Large organizations move slowly. It doesn’t matter how many decision-making efficiency initiatives are implemented to make the company more nimble; large companies generally still move slowly. This isn’t anyone’s fault. Large companies are like massive oil tankers. They have a lot of momentum. They can go far. They can weather severe storms. But they certainly can’t turn around very quickly.
Part of the problem is that the CEO often doesn’t appreciate the time and effort it takes to get something done. One throwaway comment in a meeting can result in a major workstream being initiated. When the CEO wants something done, everyone drops everything and does it. Within 24 hours, mountains can be moved. From where the CEO is sitting, the company is responsive and can turn on a dime.
The problem arises lower down in the ranks. An email requesting some information to move your project along goes unanswered. Your manager is focused on their own budget targets without fully appreciating the bigger picture. Some people love to have multiple meetings with dozens of stakeholders before they commit to a project.
However, there is one benefit when doing communications for the CEO: if you drop their name, you will get a response from anyone in the organization…quickly. But like the boy who cried wolf, if you do that all the time, and everything is urgent, people become desensitized to your needs and things begin to move more slowly again.
Ultimately, the CEO is everyone’s boss. She is the one dealing with major headwinds that face the company. She knows more about what’s coming than anyone else. She knows what the Board is worried about; what investors are worried about; what challenges the company is going to face—not just today but in years to come. So it is only right that we should listen to what the CEO says.
As a communications pro, when you get an assignment from the CEO that really needs to be turned around quickly, it makes sense to drop their name. That will get things done. However, the key here is the assignment “really needs to be turned around quickly.” If you run straight from your meeting and immediately shoot off multiple requests to multiple stakeholders, you will be part of the problem. You will be creating needless work. You will be taking people away from their tasks at hand. You will be slowing the ship down.
So before you drop the CEO’s name, ask yourself three things:
1. Is this request truly urgent?
2. By asking people to drop what they are doing, are we going to miss some other important deliverables?
3. Am I abusing the power that comes with working for the CEO?
If you answered yes, no, and no, then go ahead, drop away.