Watson Methods Forbidden In Private Sector: Ex-CFO



Frequent Bulldog contributor Ron Benn says the events of Wednesday’s city budget session would create altered career paths for executives in the private world:

I have been the CFO of a number of companies, a four of which were publicly traded.

In EVERY instance, the instruction from the chair of the board of directors was that all material was to be distributed to EVERY director at least a week before the meeting, and any updated information was to be distributed to EVERY director in as timely a manner as possible.

I was most certainly expected to present to and discuss with the CEO the reports that were to be distributed to the directors. However, under no circumstances would preferential distribution of information or reports be tolerated. I am confident that a failure to abide, dare I say OBEY, this instruction would have resulted in a much different career trajectory.

What has become evident during the last six years (my terms of reference in paying close attention to the petty politics that pervade Ottawa’s city hall do not predate that) is that what constitutes best practices in corporate governance of public and private organizations has not permeated the hallowed stone and faux stone walls of 110 Laurier Avenue West.

When individuals who are entrusted to properly manage and/or oversee a $3 billion + budget on behalf of the residents of Ottawa are more concerned with leveraging information for personal power or to embarrass ones’ peers, or are prepared to limit the distribution of key information to allow their superiors (in an organization chart context) to leverage that information, it is time to replace them.

As I said in my initial comment, those who had critical information, but chose not to share it with everyone who had the RIGHT to that critical information should be censured.

Photo above: The purposeful withholding of information to councillors would not be tolerated on a board of directors.


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4 thoughts on “Watson Methods Forbidden In Private Sector: Ex-CFO

  1. Ron:

    Your comment is, as usual, right on the target.

    They all seem to overplay the exception-to-the-rule gambit.
    Isn’t there a time when that modus operandi moves from grey area to downright black?

    The city does have a lawyer and I guess that he must be pulling out his hair finding justifications for all the greyish activities.

    I have said that I cannot understand your city’s goings-on and that all seems weird to me. I’ve even gone so far as to try to push information about the province’s guides to being a municipal councillor. Perhaps my posting about the Twilight Zone was too cryptic.

    This last ploy was too far over the top.

    WOW – politics is somewhat tacky at best but an infection in the administration is ….?



    1. Chaz:

      Thank you for this.

      For the longest time Watson and Co. would walk on motions at council on thing they thought would be controversial.

      It minimized debate.





  2. From my experience in the not-for-profit sector, I doubt that this type of behavior would also fly at any major not-for-profit, charitable or foundation board either.
    Most boards with strong governance procedures would also require that all pertinent information be provided to all directors at least one-to-two weeks ahead of any meeting and that any last minute information be distributed to all directors as soon as it is available.
    The exception might be if the information was with respect to a non-voting issue.


    1. Andrew:

      Thank you for this.

      And that’s a big problem for Watson. He is a lifetime politician who thinks like a politician.

      He wants the political win rather than what’s best for the community.




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