The Closed Screen

Negativity that we undergo from time to time is like a Theatre Screen. It obstructs the show while preparations are on in the other side. If the viewer gets impatient or restless about the closed screen and leaves the theatre mid-way, then he will miss the joyous show ahead.

The internal mood during negativity can be very tumultuous. It might force us to do something impulsive, or stupid. In fact, few of my previous job shifts were the results of becoming impatient about seeing the closed stage screen. So, while we observe the negativity from inside as it floats around, we should stay clinging to our deep-seated faith that the screen will be lifted soon and the show will start.

I have been wooing a potentially a large volume customer for quite sometime. Finally, the time came for us to send our best prices. When I emailed him the rate, there was complete silence. Then I spoke to him over phone ; did not sound enthusiastic. We agreed to meet each other personally.

Prior to the quotation process, this particular customer had sampled his current product and wanted us to match or better that. The technical team had no practical point of view while submitting the product sample to the client. They took a very ideal view and submitted A-grade sample which, as expected, was approved by the customer. Our technical team, in its enthusiasm, exceeded the quality of sample submitted by the client. I infer that the customer’s sample may have been B-grade.

In our exuberance to impress, the market reality was ignored. We did not realize that the client is used to certain price level and the quality can be commensurately lower than our premium quality A-grade sample. It may also be possible that the VP must have influenced the QA manager to send A-grade sample to this client (despite knowing market conditions!) to sabotage my efforts.

When the customer saw our price, he was taken aback. It was too steep. As we being a new supplier and trying to get entry as a supplier into that large company, we did not do any favour to ourselves by quoting unreasonably high price, ignoring market realities.

My minutes of the meeting subsequent to my personal meeting with the customer triggered a dialogue process, which in itself a positive development.

I was aware that we do not have regular buyers for our B grade product. Infrequently, we are able to sell B grade at price far less than what indicated by this particular customer.

Now, the moot point is – should we re-sample the product or not? My answer was – no need. It was because that the customer himself will not use the product that we will be supplying and it will be distributed to various franchisee restaurants for consumption. I was proposing to ship a trial consignment of B grade only without informing them so. If the trial supply goes through smoothly, we can safely enter into annual contract with them.

The CEO as usual was non-committal and did not want to take any decisions himself. This was evident from his saying that he would be discussing with the factory guys when he visits there in about ten days from now.

Surprisingly, the tea-drinking director took sudden interest in this business. So he called me into his chamber, where as usual CEO was already sitting there. Inescapably, I was served with Black tea as usual. The director did not approve of my idea. He said that what I am proposing is not ethical. He felt that we should somehow make them to approve our B-grade sample and then go ahead with trial order. My practical approach had to give in to his holistic cum authoritative approach.

The Director’s and the CEO’s apparent apathy to diagnose the deeper ill – lack of business perspective by the factory team and its leaders – did disturb me a little. I chose to over-look that and concentrate on further process ahead.

I decided to go by what the Director told and started thinking ways to propose re-sampling of our product again by the customer. Do not know if their Vendor Management / QA Systems will permit this. CEO had asked B to re-do the costing of B-grade product and inform me. I think I would propose the revised quote with a provision to re-submit the samples. Let me see what their response will be.

Just staying in the process without expecting any one particular outcome is very soothing. It helps enormously to stay centred and to keep negativity at bay. Under present environment that I find myself in, it may be the only suitable way as the variables and actors are too many. Why to rush out hurriedly on seeing the closed screen or be under the spell of negativity? The wait for a glorious play to begin may not be long.


  1. anuradha says:

    ethics is a sensitive issue, we all bend & break them a bit.. but when faced with a discussion where ethics are being dissected & scrutinised, it’s difficult not to go with the book…

    for eg, we may all bought a movie ticket in black.. against ethics right?.. acceptable as long as it’s not questioned.. but suppose u r called onto a tv show to discuss corruption & bribery, it’s impossible to stand there & support black-marketeering…

    same thing happened with u i guess…

    1. hemgan says:

      Right perspective. My purpose of citing this instance was aimed at this only – our differing views on ethical issues depending on individual circumstances. If it is debated in public, people do take a moral high ground. If it is not debated, we accept breaking of ethics as practical. Another thing that frequently happens is – using “ethics” for doing something with vested interests. I had seen this happening in alarming regularity with persons of authority.

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