Are CEOs out of touch?

Bruce Nussbaum

Engadget and a bunch of blogs from Weblogs were just bought by AOL. Gawker and its clutch of blogs are in a deal to be distributed in Europe. Newscorp. buys MySpace for a fortune of money. The blogoshere is hot. Millions of people are communicating, creating their own content, making judgements, making news. But are CEOs involved in this new conversation? Do they actually have any idea of what is going on?

I ask this because my brilliant colleague Frank Comes raised the issue over lunch while we were talking about a recent BCG survey on CEOs and innovation. It was a simple question but a stunner. Let's ask it another way. Are CEOs and top managers going to the wrong meetings? Are they having the wrong conversations? Are they out of touch?

Let's take a day or week in a CEO's life. From my experience with them, I would say that the vast majority, outside of the tech sector, spend little time on the web. The vast majority of chief executives have no idea what a blog is and spend virtually no time within a community of blogs. The vast majority belong to no social networks or web communities. Most don't monitor the blogs by employees who complain about bureaucracy, bad managers and bad food in the vending machine.

In fact, most CEOs still spend weekends playing golf, getting business information on the golf course. They spend much of their day at internal meetings, getting information from their managers. They get advice from their boards, who tend to be older men and a few women who are even further detached from the web. Board members have even less of a clue. So most CEOs are probably having the wrong conversations about the wrong things with the wrong people.

The good news is that a growing number of CEOs and managers know they are out of touch and are hungry to plug into the right conversations. Think about all this for a moment. Some of the greatest business opportunities in the future will be providing "C" suite managers, CEOs and board members with the right connections to the right conversations with the right information. Or perhaps just aggregating the information and feeding it directly to the top execs.

Hmmmm. If CEOs are so out touch, are they also so overpaid?

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