May 20

Looks like CEOs would pick Clayton Christianson over Arthur W. Page any day of the week


Innovators
A
just released survey of 1,500 CEOs by the IBM Institute for Business Value
shows an overwhelming percentage want one thing from their direct reports:
creativity. Chief executives want innovative thinkers such as Clayton
Christianson, who rocketed to business rock star status with his book, 'The Innovator's Dilemma.'

Written
in the dotcom heyday and intended to educate 'brick-and-mortar' CEOs how to
disrupt their business models before some upstart 'click-and-mortar' did it to
them, 'The Innovator's Dilemma' seems to embody exactly what today's CEO wants.

Why?
Because, according to the IBM survey, chief executives want to blow up the
status quo. They want fresh thinking and they want to end organizational
paralysis. It's obvious their desire coincides with a market upturn.

And,
yet I find the results discouraging. Why? Because, despite all the moral and
ethical lapses we've seen of late from the likes of BP, Toyota, Goldman Sachs
and others, honesty and transparency didn't even register on the CEO's agenda.

That's
a shame for public relations executives in general and the Arthur W. Page
Society in particular. We, as professionals, have been patting ourselves on the
back for earning a seat at the C-suite table convincing ourselves that more and
more enlightened CEOs have grasped the critical need for a great image and
reputation. And, The Page Society's raison d'etre is business ethics.

Well,
guess what? The CEOs in the IBM survey still think the same way their
predecessors did. For CEOs, it's all about top and bottom-line growth,
delivering shareholder value and pleasing the Street. Period.

The
problem with 'creativity at all costs' is that it encourages a business culture
where results count more than doing the right thing. Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling
were all about creativity and innovation. So, too, was Bernie Madoff.

I
feel for the late Arthur W. Page and the Page Society itself (of which I'm a
proud member). This survey is a sobering reminder that the average chief
executive is still all about one thing and one thing only: results.

Happily, there are exceptions. I
guess they just decided to skip taking the IBM survey.

Thanks to Greg Schmalz for the
idea behind this post. 

Jun 17

Where’s Mr. Blackwell when you need him?

Forbes is great at compiling lists. They publish the 400 richest, the 100 best investments, the 300Top_10
Spartans. Oh wait. The latter wasn’t a Forbes list.

Regardless, Forbes has just published its list of the 75 most reputable companies in the U.S. There are lots of names you’d expect (Johnson & Johnson, GE and FedEx, for example) as well as a few surprises (Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley). I found the latter two names particularly interesting in light of the sub-prime disaster.

But, enough about the good guys. I’d like to see a list of America’s least reputable organizations (a Forbes 500 version of Mr. Blackwell’s 10 worst dressed Hollywood stars, if you will).  Who would you put on the least reputable list?

Here’s my top 10 (bottom 10?):

1.) Jet Blue – From a reputation standpoint, this airline is a midair collision. And, what’s with JetBlue and bathrooms? First, they won’t allow passengers to use restrooms during a nine-hour delay on Valentine’s Day. Then, more recently, they forced a passenger to fly in a lavatory for an entire flight? (Note to self: use the restrooms before boarding).

2.) The entire airline industry minus Southwest.

3.) ExxonMobil, Shell and their ilk. How much longer before top oil and gas industry executives start fearing for their lives because of astronomically high gas prices?

4.) New York City crane suppliers.

5.) A New York City political infrastructure that allows crane safety standards to go by the boards.

6.) Ford (talk about being asleep at the wheel as the gas/environmental crisis loomed large on the horizon. They’ve finally begun shutting down assembly plans that make the gas guzzlers).

7.) Chrysler and the rest of the beleaguered American auto industry (imagine losing an 80 percent market share and still being in freefall?)

8.) The New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, inc. (Mr. Wilpon: now, that you’ve finally fired Willie Randolph, it’s time to turn your sights on Omar Minaya. He’s the chief architect of this mess. Dump him ASAP and hire a GM who can build a blended team of veterans and up-and-comers.)

9.) The National Basketball Association. The game is a farce. Showboating "what’s in it for me?" players sharing the court with crooked referees makes for an NBA that’s on a fast break to oblivion (or, if not, at least becoming a legitimate rival to professional wrestling).

10.) The fast food industry. I still think they’re part of the problem, not the solution.

Thanks to Rob Longert for the idea.