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Value is Not Created in the Executive Suite

executive_towersOver the weekend, we finally got around to watching the first episode of Undercover Boss, the new show on CBS. We also caught the second one so now we’re current.



It’s an interesting concept – sending the CEO into the organization as an entry level worker.


marylynnIt made me think about visits from corporate managers when I worked in radio. When they rolled in, the red carpet was always rolled out!



georgeHey, I made a lot of money from that red carpet! When I owned my carpet cleaning business, we were always getting called out to clean up because corporate was coming in.


Well, there’s no cleaning up on Undercover Boss. That’s why we like the concept. If corporate managers never see the organization as it actually is, how can they understand what is really going on in their organization?

It’s management by walking around with blinders on!

That’s probably worse than not walking around at all – managers impede the very productivity they’re preaching about.

The people behind the productivity
It was inspiring to see such hard-working people. In an hour long show, you only see a handful but, in any successful organization of the size of those featured on this show, there are hundreds – or more likely thousands – of them.

The first show was with Larry O’Donnell, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Waste Management. It’s amazing what you can learn when you’re on the job.

Like when he rode in the garbage truck with a driver who was a woman. She had to pee in a can. (And it definitely wasn’t a very large can!) She said she couldn’t make all her required pickups if she left the route to go to the bathroom.

He saw again and again how his efforts to improve productivity affect the most important people in his organization – his employees and his customers.

Productivity is important but it’s the people behind the productivity that make the productivity possible. Policies and processes that forget the people impede productivity. 


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Ivory tower concepts often don’t translate well in the real world. Instead of creating value, they dampen its growth at best and destroy it altogether at worst.

No, you can’t create value from the executive suite. Value isn’t created in the board room. So where is it created?

Value is created on the front line.
Leaders have to take care of the people serving the customers. Obviously, there are the external customers.

But there are also internal customers. The next person in the process may be the customer. Every person in every organization has at least one customer. If they don’t, they aren’t necessary!

Value is created when executives choose to connect with their people. 


marylynnWhen I worked in the corporate world, I remember corporate leaders blowing into town. Usually they only met with the local managers. That’s what I really like about this show – I like leaders who take time to talk with all of their people.


Value is created when the person closest to the problem offers the solution.


georgeI’ve had a fair amount of success in my career with this. I found that – by encouraging people to offer solutions when they were presenting a problem – they often had much better ideas than I ever would have had!


Value is created when you recognize ordinary people doing ordinary jobs extraordinarily.

Recognition goes further than just about anything in getting people on board and getting them involved in making the organization even better.

This is something you really notice on this show. It’s amazing how much people appreciate being told that they’ve done a great job. And that they’re appreciated. It’s golden!

You don’t have to go undercover to create value.
You can do it just by getting out from behind your desk. It all starts with a conversation!

Don’t stay undercover.
Tell us what you think. We’d love to hear from you!


Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:

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(Image in today's post by Bubbels)