Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Destroying the office of the CEO

Another one of Vineets thinking which treads on a radical streak challenging conventional and historic legacy of leadership practice. In a day where people exhibit inertia to protect their office and hang around this thought is quite a departure. Appended below is my response and comments for your reference.
Source :

Author : Vineet Nayyar. President and CEO HCL Technologies.
Destroying the office of the CEO
Often while evaluating the challenges and opportunities facing my organization and the industry on the whole, I am faced with a question of how to build a truly global organization having global leaders who essentially will come from the next generation. The changing environment indicates that what was true in the past is not true now. So what’s so different about the environment today than it was five years ago?
I believe the three Rs have changed - the Responsibilities are different, the Response we want from our managers is different, and Results expected from these managers are different. Keeping this in mind, would it be sufficient to just induct and manage leaders into a global culture?
What we need is a global organization- and I believe a global organization is different from an American or a European or an Indian organization. If you ask me to define this global organization, I would say a global organization is one that inverts the pyramid of the organizational structure. It is more entrepreneurial. And it has to create what I call “the democratization of the organizations”, where it is not people like us who are monitoring, managing, and hence, correcting what others should be doing. It’s all about reverse accountability- that we are responsible to help them achieve their goals, radically different than our conventional style of management.
And when we run an organization like an inverted pyramid, issues like that of cultural integration will be completely bypassed. That’s because our job will primarily be that of an enabler, a facilitator. Rather than running our organization in a military fashion with “command and control” (usually seen in manufacturing setups), you run it in an enabled fashion where responsibilities, responses and results expected are clearly defined. In an enabling environment, you create communities of interest, you create collaborative platforms, and you create sensitivity to global cultures. And you don’t intervene. At HCL, we have seen a large degree of success with this management style.
Some may wonder and argue that there is still a need of that one person to take the final decision. I disagree!
We are heading towards managing the next generation of employees who would shun away hierarchy and who would resist structures. This next generation is an internet generation and their key style is information-learning-collaborating. They would want more value, more innovation, and more collaboration. And they collaborate in unstructured formats, beyond our imagination and what we have seen so far.
Another point is, that unlike manufacturing and unlike an army, the value in an IT services company actually gets created in the interface between am employee and the customer and that interface is by far the most important in running (it services) businesses. So the global leaders have to manage these people who are different in nature, and he also has to realize that he is not the one creating value. The interface is doing that. In my mind, CEO being a “larger than life decision maker” or a visionary is some thing that belongs to the past. I strongly believe it is time to think of destroying the office of the CEO. The next generation business imperatives are about CEO’s accountability of creating enabling functions to bring about openness and build a learning ground. This will ensure that people create value in that interface where their leaders not necessarily participate. In today’s world when parents have repositioned themselves as “friends” of their children shouldn’t the boss rethink his relationship?
The relevance of leadership in tomorrow’s world is a question mark. My belief is that of shared leadership or shared accountability. A more provocative word is inverse accountability - where the leader is accountable to his employees. And unfortunately it does not exist today. We believe in democratic values in our day-to-day life, but we fail to run our organizations democratically. Reverse accountability of a leader to his employees will become a vital requisite and once it does, shared leadership will automatically emerge.

My response : Posted on April 15th 2008
That organsations need to be lead and lead towards an agreed goal is a defined practice of management in the past. This isnt going to change in the near future as well.
However the thoughts presented are a distnct departure from the past but in my view nothing radical. Instead the view one get is that of the treatment of managing and leading having evolved with the attendant forces of industry dynamics.
Darwinism has more relevance to the business of today that it ever had in terms of impact. And organisations which have survived have by sheer instincts coped with the changing dymanics of the business terrain. Some which havent have withered into the oblivion.
Successful Organisation of the future will have a distinct inclusive DNA nonetheless evolutionary DNA. For the short term investors will reward initatives involving innovation and transformational corporate renditions. The life blood of these enterprises will be Vision,Strategy,Execution,Delegation,motivation,inspiration and creating what has be dealt in your blog as ” Integrating Cross Cultures” and ” Enabling Functions”.
While i am in agreement with the several changing paradigms about employees and organisations , CEO are not going to be redundant in a hurry. Business world apart ,planet earth is still in Command Control mode. Albeit Changing to a pluralistic shift in thinking inclusion of several myraid constitunents.
How else could one explain the Military powers impacting sharing of ecomomic and welfare programs by vitrue of the ” So Called Sanctions”. How do we explain the G 8 and its strangle hold on the close knit ecomonies.
The CEO of today , many like your self have the ardorous task of being market makers , rain makers and transformation managers. Importantly as cheiftans one who can clearly articulate a vision and predict a future to the several thousand waiting to be inspired to higher degrees of productivity. Focus on inclusive programs to distribute wealth evenly amongst the societies around the world.The CEO of today has a richer charter of creating several CEO’s in pipeline to carry the entreprenurial engine chugging along definitive paths.
Its is my kind submission that with all the good points taken into consideration we should foster for a grander purpose for the office of the CEO instead of destroying it. Evolve it into a position where mere mortals can look forward to. Look forward to a future with certianity.
Comment by Aravindan Umashankar — April 15, 2008 @ 11:17 am

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