6. Global Telecomms

Strategy and board development
One of our consultants worked with the board of a global telecommunications company (not BT) for a couple of days helping them prepare for a nine-day rollout of their new strategy to about two thousand managers. Unusually, he faced considerable barracking from certain board members who seemed particularly hostile. After a couple of hours of increasing obstruction, he drew on the inherent authority of the storyteller to say; “I’ve now worked with this company from the Chairman down to the most junior sales assistant, and I have to tell you that this is the most unpleasant organisation I have ever worked with.”

He was received with a long silence until the Director of Customer Services said, “That’s not the first time we’ve heard that.”  There followed an impassioned discussion about the ‘elephant in the room’ that no one on the board had so far dared to discuss – an undeclared struggle between those who believed that the company was there to shift new technology, and those who saw that most people in the world now possessed a mobile phone and that the most important thing was to develop customer relations.

What also became apparent in the wake of this exploration was that the company, giant that it was, was operating from day to day in the wake of a massive expansion by acquisition without any defined vision of its future. The board subsequently went away for a further two days to hammer out a clear vision before the roll out.