Sunday, November 07, 2010

The First 30 Days as CEO

It seems presumptuous for me to post "advice" but a friend is likely taking on a new CEO role and I have been thinking about the best 90 day plan.

The first 30 days of a 90 day plan in a new leadership role seems obvious to me. They are "Listen and Learn". Regardless of background and experience, there will still be lots to learn.

Some of the things to focus on learning:

1 - Peoples names. I asked everyone to email me a photo of themselves. I also had people laser print their names in big letters for their cubicles. And nametags are essential for the first number of gatherings. I would schedule breakfasts, lunches and dinners with staff as well as whole group meetings.

2 - Metrics of the business. Figure out how the money is made. What measurements are in place and what measures are important.

3 -Meet the key customers. Developing relationships quickly is key. So the sooner you can start - the easier.

4 - Meet key suppliers. Again -developing relationships is a key part of the position. I asked for a list of suppliers and called them all to introduce myself and followed up with an email.

5 -I suggest high presence - so being there counts. I would start my day before most people arrived and end it after most people left. This one is a bit of a tough judgment call - to travel or not. I chose not to travel much in the first month but to call everyone who were in other locations.

And through all of this - LISTEN carefully. What are people saying? For me, copious note taking helped crystallize thinking. I tried to not make suggestions for the first 30 days.

At the same time, I am suggesting NOT doing anything. So freeze decisions to the extend possible. My experience is many of the decisions that are pressed for are simply not well thought through which is why previous management did not implement them. Many decisions that are pressed for do not take into account the whole picture.

My second 30 day plan was the 5 Whys.


At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Dr. Sheila said...

Hi Jim,
Good advice. I would add BE SURE your "listening" includes a heavy dose of face to face encounters. Not just formal meetings, but in the hall, on the elevator, in the cafeteria if the company has one. Every time the new CEO can have an in person contact with employees the quicker the "trust factor" come into play.


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