Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beware the CEO on the Plane

In business, there is a common riff about a CEO on a plane. The CEO always seems to be on a plane, and he always seems to be bored out of his gourd, and paging through some publication that only your CEO can obtain, which documents whatever esoteric part of the corporate world you inhabit. If you're in HR, it is an article about HR in the WSJ. If you're in IT, it is a copy of CIO magazine that, for some reason, he owns. Or, it is the dreaded source of all pertinent information - the Airline Magazine, which, at last browse, contained mostly advertisements for logo-pens and sudoku puzzles. 

But, this hypothetical, bored, somewhat gullible CEO of yours is often caught in said airplane, with this highly dangerous publication alerting him to some new fad that directly impacts your daily life. And, shortly after landing, said hypothetical CEO will send you - or your boss - or your boss's boss - and email asking "Why in tarnation haven't we got this doo-hickey? It's all the rage!"

And you, you poor shlub, will have to answer that irrational demand. 

This story is basically the start of any good B2B sales pitch for why you need a product (to answer this ridiculous request), any internal justification for any decision (forced upon you by such a demand), and any explanation for why you're unsuccessful at your job (due to the sheer number of these demands). 

It defrays all decision authority to someone a few levels above you, with an entirely distinct core competency, and an apparently impetuous approach to micromanaging. You did nothing wrong. You didn't take the cookie from the cookie jar. 

What Me? 

Yes You! 

Couldn't Be! 

Then Who? 

The CEO with the Magazine on the Plane. 

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