In a recent SpearTalks interview Seth Godin opined that “Trying to convince a CEO of anything is a little like trying to convince a cop not to give you a ticket. It’s possible, but rarely worth the effort, given the odds.” Hmmm.
What truly caught my attention was his notion that it is “rarely worth the effort”. I disagree. While you may not win the day by pressing your point of view on the CEO, it is equally possible you will stir some sense of consciousness and at the very least spark some discomfort with those long held CEO notions of what works.
By the nature of my work, I engage with dozens of CEO’s on a regular basis. While they are not easily persuadable, they are in my experience amenable to considering alternatives and with the leverage of solid information even likely to accept and adopt a new perspective. A recent discussion with a CEO about the potential and value of social media illustrates the point. Initially, she seemed to miss the value proposition of social media entirely. Her basic position simplified was “who needs it!” When I persisted by pointing out that the younger managers on her staff had likely been using Facebook to communicate with friends and colleagues since before their high school days, she seemed to grasp the idea. Her questions flew fast and furious. Who controls it? Who operates these sites? How much time does this require? What resources do we need to implement it? What are the risks? Is there a measurable ROI?
When I reminded her that that someone else could easily start up a company page if she didn’t, the lights went on and someone was now clearly at home in her decision tree. Seth’s right in saying it doesn’t always work, but I’d argue given the right fight, it’s worth the rare effort still.