May 16, 2006
News & Opinion: C-Level Books
I talk to lots of authors who tell me that their books are written for the chief executive officer. I often think it would would be nice if somebody took the time to talk to the others in the executive suite. Somebody must have been listening. Two new books address the evolving roles of both the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer.
The first is Reinventing the CFO by Jeremy Hope. The author asks chief finance officers to thinking differently about their job. He says it is about more than recording transactions, managing budgets, and preparing tax returns. He lays out seven roles for the new CFO and each is explained at chapter length. The roles include Freedom Fighter, Analyst and Adviser, Architect of Adaptive Management, Warrior Against Waste, Master of Measurement, Regulator of Risk, and Champion of Change.
The second book is coming next month and is called Riding Shotgun. Authors Nate Bennett and Stephen Miles have done a ton of research into the role of Chief Operating Officer. The bottom line from their research is as they put it, "a COO is not a COO is not a COO". Companies use them differently. Sometimes they take over, sometimes they don't. The use of a COO in corporate America is dropping a bit. I find the lack of consistency really interesting. Bennett and Miles lay out the various motivations for creating a COO position, the various responsibilities a COO may have, and what you should look for during a search.