Secret CIO: Ideas Aren't Always Improved By Review - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
News
Commentary
11/15/2002
12:50 PM
Commentary
Commentary
Commentary
50%
50%

Secret CIO: Ideas Aren't Always Improved By Review

More harm than good will come of the old boss-knows-best trick.

Hornbecker in HR had an idea. This is notable because he hasn't had an original thought in all the years I've been with the company. Hornbecker is one of the drones reporting to Stephanie Stone, our VP of human resources. I think he's in charge of counting left-handed paper clips or maybe the number of forms the department generates. In any case, he goes to her with his idea, and to Stephanie's surprise, it's a good one--that is, before we began to improve upon it.

Stephanie, being a corporate creature, pitches Hornbecker's idea to the Executive Committee. Of course, by now, the idea is Stephanie's, or as she put it, "We in human resources have been concerned with interactions among our geographic divisions with respect to misunderstandings caused by cultural and geopolitical differences. As a result, we believe that a series of miniworkshops that explore these differences from an impact point of view would facilitate a higher level of cooperation among our working entities."

In other words, we might all get along better if we get people together to discuss the fact that our offshore brethren drive us up the wall with their smug comments about the superiority of their way of life and that we grate on their nerves with the constant flipping of our forks from one hand to the other during dinner.

It's a good idea. Too often, after an expensive and time-consuming international meeting, we (or they) return home to see agreements painfully hammered out unravel like the yarn in a cheap sweater. Even I, ever cynical about the ability of a company to do the intelligent thing, am impressed.

All goes well at first. Phil, our CEO, says it makes sense. Stephanie beams. Karen, VP of planning, chimes in that it's long overdue. Stephanie beams even more. Then, Ron Stagweg, executive VP of domestic operations, pipes up and things begin to go downhill. Ron is a decent fellow, but his wattage at times isn't sufficient to light a small closet. "This is a great opportunity," he says, "to hear from people about what changes we should make in our corporate culture. We could blend the best of each of our native cultures to make the moves that would really make us stand out from the competition." He finishes with a flourish, "We'd be a true international company, not just a multinational!"

Phil nods vigorously. "I like it! We can make some real progress in improving morale!" Now it's Ron's turn to beam.

Gornish, our CFO, and Kratmeyer, executive VP for foreign operations, sit quietly. Both know that when Phil gets in these raptures of enthusiasm, nothing can change his mind. Frequently at odds, they're united in the belief that nothing will come of any suggestion they don't like.

Knowing that I'm spitting into a hurricane, I open my mouth. "If we're worried about morale, we better make it clear up front that their recommendations might not be adopted. If we ask for input and then pull the old 'the boss-knows-best' trick, we'll do more harm than good."

Phil looks unhappy. He authorizes a set of management meetings to review cultures and customs. Each session will end with a workshop to develop actions to improve ourselves. Attendees will be told that the Executive Committee believes in the power of the ideas generated by our managers.

I just hope they don't take us too literally.

Herbert W. Lovelace shares his experiences (changing most names, including his own, to protect the guilty) as CIO of a multibillion-dollar international company. Send him E-mail at [email protected].


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Herbert Lovelace's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Herbert Lovelace, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Commentary
Augmented Analytics Drives Next Wave of AI, Machine Learning, BI
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  3/19/2020
Slideshows
How Startup Innovation Can Help Enterprises Face COVID-19
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  3/24/2020
Commentary
Enterprise Guide to Robotic Process Automation
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  3/23/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
IT Careers: Tech Drives Constant Change
Advances in information technology and management concepts mean that IT professionals must update their skill sets, even their career goals on an almost yearly basis. In this IT Trend Report, experts share advice on how IT pros can keep up with this every-changing job market. Read it today!
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll