Are CEOs getting all the information they need?

Being a CEO is a tough job, especially if you are CEO of a start-up. Expectations can be sky high and if your investors are successful entrepreneurs the pressure can be intense. If you happen to be ‘lucky’ enough to have gone public you have a whole new set of issues to deal with, some of which due to the vagaries of the market and speculative investors may have nothing to do with your company. Witness the position of Jagdeep Singh, founder of QuantumScape (QS), backed by Bill Gates, which has seen its shares dive so far in 2021 and required Singh to calm investor nerves.

While it is true that CEOs have a responsibility to keep external stakeholders informed and hopefully happy, they need to keep on top of what is happening inside their company on a day-to-day basis. In the article below by Penny Herscher she highlights the pros and cons of being a CEO. You will be responsible for strategy, for hiring and firing and for setting the culture of the company. Being great at all three of these is hard and unless you have extraordinary confidence you will probably want feedback on how your decisions on each of these responsibilities are working out. As Herscher puts it “Your team is there to provide counsel and debate with you but in the end, they’ll look to you to make the difficult decisions.”

Clearly you can get feedback on how the company is doing financially and against its plan using a Business Intelligence (BI) dashboard, but that information, even predictions about how the company might fare in the future, is based on historic data, whether a year, a month or a week old. There is another source of data which is rarely tapped or correlated with how the company is doing financially. That is information about what its people think. How they feel about their own prospects, about their relationships with others in their teams and the company, about the culture of the company in general, and about how the company is doing. This is invaluable information that can give a CEO early warning of issues which might impact the company. Bringing that information to light in an easily understood form alongside financial information in the BI dashboard would significantly expand the CEO’s knowledge about her or his company.