I’m speaking on Thursday at the 2015 SecureWorld Seattle conference, expanding and refining a presentation I made this past summer, and on an article I wrote on the same topic a couple of years ago. I’ll be talking about the life of the CEO, including the magnitude and frequency of decisions that CEOs make every day. I’ll examine how is it possible to make a perfect pitch to the C-suite for a large scale project, and the attendant expense, that is both intelligible and persuasive, when is data security and cyber security. Part of that examination involves looking at how executives send and receive information and make decisions, using four executive archetypes – “online junkies, schmoozers, cheerleaders and firefighters” – that can be found in a 2013 McKinsey Quarterly article to explain how large scale projects derail when the way that executives spend time is not aligned to the organization’s strategic priorities.
The content aligns with my ongoing research on executives and risk, and how much executives actually know about risk present in their organizations. Executives become more used to making decisions that could involve people, process, systems or external events as they rise higher in an organization. In almost parallel fashion, information appears to become simplified as it moves higher in the organization, past managers to senior management and then refined once again for the C-Suite, and perhaps a final time in the form of a report for the firm’s board of directors. So we move from what can be a well-thought-out expensive proposal, to management signoffs as the proposal moves up to the C-suite for approval, the executive signoff, and then a summary in the form of a report – or ongoing status reports -- to the board of directors.
My focus will be on how to think about and then create a proposal that is the “perfect pitch” – including an easily understandable executive summary that covers both tangible (the cost, the data available on the need for the project, and the competitive landscape) and the more intangible (corporate reputation, corporate liability, alignment with the corporate mission and other strategic initiatives) costs.