Senior executives seem to be lining up to participate in the CBS show Undercover Boss.
So far, they’ve had Larry O’Donnell, President and C.O.O. of Waste Management, Joseph M. DePinto, President and C.E.O. of 7-Eleven, Coby G. Brooks, President and C.E.O. of Hooters, Dave Rife, Owner/Executive Board Member of White Castle, William C. Carstanjen, C.O.O. of Churchill Downs, Michael G. Rubin, Chairman, President and CEO of GSI Commerce, Joel Manby, President and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment, Rick L. Arquilla, President and COO of Roto-Rooter, and Chris McCann, President and COO of 1-800-Flowers.
During each episode, a senior executive anonymously works in some area of the company. The execs end up uncovering things they didn’t know about how their company operates and how their decisions impact the business. One article, for instance, lists management lessons from the 7-Eleven episode that includes continuous improvement is key and employees can inspire management.
My take: Having CxOs spend time with employees for the sake of a TV show is no way for a senior exec to find out what’s going on in his/her organization. If an executive gets out of touch with employees and the core operations of the company, then they can’t possibly make good decisions for the business.
I often refer to this quote by Jack Welch:
Deal with the world as it is, not how you’d like it to be
The information that flows to senior execs is heavily filtered by layers of management. That’s why all senior executive should create routines where they stay in synch with what’s going on deep in their company; even if you need to produce your own undercover episodes.
The bottom line: Figure out how to see the world as it is