Explanation Geometry: Straight Answers and the ‘CEO Triangle’

December 17, 2007 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

If you have worked in high tech for any number of years, you have probably witnessed at least one scene where a CEO blows his stack because he can’t get a straight answer to his simple question. This is not limited to high tech, but it is an industry where the meat of discussions centers around complex and fast-changing technologies.

A few years ago, after witnessing another CEO get frustrated, I had a very important insight. I have since passed on to all my technical folks who will be presenting to a CEO. I call it the ‘CEO Triangle.’ You can see it here.

The CEO Triangle

Having worked closely with mathematicians, researchers, scientists and developers, I noticed that they typically like bottom-up presentations that reach a conclusion after laying a solid technical foundation. So when they present themselves, they typically present in this fashion.

CEOs, on the other hand, prefer that you get to the point first, then allow them to drill down as they require. They want the option of getting into the details. So when you have an untrained technical type presenting to a CEO, it’s frustration waiting to happen.

So, try showing the CEO Triangle any of your technical folks who will be presenting to a CEO. It also works wonders in Board and exec staff meetings.

Of course, there are exceptions. Silicon Valley has any number of CEOs who were once esteemed engineers. But I still find that getting to the point first works with these types; they might just dig a little deeper into the details than most.

And if your Chief Architect still goes on and on, heedless of an exec’s growing frustration, try this other tried and true method I’ve applied successfully over the years: a size 10 1/2 Rockport to the shin.

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Entry filed under: presentations. Tags: , , .

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