Sometimes it’s because of financial needs, changed market conditions or competitor behaviour. Sometimes it’s just because it’s seen as progressive and innovative; it’s hot. Every-one does it so why shouldn’t we jump on the wagon full of change management messages brought by the thought leaders of major consulting firms?
Robert understood this very well. He’s the COO of a major FMCG company. Now that it is confirmed that we’ll struggle next financial year to deliver double digit profit growth –why does everybody seeks double digit?- he organised a session in Dubai with all departmental key managers. At the conference’s opening speech at the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach, his message was clear; he thought.
“The leadership paradigm has now shifted towards a cross-functional aligned low-risk high-yield strategy, supported by a client-centred conceptualisation of bottom-up world-class idea generation. The core competencies of our engaged virtual and multi-disciplinary foresight teams, linked with our mindshare technology applications, will fast track a change catalyst to leverage consumer needs valuation. This requires your engagement to Pareto-ise the benchmarking results and transpose in attribution models so as to champion the premiumisation of our mid-segment portfolio and to counter the demand shift.”
Chatting with Robert during one of the coffee breaks, I sensed that he was a bit disappointed on the level of interaction during his session. Of course he said that in his opinion it all went well and that this three-day conference is ready to be a milestone in the company’s change agenda. But to me it was clear that this statement was just a continuation of his marketing speak. I agreed with Robert to have a few beers with him tonight after dinner and to give him some feed-back.
And so we did; sitting seaside in comfi blue and white striped beach sofas. Robert was really interested in getting genuine feed-back. Even before we got our drinks- two Tiger beers- he asked me to summarise in two-three sentences the key message of his opening speech.
Here we go.
“The challenges of our business are of an equal magnitude as the circular behaviour of the lonesome Anglican priest. The opportunities he’s holding in his traveller back, together with the acquired pot of almonds and mustard pistachios, are of no meaning to the aligned car dealers. Our learning should be more vertical so as to beat Chelsea next time in the Everglades through our combined efforts of engaging more Black Forrest cuckoo clocks.”
“What’s this? What game are you playing? I have no time for this; are you drunk or do I need to report that you are on hard drugs? What is this man?”, was Robert’s flabbergasted reply.
“I am sober Robert. 100%. What’s your issue with my summary?”
“I don’t understand a word of what you’ve said. Nothing makes sense; it’s meaningless. There is no logic and there is no word of the message I conveyed earlier this morning. Cuckoo clocks? This is no feed-back; it is not even good humour. I am wasting my time here.”
“Join the club, Robert. Let’s order some more drinks and we’ll go through it more in depth and work on your closing speech. I’ll have another Tiger beer and for you probably another blue labelled light-brownish bottle with the finest Eastern malt, hop and yeast mixed and brewed during a 500 hours constantly monitored and fine-tuned process”.