Superman is In: This person will claim even the most complex, challenging problems are routine. Ho Hum. Leaping tall buildings, speeding locomotives, technology innovation – all routine. Which would explain why their project budget has doubled, deadlines have slipped, and a project SWAT team has been formed to seek alternatives to the original design. This is all just “standard stuff.” Really.
Captain Nemo – The Submariner: This person will wait until the middle of the science review before they fire off some damaging torpedo of a statement, perhaps even totally changing their story, and thus crippling or sinking an entire claim. This is a pre-emptive strike of the highest order: in exchange for the effort of moving forward with and then sinking one single claim, they may earn your permanent distrust and reluctance to work with such a “loose cannon” ever again, thus relieving them of the need to ever again participate in the same program.
In some scenarios, it is impossible to deny the implied or explicit criticisms as we tell ourselves that a more detailed and scrupulous verification of the initial facts would have revealed the flaws in a supporting story. Some people just remember things incorrectly, or with a highly personal spin on reality. A certain amount of cross-checking and verification is expected, as a part of our due diligence, but neither can one afford to treat key stakeholders as though they were pathologically incapable of providing facts or telling the truth about what happened in their projects.
Therefore, although I expect somebody to “game the system” consciously or unconsciously, I’m not necessarily going to confront this behaviour head on. Not right away. Misunderstandings are possible, mistakes may be made, and individual “witnesses” may remember things differently, without the presence of any active malice or subterfuge.
On the other hand, once a pattern of resistance or sabotage emerges, you need to intervene, to educate, or even to escalate. You’ll know when.