Brainfood: Speaking out - Michael Jordan, Chairman & CEO, Eds

Years ago, a producer from the BBC's Horizon programme said the main drawback of his show was that most major scientific activity went on in the US, and that Americans made the most boring of interviewees. After witnessing Michael Jordan's address to the CBI Annual Interactive Conference, I can share his pain.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Introduced by conference sponsor Harvey Nash, Jordan's CV was full of promise: degrees from Yale and Princeton, four years in the US Navy, 10 years at McKinsey, 18 years at PepsiCo, and then turning Westinghouse round and flogging it to CBS for $20 billion. He must have had interesting experiences, but they weren't in evidence here. He was the most boring man I've heard in years.

Today, his business offers IT implementation to businesses and governments across the globe, but it's the British government where EDS has its most high-profile activities, and often that profile is less than flattering. Jordan did little more than nod in the direction of the challenges they face. Instead, he drawled on about IT being around for 40 years and organisations spending 80% of their IT money on 'keeping the lights on'. But EDS has a solution: 'legacy transformation'. For those still awake, it just sounded like more jobs for the IT boys. Jordan gave little for business people to take away.

Key moment: When Jordan disclosed that EDS studies had found little causal link between increased IT spend and productivity.

Key lesson: No matter how galactic you are and how flattering speaking invitations may be, find someone who'll give a reality check on just how dull you sound. Otherwise, you may be exposing yourself to public ridicule.

Foot in mouth? ...

- A visiting professor of business communications at Southampton University, Khalid Aziz chairs the Aziz Corporation (khalid@azizcorp.com).

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