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Are CEOs out of touch?

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on October 7, 2005

Engadget and a bunch of blogs from Weblogs were just bought by AOL. Gawker and its clutch of blogs are in a deal to be distributed in Europe. Newscorp. buys MySpace for a fortune of money. The blogoshere is hot. Millions of people are communicating, creating their own content, making judgements, making news. But are CEOs involved in this new conversation? Do they actually have any idea of what is going on?

I ask this because my brilliant colleague Frank Comes raised the issue over lunch while we were talking about a recent BCG survey on CEOs and innovation. It was a simple question but a stunner. Let’s ask it another way. Are CEOs and top managers going to the wrong meetings? Are they having the wrong conversations? Are they out of touch?

Let’s take a day or week in a CEO’s life. From my experience with them, I would say that the vast majority, outside of the tech sector, spend little time on the web. The vast majority of chief executives have no idea what a blog is and spend virtually no time within a community of blogs. The vast majority belong to no social networks or web communities. Most don’t monitor the blogs by employees who complain about bureaucracy, bad managers and bad food in the vending machine.

In fact, most CEOs still spend weekends playing golf, getting business information on the golf course. They spend much of their day at internal meetings, getting information from their managers. They get advice from their boards, who tend to be older men and a few women who are even further detached from the web. Board members have even less of a clue. So most CEOs are probably having the wrong conversations about the wrong things with the wrong people.

The good news is that a growing number of CEOs and managers know they are out of touch and are hungry to plug into the right conversations. Think about all this for a moment. Some of the greatest business opportunities in the future will be providing “C” suite managers, CEOs and board members with the right connections to the right conversations with the right information. Or perhaps just aggregating the information and feeding it directly to the top execs.

Hmmmm. If CEOs are so out touch, are they also so overpaid?

Reader Comments

Rod Boothby

November 2, 2005 7:20 PM

CEO can't do all the innovation. They simply can't do it all themselves. But, they can create an environment that lowers the barriers for the innovation creators within their organizations. I have been describing some of the challenges that innovation creators face, and the steps that CEOs can take to create an environment that supports their innovation creators in a blog called, surprisingly enough, Innovation Creators.

If you are interested in solving this problem, I would love to hear what you think about my proposed solution.

Post a comment



Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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