Case Study

Cutting Through Complexity: How an Aerospace Pioneer Leveraged a Hidden Gem to Overcome Costly Bureaucratic Barriers with Global Partners

Situation: Stalling, lack of information sharing, and low trust vexed a multi-million- dollar project involving multiple international partners. As schedule delays continued, and tensions rose, the project leader needed to find a way to open lines of communication between players who carried deep cultural mistrust and vastly different mindsets towards reaching goals.

The Catch: The team had typical roles and processes to solve problems and ensure meeting of project targets. Also, on the team, was someone without a big title but with a big personality, some might even say abrasive. We will call her Natasha. In ordinary circumstances, Natasha would be the last person you would think of to facilitate diplomacy and collaboration with high-powered international partners. But it so happened that Natasha’s home country was the same as the partner country setting up the most frustrating roadblocks. Marc Nance, Third Angle COO and the team leader, liked Natasha and appreciated her candor.

Innovative Actions: Marc explained the situation to Natasha and asked her to play a special role. She agreed and became the informal engagement manager with the international partners from her home country. 

Growth & Value: What had been months of log jams broke free in weeks. Tensions were eased.  Trust was built.  The project got back on schedule. And Natasha was seen as more than a sharp-edged co-worker. The value of this diamond-in-the-rough shined through.


  • Complex problem-solving goes beyond routines. The human, relationship, and cultural sides of business are very powerful forces. Be willing to go beyond the formal structural roles and processes to work with them. 
  • Situational talent matters.  Natasha would not have been the answer to all relational challenges, but her roots and personality were what this situation called for.
  • Look deep for value. Good leaders get beyond their own frustration and way of seeing how things should work. They identify the value in all the human and material assets in their environments, and they find a way to engage that value in the right projects, at the right time.