told. I helped Dick build a strategy and RoI model showing that outsourcing the whole shebang was the sensible thing to do. Then I did what I thought was right: I requested feedback from an old friend on staff, a guy at risk of losing his job under the new plan. Of course I didn't care about his feedback. I just wanted to leak the whole thing in time for him to sink Dick.

That's exactly what happened. IT rallied behind my old ally, sunk the outsourcing, and Dick got the shaft. As for me and my firm? We got paid handsomely for leading the company from Point A right back to Point A. What's a few kilobucks between friends?

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