Chiefs, Chefs and more. Who’s really in charge?

August 10th, 2009

If you have not been following recent blog posts at Sourcing, you should have been. In this case the posts relative to the number of corporate Chiefs, the doctor is right on.

In the Doctors recent post CUCKOO, he calls attention to the endless and in many cases meaningless introduction of new “C” level positions in today’s business world. When this author first began my career, what was typical of most corporations was the Chief Executive Office, the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Information Officer. That was about it. These positions in most cases also held seats on the board or directors which added a sense of aura to the title and also signified to the rest of the business world the level of importance placed on this position by the Board. Further elegance might be added to the title of CEO when in some cases the job also carries the title of Chairman of the Board.

Historically, if you did not carry one of the above titles, but reported to one, your title might be that of vice president, senior vice president and sometimes executive vice president. This indicated that your role was one of significance and reported to a board level position.

So, why do we need all of these other titles and layers of management? This author is not quite sure. To me it means the buck stops in to many places instead of as the old saying goes, “The Buck Stops Here”.

According to Wikipedia a chief executive officer (CEO) or chief executive is one of the highest-ranking corporate officers (executive) or administrators in charge of total management. So obviously the buck stops here. Woops, let’s look a little further.

According to Wikipedia there is also a chief operating officer or chief operations officer (COO) which is a corporate officer responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the corporation and for operations management. So, why no CEO? Maybe we should add the title of President to the COO job. If the CEO is not really running the company on a daily basis and is really responsible for the strategy and direction of the company, why not name the CEO the Chief Strategy Officer. Woops, there we go again, another title.

If you’re not confused by now, please offer some comments because most associates, shareholders and other stakeholders are. I’m sorry I never got to the Chef part of this post, but Executive Chef, Sous Chef, Chef de Cuisine and other titles are just part of the same problem.

We certainly look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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