UK: Weak at the top - John weak's diary.

UK: Weak at the top - John weak's diary. - MONDAY

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


Came down the mountain with tablets from Sir Marcus (CEO). Apparently we have to innovate or die. Creativity and new thinking top priority. Does this mean we can ditch quality? I asked. Probably shouldn't have. But he's looking for me to lead fresh thinking. Good opportunity to make early impact with him. Lunch with Bill Peters to get creative juices flowing. Get back just before four. Never felt so creative. Have big idea so I phone agency to do it up in colour. Also have ordered two big sofas for office. Gives the place a more creative, informal feel. Good for sleeping off lunches with Peters as well. Possible totty hands-on management zone too - in a non-sexist way, of course.


Summon marketing and research teams. Tell them creativity and innovation are required but they can relax as I have big new idea. Unveil big idea on agency boards - the soap that dries your hands. Everyone shocked into silence. Obviously don't expect their MD to be taking a creative lead. Deborah Wills (brand manager - nice body) asks me what the thought is behind it. Pretty obvious to me but explain that you have to dry your hands after washing them, so why not have a soap that does it for you. She said we need to get into research right away. Smart girl. Better chase up sofas.


Lunch with weirdo HR director Giles Renton-Willets. Don't know how he got in my diary. Must tell Hayley (secretary) that lunches are by my invitation only. Anyway, he told me the word was out about my big idea. No surprise there. Probably first big idea they've ever heard. Tucking into filet mignon when Giles pipes up about risk culture and innovation funnels. Hadn't a clue what he was talking about but made encouraging noises. Apparently he thinks company should be innovating night and day, taking all sorts of risks and not getting blamed when they go pear-shaped. I've got a good mind to report him to Sir Marcus and get him sacked for stirring up the workforce. He liked my sofa idea though. Said he could advise on fabric. Nearly spilled my Budvar over my Psion 5. Got the bill quickly.


V bad day. Clare O'Keefe (operations director) volunteered to join innovation task force I'm apparently setting up. Told her in no uncertain terms: a) task forces are just committees in combat trousers; b) I was handling innovation personally; c) if there were to be a task force I would decide who was on it. Then she said she loved my joke about the soap that dries your skin. Assumed she was kidding. Went to see Timothy Smallwood (finance director) about non-appearance of sofas. He kept saying 'cool' and 'fab'. He's the same age as me, for pete's sake. Said there was no budget for sofas as I have already spent it on redecoration. Gave him a roasting on how vital sofas were to make people feel comfortable. He said he'd look at his spreadsheet. I said 'fab' and left him to it.


Called in marketing team after detecting lack of enthusiasm and action behind hand-drying soap concept. Just getting into stride about lack of teamwork, risk-taking, etc when Sir Marcus pops in to congratulate me on setting up innovation task force. My confusion covered by appearance of delivery men carrying in bloody great sofas. Explain to Sir Marcus they're for the innovation task force meetings to help encourage an informal, blame-free, risk-taking culture. Sir Marcus very impressed until he sees hand-drying soap concept board. I explain it's a spoof from the agency. He asks whether choice of sofa fabric is also agency spoof. Laughter all round. Bit too much from some quarters. Must set up headcount reduction task force.

Contact John Weak at

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime