C”X”O’s share their views of the pressing issues facing business and their companies in a recent WSJ article. My question: Where is HR? Both in terms of people challenges and in terms of the function that runs the people side of the business: the HR professional.
The article is actually a whole section of the WSJ called “C-Suite”. It appeared in the 10/20 edition of the Wall Street Journal.
The title on the front page is “View from the Top: What are today’s pressing issues for CEOs, chief information officers and others in the C-Suite? Hear from the bosses themselves and join the conversation online (at www.WSJ.com/LeadershipReport) “
Of the challenges mentioned are:
9 Challenges related to leading a business
3 Unrelated Challenges.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CHALLENGES are most often cited
Of the nine Challenges related to leading a business, four (nearly half) were related to Information Technology and Security
Challenges related to leading a successful business
- (4) Information technology and security
- (2) People – Finding people, Setting the culture
- (1) Marketing
- (1) The role of the CFO
- (1) The (initial) Vision of the Company
Two of the executives cited people challenges. To me that’s where the biggest challenge – and biggest opportunity is in leading a company to success.
Other Challenges not directly related to leading a successful business
- (1) The corporate tax system
- (1) Liberal Arts and a career path
- (1) Breast cancer
CEOs dominate the survey, but CIOs are close behind
Just as interesting was the kind of C”X”O cited. Most were CEOs and CIOs. Here’s the breakdown
- 6 CEOs, including a founder, president and chairman
- 4 CIOs
Plus a CFO and a CMO.
Noticeably lacking are Chief Human Resource Officers
When are Human Resource Executives going to be considered one of the C”X”Os? Some would say when they stop being just low level executives, worried only about filling vacant jobs or taking care of HR policies and keeping managers out of trouble legally.
That may be true, but consider also that:
a) Human Capital (per leading economists) long ago surpassed Financial Capital as the most important business resource – the “driver of the wealth creation” process, as economists would say.
b) The people resource is operating far below what’s possible, based on research studies that show people at all levels of a business are operating at a low fraction of what’s possible.
So, who in business management should be in charge of that dimension of the operation?
- The CEO? Maybe originally, or for a small company, but not in a big company.
- The COO? Maybe, but he or she is only interested in operations. There’s a lot more to capitalizing on the Human Capital of a firm than by directing daily operations.
- The CFO? By default many CFOs are in charge of “administration” issues. But CFOs are trained in and charged to take care of the firm’s financial resources.
- That leaves the CIO and the CMO. They are obviously not candidates.
So, for now, most companies are without a voice regarding the people dimension of the company in setting strategic direction, developing and implementing strategies, etc. Isn’t that interesting!
Look for that to change – soon, although I and others have been calling for that and looking for that for years!
What do you think?
Here are the individual leaders cited and their quotes in the article:
“The No. 1 most significant risk to every organization is your well-intentioned, nonmalicious insider.”
Jay Leak, Chief Information Security Officer. Blackstone Group
“In many circles liberal arts are thought of as being anathema to career pursuits.”
Brain W. Casey, President, DePauw University
“One problem with the middle age of the breast-cancer movement is that a lot of people think ‘Problem solved.’”
Judith A. Salerno, Chief Executive, Susan C.Kormen
“The initial vision was just me in a building making beer and delivering kegs around town.”
Scott A. Smith, founder, East End Brewing
“Over the next three years, we will have to prolong Moore’s law.”
Morris Chang, Chairman, Taiwan Semiconductor
“You will see us get more aggressive with our marketing.”
Pam El, Chief Marketing Office, National Basketball Association
“We can all agree that our corporate tax system needs to be revamped.”
John C. Lechleiter, Chief Executive Officer, Eli Lilly
“When CIOs narrow technology choices, they are setting a culture that is patriarchal and rigid.”
Ben Fried, Chief Information Officer, Google
“It is easy with the CFO hat to play the role of heavy. But it’s the wrong perspective to have in a high-growth environment.”
Sean Aggarwal, Chief Financial Officer, Trulia
“Culture in a company is set by your first 10 to 15 hires.”
Jeffrey Raider, Co-CEO, Harry’s
“Finding talent is my largest challenge. There’s a struggle in that ability to communicate effectively.”
Wes Hunt, Chief Data Officer, Nationwide Mutual Insurance
“We want to challenge the notion that this is a low-level compliance play.”
France West, Chief Accessibility Officer, IBM