“This is just what I experienced with a project at a medium-sized enterprise. There I convinced the management …”
I’m at a meeting. I have a lot to do – and in front of me an external consultant is striking the pose. After two minutes I’ve got it: Yes, he’s an important man. And he’s been in charge of many projects (client names are withheld for reasons of discretion) – and he even speaks with members of the Managing Boards.
“It has to be done this way. There’s no alternative.” He’s repeating the sentence for the third time.
He then looks round, fishing for approval. “Then this is how it will be, since there’s no objection.” Now I feel the urge to interfere. The discussion is getting arduous. The consultant never says that this is his position. I do indeed see alternatives – ones that are superior in many points, I think.
The discussion becomes even more galling. At no point in time he states hat this is his point of view. No, he’s proclaiming the absolute truth.
He doesn’t even remotely understand that in questions of software architecture there are many varieties, each of which comes with advantages and disadvantages of its own. He doesn’t see that the evaluation of these standards is first of all a subjective one as long as one doesn’t have objective benchmarks to measure the solutions against.
He doesn’t name those benchmarks as he just loves to hear himself talk. He refers to harp on about principles, for the world of principles is pure and unsullied by pragmatism or questions of cost.
Dishonest Arguments …
The discussion can’t be avoided. Now he’s gathering momentum: “It just has to be like this. There was exactly the same problem with a project he wouldn’t name now. There it lead to disaster and the leading IT person of the company had to go. They had to change the architecture in a later phase of that project.” Yes. Tricks like these leave an impression: he leaves the factual level and evokes fear in IT decision makers.
Everything has its bright side …
While I’m in a meeting, listening to the words of wisdom coming from the rostrum, I start to see the positive aspects. The longer you have been in the business, the further you get away from operational business, the more loof you get.
I vow the following to myself:
- Hopefully I will never be this arrogant towards my clients. And even if I may think my clients are idiots, I will never let them feel it.
- I will make an effort to always keep my arguments on target during discussions. I hope that thus the discussion itself will get more to the point, making it easier to spot nonsense.
- I will work on my rhetorical skills. When I have to deal with external consultants, I often have to deal with notorious show offs.
- When you are in a meeting and at the same time you can work on your self promotion skills while the company is paying for it, your values and interests will be totally different from those of your clients.
I’m therefore hardly competitive, as I’m not being paid for living out my narcissism. However, I have to practice this, so that show offs will have a hard time thwarting me.
I don’t like to deal with self-promoters and self-promotion during meetings. Arrogance shouldn’t be lived, it should be ostracised.
It all starts with company principles. There will always be companies that define themselves as part of the elite, with very elitist employment policies, but even in such cases a company’s business principles should bring customer relations to the fore.
Maybe we should start a campaign to reach a change in value: “Yes to performance, yes to innovation – no to arrogance!”