The Inscrutable mind of the CEO

The Cast
R: Brand manager
V: Sales Head
O: V’s official subordinate and unofficial henchman
J: Sales and marketing head
M: Head of the Company
A: M’s assistant
L: An unimportant senior manager with a fancy but meaningless designation

The scene opens on a meeting with 7 men who have just gone through a lengthy presentation by R

R: So that’s what I recommend
V: What do you think U?
O: Boss, I think it might be ok as a brand campaign but will do nothing for the business
A: Why do you say so O? If it’s good for the brand it should be good for sales
O: A, try to understand that the rains are failing, the economy is ailing and the competition is..
V: Sailing?
U: Ha Ha Ha! What poetry boss!
V: And the brand team is flailing
R: V, stop wailing! (using imitation as a means of flattery, gives V a smile meant just for him that begs for inclusion into V’s closed circle)
V: R, please try to understand that this is a serious business meeting and we are not here to fool around
R: But V…?
V: Let us understand that the strategy you presented is just not going to work. Just announce a scheme
R: Fine if that’s what you want. (Looks at J for approval and taking this forward)
J: (is joking with L and is only physically present in the room at the moment)
M: Just a minute. I think we need to get to the root of the issue. What exactly is the problem here?
V: M, the brand is weak and cannot grow this season
M: V, let’s not be simplistic about the issue
A: M, my take is that the differentiation is weakening and hence the brand is weakening and …
K: Yeah, but we need to dig deeper
R: Sir, the markets have moved on, and the dynamics have changed. We have not improved our technology in ages. That’s why our differentiation is weakening and the brand is …
M: R, don’t try to rush to conclusions. The problem has to be more deeply understood
V: We need to understand the consumer. We need to get back to the market; we need to whip our agencies into delivering better advertising
M: V, don’t let us jump to conclusions before we have understood the problem
R: Sir, we have identified the inability of our technology to keep pace with the changing market expectations as the potential area of the problem
M: My view is that we need to dig more to understand the underlying root causes that influence the critical factors that have a bearing on what we see as visible symptoms of the brand health in the context of the shifting realities in the market
(A lengthy pause)
(O looks by turns startled and over-awed and looks towards his boss to validate his feelings)
(V is overcome with deja- vu and his double chins sink into his chest)
(R visibly loses confidence and he looks like a defeated warrior)
(L seems pleased)
(J suddenly begins to look interested and clears his throat)
L: That sounds like exactly what we need to do, M.
(Having made his point that is about to set the room aflutter, M leans back with a thoughtful gaze at a corner of the ceiling; a look that he holds for the next few minutes as each member of the team tries to out-do each other in expressing comprehension of, and empathy with his views)
A: See what M is looking for is a more fundamental analysis that precedes action
V: A, wait a minute. I understand what M is trying to say. M wants to see actions that can affect sales in real time. I am in full agreement with him on this.
R: Sir, if I understand you correctly, you are looking at a fish-bone framework which is what I had attempted in the 17th slide of my presentation.
J: R, let me handle this. M, I have understood exactly what you have in mind. A multi-factor analysis that statistically validates the various hypotheses and is sufficiently predictive in its approach should answer the questions in your mind.
(Everyone is now looking expectantly at M, who after a long spell of staring at the ceiling has an almost benevolent smile that indicates he has reached a degree of peace with himself and his company’s predicament that again sets him apart from the squabbling ranks)
M: A, can I have a word with you?
(Gets up and walks out with a cursory nod to the rest of the room)
(A is seen walking out with him, listening intently to as K delivers instructions in a low voice)
J: (Visibly relaxed after M and A leaves) O, so where are you taking us out for a drink today?
O: (suddenly on much firmer ground) Boss, the new pub at the 7th Cross has the hottest hostess in town!
(J and O break out and go into a huddle)
V: R, discuss with J and work out a scheme. Let’s not waste any more time.
(V walks out)
L: R, I should say I really liked the way you built up your presentation. My only input is that you can look at a lighter background and a larger font size. Very well done, R!
R: Thank you Sir!
(R gathers up all the papers and the laptop, and walks out with L)