The Mindless Game

Strategy is the word we freely use. Strategy as I have seen in my work situations always allude to personal strategy. Because the company as a whole does not have any strategy of its own.  Individual strategy most of the times than not always turns into mind games. While strategy ideally aims for a collective and positive goal, mind games always have selfish motives behind them.

I get terribly frustrated  when the possible deals are lost because of seniors’ indecision. CEO’s constant refusal to take positions has now become infamous in the organisation. VP will take decisions when his self-interest is served. If it is a deal that involves my effort, VP would do everything possible to mis-guide the cartel and CEO, so that pricing, terms etc will be made very stiff.  

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The Colour Extracting company had approached us sometime back for some material. While we had the facilities to do this product, we have never produced it commercially. So the pricing was worked out based on theoretical assumptions.

The purchasing manager of the Colour-extracting company is a good-looking and attractive female. I had met with her once in their office. There was a big gap between their price bid and our quote. I was convinced that our pricing is high because the finance manager must have used his imagination to work it out on a higher side  and the diffident operations managers also would have given their safest figures to the finance manager. If we do a trial production, we could get proper cost observations to work out a realistic price. I didn’t think that CEO would order the factory to do a trial production and to re-evaluate the realistic input-output ratio. 

I thought it was up to me to do something that will trigger events toward this end. I entered the Director’s cabin unannounced. He uncovered his face by keeping the newspaper he was reading on the desk and said “yes?”. I gave brief background and mentioned to him “This customer has a long-term potential. We should take a strategic view and do a small trial even though we may incur costs. Then only we will know what is the achievable costing for this product”. He asked “have you discussed it with CEO?”. I said “yes..but…” I wondered for a second what to say. Without waiting for my answer any further, he said “ok. let me see”

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After two days, I learnt that the trial production was being organised in the factory. CEO did not mention about it to me directly. “Strategy” worked!

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Trial production threw up a surprise to me. We got the same yield that we had calculated in the original costing. How to bridge the price expectations? By this time, I had committed myself so much to this particular business opportunity. I did something which in normal circumstances I would have never done. I proposed to the Purchasing Manager of the colour-extracting company to visit our office and meet with the CEO for final price discussion. While my suggestion sounded very casual and business like, there was a silent intention behind it.  CEO would start ogling at the Purchasing Manager and may try to agree to do the business at a realistic price somewhere close to the customer’s bid.  If I was to deal with this alone, then the profit expectation of 25-30% would remain intact and I would not be allowed to budge at all. The boss behaved exactly as expected – full of show-off, flirty talks, indecent humour, etc. In one stroke, he offered a counter-bid (closer to the customer’s bid) which was accepted immediately. The woman became weary at the end of the meeting. When I saw her off in the gate, she muttered “your boss is very weird”.

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The contract was received in the subsequent week.

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My personal strategy did work. But  there was an unintended  implication too. The purchasing lady gave me a phone call on a saturday. “I am sorry but I have to tell you this. Your boss keeps stalking through smses. My business card did contain my mobile number in it. I did reply him rudely on a couple of occasions, but he is not stopping….I am really sorry that I am talking to you about this…I know you cant do anything in this case….” I uttered some inrrelevant but kind words. My heart knew I sounded fake.

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