Seeing peripherally

September 27, 2008

Seeing peripherally

Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini remarks on Intel’s resurgence in today’s WSJ.  He makes a good point that “A CEO’s main job, because you have access to all of the information, is to see the need to change before anyone else does.” In light of today’s catastrophic economic meltdown, I would add that a CEO’s primary job is to also see the early warning signs on the horizon.  Another way to say this is that a CEO’s first and second job is to use his or her peripheral vision in addition to strategic vision.

Otellini’s remarks on how he pulled off change at the mighty and revered semiconductor company. “You won’t believe how long it takes for the change you’ve started to work its way all of the way through the rank and file. As a result, I was upbeat, but nobody else was yet. So I made it my job to communicate, communicate, communicate the positive message. I did open forums, I did Webcasts, I told the employees to send me any question via email and I’d answer them. I wasn’t trying to sell them on the idea — when half of your 80,000 employees are engineers, if you try to put sales into it you’re dead. You have to convince them, through reasoning and logic, the accuracy of your claims.”

Again, communicating change is critical to success. Otellini who is the first Intel CEO with a marketing bent understands the importance of communications. As more companies stumble (WaMu this week), reputation recovery should be at the top of management agendas. And the first bullet point should read: “Communicate communicate communicate.” No joke.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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