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CEO Daily Brief – Nov. 10, 2010

NYC Schools Chief Klein Steps Down, Replaced by Hearst’s Black Government is tapping into private sector CEO experience to run one of the most challenging public school districts in the nation. Cathie Black, the chairman of Hearst Corp.’s magazine division, which produces Esquire and Cosmopolitan, will take charge of the largest U.S. public school system …

NYC Schools Chief Klein Steps Down, Replaced by Hearst’s Black

Government is tapping into private sector CEO experience to run one of the most challenging public school districts in the nation. Cathie Black, the chairman of Hearst Corp.’s magazine division, which produces Esquire and Cosmopolitan, will take charge of the largest U.S. public school system following the resignation of New York City schools Chancellor Joel Klein.

Black, who’s spent 15 years at the closely held media company, will be New York’s first female chancellor, overseeing 1.1 million students, 136,000 employees (represented by their unions) and a $21 billion operating budget.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg noted there is “virtually nobody who knows more about the needs of the 21st century workforce for which we need to prepare our kids.”

Klein, a lawyer who has been chancellor since the mayor won direct control of the schools in 2002, is heading to the private sector, as he will join News Corp., the owner of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, as executive vice president and adviser to Chairman Rupert Murdoch. For more about this story from Bloomberg News, please click here.

Matrix CEO, CFO Resign after Fraud by Employees

The CEO, CFO of Matrix Service Co. have resigned after an internal fraud investigation at the company. Matrix did not say if the departures are related to the investigation. President and CEO Michael Bradley and Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Thomas Long will leave this month, said Matrix, which is based in Tulsa, Okla. The departures come weeks after an internal investigation concluded that current and former employees had embezzled about $1.7 million.

Bradley and Long announced they are quitting Matrix to take the same roles at Dallas-based midstream gas transporter and processor Regency Energy Partners LP. The Tulsa World reports the departures of Bradley and Long have nothing to do with the probe.

For more from BusinessWeek about the events at Matrix, please click here.

Google to Give Staff 10 Percent Raise

While many other companies are holding off on hiring, Google CEO Eric Schmidt says the company will give a 10 percent raise to each of its 23,000 employees to both lift morale and to stop defection of employees to rival companies.

The pay hike comes as Google ramps up its battle with competitors, especially neighboring Facebook Inc., in a fight to secure talented staff. About 10 percent of Facebook’s employees are Google veterans.

For more about Google salary increases as reported by The Wall Street Journal, please click here.

How Should CEOs Determine Involvement in Process Improvement

As CEO, how should you determine your involvement in process improvement? If it drives competitive advantage, then it must be on your short list. But even when an organization is convinced that improving certain key processes is a source of competitive advantage, too many CEOs don’t get adequately involved.

When Jack Welch was CEO at GE, process improvement was one his top strategic priorities. GE was bureaucratic, sleepy, and bloated, and process improvement offered big potential benefits. However, the current CEO, Jeff Immelt, has had a different set of issues and priorities. He had to focus on keeping GE from going bankrupt in the financial crisis. He’s been active in acquisitions and reshaping the portfolio. He’s also turbocharged marketing across the company and dramatically increased investments in R&D. Immelt was a Six Sigma fanatic at the start, but it’s not one of his top few strategic priorities now.

Here are some guidelines:

If process improvement will generate game-changing benefits or survival is at stake, then it should be in your top five strategic priorities

If it will bring substantial benefits but it is not in your top five, CEOs can assign accountability to a senior executive on their team.

If projected benefits are modest and local, CEOS can delegate the initiative a couple of levels down.

For more on process improvement from the Harvard Business Review, please click here.

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