"This is great, but we should have started six months ago.”
That statement was said to me by the CEO of a not insignificant Melbourne manufacturing company last week. Mindset has just commenced a large organisational transformation project with them that will see significant cultural and personnel change over the next 12 months. The company has been losing market share and profit dramatically so the CEO is perched precariously on a burning platform.
Let’s analyse his statement.
Mindset cold called him a month ago and started the discussion that led to the project’s commencement, BUT… We had been trying repeatedly to get that meeting for over eight months prior. We were being blocked by his overzealous PA. She screened his emails, his phone calls and mail. We finally made direct contact via social media and got the meeting. The glare the PA gave us as we arrived for our first meeting was priceless.
So, the upshot is we could have commenced the project six months ago if it hadn’t been for the PA. The delay has made the project much more challenging and much more expensive. There’s also now less profit in the company’s accounts to pay for it.
The CEO is now wondering how many other strategic opportunities he has missed out on because his PA thinks she knows what the company, and he, needs better than him.
The moral of this is that many CEOs have similarly overzealous gatekeepers. They go by many names and titles. Operationally they can save a leader significant time, but strategically they can also shield them from opportunities, valuable market information and innovative new suppliers. Often this cost will massively outweigh any perceived administrative benefit.
If you are a CEO with a PA what are you missing out on?