Design Mind: Post CEO World

Today this arrived in my mailbox:

Design Mind | Thought Leadership blog | frog, part of Capgemini Invent?

Are We Living in a Post-CEO World?
By Doreen Lorenzo - January 10, 2012

In a complex business environment, innovative companies must move from a guru model to one based on team leadership.


Why is this message combined with a higly contradictory picture? Even if you do rowing as a sport, you
need a cox or steersman, still. Doing rowing as a “team - sport” will lead you nowhere.

So what is frogs position on the matter, really? The one communicated in the picture, or the one communicated
in the text?

What do You all think?


I don’t think there is anything new here. For me, the interesting thing that isn’t discussed is appearances. RIM seems out of control because it has two CEOs. However, when Disney hired Michael Eisner and Frank Wells in the 1980’s, they offered them co-CEO positions. Wells and Eisner met with the Disney board and Eisner told them that two CEOs can’t work. Wells agreed and offered to take the position of COO. The reality was that the two worked together, but the image was that Eisner called the shots.

The lesson here is that when it comes to publicly traded companies, they need a figure-head to believe in. Moreover, the media wants to have one person to go to hear what the company is doing.

As we’ve since learned about Steve Jobs, he didn’t do it alone. It’s just that hauling a line of engineers and designers out on stage wasn’t as dramatic. Even in the beginning, Wozniak built the first Apple, Jobs sold it.

I think a stronger article for Frog would have been to talk about how hard it is for entrepreneurs to shift to a more team style of management. One thing that I’ve experienced is that most successful entrepreneurs who start small succeed because of their ability to make quick decisions on limited information and take care of multiple roles in the start-up. When the company gets a certain critical mass of quality employees, the entrepreneur no longer has the best ideas, but it’s very hard for them to start pulling back from the day-to-day running of the business and start taking in information from their employees. I think that’s why so many entrepreneurs (Jobs included) get replaced as the company grows.