The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive Review

Over the weekend I read a book suggested to me by our CEO, The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. The book takes the form of a parable about one company that has managed to create a successful corporate culture and another, similar company that has not had as much success forming that culture and seeks to emulate the other company. The successful CEO works relatively normal hours, but obsessively manages the following for items on his post-it note:

  1. Build and Maintain a Cohesive Leadership Team
  2. Create Organizational Clarity
  3. Overcommunicate Organizational Clarity
  4. Reinforcing Clarity through Human Systems

In essence, the author advocates that culture fit is the #1 item for a successful hire. Intelligence is nice, but the fit must come first. I’ve had little personal experience with bad hires before, but anecdotes from people I respect definitely bear this out. Bad hires tend to channel the organization’s precious energy away from the task at hand and into frustration.

The author also argues that an executive team should be like a family, capable of getting into the thick of the argument, but also being able to back away for the good of the organization. Make a decision and stick to it. Then communicate it clearly and concisely to the rest of the organization. Then do it again. And again. And again. Do it until people roll their eyes. Only then will it fully sink in. I’m not sure that I agree with the extent of the overcommunication, but clarity is incredibly important. Part of that clarity means going after the right customer and only that customer. This is nice when you have a surplus of customers, but I can see a lot of companies that don’t have that luxury in this economy. It’s when times get tough that the corporate culture gets tested, not in good times.


~ by shaunkime on February 9, 2010.

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