Recently, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has taught us a valuable lesson about letting ego drive you to micromanage projects in which you have no expertise. New information reveals that Bezos had his fingerprints on every detail of the crashed and burned Amazon Fire Phone. Even features that made no financial or functional sense were included because Bezos insisted on them.
That is not to say that a CEO needs to be completely hands-off when it comes to major aspects of the company. It is often difficult to know when to sit back and let your people do their jobs, and when to step in. Being an involved CEO is less about doing everyone’s job, and more about being knowledgeable about all facets of the company, and being able to make key decisions so that the ultimate responsibility lies with you. Here are three of those facets every CEO needs to personally monitor:
According to PC World:
A 2007 study of Web users by Microsoft Research found that the average user has 6.5 Web passwords, each of which is shared across almost four different websites. In addition, each user has about 25 accounts that require passwords, and types an average of 8 passwords per day.
This study was done before the iPhone reshaped the world. No doubt, a similar study done today would reveal the use of more passwords, not fewer. Password managers, like the one offered by Trend Micro, are designed to keep track of your multiple passwords so that you don’t have to. The best password manager practices will likely be determined by the head of IT. But an involved CEO will understand the password situation in his company, and be able to make good company policies that promote healthy password hygiene.
Advertising and Marketing
If you are looking for the advertising Hall of Shame, this list of advertising snafus that harmed tone-deaf companies should do nicely. One that didn’t make the list was the first ad for the Microsoft Surface tablet. It was filled with sound and fury, and lots of dance, ultimately, signifying nothing.
From the same company, we got perhaps one of the worst ads of all time. The Microsoft Kin phone for teens was depicted in what seems to be an underground, teen stoner party replete with an overt instance of sexting. A series of ads featuring a creepy lady might have been single-handedly responsible for killing any chance of the Palm Pre gaining mass-market appeal. Bad ads kill businesses.
I do not expect CEOs to be creative geniuses when it comes to marketing. But they also cannot be tone-deaf and utterly clueless about how their products and services are perceived through the lens of their marketing efforts. Each of the CEOs in the ad Hall of Shame are directly responsible, not because they made the ads, but because they signed off on them. As CEO, all ad campaigns need to go through your office before airing on television.
When sales is allowed to run amuck, customer satisfaction will always suffer. While Steve Balmer led Microsoft to record-breaking profitability, customer satisfaction tanked. The problem with Windows Vista through Windows 8 was not profitability. It was that it lead to the increase of Mac marketshare. Microsoft had a tin-ear when it came to end-user complaints and general unhappiness with their products.
During the very profitable Windows XP years, Microsoft didn’t seem to care about security and stability. They also let OEMs run amuck with bloatware that ruined the experience of using a PC even as it was being booted up for the first time. All of those companies cared more about the money they got from the bloatware providers than they did about the end-user experience. When the CEO takes his eye off of customer satisfaction, the company suffers, sometimes, fatally.
As a bonus, I will throw in competition for good measure. When the iPhone was announced, the smartphone market was led by Nokia, Microsoft, Blackberry, and Palm. They all famously mocked and dismissed the iPhone. Nokia was sold for scrap. Windows Mobile no longer exists. Blackberry is a joke among general consumers in developed nations. And Palm, R.I.P.
The CEOs of each of these companies took their eye off the ball when it came to critical aspects of business that every CEO must continually monitor.