For once in my life, I couldn’t wait for Monday. Normally the workweek drags along and the weekends speed by. This weekend was different. The clock couldn’t move fast enough, the days seemed to drag along. Even the attractions of sunny southern California didn’t hold much appeal. I longed to be walled up in a silent, sterile conference room, surrounded by executives in suits making decisions about the future of their company, rather than outside sitting in the sun. June called on Saturday and I took her to dinner, and we went dancing, but my head and my heart were elsewhere. She could tell that I was disengaged but I doubt she would have realized that it was Accipiter, and not another woman, that occupied my brain cycles.
As I walked her to her door, she turned and said “I hope she’s good to you. I won’t play one of those Hollywood heroines and tell you I’ll always be here for you.”
I put my hand on her door and held it open before she made the rapid getaway.
“We’ve meant something to each other for a long time” I said. “There’s no other woman in my life right now. I’m just really occupied with a potential new client. I’m sorry I wasn’t the best date tonight. I know it and if you’ll let me, I’ll make it up to you.”
She looked at me, not really buying the story entirely but seeing the truth that was in at least part of it. I knew then she was a terrific woman and I should make the right moves here and focus my attentions for at least a few hours on my personal life, rather than become so overwhelmed with Accipiter that I lost myself in my work.
“Can I buy you a drink?” I said, hoping she would ask me in for a nightcap.
“Sam, not tonight. If what you say is true, then give me a call when you are ready to focus on me, on us. I think I believe you, but I need to see more from you than an hour or two. Good luck with the new client” emphasis on client “and when you’ve decided that I’m as important as some company, then give me a call. Maybe I’ll answer.”
With that she glanced at my hand on her door, which slid away and she slipped into her apartment, without a glance back at me. I’d managed, in less than a few weeks, to alienate my partner, my co-workers and my sometimes girlfriend all to win a new client that I wasn’t even sure I wanted. The work was almost too personal.
I relieved my sorrow in the usual way, one shotglass at a time that evening and slept in on Sunday. The hours seemed to tick by even more slowly, so I left the apartment and went to the office, to catch up on all the work I’d left undone during the Accipiter sales efforts. Yet at the office I was unable to concentrate, still spinning the Accipiter opportunity around in my mind. Forms, bills, receipts were scattered around my desk representing tens of thousands of billings, but I could not help but play out all the alternative outcomes for Accipiter. I could imagine arriving on Monday to be told that over the weekend, Dowdy and Brockwell had had second thoughts and were postponing the project, or that the board had decided to halt the project and hire a big name consulting firm to examine the strategic consequences of innovation and report back in six months. There were so many opportunities for any innovation project to go astray, and so few chances for one to succeed. I had a lot tied up in this one, and it had me tied up as well.
By Jeffrey Phillips
Jeffrey Phillips is VP Marketing and a lead consultant for OVO Innovation. Jeffrey has led innovation projects for Fortune 5000 firms, academic institutions and not-for=profits based on OVO Innovation’s Innovate on Purpose™ methodology. The Innovate on Purpose methodology encourages organizations to consider innovation as a sustainable, repeatable business process, rather than a discrete project.
Jeffrey is the author of “Make Us More Innovative,” a book that encompasses much of the OVO Innovation methodology, and blogs about innovation at Innovate On Purpose. He is a sought after speaker and has presented to corporations, innovation oriented conferences, and at a number of universities. In 2010 he chaired the Innovate North Carolina conference and was a keynote speaker at Queen’s University, University of the Pacific, UNC and several other colleges and conferences. Jeffrey has an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Virginia.