What qualities put someone in the C-suite level?

I think there's some history there. The prestige of somebody who's in the C-suite comes from a combination of trust and understanding. Back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, really through the 90s, we saw accountants and finance professionals rise to be top brass in corporations. That's how so many accountants made it to the CEO position, I believe. If you understood the money, you could prove your worth and convince shareholders how you could run the organization using your thorough understanding of the finances and the accounting. And using that, I think that that's how they built themselves into a C-level leader over the decades. And so it wasn't fast. It actually took quite a long time.  Organizations used to be run by heads of families or founders. If you study corporate history, you see the rise of the professional economist in the 60s and the rise of business schools in the 70s. That led to the rise of the professional manager, and these folks, more and more, were accountants and from finance. In the 80s, and 90s you started to see accountants take over running some of the biggest non-accounting firms: AT&T and other organizations. Well, why is that? I think it comes down to one of the most critical words in business: predictability. In accounting and finance, you learn how to predict results. Because these professional managers from accounting were able to predict results, they built power. Anyone's core mission in the C-suite is helping shareholders predict the value of the organization or predict its ability to satisfy the mission. But the best C-suite leaders don't just add predictability. They communicate that value. They also communicate how they, as individuals, are increasing predictability across the organization. Knowing what's going to happen is so rare in business. Things are so dynamic, but predictability is what finance is all about. Finance is all about predicting the value of money over time. That can include the value of your projects, the value of your programs, and the value of your product lines. I think something in relative infancy is the technology leader doing the same thing. Technology obviously changes at a much faster pace than accounting practices do. That's pretty evident. So it's a combination of two things. First, they're showing how they use technology to add predictability to the organization through literal predictions into the future of tech. This can include the company's capital investments in commodity tech, the day-to-day stuff. And second, they can talk about new tech that's coming down the line and how/if it will impact the business, whether it's IoT or 5G or quantum computing or whatever is next. Being able to literally predict those things and how they will impact the business, entire industries, or maybe even the economy is super important. And the dynamism of that change is accelerating, so only technology professionals can really have that conversation internally and externally.   It's worth repeating: the knowledge of that information is not enough. You also have to communicate it. That's why even the best technologists struggle to make their way into mid-level and upper-level management. They're amazing engineers, software developers, cybersecurity professionals, but they're not the best communicators. They've never really had the opportunity or the requirement to communicate how critical the tech is as it relates to the almighty S-curve. When was the last time you talked to a tech professional, and they were talking about an S-curve? I remember learning about s-curves in economics, and it all sort of clicked. Products, lines of business, even entire industries live and die on an S-curve. Even today, a lot of CISOs and CIOs are in the c-suite, but nobody is listening to them. They aren't talking about their organization's economics as it's impacted by technology. That is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing.

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I think there's some history there. The prestige of somebody who's in the C-suite comes from a combination of trust and understanding. Back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, really through the 90s, we saw accountants and finance professionals rise to be top brass in corporations. That's how so many accountants made it to the CEO position, I believe. If you understood the money, you could prove your worth and convince shareholders how you could run the organization using your thorough understanding of the finances and the accounting. And using that, I think that that's how they built themselves into a C-level leader over the decades. And so it wasn't fast. It actually took quite a long time.  Organizations used to be run by heads of families or founders. If you study corporate history, you see the rise of the professional economist in the 60s and the rise of business schools in the 70s. That led to the rise of the professional manager, and these folks, more and more, were accountants and from finance. In the 80s, and 90s you started to see accountants take over running some of the biggest non-accounting firms: AT&T and other organizations. Well, why is that? I think it comes down to one of the most critical words in business: predictability. In accounting and finance, you learn how to predict results. Because these professional managers from accounting were able to predict results, they built power. Anyone's core mission in the C-suite is helping shareholders predict the value of the organization or predict its ability to satisfy the mission. But the best C-suite leaders don't just add predictability. They communicate that value. They also communicate how they, as individuals, are increasing predictability across the organization. Knowing what's going to happen is so rare in business. Things are so dynamic, but predictability is what finance is all about. Finance is all about predicting the value of money over time. That can include the value of your projects, the value of your programs, and the value of your product lines. I think something in relative infancy is the technology leader doing the same thing. Technology obviously changes at a much faster pace than accounting practices do. That's pretty evident. So it's a combination of two things. First, they're showing how they use technology to add predictability to the organization through literal predictions into the future of tech. This can include the company's capital investments in commodity tech, the day-to-day stuff. And second, they can talk about new tech that's coming down the line and how/if it will impact the business, whether it's IoT or 5G or quantum computing or whatever is next. Being able to literally predict those things and how they will impact the business, entire industries, or maybe even the economy is super important. And the dynamism of that change is accelerating, so only technology professionals can really have that conversation internally and externally.   It's worth repeating: the knowledge of that information is not enough. You also have to communicate it. That's why even the best technologists struggle to make their way into mid-level and upper-level management. They're amazing engineers, software developers, cybersecurity professionals, but they're not the best communicators. They've never really had the opportunity or the requirement to communicate how critical the tech is as it relates to the almighty S-curve. When was the last time you talked to a tech professional, and they were talking about an S-curve? I remember learning about s-curves in economics, and it all sort of clicked. Products, lines of business, even entire industries live and die on an S-curve. Even today, a lot of CISOs and CIOs are in the c-suite, but nobody is listening to them. They aren't talking about their organization's economics as it's impacted by technology. That is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing.
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