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.