Part 4 of 5 – Project suspension.

Riding the suspension wave

Riding the suspension wave

My driver took me back to the Sheraton, rather than directly to the office. I spent the rest of the afternoon looking at my brain map in the makeshift strategic bunker section of my suite – then changed my clothes and took a slow walk into the city. I knew that there would be calls in London to fire me, and that did not worry me. What worried me was had I done enough in so short a time for the offices (India, Zagreb and London) to trust me?

This suspended status of the project had been forewarned by its history. As anticipated, I get no further than two steps from returning to the hotel entrance before my work mobile rings. It was Lisa – the Account Manager – in London. She confirmed that the client had faxed notice of the project being suspended. I could tell she wanted to know more details of what went on in the meeting, but thought better than to insist on it. She, more than the others in the London office, knew the degree of my focus on this project. She trusted me to have a plan. Later on she left me a jovial good luck message and said that she would wait for me to get back to her.

Before arriving in Zagreb, this suspension scenario was not fully anticipated. The project had been marked as a non-starter until our (Lisa and I) presentation which injected life back into it. Of course, I had logged a project suspension as a risk to the project – its history demanded it. My organisation being blamed for the project ills was not anticipated. Looking back, this part reason for the suspension was to become a great benefit to the project. The real question now was to determine which solution and restart techniques to use, plus what penalties would I need to place on the client to ensure that the project could continue uninterrupted?

Sir Winston Churchill had given me the foresight to create the strategic bunker in my hotel club-suite. Here, my investigations in London were laid out ontologically. All potential risks to the project were visibly logged – all risks had owners of responsibility with a chart detailing likelihood of probability to occur. In the bunker I could brain-map solutions to these risks, calculate impact and decide what leverage should be applied – especially in this suspension situation. When I was going through all the project receipts and contracts during the audit/investigation phase, never once did I see a service level agreement (SLA). The client was spending vast amounts of money on equipment, yet failed – or overlooked the need – to secure the appropriate SLAs (especially hardware and subsequent technical installation set-up). Sir Winston was also a master tactician; I needed direct access to the person/s on the client side who had authorised and acquired this equipment – which I managed successfully. Their role would be to bring the client (their employer) back to the project restart table – which they did.

George Eastman Kodak has been on all my projects. Here was a genius manager and organiser – loyal, trusted and with a work ethic that still remains in scarcity today. George’s strong humanity helped me to work with the Croatian, Indian and London teams. Later on it would help me to take control of IBM, Siemens, Motorola and other 3rd party suppliers. For this project suspension phase, George helped rally get my own house in order. The only damaging accusation left to deal with was the PTK training one. The team found evidence which supported their attendance. Afterwards, I needed to strengthen the system integration weakness. I discovered more evidence of the Client’s financial wastage when I had previously persuaded them to allow me to visit their production site – for auditing purpposes. Adopting George’s insights – in preparing for the project restart meeting – I planned for an additional contract to be signed to bring the entire project under the control of my organisation (but to complete that, I needed the help of Master Da Vinci).

As I mentioned earlier, my organisation being blammed for the ills  of the project was – looking back – an opportunity. At the time, London did not believe so. The project suspension sent my work mobile phone into cardiac arrest. they were in panic mode despite my daily routine communications during this “emergency” phase. I held tightly to the plan worked out with the Zagreb office and backed up by the Indian office. Within 72hrs since the project was suspended – I was about to enact a plan that would change the entire project.

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