A work of fiction.
[the scene: a conference room set up with rows of chairs facing the front. Thirty or so workers in office attire file in dutifully. A woman with perfectly coiffed hair, and the detached air of a circling shark (“Shark Woman”) is flicking back and forth through PowerPoint slides being projected onto a screen at the front of the room. A Man enters the room and the energy shifts, the meeting is now ready to begin. The woman takes position at the front of the room. The man sits on a chair to her right]
Shark Woman: I just want to start off by saying how happy that George and I both are to have you all here today. This is a great turnout, isn’t it a just a great turn out George [she gestures to her right but doesn’t turn her head. The man remains stony faced].
Shark woman: I think I speak for all of us when I say that we are thrilled that George, our CEO and “fearless leader” [the woman makes air quotes as she says this] was able to join us today. I think we all appreciate how busy George’s schedule is, in light of recent developments. Can I just ask for a quick round of applause for George for showing up today?
[the crowd claps politely. George eyes the room impassively. Shark Woman waits for the clapping to die down]
SW: you may be wondering why we have organised this meeting, George and I appreciate how busy you are so we will endeavour not to take up too much of your time. You may have heard rumours of a restructure and I want to put these rumours to rest. To allay your fears once and for all. George and I are really a united front on this.
[murmuring breaks out among the audience]
SW: George and I would like to take this opportunity to field questions from you, the team.
[a woman raises her hand]
SW: Yes, Sandra, what is your question
Sandra: so the rumours of a restructure are untrue?
SW: That’s a great question. I would like to address your question by acknowledging the broader context in which we operate. I am sure you can appreciate that the sector is in a time of continual change, and in order to remain competitive we need to change along with it. This situation isn’t unique to us, in fact I would say it is affecting our colleagues and competitors across the sector. If anything they are faring much worse than us! I think we should all feel really good about that actually
Sandra: [interrupting] so there is a restructure then? I thought you said you were putting the rumours to rest?
SW: [narrowing her eyes] yes, by confirming that the rumours were, in fact, true. NEXT QUESTION
[a man raises his hand timidly]
SW: Ahmed yes, what is your question for George?
Ahmed: Umm yes. Thank you. So, by restructure do you mean downsize? As in, will jobs be lost [the crowd murmurs]
SW: Thanks for that question Ahmed, that is a really great question. George and I really appreciate you coming along today. I think it is safe to say, that in an organisation as large as this it can be quite a challenge to see the forest from the trees! It just makes sense then to thin out some of the dead wood. In these uncertain times the imperative exists to be fiscally responsible. We want to build for the future, but we don’t want to borrow from the past to do so. That would set an incredibly dangerous precedent, I think we can all agree on that NEXT QUESTION
[a short woman stands up. SW eyes her suspiciously]
SW: yes Alex?
Alex: What is the timeline on this? Who is affected? I have kids in school!
SW: [her face morphing into an approximation of a smile] Look these are valid concerns, and I thank you for bringing them to the table. I think you can appreciate that George and I have a heck of an undertaking in front of us. Massive. How long does it reach to achieve all of our outcomes? Satisfy all of our stakeholders? Trim the fat off the bone? How long is a piece of string Alex? [SW gestures magnanimously around the room]. Believe me on this colleagues, George and I are working on a full suite of real-world solutions for these very complex problems, and these will be communicated to you all in the fullness of time NEXT QUESTION
[the audience is mumbling, audibly concerned about this turn of events. George remains impassive, his eyes glued to the back of the room. SW has cemented the smile to her face]
SW: I think we have time for one more question?
Sandra: I hardly think this is the appropriate venue for this? Where is the consultation?
SW: That’s some great feedback. Really great. George and I are really going to take that on board. I want to thank you for your contribution Sandra. Unfortunately we have run out of time. We can’t reasonably expect to take up any more of George’s time, the restructure is keeping him very busy as I am sure you can all appreciate! As we move beyond the design phase of the restructure, beyond the communication phase, and into the implementation phase of the restructure then I am sure George will have some time to breathe again! But until that happens it will be all hands on deck!
[the room is quiet. A man in the back row is crying silently]
SW: This has been a great meeting. Really great. I feel like we really broke down some barriers here. And believe me team, I can say in all sincerity that George and I are looking forward to a productive and fiscally responsible future with some of you.
[in a sweeping motion SW leads George from the room. Both exit]
[the room is quiet. A woman scrolls through Seek on her mobile phone]