Friday, June 05, 2009

Pulp Innovation Chapter Twenty Four

We finished our lunch with Meredith and thanked her for her time. After the usual pleasantries that are exchanged when people you barely know are departing, she did something I admired.

"Well, how'd I do?" she asked.

Matt's eyes widened and I laughed. A direct question deserves a direct answer I thought.

"Personally, I think you've got good experience and good insights."


"But Matt and I need to talk about the impact of a third partner, and whether or not we believe you could work the way we work. Leaving a safe corporate nest for the world of consulting is a big change. We at Marlowe can be a bit rough around the edges and we have big expectations of each other, and the folks we work with."

"How can I prove to you that I can contribute and want to work as part of your team?"

I knew I liked her. It was a good question. How can you prove yourself if you aren't given a chance to do so?

"Tell you what" I said. "Can you arrange to take a vacation from your job and join us on a job as a spectator? Then you can see for yourself how we work and what our expectations would be of you. At the end of that, if you are comfortable with us, and we with you, we'd offer you the position." I glanced at Matt for this last bit, checking to see if he was on board. The slight tilt of his head assured me he was.

"I'm interested and I'd be willing to do that. How soon can we make it happen?"

"I'll be in contact with you in two or three days. We'd need to identify the right client. As soon as I think we've got the right opportunity, we'll let you know. If you haven't heard from me by next Friday, give me a call."

"Thanks, Mr. Marlowe. I'm very interested in working with your firm. I don't want to seem pushy but I'd like to arrive at a decision quickly."

"I understand, and I appreciate your directness. As I said, I will find an opportunity for you to come in and work with us, and we can take the decision from there."

I turned to go to Matt's car. Matt caught me and walked stride for stride down the sidewalk. "What project can we bring her into that will give her the sense of what we do?"

"I don't know which would be best, but I like her style and we can use her skills in several clients we have currently. Do you have any reservations about her?"

"Same as yours. It can be tough to make the jump from corporate life to the life of a consultant. She's got good presence and clearly understands market research and ethnography."

"So are you saying we should just make the offer now?"

"Yes, I am." That pulled me up short. Matt had walked on several paces before he realized I had stopped.

"You were dragging your feet on this just a few days ago. Did she do so well over lunch that she changed your mind?"

"Look, number one, she's got the skills. Two, she's even better in person than on the phone. Three, we tell our clients to be decisive and make the decisions that are evident. Why shouldn't we take our own advice?"

What can you say when the evidence falls out in such a compelling way? I shrugged and nodded. We continued on to the car.

That afternoon I called Meredith and offered her the job, if she wanted it, without any other conditions. After some negotiation over salary and start date, she accepted. Now, Marlowe Innovation had two senior partners and one junior partner, and the capability to deliver an entirely new set of insights to its customers.
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posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 5:02 AM


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