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Will Too Many C-ooks Spoil the Corporate Broth?

The list goes on and the C-suite family of positions grows and grows

This post is sponsored by The Business Value Exchange and HP Enterprise Services

If the title of this piece is a little too obtuse for you, then it is probably best that you know the alternative heading for this content was going to be: How many C-level execs do we really need?

But first a personal confession.

The first time your humble writer here heard the expression C-level I won't even go into what went through my head. An Intel communications executive lady who shall remain nameless was overheard saying something like:

"OK so this message on concurrency and parallelism is great for the developer/programmer audience, but I really want to reach out to C-level execs too okay?" she said.

What on earth did she mean?

C-level of course (I later found out) denotes any board member job title starting with a C. So this is CEO, CTO/CIO, CFO, etc., and the list goes on.

Better order more coffee and cookies
That's precisely the problem; this list is going on and on when traditionally it wouldn't have extended much further than the three job title designations shown above. The boardroom table is getting bigger (and it is sometimes virtual anyway) so the triumvirate of the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Technology/Information Officer and Chief Financial Officer had better order a bigger round of tea and biscuits (aka coffee and cookies) for the next annual general meeting.

Probably one of the newest C-level execs to join the fray is the Chief Digital Officer. This is the gentleman or lady tasked with managing "knowledge" across an organization as it flows through and across dynamic streams of both comparatively structured (documents) and more unstructured streams (social media, email, video, etc.) on a day-to-day basis. The concept here is that the CDO should be capable of bringing all of an organization's so-called "digital footprint" under one roof.

The next great C-level exec doesn't even get a capital letter; such is the quirky nature of lower case and ‘camel case' naming conventions that seem to have sprung up in the Internet age. The Chief eXperience Officer (CXO) is responsible for all customers' total experiences when they come into contact with an organization. The CXO may also be tasked with championing the positive experiences of staff from the inside out to put an all-round 360 degree shine on the company. Either way, the CXO will be mostly concerned with integrating branding and marketing with the products and services supplied.

The C-suite family
The list goes on and the C-suite family of positions grows and grows. New roles will also include Chief Privacy Officers, Chief Mobility Officers, Chief Sustainability Officers and Chief Compliance Officers. More creatively (and in what is perhaps a more tawdry or cheapened use of the English language) you can also expect to hear about Chief Listening Officers, Chief Learning Officers and sometimes even Chief Social Officers.

You obviously get the point by now, the whole Chief label has gone somewhat overboard in some areas. In the same vein as making every employee a Vice President of Something without the required corporate structure to back it up, is there a risk here of the "too many cooks" scenario if we end up with a boardroom cram packed with C-level everything managers?

We can only hope that the Chief Skills Officer will be able to keep this growing trend in check -- and if that role is simply a renaming of Human Resources, then that is all the more reason to be wary of this trend.

If you read this post yourself then great, if you received a summary from your firm's Chief Content Assimilation & Aggregation Officer then it might just be time to worry.

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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