Dec 13th 2013

Seven chief excutives

A tale of 7 chief executives caught in a storm

Once upon a time there were 7 chief executives. All 7 were full of optimism for the New Year. After all the man from number 11 had announced that the big, bad recession was finally over. Despite the cries of ‘Oh No It's Not’ from the team in red, our 7 heroes whistled all the way into work.

So, all was well in CEO-land but for a big black cloud looming on the horizon. The cloud, in the shape of a horse, had led to stormy times a year ago and however hard they tried, it refused to go away.

All the chief executives vowed to never again let such a storm hit their pockets or damage their good names:

DOC was the know-it-all who was quick to tell anyone who would listen, how last year’s storm was not his fault. He refused to admit that he could learn anything from anyone.

GRUMPY was a stick-in-the-mud. He had no time for new fangled things like social media. To Grumpy, it was ‘a flash in the pan’ so he just carried on doing things the way he always had.

SLEEPY had suffered sleepless nights in the storm. He knew that he had to get ready in case it happened again. But Sleepy had a very long to-do list and just never got around to doing very much at all.

SNEEZY had caught a cold last year. It was a cold that cost him lots of money, so despite the dangers, he decided to save his pennies rather than spending them on preparing for the worst.

DOPEY believed it when people told him that bad things only happen once. He had survived the first storm, just about, so he made up his mind that he didn’t need to worry.

BASHFUL was scared of any publicity. But he was determined not to be condemned again for not defending himself. So he plucked up courage and signed up for media training.

HAPPY had suffered like the rest last year but was determined not to suffer again. With a new crisis plan in place, monitoring tools set up for social media and a system to contact his crisis team, day and night, he was ready. Happy was happy.

Fast forward one year and we no longer have 7 chief executives. Happy is thriving with market share on the up. Bashful has survived. He got caught in the next storm but reassured his customers and shareholders by having the right answers to those tricky questions. Sneezy went bust. Dopey and Sleepy suffered losses and were forced to sell their businesses to the Happy Group plc. Grumpy retired and has been replaced by a new forward thinking CEO. And Doc resigned his post after becoming the centre of the latest storm. The last we heard of him was that he was a visiting lecturer at his local business school.

Keith Beech is director of Core Management – Crisis, Organisation and Reputation which is part of the Nexus Communications Group