No Q&A: "I'm Eating My Cookie"

The Story

Reporters couldn't get a substantive response from Stephen Duckett, CEO of Alberta Health Services in Western Canada.  Following criticism about emergency room wait times, Duckett evaded speaking with reporters by repeatedly referring to his cookie.  Apparently, this odd scene was the impetus for Duckett's termination today.

Video source.

Discussion Starters

  • What could or should Duckett have done instead in this situation?
  • Read Duckett's apology: "The meeting made great progress.  That success has to some extent been overshadowed by my poor responses to the media afterwards, which I deeply regret and for which I apologize unreservedly." Do you think his statement is effective?  Why or why not? (Source)
  • What is the best way to handle a challenging question?  How about a question that's too personal?

Assignment Ideas

  • Review the situation with Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, and the CNN reporter.  In what ways are these situations similar?  How are they different?  Discuss your ideas in small groups.
  • With a partner in class, role play asking and responding to difficult questions.  Imagine that one of you is Duckett, finishing a prepared speech to the press.  The other person can play a member of the press, wanting to get a good story.  First, brainstorm challenging questions (or watch the video for a few).  Next, take turns asking each other one question.  After each question and response, have the reporter provide feedback to the CEO.  Was the response clear and believable?  Did the CEO sound confident and convincing?