Monday, September 18, 2006

CEO blogging

I just wanted to post a quick note regarding CEO blogging as there was an article today appearing on CNN. It is actually quite interesting and points to many uses of having corporate blogs.

Heres the article, I'll post more about it later when I get back from coffee with my wife.

CNN article on CEO blogging (with Jonathan Schwartz of Sun Microsystems).

Alright, coffee is delayed, so I have some time to go into this a bit more. First off, let me point out that I am not, nor have I ever been a CEO. The opinions I have are from standing back and looking at my own thoughts and feelings, and those that have been expressed to me by others.

What are some of the largest problems facing CEOs today?
  • CEO disconnect between employees and society at large.
  • Inability to influence through the organizational cloud.
  • Reliance on traditional forms of communication.

The traditional CEO in so many ways is seen as that man/woman at the top of the organization. Who can relate to them? Who trusts what they say? (since they are just about the Benjamins right?) Who understand where they are going? Why are the only people that really seem to get them are the board of directors?

It is quite funny, but think about this mind-set that many have about CEOs. First off, what does it take to get to that position? How many strings must they hold without letting any slip? Who must you please? (The only people more difficult to please than employees are share holders). Can you perform ethically day after day when you have your board and shareholders demanding one thing while your employees try to push you towards another? Is it easy to be corporate cheer leader day in and day out even when things don't go your way?

The fact of the matter is that a very few CEOs out of the many have undertaken actions that drag the position down. The rest seem to suffer from the inability to differentiate themselves from that group. How is that to be done? Sure, there are always speaking engagements, the occasional article, etc. That does little to decrease the gulf that exists between CEOs and employees or customers.

Seth Godin states in his blog that CEOs should beware the blog unless they have certain characteristics: Candor, Urgency, Timeliness, Pithiness and Controversy. If they don't have that, then "don't bother" (blogging).

I agree in part with that, but well, only in part. First off, I think that almost any attempt at communication (within limits) is better than none. Even a "boring" unpleasant CEO can sit down with somebody that has PR skills and understands what the CEO wants and put together a little piece a few times a week. Sure, it wouldn't exactly be straight from the horses mouth, but we use coaching in every other area of the organization so why wouldn't it be a benefit to the CEO to receive the same attention?

In this day and age with the technology that we have there isn't much reason for a CEO to neglect the tools at hand. By utilizing a blog (and/or podcast!) a CEO is able to take her message directly to the people that want to hear it and justify who she is, what she does, and what her goals are. Many people cannot identify with a CEO and exactly what it is they do. I for one wouldn't mind if CEOs went on a PR compaign to bring the integrity and respect back to the role.

Seth is a brilliant guy, and I think that he is right in many ways. However, instead of just saying "I dont have some of those attributes" and giving up... realize what you are lacking and find someone that can help you with it. My take is: blogging is here to stay so take advantage of it.


Blogger Charles-A. Rovira said...

Hello Mr. Eggar, (Justin? :-)

I agree that most CEOs, and most upper management in general, need help in getting their vision across.

I have found that they are indeed needlessly isolated by the very corporate culture that they are trying to shape and mould into their strategic vision.

I have also found that they are usually quite well read and very well spoken.

A well written, well prepared podcast, recorded in a casual setting, where they can discuss their vision and the strategic and tactical problems facing both themselves and their organization with, uh, controlled candor, would do a great deal to help them and to dispell the preception that they are unapproachable.

Personally, I have never found them to be unaproachable.

But they are very focused and they are never satisfied with merely maintaining the status quo.

This would go a long way to helping them communicate and perhaps can help them start a dialogue with the people they employ.

Both "One Off" project management and recurring business are usually best accomplished when all of the stategic, tactical and logistical goals of an organization are well understood.

This avoids needless effort and expenditure, but ensures that all the goals of the project are met as well as the wider goals of the organization.

Just delivering on a project is never enough.

9/18/2006 11:21 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

Hey Charles!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by again, I always enjoy getting a new comment from you.

I think it is quite interesting going to a company's web site and reading about their vision and core values, etc. After I do so, the main thought that is left in my mind is generally not "Oh, they really have a great vision" but "This company really talks a big talk about vision".

By the way, before I forget, I subscribed to your podcast and will be listening to it tomorrow with my morning coffee.

Back to CEOs. Those I have met have often had many qualities that I respect and can admire. It is often easy for people to take the easy way out and blame difficult decisions that a CEO must make on some sort of personal character trait.

I think that giving the CEO the means to reach out to more people is generally a great idea. Of course within guidelines.

This is possibly a double edged sword for companies. One the one hand, they could very well benefit from the CEO connecting with employees and customers. On the other hand, there is a certain risk with allowing a CEO to become synonymous with a companies name or branding. A risk in my opinion that is well worth it if the CEO is competent, trustworthy and has the ability to reach out.

That is a great statement about one off and recurring business. I wonder how many managers really understand the "strategic, tactical and logistical goals of their organization" and refer to them frequently in accomplishing the role they fulfill. I'd think those that are succesfull do!

Thanks again for your comments Charles, please just call me Justin by the way!

9/19/2006 12:41 AM  
Anonymous eggmom said...

totally agree that CEO's efforts to communicate as well as listen is invaluable. And if it takes some help to get there from others on staff, that's alright. At least there is the attempt to communicate and listen being made. CEO's by nature often don't have that down to earth nature. They're visionaries. So well done in encouraging their attempts nonetheless. dona

9/19/2006 10:31 PM  

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