…and the rapid demise of a CEO.
One of my best friends works with the Calgary Health Authority. At the top of the chain was their CEO, Stephen Duckett. They are both numbers geeks. They LOVE crunching numbers, looking at statistics – and analyzing hidden trends that the numbers reveal.
But, Stephen got fired this week.
And it really was his own fault.
All from one stupid mistake.
The Health Authority is under mass scrutiny right now and the Alberta Health system is in serious trouble.
Not because of Stephen… but because of some serious slashing and burning the previous government (and bureaucrats) had done to the health authority.
It left them short in doctors, operating rooms, nurses, beds…
…and it gained them 8-12 hour wait times in emergency departments across the province.
Stephen was brought in to fix the mess others had left him.
Pretty well an impossible task…
…especially when the the bumbling government morons get involved.
Set up to fail.
Recently, the Heath Authority decided to give the media what it wanted and it published the up-to-date statistics that showed the real status of wait times in emergency.
At least they would have a baseline to work from…right?
Well – it was just further fuel to the fire and all the ‘geniuses’ in government decided that they are brilliant enough to fix the entire problem in a couple weeks – so why can’t the executives in charge do it?
If the bureaucrats had their way they would wave their dainty little Harry Potter magic wands and the problem would fix itself overnight, with a little help from some magic fairy dust conjured up by the opposing government officials.
“We can fix it easily!”
…a $14 billion dollar organization completely redesigned and repaired overnight.
…nothing wrong with this fantasy, is there?
So the media was ALL OVER Duckett lately.
Which is their job.
Duckett’s mistake that cost him his career: “Dissing the media”.
Not a smart idea.
There was a big meeting taking place with all senior level people, and the media wanted to know what happened.
They found Stephen coming out of the meeting and started asking questions.
All Stephen could say was “there is a press meeting in 30 minutes – can I please finish my cookie?” (he was eating a cookie at the time).
The media kept after him, asking more questions – trying to get some answers and ignoring his request for a few minutes of privacy.
He kept repeating the “I’m eating my cookie” as the films rolled and the reporter persisted.
At the end of the day, Stephen looked very, very unprofessional on film. Within hours the videos were up on Youtube and the media outlets informed.
This was all on November 19th at 5pm.
By Saturday, “Cookiegate” was PLASTERED all over the news. Youtube had seen thousands of views (now over 200,000) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DxeCK5Ne_Q
By end of day Wednesday, November 24th, Stephen Duckett was relieved of his position as CEO.
I am not writing this to debate Stephen’s leadership with the Alberta Health System. I am not writing this to debate whether or not Stephen could turn the system around.
Everyone has their own opinions on all of that.
…And we all know what they say about opinions :o)
But what is VERY important to note here: if the media is hounding you for an answer – give them one. Especially a high profile guy like Stephen – it’s part of his job.
All he had to do was take 2 minutes – give some brief answers to their questions – and say he would answer all of their remaining questions at the press conference scheduled in 30 minutes.
All he had to do was give them something they could use.
…Then he could have eaten his cookie.
But he chose to shut them out and treat them like a nuisance. They were doing their job and asking for some little tidbit they could publish.
Never ever treat a media personality like that – nothing good will ever come of it.
His refusal to work with them cost him his job… and every ounce of dignity or respect he once had.
All by one stupid mistake.
We all mistakes – but only some learn from them and make sure it doesn’t happen again – or to them.
Media attention can be a GREAT thing – but it can also destroy your life, reputation and business if you do it poorly.
This was unfortunately a very visible example on what can happen when you do it wrong.
Please learn from it. I did. And I would hope I never do something like that when given the chance to be in front of the media!
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