Thursday, 17 November 2016
My letter to a major public company CEO, from me, Daddy CEO #BritishDadStuff
You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you realise you're the CEO of a company run for profit. Your family.
We had a problem with our water.
We had torrents of brown filth coming out of our taps, instead of water.
And it didn't stop. For days.
And this is primal, because being a Dad I was obviously held responsible by my family for not providing them with what they need as humans... a source clean water.
I was failing as a resource provider to my family.
So I did whatever Man would do in the same situation.
I tweeted the company and left snarky messages on Facebook.
I wanted to shame the company like a big oaf and post videos of their disgusting water on YouTube.
And (because tweeting and facebooking is like mooning a CCTV operator) all I got back was the standard "customer information" marketing links about "Mild Discolouration".
Even though torrents of brown filth were coming through our taps.
And each time I got these PR message brushoffs, I got more angry.
But getting angry was getting me nowhere.
So I wanted to go right to the top.
And punish the joker running this outfit at our expense.
And then I realised.
I am at the very top of my organisation.
I am the long-serving CEO, Chief Executive, Big Cheese of our home.
And like the other CEO, I'm really a big patsy too: doing whatever I need to do to make the company, sorry family, run at a profit.
I should feel sorry for him.
I could now complain to the CEO of this company in the words this CEO would understand.
Chief Exec to Chief Exec.
We're bigger than they are - this water company is just one of our suppliers.
Alright, thanks to the government, we can't take our business elsewhere - which means I need to work even harder to get him on board, and see my problem in the way only another CEO would get.
"Dear (WATER COMPANY CEO)
Sorry to contact you directly - but desperate circumstances call for desperate measures.
To make this letter more relevant to you, I'm going to try and explain this: MD to MD.
I am the MD of our Household, and we have a commercial relationship.
As you know, the unique way we do business in the UK means that I cannot take our business elsewhere.
But I'll put it on the table, - I think I'm losing the support of my Board.
And I don't think that's good news for either of us.
Our Executive Board comprises my long suffering CFO (wife), CIO (son, 7), and CCO (daughter, 5) and I've got to tell you they're asking difficult questions.
How would you address an agenda that starts:
"Why is the water that comes out of our taps brown - every day?"
Or any advice on how to field these, whilst protecting our Brand Equity:
"Why is our water coming out brown for six months"
"Why are we paying for this?"
"When will it end?"
"Why can't we get our water from someone else?"
I managed to duck that one by changing the subject to Optimus Prime's lack of appearances in Rescue Bots... but I don't think I can kick it into the long grass for much longer.
I look like a clown, and if there is a vote of confidence at our next Board Meeting, I can't be responsible for the future actions of our household.
Our organisations have a common goal, (we too have an obligation to maximise profits for our shareholders) and I want us to continue as friends, but here are the main sticking issues in our alliance:
You're pumping faeces coloured water into our Head Office.
(Quote our CIO "Ugh, that's poo brown").
It's been going on for six months (which as our CCO (Chief Colouring-In Officer) pointed out is "half of a year").
Your customer services staff are very nice, but can't tell us when exactly this will end.
We're worried about the damage your sludge is causing to our appliances - to which I can attest that we've devoted quite a proportion of our Capital Expenditure.
We're worried about the damage your sludge is causing to our workforce.
(NOTE TO SELF - swap those two around)
Your company insists on using terms like "intermittent" (It's daily or bi-daily) "Minor discolouration" (It's torrents of brown) "we've taken samples" (no date, location, or polllutant levels given) and "perfectly safe" (no-one has independently tested your tap-enabled sludge).
Our CIO even looked up "Water" on wikipedia, and turns out it should be clear.
How can I argue against that?
I'm sorry that you and I are in this situation, but one of us needs to man-up... take a halo-stance on the burning platform... and get to grips with it.
I fear that because of the way the Government has skewed this relationship, that man right now appears to be you.
If not, any tips or crib sheet for handling curveballs at our next AGM would be much appreciated.
Perhaps something further to placate my CFO would really help our situation.
Courage, my friend, as we go about our respective business.
I wrote it.
And then I immediately chickened out of sending it.
This man, this company, could crush us like an ant. Or make life really difficult.
It's a monopoly - they could double our (already big) bill.
But I chickened out AFTER sending it to our local MP.
And the very next day I got a call on my mobile from the Head of Service Management at the water company.
Apologising profusely, and wanting to arrange compensation.
And then trucks appeared in our street to fix the pipes.
The letter was passed on, and a nudge from one CEO to another worked.
What I've learned is this.
Sometimes you need to speak the same language, and treat the other person like you're in a long-term relationship.
And hit "send" before you chicken out.
You know that you are a Great British Dad... ...when My complete guide to Understanding Your British Dad is coming together here
I cant listen to music without hearing filth and 29-35 great #BRITISHDADSTUFF thoughts
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