Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Adding Value

The current project I've been punished with deals with bulk chemicals and other uninteresting stuff, to add insult to injury we're working with a very marginal budget limiting the number of market reports and overall useful stuff that we can purchase to make our analysis better and also we're a small team working on a very tight timeframe. The team consists of me, the Boy and Mr. Chin Jnr with a little help from the Texan on the side.

Granted, we were given three key phrases from El Presidente at the start of the project that made us feel a bit relieved; "All hands on deck", "indicitative" and "winging it" which made us feel a bit more comfortable with doing the stuff. However, recently that seems to be forgotten and now replaced with the phrase "adding value", repeated a number of times by Mr. K who is managing the project (going back to ancient history, but here you can find more info on the gallery of characters). The question "are we adding value here?" usually comes in conjunction with him looking at one of the slides made, based on what we are committed to show in our proposal. This usually elicits a moment of utter disbelief and a response of "well, that depends on what they want and are expecting, but we're giving them what they ordered and we don't have the time and budget to do anymore than this!". This is usually rinsed and repeated a number of times during a meeting until we finally agree that things could be better but we can't do much more given time and money.

However, the best episode of today was when we were going through a section dealing with outsourced R&D, a field in which we had spent relatively little time and made 5 slides dealing with the basic premises of the market without going into any level of detail to speak of and getting the question "Ok guys, do you think that we have captured everything that is important in these slides?". This caused a few seconds of confused silence followed by an empathic "No, of course not, but give us more time and money and we might be able to do something good" from our side. He did not bring up this topic again.

This also reminds me of one of the golden moments in a previous project. The premise was that we had difficulties getting some information from the client and were a bit held up in our work. We had a meeting discussing the situation and Mr. K throws out the wonderful conclusion; "well, it seems like the client is the bottleneck for us in doing this project...", I'm a bit ashamed of myself since I did not initially react to this but one minute out of the meeting the hilariousness of this statement struck me. I've sworn to never ever let any client be a bottleneck for me to finish a project ever since!

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