Bob nodded. He had been part of the team that had put together the twelve-month estimate. They had taken the product specifications to pieces and estimated that they could deliver the project in nine to ten months. Gwendolyn and her colleagues had bumped that estimate up to twelve months. They had built in a little safety to protect themselves from the killer penalty clauses, which made sense.
"I know things aren't so good now," Bob said, "and they might not be for a while, but would MegaCorp still make money from FBU if by some miracle it did go live in twelve or even six months? I mean, apart from the cash situation, the FBU product is still commercially viable, right?'
Gwendolyn smiled. "Of course. Even if they only sold half of what they previously expected, they'd still make loads of money from the product."
Bob thanked Gwendolyn for her time. In her bubbly, salesperson way, she said, "Sure, no problem, any time." Bob went back downstairs to his desk, wondering as he walked why he had never been aware of FBU's financial implications before. Sometimes, it felt like KillerWattSoftware's left hand didn't know what its right hand was doing.
Bob's "Light Bulb" Moment
Bob sat at his desk and thought. He thought briefly about the two books he had ordered and smiled. Then he thought about the third book and frowned.
Then he had a brainwave—one too obvious to be plausible. Otherwise, everyone would already be doing it. But they weren't. Were they?
He fired up his inter-office messaging system and sent a message to Billy. "Got a minute?"
Ninety minutes later, Billy and Bob concluded that Bob's brainwave was, technically speaking, sound. They also concluded that there were only two reasons why they had never done this before. The first reason was that no one had ever asked them to do it before, so they had never had bothered to think about it. The second reason was that their jobs had never been on the line like this.
Include Others to Make the Solution Better
Bob picked up his phone and called Peter Prince. "How are things at MegaCorp?"
"Glum," said Peter. "All of my get up and go has got up and gone. And you know what? I think it took my will to live along with it."
"Same here. Imminent financial disaster does that to you," said Bob. "However, I've got an idea that might just save our jobs. I need to run it by you, off the record, first."
They agreed to meet later that evening.
Bob spent the next two hours editing a spreadsheet they had used to prepare the project estimates earlier that year. He then went to Sam's desk and asked her to join him for a coffee. As they walked to the coffee shop, Bob explained his cunning plan. Thirty minutes later, Sam, with the aid of a couple shots of caffeine, had not only bought into the brainwave but had helped Bob put a "commercial" shine on it. By the time they made it back to the office, "Bob's brainwave" had become "Sam and Bob's solution." Bob didn't mind. The more people who felt like they owned this idea, the more likely it was to succeed.
Bob then asked Charlie, their usability expert, a few pertinent questions. Charlie's answers surprised him at first, but they made perfect sense.
Just before he left the office, Bob went back online and reordered his beekeeping book.
Even Talk to the Customer!
Bob bought two beers and took them to a table in the far corner of the bar. He fired up his laptop and showed Peter the spreadsheet—a list of all FBU's features and requirements.
Peter said he understood but couldn't see what the spreadsheet had to do with saving his job.
"Am I right in saying that even in today's economic climate, if it weren't for the shortage of spending money, FBU would still be a commercially viable product?" Bob asked.
"Good. In that case, I want to show you how, with just a little bit of planning, you and I can figure out how to do this project with far less cash. I think that we not only can save our jobs, but, with just a little extra work this week, we can make your bosses more money than they ever expected to."
Peter looked skeptical.