With A Little Help from CEOs

January 23, 2010

With A Little Help from CEOs

The reputation of business is certainly in need of repair. CEOs probably even more. Here’s a start to helping show that they do serve a purpose.  President Obama turned to chief executive officers for ideas on making the government more efficient and modern. At least the President and business leaders were seated at the table together and acknowledging that business has something to teach government in return.  Nearly 50 CEOs were invited to the White House this past week to “brainstorm” how to better streamline technology to improve government infrastructure.  CEOs were placed in break out groups to discuss ideas on making government more responsive and customer service oriented with the help of IT. The sessions were called Forums on Government Modernization.
The President says that government can’t do it alone. He said that while the public can make dinner reservations or buy movie tickets online, people can’t electronically set up appointments with the Social Security Administration.” The general public could surely tell the President that the technology revolution has not reached government.  Anyone applying for a government document knows this well. CEOs came up with several ideas such as producing performance report cards to reach goals, instigating a crisis to get things started, changing the culture, creating a Manhattan Project group, etc.

As the president said:

To this day, there are still places in the federal government where reams of yellow files in manila envelopes are walked from desk to desk, or boxes of documents are shipped back and forth between offices because files aren’t yet online.  Believe it or not, in our patent office — now, this is embarrassing — this is an institution responsible for protecting and promoting innovation — our patent office receives more than 80 percent of patent applications electronically, then manually prints them out, scans them, and enters them into an outdated case management system.  This is one of the reasons why the average processing time for a patent is roughly three years.  Imminently solvable; hasn’t been solved yet.

Business has its problems but not this bad!   Business leaders have teachable experience getting organizations moving forward on difficult and culture changing initiatives and changes.  CEOs have faced many of these challenges many times over and can lend a hand. The White House videotaped the discussions (here’s one of them) and it didn’t take three years to get them up on their site. Progress.

The sessions on tape should go a little ways towards demonstrating that CEOs do more than go to the bank. Every little bit helps to improve the reputation of business. I am all for that.

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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 corporate and CEO reputations.

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