clarity

Clarity

“I want clarity”. The CEO said mildly. This was the first meeting after some intense brainstorming and data gathering that the team had been at.

They thought they were very close to defining what the problem was. They wanted to check in with the CEO and his reports. Because, there simply wasn’t one version of the problem. The subject line to the meeting said : “Identifying the scope of challenge X”

Bright yellow and green sticky notes fluttered on whiteboard with hesitation. Like trapeze artists hanging by a thread and waiting for applause after a performance. Everyone’s eyes were on the CEO who wore speed and execution as his medals of honour. He spoke about them a lot. His impatience showed. In this meeting too.

“It isn’t clear”, he said. “I want clarity”. He said. Again. “Total clarity”. He cleared his throat. There was silence in the room like clean air before a thunderstorm.

And then it poured.

“This is hazy. When we are starting? What are the milestones? What is going to happen in two months time? Have you thought about the risks involved? How much is it going to bear the cost overrun? How do we manage the board?…”

Like a lazy machine gun puncturing the guts of stunned passers by there was regular noise for sometime. Enthusiasm slopped dead on the floor.

And then came some mumbo-jumbo about staying positive and that the team can do anything that it chose to do, if only they gave it their all.Steve Jobs was invoked. Jeff Bezos was quoted.

To wrap it all up, the CEO looked at the senior most member and said, “Clarity. The next presentation, there has to be clarity”. The senior most man, a much decorated man wearing many a medal of obedience”, nodded his head. A tight stiff nod.

In an astounding flourish, he turned to the group, and said, “any questions?” Every head pointed to the floor.

Except one.

A young lady put her hand up. Surprised, the CEO said, “Shoot”, he said. Mildly irritated that his “Any questions” was treated as a question and not as a notification to end the meeting.

“Sir, I get all your questions. We have ground to cover and hard work to do”, she demurred. The CEO nodded. His grimace flirted with a mild grin.

“It is an inspiring session with you sir. You must spend more time with us and inspire us sir”. The grimace was getting weaker. The grin steadier.

And then, she looked straight into his eye, and said, “remind us again sir, WHY are we doing this project?” She had made her move and put a bullet between the eye of the man.

That one bullet was louder than the torrent of machine gun fire. And to ensure the bullet did its job, she shot twice more. “The real why. And other whys”.

Her bullets found their mark. There was clarity all around. That evening, she left. Without a word.