Sunday, November 13, 2005

Another software war story: Good meeting notes.

In 1982 I was managing several software projects at an "office software" company. I worked closely with the (marketing) product manager for these products; we had a good relationship. At this time, one manager in corporate headquarters held life-or-death approval over many of our decisions, even micromanaging a lot of user interface issues. So one day Tom and I drove to HQ to meet wth her and see if we could persuade her to our point of view on at least a few matters.
She swept into the meeting wearing a beautful fur coat. When I commented on it, she said, "I bought it the moment I discovered my husband was cheating on me." Nonetheless she was in a good mood. We talked for two hours, went over all our projects, and she gave in on a number of points. Then we got back into my car and headed back to our office. "Tom," I said, "I'll send out a memo to you, to her and my management about her decisions."
"You'll do no such thing!" said Tom. I glanced at him in puzzlement.
"Didn't you notice?" he said, "During the meeting she took no notes of her own. She just shot from the hip. We're free to do absolutely anything we want now. Pretty soon she'll have no recollection what she ageed to."
So we did that, and we got away with it. Tom was right.
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