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▼ BROWSE ISSUES ▼
Issue 31

Gogu and the alternatives game

Simona Bonghez
Managing Partner @ Colors in Projects
OTHERS

“Well, finally…” Misu respired with ease seeing the name and especially Gogu’s face on the screen of his smartphone. But he hardly managed to say anything since the outpour of Gogu’s words broke out through the little device, as if the dam had given way:

“What has happened, goodman, to make you call like crazy?! Do you think I am blind and can’t see you called the first time? Who died? Has something exploded? ‘Cause I can’t possibly have a quiet day! Just one day, pal, that’s what I allowed myself to take off. On good grounds. One day! And you are calling me five times in one hour. Five! May thunder and lightning come over your phone anytime you reach for it again!. Or is it that you are suicidal and you want me to fix this problem for you, which would make me extremely happy right now…”

He probably ran out of air, as the stream was interrupted and one could hear Gogu gasping for breath. You might have expected Misu to jump to the opportunity and begin to talk, but it seems he had foreseen such a reaction and now he was waiting for the “flood” to calm down. And, indeed, once his lungs refilled, Gogu lost some of the initial steam. He only added:

“So?”

A broad smile appeared on Misu’s face: he had got away with it much cheaper than he had imagined. Making no haste at all, he told Gogu about the problem he was dealing with and because of which he had insisted on reaching him, even on his day off. He was careful, though, not to bring this aspect up again; it wasn’t a good time to bring the broadside about again.

“Let me see if I got this right”, Gogu tried to summarize the information. “Chief asked you to find a project manager for the implementation required by the client. And you insisted on giving him the answer right away, which is by no means the kind of attitude you normally adopt; and he didn’t agree with your proposal. And now, the second round: you want to suggest Tibi, but you don’t want to take any more chances and, therefore, you make phone calls like a desperate and you want me to take this matter off your shoulders and take responsibility in case of a possible, even probable, failure. What a clever boy you turned into, overnight!”

There came another refilling of the lungs. Misu’s penitent face showed he was ready for the worse. But just like the last time, things had calmed down at the other end of the wire. For those who knew Gogu, it was obvious that he had entered the searching for solutions mood. This was another thing Misu liked about Gogu: invariably he would end up thinking about solutions. All it took was showing him the problem, just like you show a stick to a dog. Except that Gogu doesn’t wiggle his tail, thought Misu and banished the image of Gogu going on his hands and knees, happy to have the chance of running after the stick.

“Any idea, Gogu?” Misu dared to break the silence.

“Any idea, any idea! … I was thinking about Cristina. She is mature enough, she has proved it in the project with the English, she has experience in working in a virtual team and she already knows many of those she will have to collaborate with. It won’t be easy with the client, but that’s it, if it had been easy, anyone could have done it. She deserves a chance.”

Misu kept silent.

“Well, say something”, Gogu insisted. “Even with your speed of reaction, the information still must have reached your brain by now. Earth to Misu: Hello! Or is it that you think she is not ready yet?”

Misu was really confused.

“But I was thinking about Tibi… He is much more experienced.”

“Well, yes, you tough guy, but if you go again with a single option to Chief, you give him a choice between yes and no. And if the answer is no once more, you will be again at your wits’ end. You have to give Chief two viable choices; he will compare the nominations and will choose the best of them. Thus, you no longer run the risk of leaving him without having solved the problem. This is how the human mind works: it compares alternatives, options; if you offer Chief this possibility, his mind will explore the opportunity of comparing and choosing the best of the presented alternatives. Do you get it? Tibi or Cristina. Tibi, more experienced, but already involved in a difficult project, bla-bla-bla, versus Cristina, without too much experience, but eager to learn, to prove, to assert herself, bla-bla-bla; you add a thing or two.

“What do I add? The bla-bla?” Misu was making fun of Gogu.

“Look, you are getting on my nerves. Understood?”

“Yes, sir. But what if it doesn’t work? You know Chief is kind of whimsical… Anyway, I will call you as soon as I talk to him…”

“Do not call me!” Gogu stressed every word. “I believe I’m going to be out of signal, I can no longer hear you, Misu… hello, hello… I’m going out of the signal area and coming back tomorrow morning. Bye!”

Gogu cut the conversation off, smiled to himself and resumed placidly his work on the bicycle.

“Daaad…”

“Oh, no! What is it with you people today?! What do you want from me?” Gogu turned hopeless towards his son. “This is definitely not my day. Why can’t I enjoy this beautiful day, the bicycle, working on it or simply doing nothing?! Tell me, what now?”

But his son knew his role of grumpy guy on duty and did not take his theatrical mumble seriously. He began without being discouraged by his father’s apparent unfriendly attitude:

“I would like to go to Andu’s birthday party. What do you say: can you come and pick me up around 11 -12? Or, so as not to disturb you, I could sleep over at his house. We can play Assassin’s Creed, have a little chat…”

“What? What do you mean sleep at Andu’s? Don’t you have a home? You can play those assassins from your home, too. You’d better play Fifa2014.”

“Oh, all right, then. Please call me at about half past eleven, a quarter to twelve, when you are on your way to pick me up from Andu’s. Thanks, dad!” The kid turned around pleased and went away, whistling.

Gogu remained speechless when he saw the boy’s good-humor and wised up to the trap. But it was too late: a promise is a promise. And he is also happy that his father would pick him up, as if it hadn’t been more natural for the child to come home at 9 or 10 in the evening, at the latest. God, this kid had turned him round his fingers. He had given him two options of which Gogu, himself!, chose the most convenient. Ufff! The same mechanism he had explained a few minutes earlier to Misu, had been applied – successfully! – on him. Ha! And a brilliant idea hit him: “Wait a minute… Tomorrow, instead of asking Chief whether he agrees to let 6 people go to the mammoth Conference, I will offer him two alternatives: only six people from our department or, even better, we also take our colleagues from testing and we will be 10 people going… This is cool!”

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