The Ostrich Manager

Marc Miller Uncategorized Leave a Comment

A recent e-mail from a Sales Engineer illustrates

on how leaders are often the biggest barriers to new innovations:

Hi Marc,

I just watched the overview video on CCM (Commercial Conversation Manager), and love the concept.  I was an early adopter of a Smartpen that recorded audio in meetings,  and today use an iPad App that is not as advanced as Spearfysh with integration or functionality, just simple recording.

However, I have proposed this type of conversation audio capture previously and have met stern resistance about the ‘culture’ of recording conversations.  I have actually had one of our VPs ask me not to use recording – he was in a meeting when I advised those in attendance that I was recording, as it was ‘discourteous’ somehow and that it would influence the openness of a meeting.

Personally, in my everyday life of understanding customer requirements, I have actually had the opposite experience, where customers are thrilled you are going to get it right.

If you have some data to convince this Manager that capturing audio isn’t evil, I’d be interested in hearing more as I truly believe the CCM concept is powerful.  I was in an important client meeting just a few days ago when, upon debriefing, we had difficulty recollecting exactly what was said – and the tone of the conversation.”



Dear Tom,

Thanks for the note.

I could give you all kinds of useful research to support your position around the value of capturing commercial conversations – memory improvement, information clarity, team sharing, and better client solutions (much of that data listed in previous blogposts).  Unfortunately, I sense that evidence would fall on deaf ears for one reason – your VP is an Ostrich Manager.

What is an Ostrich Manager?

Ostriches are pointlessly paranoid Managers.   Sometimes paranoia is good, but in too many instances the paranoia defies logic.  In a consulting or sales situation, if two parties mutually consent to use a technology that enables better results, why not?  In the case you described above, your VP seems paranoid about something that… doesn’t exist.

Ostriches always prefers to play it safe.  They have long necks, but they don’t like to stick them out too often.  Of course, real leaders understand that taking risk is the only way to really learn something really significant – and get out in front of the pack.  For Ostrich Mangers, though, anything that might put them in a position of failure or criticism is to be avoided at all costs.

Ostriches are almost always politicians.  They like to instill fear when there is nothing to be afraid of.   They say, “What if one of our people says something wrong or incorrect,” or “isn’t the information discoverable?”

Ostriches would rather hide their heads in the sand than know.  They prefer opaqueness to openness.

That makes them good Ostriches, but not very good leaders.

Real leaders always want to know the facts, no matter how difficult or harsh.  If they know, they can do something about it.   Real leaders deal with reality.

When Managers take their heads out of the sand, the invisible becomes visible, and good things happen.


“If the social world has proved anything, it is the amazing impact transparency has on effectiveness.”


My final advice would be this.  I would encourage you to keep practicing your good habit of capturing VOC in its entirety.  You understand that it helps you listen more deeply to clients, help them, and deliver better solutions.  As for your Ostrich Manager, I doubt he will be around for too much longer – organizations have figured out that keeping these types employed for too long is bad for business.

What is a Commercial Conversation Management Platform?

Learn More

Download The

Free CCM Bundle

• Case studies
• White papers
• Relevant Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *