Sunday, December 20, 2009

Parting shots

During a mid-afternoon CNN program, one of the pundits being interviewed said emphatically, almost indignantly, "The Tiger Woods story is now a story for People magazine, not a story for the news magazines." He'll get no argument from me. So why is it the topic of a panel on CNN? A panel that admits this?

Of all the important issues that could and should be engaging our minds, capturing our emotions, and challenging our imaginations, we are reduced to gawking at a golfer and his infidelities.

Accenture, the consulting firm, dropped Woods, prompting the question, "What does golf have to do with business consulting?" The answer is, of course, nothing—unless the idea is that some c-suite executive somewhere is supposed to see Woods and think, "Tiger's a winner. Accenture must be a winner." If the c-suite learns about and chooses a consultant based on its sports celebrity spokesperson, why are we surprised so much of American business is a mess?

Years ago, in a previous work life, we the people (employees) received a memo from the partnership that would have been breathless if e-mail and paper could respirate. The gist was that we're excited (as excited as dry consultants, accountants, and actuaries can be) to announce that we've bought some of that exorbitantly priced commercial air time during the Super Bowl to promote brand awareness of the firm.

We the people weren't quite on board with the excitement. Like virtually every employee in the country, we felt overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated, and here we are, encouraged to be enthused about millions of dollars spent on a Super Bowl commercial—not for the beer, junk food, or consumer products traditionally beloved of football fans, but for business consulting services that only a handful of viewers would have the power to authorize, even if they were interested. A handful who, if they weren't at the game or watching it at some exclusive gathering, were, like everyone else, at home with clicker/remote/changer in hand, ready to take a booze or biology break. True, many watch the commercials in hopes of seeing something mildly creative, clever, or amusing. I'm not convinced that this is where or how your better executives start to form or solidify their opinions of potential consulting partners—except perhaps as nonstrategic spendthrifts.

I could be very wrong, of course. From my perspective, the c-suite may as well be an alternative universe inhabited by bearded Spocks and be-daggered Uhurus.

With that in mind, I'm off to a place that, if not home, is more comfortable—and more habitable.

Merry Christmas and happy new year.

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