“Saved by the bell”
Text and photo: Timo Mennala
Date: September 2012
Location: Patria Land Services Oy, Hämeenlinna
Incident: Back then, I was working for the LCS department of Patria Land Services. We had signed a major agreement in the spring of that year – the largest deal that LCS had made so far. It involved the modification of XA-203 armoured vehicles for the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV). This was an extremely challenging agreement, especially in terms of its schedule and technical content. Due to some unclear issues in the initial phase, we ran into unexpected challenges regarding the quality and schedule of the first deliveries. In addition, a few misunderstandings in our communications created a tense mood.
We were in the Pasi meeting room. At the start of the meeting, the Customer’s project manager had expressed firm views on a number of issues. During the meeting, she received a few calls from the end user, the Swedish Army, with what sounded like harsh feedback on FMV’s project management. Without getting into the details, the mood became quite intense.
We took a break and both sides conferred separately. When the Swedes returned to the meeting room, the project manager was the last one in. She pulled the door shut behind herself so forcefully that the poorly mounted clock on the wall above her fell – right onto her neck and then onto the floor. There was an excruciating moment of silence. Then one of Patria’s guys said: “That’ll be around 49.95 euros. Should we add that to the first or the second invoice? Your choice.” This situation – and especially that comment – defused the tension. Everyone laughed. Nothing serious had happened. The meeting took on an entirely different, friendlier tone. Of course, we still had plenty of challenges to tackle, but we kept referring back to that incident with the clock – it was a good “icebreaker.”
Sometimes it takes a long time to fix broken things. This clock was still lying on the windowsill of the meeting room in May and October 2019, when first the Director General of FMV and then the Chief of their Land System Division visited us. We used the meeting room to have our lunches. The story of the clock served to lighten the mood. Both of them asked us, “I hope we paid for the property damage?” And we told them that we’d given them a good customer discount.
Now the clock has been put back in its original place 😉.