What is the simplest way to see if a leadership team is up to speed, on the same page, and in possession of an achievable vision? Ask senior executives to draw one picture that best illustrates their individual contribution to the team and the organization.
The Chief Executive Officer
All eyes turn to the CEO, as the leader, whenever anything happens—good or bad. The best way the CEO can show why she has made the decisions she has is by showing a simple “visual equation.”
Think of this as the moral of the story made visual—the simplest possible image that explains the company’s strategy in the clearest possible way.
The Chief Marketing Officer
If anybody knows who the company’s customers are and what the organization offers them, it’s the chief marketing officer.
When the CMO needs to say “we are doing this for these people,” nothing beats a simple portrait illustrating the who and the what.
The Chief Financial Officer
Who owns the top line, the bottom line, and every line in between? The CFO does. So when Wall Street or investors want to know the state of the business, it’s time for the CFO to share the charts. How much? This much. What are the financial trends? These lines.
If the CEO can’t show the numbers in a way that makes sense, how can we be sure he knows them himself?
The Chief Strategy Officer
It is the job of the chief strategy officer (CSO) to sketch out the business opportunities, plot the competition’s positions, and map the right moves. That requires a map, and the CSO better be able to draw it.
The CSO’s job is also to make sure everyone else sees where those moves are going to take the organization—so that map better be clear and readable and show the potential minefields.
The Chief Operating Officer
Only 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a chief operating officer (COO), but that number is rising. Why? Because getting everything done and on time is only getting harder.
That’s why the COO’s best friend is the timeline: the single picture that shows what needs to get done, who is doing it, and most important, in what order.
The Chief Technology Officer
The vision is clear, the numbers are there, and the process is mapped. What remains? Building the systems that makes it technologically feasible. That’s the job of the chief technology officer (CTO).
She draws the flowchart showing how the pieces interact, how the information flows, and how to monitor all the incoming data. It’s usually the most complex picture, so it requires clarity.
The images don’t need to be elaborate, polished, or perfect. They do need to be created, shared, and seen. If, before the next executive presentation, you want to make sure they’re on the same page, then hand out pens and tell everyone, “No talking; show me.”