“Nobody is going to read this. It is simply too long”.
My response: “I figured as much, that’s why we wrote the executive summary too, for people who may not have the time or energy to go into the 50 paged analysis.”
The VP of Finance’s response floored me:
“I was talking about the executive summary.”
Choking on my own rage, I sat quietly for five seconds. Would I be able to control my frustration and remain professional?
“It’s 9 pages with 1.5 spacing. This will take you max 15 minutes to read, it’s like reading half a chapter of Winnie the Pooh.”
He wasn’t ready for that. Nobody was. The room fell silent. I verbally bitch-slapped the VP and all his minions were bewildered (except for one guy who covered his mouth with his hand but smiled richly with his eyes).
Unfortunately, after five glorious seconds of self-satisfaction, my stomach sank. I may well get kicked off this project and face serious repercussions for my boldness. I scrambled to think about how I would spin this event: “I challenged the client to do better and be bolder.”…. “I defended my team’s good work. I have no regrets”
What really happened you ask? What really happened is that I’m freaking tired of it. I’m fed up! Nobody reads shit anymore. Everything is written for an “executive audience”. This trend started with two-paged, bullet-point executive summaries. Then it morphed into 3-4 PowerPoint slides. Now the “best practice” is to have less than 30 words on each slide. Are you freaking kidding me!?
Be alarmed my friends. Be very alarmed. Corporate America now makes decisions based on cartoons. Your retirement plan, your 401k, relies on the lazy and listless minds of douchebags who are “too busy” to engage on any one issue for more than 30 seconds.
The situation is even worse than you think. These “executives” are also complete cowards which is why they pay charlatan consultants (such as myself) to give them advice. A pure C.Y.A move in case things go wrong.
I suppose I should be happy. The superficial and esoteric nature of these business cartoons make it tough for anyone to call me (or the entire consulting industry) out as frauds. I get to maintain my status as a “subject matter expert” on whatever subject they pay me for and my clients get to pretend that they’re too busy and important to do any work while secretly watching YouTube videos.
We’ll see how this specific situation plays out. I embarrassed the VP of Finance and the consequences could be rough. My final move if the VP of Finance cans me: On my way out, I’ll drop off a copy of the Hundred Acre Wood on his desk – inscribed – “See if you can make it past page nine. Fuck you.”