Recently I was in a meeting at the offices of a ginormous global conglomerate. Eight of us sat around a big, beautiful table made of incredible wood no doubt harvested from some disappearing rain forest. A fancy phone in the middle of the table linked us to voices from three other cities - the media buyer for the company, a rep from the creative firm, and a brand strategist. They served the most amazing oversized oatmeal cookies with white chocolate chips that were still warm, the sweet scent filling the room. We were discussing the launch of a new campaign, so the mood should have been corks-popping celebratory. But the day before, the corporation's media budget had been "slashed." Everyone in the room was either dejected or in panic. The disembodied voices on the phone were mumbling mournfully to each other.
- From Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business by Nancy Lublin
I've sat in a few of these meetings when the bean counters have descended.
So have I. I also recall, however, a meeting where an extraordinary executive told the group that it was good they had a small budget because it would force them to be disciplined. He rattled off everything they would have done if they'd had a large budget and, truth be known, he hit a target with every point.
Key item: he was not an unrealistic bean counter. He knew how organizations really operate.
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