Friday, January 23, 2015
What Can We Learn By Interviewing 150 CEO's?
Justin Fox is not surprised that very little can be learned by interviewing 150 CEO's. Two very competent organizations published the CEO Report to coincide with the meeting at Davos. The report summarizes what was learned by asking 150 CEO's to explain how they cope with uncertainty and change. Fox is the editor of the Harvard Business Review and he has a lot of contact with top business executives. They are typically very sophisticated and knowledgeable about the industries in which they operate. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to synthesize their responses to the questions that they were asked into anything meaningful. The CEO Report that was published ends up sounding a lot like "consultant speak". We learn that, indeed, there is much uncertainty in a rapidly changing world, but that it is very difficult to extract anything meaningful from 150 CEO interviews. Fox proves his point by providing us with excerpts from the CEO Report. The content of the report is not what sells it to the MBA students who will read it. The prestige of the CEO's who are interviewed is what sells the report. MBA students are often expected to derive wisdom from the synthesis that is offered to them.