It seems like every month, a new article and/or new research is released proclaiming that the timing is perfect for a new type of "Chief" in the world of technology - Chief Collaboration Officer, Chief Content Officer, Chief Marketing Technology Officer, Chief Security Officer etc. etc.
Each time I read one of these articles/research reports, I find myself nodding and agreeing with the arguments for this new 'chief'. The latest article that I ran across titled 'Time is Ripe for Chief Mobility Office' proclaims now is the time for the Chief Mobility Officer. There's nothing that I disagree with.
After reading these types of articles, I usually tend to step back and think about the reason for proclamations like this. More times than not, it is because there's a real problem within an organization that someone is trying to solve. This problem has manifested itself in such a way that it requires real focus on that topical area to solve the problem - hence the new 'chief'.
But...is creating a new role really going to solve the underlying problem?
For an example, let's look at the Chief Marketing Technology Officer (aka Chief Marketing Technologist) role, which has been popularized by Scott Brinker over the last few years. It is a great idea and a role that I'd love to see take off in most organizations. But...will this new 'Chief' really solve the underlying problems for the organization? Sure...it might help the marketing team get more things done with technology, but what happens in the long run? Does IT get more involved over the longer term and help or does Marketing manage their own technology? Does this new role really create value...or just create more problems longer term?
The issues underlying most of the proclamations have to do with one thing...someone (or some group) not doing the job the organization needs them to do. Mind you...its not that this person/group is intentionally not doing what they should do. It is that they aren't doing what the organization needs them to do.
And...oftentimes...the organization doesn't KNOW that they need this person/group to do something different.
Rather than create a new 'chief' to solve the problem...I suggest we start pushing back on the 'chiefs' that are already in place and get them to push their teams - and the organization - into doing the things that need to get done.
The easy answer will always be to add a new department or new team to fix the problems or 'focus on the challenges'. The hard answer is to get your current leadership team (e.g., the "chief's") to step up and provide the leadership that's needed to get the organization to where it needs to be.