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Chris Doyle

“Before the trip, I was not Mr. Conflict, but I had never really recognized how much I avoided confrontation.”

Title: Vice President of Public Relations
Previously: Head of public relations for Eddie Bauer
The Impact: “The first week back from the Salmon, our leadership team met to write a job description for the position of COO that needed to be filled. We discussed that role extensively during the trip, and we felt an urgent need to move on it. We used the feedback skills we’d practiced on the river to create a pretty powerful document. Now CEO Mike Morford and executive strategist Don Pickering have some tangible feedback to work with.

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“The most amazing thing is that it took us only 45 minutes to write that job description. That’s it. It was the best meeting any of us could remember having.”

What do you feel will be the real testing points for Altrec.com in the next six months?

One of the thing that I think we still struggle with, although we’re focusing on it and continuing to look for solutions and new processes, is decision-making. Who needs to be involved? Where’s the authority coming from? And for us, one of the big things is simply getting agreement up front about who’s involved and who makes the ultimate decision. We also need to concentrate on the basics like timelines and parameters for making decisions. Having general agreement, up front, about how that’s going to happen expedites decision-making.

How have you seen the off-site’s action items manifested in your daily work life?

In terms of decision-making, I knew before the off-site that I needed to be more decisive dictating the way I want my PR firm to work with me. Before the trip, I was not Mr. Conflict, but I had never really recognized how much I avoided confrontation.

So, one personal change that I’ve seen since the off-site is that I’m not so afraid of conflict anymore. In fact, I think conflict — leveraged appropriately — is really good. Going into all of these different interviews with PR firms, I said, “Look, I’m going to challenge you guys. And I’m not going to hesitate to call you on things.” That attitude helped me in the decision-making process. I flew to New York, after narrowing down the search from about 12 firms to three, and met with two significant PR groups. I had to have frank discussions with them after their presentations. And we had conflict. I didn’t feel bad about raising points of challenge. After walking away from those processes, I knew we had very good relationships. I could call up either firm and engage them tomorrow, if I wanted to. By being forthright in the conflict process and through the engagement process, it made me feel a great deal better.

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