A FIST FIGHT happened during a multimillion dollar software implementation

A FIST FIGHT happened during a multimillion dollar software implementation.

And I was there.

Here's the true story.

a fist fight during a software implementation

It was the late 1990s and a fortune 500 company is implementing SAP. In their basement is 200+ high priced and physically attractive consultants. Their billing rate starts at $250 and hour and goes up from there. Way up.

This is one of the last enormous, multi-year SAP engagements and it's winding down.

The end of an era.

SAP is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software company. Their software supports a whole business: HR, Billing, Logistics, etc.

Large implementations take multiple years and cost many millions of dollars. Dozens of high priced consultants come in like locusts to do the long installation and configuration process.

In the 1990s, it's all methodologies, KPIs, synergies, rounding corners, and servicing your clients from both the front-end and the back-end equally.

These implementation contracts are so lucrative major rewards are given to the consultants who deliver successful deployments on time.

After one successful deployment, a whole team of consultants are given an all expense paid trip to Hawaii for a week. A thank you for their years of hard work on the project.

I know a contractor who charges $120 an hour for her services. She bills 2,100 hours a year for several years. She is just a developer who knows how to customize SAP and she makes $250,000+ a year. In the 90s.

It is a time of insanity and I get into it too late. The psychosis is already wrapped in a straight jacket and headed to the asylum. Everyone knows this.

The consulting company that hires me is a high priced global management consulting company. Many of my peers come from prestigious schools. Some from Ivy League schools like Cornell, Brown, Columbia, and Princeton.

I'm a blue collar degenerate who struggled his way through college and eventually graduated from a division 3 school no one ever heard of. All tolled it took me 8 years to finish college.

One woman I work with graduated summa cum laude from Princeton. I meet her in training. She's 20 years old.

I grew up in a rough and tumble, blue collar town. I don't belong here.

But I am here. In a isolated series of buildings belonging to a fortune 500 company. It's winter and we're all wearing suits and ties.

I work on the first floor. It's full of cubicles. They don't have anything for me to do, so my boss tells me to look busy.

I walk the building often. I notice all the consultants are attractive or at least not unattractive.

One of the shortcuts I take is through the basement. This allows me to go to the cafeteria without having to exit the building into the cold.

The basement houses the core SAP development team. All 200+ of them look stressed. Their deadlines are approaching and millions and millions of dollars are on the line.

Days go by.

I continue to do my routine of trying to look busy. The basement crew is so jacked up they need sedatives. Work down here is tense. I can almost taste the stress as I take the basement shortcut to get an ice cream bar from the cafeteria.

One day my boss asks me to enter meeting minutes into a Lotus Notes Database. A principal consultant helps me and stands over my shoulder. She reads the notes aloud for me to type in. I can't spell half of the words she says. They aren't difficult words to spell for someone who finishes college in 4 years but they are for me.

It's so embarrassing and think I'm about to be fired. Because I can't spell.

Time for an ice cream bar.

I take the stairs down to the basement.

There's a lot of noise.


As I turn from the stairs into the basement, I see a fist fly. One consultant, the suave one, hits another, the agitated one, square in the face. It produces a large crack!

More blows are exchanged in the melee but the fight gets broken up before I can declare a winner.

The more agitated one shouts -- and this really happened


Seems that all these overeducated, attractive, high status, expensive consultants aren't much different than the blue collar friends I left behind to pursue this life.

When stress elevates and tempers flare, it's fisticuffs.

I never saw another fist fight in my 25+ years in the business.

This one was for the ages.

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