This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

June 13, 2000

New Titles Proliferate

201 Days Until January 1, 2001

Have you noticed the proliferation of new job titles? We've seen Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Development Officers, Chief Training Officers, Chief Support Officers, and Chief Knowledge Officers. New titles, new positions, new emphasis on traditional-and non-traditional organizational endeavors. What's going on? What's with all these chiefs?

Yes, a lot of people want to be "Chief"-clearly in charge of something. And they're taking the accountability well. But the new titles reflect shifting orientations, focusing on new areas of importance.

For example, with the volume of data doubling every two to three years, companies must sift through tremendous input and manipulate it into organized information. This information must be processed into usable knowledge to optimize its value. In addition, Chief Research Officers are responsible for the acquisition of the knowledge not generated by the organization-needed to refine successful operations and grow. Once the knowledge has been gathered, we utilize the services of Chief Knowledge Officer or Chief Technology Officer. The Chief Science Officer is responsible for staying current with scientific discoveries that may affect the company.

The new title of Chief Retention Officer reflects the increased concern organizations place on employee retention. Chief People Officer is emerging to replace traditional titles for senior Human Resource professionals. Chief Support Officers ensure that employees have the information, equipment, and training they need (working closely with the Chief Training Officer or Chief Learning Officer).

For the new training company we formed PeopleLearn, we appointed a Chief Experience Officer to assure that our participants all have a positive experience with us.

There's another aspect to understand in this title proliferation trend. Increasingly, workers want to be unique, be special-to the organization, to themselves, and to all those with whom they come in contact. They can identify themselves, their work, and their idiosyncrasies with creative titles. Employers are becoming more liberal with title assignments, as well, so the shift is underway. The challenge will be for outsiders to figure out who does what . . . and for future employers to understand what experience and role an unusually titled applicant may have had.

Comments from our readers:

I don't doubt that you're right about the proliferation of titles, but I suspect this may be a fad, rather than a trend.

Business continues to be about making decisions and execution to make money so I think CEO's and CFO's will still be here in twenty or twenty-five years. CIO may exsist, but the others will be flashes in the pan. As a Quality Manager I think that quality, especially product quality, as a special emphasis has seen its hayday and has already become an expected commodity. Service quality is next, but that will also be short-lived so I don't expect CQO's or Chief's of Customer Satisfaction to be around too long.

This follows the data developed in recent years that people do not work just for a salary; they need meaningful work, and they also need recognition for their accomplishments and their contribution to society.

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