Columbus Business FIrst
by Jim Pawlak
“Louder Than Thunder – A Contemporary Business Parable” by Carol Dunitz, Canterbury & Parkside, $19.95.
Also published in other major papers in Ft. Wayne, Dayton, Columbus, Ft. Lauderdale, Honolulu, suburban Chicago, San Jose, Munster. Also distributed to 22 Fortune 1000 firms for their HR departments to downstream to management teams)
An interesting exercise in succession planning: Three vice presidents vying for the CEO’s job and one riddle – “What’s louder than thunder, as highly charged as lightning and more powerful than the fierce North Wind?” Whoever comes up with the best answer becomes the CEO.
The book begins with some solid life lessons learned by the CEO in her childhood: Know what you really want. Listen and observe. Think before you speak. One word less. When there’s a prolonged pause in an offer, the person speaking first generally loses. Speech is silver; silence is golden.
The vice presidents of sales, manufacturing and HR were stunned by the CEO’s – the best answer would decide her successor. The three, as a group, visited areas of the firm to try to develop clues. The first stop was a manufacturing plant. The manufacturing VP came away with his answer: industrialization. Next stop was a sales meeting. The sales VP whipped the sales force into a motivational frenzy and came away with his answer: passion.
The VP of HR was still puzzled as he spoke to his wife over dinner. She posed yet another riddle, one to which he knew the answer. He smiled. When it came time for the CEO to decide, she chose the VP of HR. His answer: silence.