The CEO as chief disorganiser!

How much knowledge and how many great ideas go untapped in organisations because people are fearful of stepping out of line?



This seems to be a contradiction in terms, but as I thought about this concept I had to agree with it. I heard the concept pointed out by leadership expert Oren Harari in his TEC presentation on “Getting out of commodity hell!” (click here to read or listen to Jacqui Walker’s interview with Oren Harari).


Working with CEOs today I see that their world is a very different place to the world of 10 or even five years ago – the world is a different place for all of us.


It’s to do with the serious globalisation of the market – particularly through the internet. It means we all have to be on our toes.


I think it’s also to do with the amount of great information business leaders can access and implement. This makes the market even more competitive.


One of Harari’s strategies for keeping ahead of the competition was to adopt continuous improvement – change in processes both at the back and front end of the business. This means that the CEO needs to not only be stretching him/her self but also the team.


People have so much hidden talent – which they keep under wraps if they don’t feel they will be rewarded for speaking up. How much knowledge and how many great ideas go untapped in organisations because people are fearful of stepping out of line? Or they don’t see any reward structure for good ideas? Or the CEO is fearful of being challenged?


I remember a great story about a Japanese manufacturing business that had a huge area where robots worked. One of the human workers put forward the idea that perhaps the robots could do with less lighting and thereby save the company huge amounts of money on electricity bills.


Harari had a couple of questions that CEOs could ask their team. These include:

To what extent did you change your job this year to make it more efficient?

Yes jobs need to be done, but people need to work out how to do them better, so that not only are they more productive – but possibly and hopefully happier doing them and doesn’t it make sense that the people doing the job-put forward these ideas and be allowed to work with them?


He put forward an even more challenging question for the CEO to ask of the team:

What have I told you that you can’t do?

This is a way a CEO can get people out of the boxes they are in and make them think about what they are doing now and what they could be doing – it also alerts them to the fact that the CEO is prepared to be challenged in a constructive manner.


Wow – the CEO – what a role-leader, visionary, and now chief stimulator of ideas and disorganiser.






To read more Marcia Griffin blogs, click here.



Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.