Why CEOs Do not Know Most of the Problems of their Organizations and what to Do about it?

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CEOs should know… They should be fully aware of the problems that their organizations are facing at any particular point in time. After all, this is what they are being paid for! And they should not only be aware of all those problems. They should also be able to figure out which of them are causes, which are symptoms and which are only manifestations. They should be able to sort and to prioritize them. And they should be able to figure out solutions for them. They should ultimately need to be able to mobilize the resources they have at their disposal and to guide their organization towards their resolution. Right? Wrong!

Despite the fact that CEOs are expected to know all the problems that their organizations are facing, they actually do not. Quite interestingly, they are only aware of a tiny fraction of them! And there are good reasons for this!

CEOs are standing at the highest hierarchical level. No doubt, they enjoy a really good view from there. But that comes at a cost… They just lose granularity! They lose the details, sometimes very critical ones. And organizations are full of them! But there is something more. The eyes and the ears of CEOs inside their organizations are the lower levels in the hierarchy, each one of which apply filters on the information that is directed from the lower levels upwards and vice versa.

Even if CEOs had eagle eyes and ears, even if they had the talent to discern all the useful information among sheer noise levels, they would still not know all the problems that their organizations are facing, simply due to the vast number of those problems! And this does not become better in the modern world. Actually, it becomes worse all the time! And it becomes worse because there is change. Accelerated change! Organizations are faced with it every single day. They therefore need to devise solutions so that to adapt and respond to it. And this is task that just cannot wait!

Organizations need to adapt and ideally to drive change in an effective and efficient manner both in the short and in the long term. No doubt, if their CEOs would be aware of all the problems that their organizations are facing they would possibly have a change to deal with them accordingly. They are however not! But organizational adaptation to change is too critical to be left to chance. Something therefore needs to be done!

Organizations should to be fully diagnosed from time to time, exactly in the same way that individuals should take blood and urine tests periodically. Their CEOs should understand that their organizations should periodically take a step back in order to look inside. And they should let their stakeholders speak and they need to hear all their voices! But this is easier said than done… Clearly this is a formidable task for CEOs to do alone but fortunately they can be helped on that! After all, asking for external professional help will ultimately work for their organizations and for them too!