Liberals, Conservatives, and the CEO’s Time

One of the most efficient ways I’ve found to keep up with the news and the issues is to peruse memeorandum.com a couple times a day.  Memorandum is a blog aggregator that lists the main stories of the hour with a hyperlink to the outlet (usually a blog, or a magazine or newspaper article) that has been getting the most traffic on it.  Under this main link they then hyperlink to other outlets that are carrying the story or commentary on the issue.  Of course there are liberal outlets like Talking Points Memo and the New York Times, and conservative outlets like National Review Online and the Wall Street Journal (usually).

One of the disturbing things I’ve noticed there is that stories that support a liberal point of view are picked up mostly by liberal outlets, and stories that support a conservative viewpoint are mostly picked up by the conservative outlets.  While it’s certainly a fiction that we ever had a truly objective press at any time in our nation’s history, I had expected some movement towards objective or neutral outlets as the Web matured, or at least several conservative sites that picked up stories supporting a liberal point of view and dissected them, and vice-versa.  Instead each side is mostly getting its own set of facts.

Politics doesn’t just happen in the public sphere, of course—your company is undoubtedly full of it, too (company politics, that is). But top management can’t afford to get a skewed set of facts; it must see all the facts, all the analyses, and all the points of view on a subject.  Which brings us to process again.

We have always said that it’s top management’s job to design the major processes of their enterprise.  Part of that design is the how data is reduced to information, and the flow of that information (in its various reduced forms) to the people that need it.  If top management isn’t getting the straight and full skinny, it’s often their fault for not having designed their processes correctly.

However, even with good processes, the CEO and his/her top staff can still get information that’s been through too many filters—filters with an agenda, usually.  That’s one reason that we’ve written—and Mitch has long advocated—that CEOs should spend 30% of their time with customers.  Not doing executive-level selling, but just listening and probing.  We know that seems like a lot of the company’s most valuable resource on one activity.  But the enterprise-wide long-term horizon that is the CEO’s responsibility alone demands that he/she has their fingers on the pulse of the market.  This is the reality check that the CEO needs to guard against selective facts and agenda-driven analyses.

Ralph

 

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