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Using Tanks To Get Our Building Expansion Approved

August 12, 2015

(An extended metaphor)

I raised the field glasses and again checked the position of Captain Salazar’s infantry platoon. What was he doing down there? Why didn’t he attack? Our tanks were deployed on the ridge south of Salazar’s position. We had been asked to sit this one out. “Indirect support” they’d said. We hadn’t fired a shot. 

Still, it had been a well coordinated battle plan. Very much like our earlier engagements. All the forces worked together like a well oiled machine. We’d been doing this for the last couple of years. And in the back of my mind I’d always been slightly suspicious of Salazar. It wasn’t the first time another team had to pick up the slack for his unit. In the past we’d always managed to step up and still accomplish the objective on time. But, I had to admit at times it was in spite of Salazar. 

Get on the radio to those guys and find out what the hold up is. That bridge is just sitting there. It’s not going to come to him.

Their radioman reports they sent out another patrol. 

I held my tongue. All he’d done for the past 8 days was send out one patrol after another. Through the glasses I could see his squad gearing up in the dusty street. “Sent” out? No. “Sending” out? Yes. Here I was sitting on 62 metric tons of killing machine and my tanks were gathering dust while the infantry took a sightseeing tour through the village below. 

The patrol, like the others before it, ventured out less than a mile. Barely half the distance to the bridge. They walked down streets that had been cleared for days before heading back to their HQ without even setting eyes on the object. I swore softly. This delay was costing us money. Everyday we were on this side of the Richmond River was another day we weren’t getting paid. 

Get on the radio to Colonel Scott. I’ve had enough of this sitting around. . .And warm up the armor. 

What do you do when you can do someone’s job better than they can? At least a part of it? 

That’s the problem I struggled with a while ago. We were expanding one of our call centers. We’d brought three call centers online in about 15 months. I had been the Project Manager on them and we’d not missed a single deadline. Sometimes we barely finished the last of the preparations before the client walked in the front door. 

One time, we couldn’t get the turnstiles working. No matter how many times we’ve installed them, everytime it was the turnstiles that tripped us up. On this particular inspection, the client walked in and the turnstiles didn’t work when she tried to get in. 

Well, Rodney, obviously we came too soon. You aren’t ready. We’re leaving.

Wait. Wait. Tell you what, why don’t you go and inspect the classrooms and we’ll get this turnstile issue resolved before you get back. 

I told the turnstile vendor, “You’ve got 20 minutes. I don’t care how you do it, but you need to have this working before she gets back here.” And he did it. We passed that security audit. 

But, with the latest expansion, I was regulated to the role of one more stakeholder. We had a great project manager, but he was new. He’d formally been a lead engineer. I wasn’t sure he would be able to push at the times he needed. PMs need to sometimes push the engineering teams and at other times they need to push the client and still other times they need to provide encouragement. Knowing when to use which method was one of the skills they didn’t teach in PMP class. As a Technical Account Manager, it wasn’t my job to get the last the last of our audit items approved by the client. It might not have been my job, but I knew it was something that I could do. 

Colonel? I’m going to take the bridge myself.

What do you need?

Nothing. Just keep Salazar’s guys off me. He’s likely not going to be particularly happy with me stepping on his toes. 

Leave Salazar to me. Let me know if you need additional support once you engage.

The big gasoline turbine engines rumbled to life as we headed down off the ridge toward the bridge. I’m not even sure that Salazar knew we were on the move. At 30 miles per hour we tore down the dusty streets shaking the buildings as we rumbled through. We spread out and came at the bridge from three directions. M1s on the left and right flank prowled the river bank looking for any sign of a threat. 

I blazed down the middle and hit the bridge going flat out. This wasn’t how we had planned to take the bridge. If it was mined, this was going to be a short trip. Emerging on the opposite side, we quickly spread out to offer less of a target. Behind me the rest of our thirteen tank company poured across the bridge like teenagers fleeing a kegger when the cops show up. 

Radio Scott. Tell him we’ve taken the bridge and are moving on to secure the village. 

The resistance was minor. Actually, I think they were surprised it had taken us so long. 

Yeah, so were we. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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