Have You Managed to Succeed?

Having introduced the CSSO, it seems like a good time to organise the entire company. As is my wont, I should probably add the disclaimer here that I do not have a business school background, so I’m basing this on tabula rasa mixed with experience rather than an academically based reflection on existing structures.

In short, I would introduce a management team consisting of 4 Cs: CEO, CSO, CDO and COO.

The CEO is very much what you’d expect him or her to be so let’s dwell on that role the least.

The CSO is the Chief Supply Officer. Supply would cover ensuring that whatever the company delivers, be it physical goods, software or services, are produced in the optimal way, at the optimal price and to the extent that they are needed. They are responsible for ensuring that all stages of development are as good as they absolutely can be.

The CDO is the chief demand officer. It is their role to be both the advocate for and procurer of the customers of the company. Under this role will fall all types of customer acquisition (both short and long term, just to get that little twist out of the way) so this would include loyalty work as well as risk work. So you’d find both the CRO and the CSSO reporting in here. Arguably, they could be called chief customer officer, but that is often taken as an excuse by B2Bs to expand on why their “customers” aren’t really customers (I’ve had a long discussion some years ago with a B2B consultant who insisted that those customers never used social networks, they were only interested in seeing the status of their orders. I politely disagreed, suggesting that B2B people are people too, and we left it at that …). Some might say that this role looks very much like a CXO, but the problem I regularly see is that a CXO is hired to fulfill this role, but with no real mandate to be anything but a well paid adviser, the input from whom may – or may not – be used for much.

Finally, the COO would be the well known chief operations officer. Under operations would fall the CFO (also a good read on the shift from CFO to COO here) as well as the responsibility for internal technology (CTO/CIO, whichever term you may chose here). This would put the COO in a position of mediation between supply and demand and able to shift and pool resources to where they were needed the most. I’ve had discussions with BI teams who felt that marketing were just a pain because they wanted too much data which they never used once owned, but likewise I’ve also heard from marketing teams who had strong, data-driven feedback on their customers which the rest of the organisation declined to take into account.

In leadership settings, if it really came to crunch time, the S, D and O would have one vote each, with the CEO having two votes to be able to settle matters which may defy an agreed strategy, e.g. if the S and D had a brilliant plan which the O was unable to find a financially stable platform for, in which case the E could simply add their two votes to the O and case would be closed. But ultimately, the business side could also “coup” the CEO by 3-2, which would massively aid in those cases where a stubborn E isn’t willing to make the required changes to keep the business running.

And for keeping a good flow going, I would also recommend reading this article on agility from McKinsey, where especially the analogy of an organisation as a smartphone is pretty catchy.