Three dangerous scenarios and the strategies to overcome them...

M:I-1 – A Man Is Down!

Scenario: The chief is out of town, but the decision needs to be made anyway. You're not authorized to make the call, but huge sums of money or great opportunities will be lost for every minute you delay. What do you do?

Attempt to make contact – See if you can reach your manager by fax, phone or e-mail. Go to sufficient lengths to get in touch and you may be able to solve the problem simply.

Do some surveillance work – Try to collect as much information as you can to make the decision your manager would. Talk to your colleagues as well as those of your manager to get a breadth of opinions.

Take action – If your company's bottom line is hemorrhaging, you need to make the decision. So make one. But make sure you've done the previous two steps to the best of your ability, as well as step four…

Cover yourself – Make sure you're able to defend your position. This shouldn't be difficult if you've thought things through. Be prepared to substantiate two things: why you made the decision you did, and why you felt you had to act at the time.

M:I-2 – The Ticking Time Bomb
Scenario: You've been given an assignment with an impossible deadline. There's no way you can deliver with the resources you've been given, yet you know that the deadline is mission critical. What do you do?
Recruit other agents – Try to get additional resources applied to the project. If you can't do this officially, see if you can appeal to your colleagues' goodwill. If you promise something, make sure you deliver – and expect to return the favor sometime.

Switch briefcases when no one's looking – If you can't change the deadline, see if you can change the deliverables. Can you narrow the focus of what you're doing to make your deadline? Which pieces are critical by the date, and which could come in just days later? What about eliminating some of the deliverables overall? Can your presentation double as the executive summary to your report, or do you have to create all three pieces?

Look out, she's gonna blow! If you know that the above options aren't available to you, the secret microfilm sidebar contains your next steps.

M:I-3 – The Name of the Agent Is...ARGH!!
Scenario: Maybe your boss is too busy, maybe he's a genius whose goals are hazy. Regardless of the reason, you've been handed a plum assignment that's riddled with ambiguity. The scope of the project is lacking definition, but the situation makes you too uncomfortable to ask for more detail. What do you do?
Put out some bugs and taps – Do some internal digging to see if you can figure out why the project came about.

Ask a few "in the know" types why they think this assignment is necessary. What is the history? Are there any future plans that might be related? Whatever you do, proceed with caution on this piece of the mission. You're trying to uncover information, not stir up dirt.

Use your global positioning system – Take a step back and use the information you've gathered to look at the bigger picture. Knowing what you do about the company, is there an angle that makes sense to you on this project? Set your objectives using this information.

Check in with the chief – Now that you've identified the objectives you think make sense, it's time to check in with your manager to make sure you're on the right track. Take a deep breath and present your ideas with confidence and one of two things will happen…you'll be right, or you'll get more information. Best of luck!
We-wish Weapons for Everyone's Meeting Arsenal
A stun gun to silence Ray the Rambler
Chewing-gum explosive device to cause minor technical failure to end Bob the Boring's presentation
Attention-o-Meter watch to signal when you're becoming Bob the Boring
Secret decoder ring to beam the correct answer into your head when you're asked a tough question
Invisible shield for when that impossible task is about to be assigned
Donut decalorizer – need we explain why?

Read meeting dilemmas solved by the Meeting Guru.


Send this Article
to a Friend

SubscribeAbout UsContact UsLegal