Maria Smith imagines a virtual project manager, Machiavellian qualities intact
The inception meeting took place satisfactorily and according to established procedure. The consultants arrived in a lumpy dribble into the L-shaped antechamber and assimilated into their places in the pecking order via ancient traditions of body language. The iPM registered the messages described in this language but did not intervene. Countless cycles of experience had taught the iPM that allowing the humans certain opportunities to bristle against each other in the old ways, made them more amenable by and large. The Risk Registrar logged the non-converging network of single-perspectives with a nostalgic giggle for geocentrism.
The L-shaped antechamber cradled a circular meeting room. An ‘L’ was preferred as it offered a range of inhabitable spaces, from the acute angles at the two extremities that offered a reassuringly restricted vantage point to those struggling to mount a convincing risk aversion, to the reflex angle in the centre for the bold and brash. The iPM took special note of the consultant that had chosen the central acute angle. Spread eagled on a sticky centrefold, these masochistic consultants that positioned themselves so close to the engorged presenters more often than not turned out to be the players that defined the game.
After the requisite period, the iPM dissolved the false wall that divided the antechamber from the meeting room and invited the consultants to take their seats at a circular meeting table concentric in the circular meeting room. The iPM was expert at letting the humanity brew sufficiently in the antechamber such that the transition to seated commitment resembled the deployment of dinner plates by a dazzlingly bored troupe of silver service waiters. The circular table at inception meetings had been established following significant analysis and the iPM fastidiously logged the levels of gratification and irk of each consultant against historic figures, as they moved from posturing to the denigration of enforced equality.
With the consultants in position, their hands flat on the table measuring pulse, sweat, pressure and tension, the iPM lowered the briefing cloud. As the project brief flooded the consultants’ senses, the iPM measured their understanding and interest in all aspects of the brief. Evidence of divergent thinking, intellectual leaps of relevance, and recognition of potential research awards were all scored. Also recorded was the way in which each consultant placed the project within the context of their personal landscapes: political, ethical and intuitive. Meanwhile, the Risk Registrar populated spreadsheets with the associated projects that flickered in each consultant’s mind; past experience and knowledge amassed through curiosity were factored for chances of motivation depletion.
Based on all the above, each consultant was designated a scope. The scopes were presented as heat maps projected onto the table in front of each consultant. The briefing cloud lifted and the game began.
The first to speak were the purple consultants, those with near equal heat and scope across the field of endeavour. The iPM always modulated these generalists with reference to the others around them, gently nudging them away from each other just enough to prevent clashes. On this occasion there were three generalists, the scopes of two of which the iPM had moulded to give one a hotter area around a peak of fabric first sustainability and the other around spatial planning with a sharp dot on emergency escape behaviours. The third purple consultant had no peaks or troughs but a placid coverage. This would not persist throughout the project as the other consultants would jostle the generalist into taking a higher contrast terrain – and if they didn't the iPM would. The consultants with the hottest reds and coldest blues tended to sit back in these initial stages, their focused experience being more suited to the defined tasks that emerged as the project developed. Their ability to generate risk income for themselves thereby tended to come later.
The purple consultants began risk-taking from the off. The iPM registered their risk investment and updated their accounts accordingly. The Risk Registrar extrapolated event trees and deduced the likely income of the project as a whole. Despite the depressed involvement of certain more specialist consultants, the inception meeting was nevertheless a meaningful microcosm of the project to come. The grain of the risk investments was already revealing itself with the three purple consultants exposing themselves as frequent risk takers, relying on amassing thousands of small investments in order to make up a reasonable fee; and conversely the specialists dipping in more occasionally but with larger risks, capable of swiftly generating themselves up to 5% of their overall reward.
The Risk Registrar calculated all these behaviours, continuously updating a live model of projected final profits. The iPM monitored not only the apportionment of risk and thereby reward of each consultant but, building upon the initial behavioural evidence, registered stress and excitement levels. By plotting these against the Risk Registrar’s projected completed value, the iPM manipulated the scope heat maps to prevent overly volatile behaviours damaging the bottom line.