The Visitor is a full time member of a project team. He arrives late, very late. Smiles a lot. Takes his time to open his briefcase and exhibit some papers. Looks sideways so others can tell him (whispering) where they are in the agenda. Opens his laptop (with its sound that alerts everybody that a laptop is firing up ) and looks at the big screen on the wall whilst his Outlook email loads.
Then he starts nodding.
Then he intervenes. He says something that is a hybrid between the Mother of All Platitudes and The Father of all The Obvious. And he has a notable effect on others. Suddenly all the team members nod. It’s like an hysterical epidemic of nodding. Nobody has nodded before in the meeting until The Visitor arrived.
He might just as well have referred to the decreasing price of rice in sub-Saharan Africa or the productivity of milk production in New Zealand, the meeting being an engineering one, or product development, or talent management, or a product launch. It does not matter. Whatever he says, the more irrelevant the better, it always triggers an epidemic of hysterical nodding amongst the group.
At some point later on, the Visitor closes his laptop very,very slowly as to not to interrupt the flow of the presenter, only exception being those three seconds symphony of an operating system switching off that is heard by everybody. Oops! Sorry! He says without saying Oops, sorry! Just mimics.
Then, paper by paper all goes back to the briefcase. Slowly.
The Visitor stands up, moves his chair back in, salutes to his right, salutes to his left, and slowly leaves the room in the middle of that crucial Gantt chart.
The rest of the team members look at The Visitor with a big smile. As in solemn gratitude for his ephemeral presence. Or a secret conspiracy of some sort.
The Visitor leaves the room.
He has more visitations that day.
Those Visitors are very powerful. They keep coming back. Always late. Always slow loading the email whilst a neighbour points to an agenda item.
Life in project teams would be meaningless without those Visitors.