[EAS]CxO Titles

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Mon Apr 2 17:48:15 EDT 2001

Subject:   CxO Titles

(from INNOVATION, 2 April 2001 Innovation Weekly)

Experts are at odds over whether the recent spate of new executive job
 titles are a positive development -- or a negative one -- for
business.  Until the past few years, CEO, COO, CFO and CIO were pretty
much the only  Chief anything Officers you could find. But today, you
might well find  Chief Awareness Officer, Chief Content Officer, even
Chief Experience  Officer on a business card. "It's a reflection of
increased importance of  some activity," says Lew McCreary, editorial
director of CIO Magazine. "The  only way to achieve cultural change is
to create this highfalutin role --  which to say if we are really
serious about better relationships with  customers, for instance, we
need to signal it to the world." Not everyone  agrees. To some, the
bloom in CxO titles is further evidence that  corporations are working
hard to create an opaqueness. "Doublespeak is  language that only
pretends to say something; it's language that hides,  evades or
misleads. These days, your job title has to have 'chief' in it," 
writes Rutgers University professor William Lutz, author of "The New 
Doublespeak: Why no one knows what anyone's saying anymore." "After
all the  'operations improvement' corporations have undergone, you
have to wonder  who all those 'chiefs' are leading. Never before have
so few been led by so  many." ("Between 'Chief' and 'Officer' Exists a
World of Possibilities,"  Wall Street Journal 28 Mar 2001) 

I completely agree with the  doubtful interpreters of this trend
toward new CxO titles. It is all too easily a "buck passing" maneuver
by the CEO that makes an important corporate attribute "somebody
else"s job, thus lessening its role. The Japanese revolution in
quality control would never have worked with a Chief Quality Officer.
Whether it's quality or ethics, _everyone_ has to be on board.  --PJK

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