Yes, we are in the era of ‘elevator pitches’, of one page formulations, a clear summary, a 140 character message and one screen max this-is-the-latest of. OK. I get that.
So we are in Dragons’ Den territory, like the BBC programme in which ‘budding entrepreneurs get three minutes to pitch their business ideas to five multi-millionaires who are willing to invest their own cash to kick-start the businesses in the original “Shark Tank”. It is performance, clarity of the pitch, convincing arguments, chemistry, data ready, killer-question-proof presentation, one off chance, there we go, here is the money. Or not. The one chance.
Considering this is not a BBC programme but the British version of Money Tigers originated in Japan, and now running in 30 countries, that gives you an idea of how widespread the ‘pitching attraction’ is. Give us dragons or lions and a few human beings. It’s entertaining. Romans knew that.
Our organizations have a fair dose of Dragons’ Den processes. We have proposals to present to internal Boards, and innovation ideas in front on an investment panel. We are given 20 minutes for this and 10 minutes for that. Everybody is busy, everybody needs airtime, airtime is limited, you get 10 minutes to convince me. Sharp, fast, to the point, equals good management and good thinking. Does it?
To the credit of the Dragons’ Den millionaires, they pay great attention to the pitch (in the episodes I’ve seen) more can be said in our organizations, where many ‘panellists’ and ‘board members’ look at emails on their iPhones.
I know of organizations that run decision making, resource allocation, investment decisions, go/no go decisions or any other form of sanctioning from the top, in permanent Dragons’ Den mode.
I disagree with the idea that this is good management. But I know I am in a minority because most people think that the art of sharpening a convincing performance is the skill needed to succeed as manager or leader. And because this is what we promote, reflection time suffers and critical thinking is not the greatest of our managerial skills.
It sounds as if criticizing Dragon’s Den Management means supporting long and windy presentations and interminable meetings and debates. Far from it. That is the problem of our binary world: either you go for the elevator pitch or the assumption is inefficiency and bad thinking.
I remain behind one of my old Daily Thoughts : Nothing that requires to be pitched in an elevator, is worth pitching.