CEO Presentations and Rocky Movies

As part of my consulting assignment, yesterday I had to make a presentation to the CEO of my client. The process of preparing the presentation reminded me of Rocky (or any other Martial Arts movie). In these movies, before the protagonist can challenge the antagonist, he has to go through a series of underlings. Only after the protagonists has defeated all the underlings does the antagonist accept his challenge to a fight.

The work itself was done in consultation with a mid-level manager who heads the division that follows the process that I was going to recommend. While we had had a few rounds of discussions which led to the recommendations, I had prepared the presentation all by myself, and most of Wednesday was spent with him fixing the presentation.

Next we went to his boss, and repeated the process. Then to the boss’s boss. Then to someone else in the top management who would not be available for the main presentation! The hour before the main presentation was spent with the head of the division in whose realm the processes I was recommending fell. And then I got to the CEO.

Two hours before the meeting with the CEO, a couple of client team members and I were discussing the finer points of seppuku and hara-kiri. An hour before the presentation, the division head and I were discussing the Mahabharata!

The entire hierarchy was present for the meeting with the CEO (the mid-manager I had worked with, his boss, his underling, his boss’s boss and a couple of other people). Still typing away on his iPhone, without looking up, the CEO asked, “are all of you in agreement with what is in this presentation or are these Karthik’s recommendations alone?”

The Rocky Process was worth it, after all!

PS: I’m writing this sitting at the client’s office, in between meetings.

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