09 October 2008

The Business School of Hard Knocks

Boardroom by Paul Watson
It's the end of the financial WAWKI but, with the delightful optimism that comes with youth, and lots of government money the Young Enterpise  2008 is going strong

My daughter Boto-Teen is entered, and her company have been instructed by their Non-Executive Chairman (Mrs Adams, the biology teacher, for it is she) to develop an innovative product or service, relevant to 2008

"Bankruptcy consultants, manufacturers of snooping tools for local governments, wind farm demolition experts, asset fire-salesmen, redundancy counsellors, providers of specialist spin doctoring and Facebook friend-finders",  I rattled off, "Chewing gum street scrapers, house repossessors, IVA arrangers, soup kitchen organisers, pan-handlers, managers of Troubled Assets, and shoe leather repairers". I paused. "Benefits Claims Officers, burger flippers..."

"Oh do be quiet, Alibert, dear" said Mrs Botogol, "didn't Mrs Adams have any suggestions, dear?"

"The Non-Exec Chairman, you mean", chided Boto-Teen, "not really, but she wondered if perhaps we could create a product or service for deaf people"

I suggested taking them to Harlequins games for the price our tickets, and in return describing the action to them as it unfolded; and she looked at me blankly. "But they are deaf" she said.

Young Enterprise starts with the students selecting the management team: CEO, CFO, CIO, COO, CMO, CRO and Head of HR.  The team negotiated for two hours until they had shared out the jobs on a democratic and equitable basis. Then the Non-Exec Chairman injected a note of genuine true-to-life corporate reality by announcing that while they were planning she had head-hunted a sixth former from Tiffin Girls to be the new CEO in return for a guaranteed bonus and 20% of the revenues (talent like her's doesn't cheap, she explained, and anyway Tiffin had attempted a buy-back)

It was a bit of a shock in C-suite, but you have to applaud the way the Non-Exec Chairman thinks: not just a Biology teacher after all.

"But didn't you mind?" Mrs Botogol asked Boto-Teen when she heard the news.
"Not at alI: I, for one, welcome our new Tiffin overlords", the crest-fallen Boto-Teen told us sincerely: she will go a long way.
"OverlordS?" asked Mrs Botogol, "plural? are there more than one?"

It turns out that, although the management team has supposedly survived intact, the new Chief Executiff has installed three 5th form heavies acolytes in her own private office in the roles of Chief of Staff, Head of Expense Management and Communications Director . Between the four of them they therefore control the purse strings, the compensation, and the company facebook group. "Oh, she's good", I said, "she's very good"

"Yes", sighed Boto-teen, "and they spend all their time behind a closed door, planning and making product decisions. A sort of inner circle. It's not righ: these things should be decided at board meetings.  A real company wouldn't be like that, would it?"

I shifted a little uncomfortably in my armchair, "And what have they set you doing?"

"Not much. What do deaf people like, anyway?"

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