Chief Growth Officers


It is often said of the over-managed company that there are 'too many chiefs and not enough Indians'. Whatever the veracity of that statement, management certainly has more Chiefs than it used to: the Chief Information Officer (CIO); the COO (the middle O standing for Operating); the Chief Financial Officer, or CFO; and, of course, the CEO, the Chief Executive Officer, supposedly the master of all he surveys.

Writing for The Thinking CEO, I pennned a short article suggesting an alternative name for the CEO – the CGO, or Chief Growth Officer.

However, the incumbent needs to double up as another CIO – CIO2, with the I standing for Ideas, as opposed to Information. In fact, the two Is should work together, which they notoriously often fail to do.

CEO is a misleading title. Although the boss is chief and an executive director, 'execution' is precisely what the CEO shouldn't do or try to do: heading up all the day-to-day 'executing', assuming direct responsibility for activating all plans, controlling all product lines and apparatus of production, driving all the other people into performing their allotted tasks.

Time is too short for the CEO and there are too many voices screaming for his or her attention, within the company and outside. The emphasis is wrong with the title 'CEO', although the incumbent also has to act as the CSO – the Chief Supervisory Officer, responsible for checking that everybody else is in the right job and performing satisfactorily.

That responsibility must be delegated and structured. The top managers must feel comfortable with the people who, in turn, are responsible for those under them. As the Chief Internal Systems Officer (CISO), the CEO must help build a living organism that bypasses bureaucracy and substitutes a fast and efficient chain of command.

Because the CEO is also the Chief Ideas Officer, it doesn't mean that the incumbent has all or even most of the ideas. The CEO/CIO2 has the vital task of making all his or her people feel and act like key members of a true creative team.

The CEO who is incapable of withdrawing from running operations to concentrate on strategy and structural transformation falls between two stools.

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About The Author

Robert Heller
Robert Heller

Robert Heller, who died aged 80 in August 2012, was Britain's most renowned and best-selling author on business management. Author of more than 50 books, he was the founding editor of Management Today and the Global Future Forum. About his latest title, The Fusion Manager, Sir John Harvey-Jones wrote: "The future lies with the thinking manager, and the thinking manager must read this book".

Older Comments

There is good reason to assume that Robert Heller still lives with a dash of the long lost colonial 'British Raj' hangover with his statement '...there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.' Many of you readers would like to appreciate the fact that Indian-origin CEOs are looming large in top 1000 organizations of the world today and further to add Indian companies are buying out some of those top of the chart global organizations ...much like ladies and gentlemen buying their cakes. I somehow feel great to be an Indian.

krishnendu sarkar Kolkata, India