Peter Drucker recently observed that the 1,000 richest people-everyone from the Sultan of Brunei to Ron Perelman and Henry Kravis-may get extraordinary notoriety as media celebs, but economically they are irrelevant. Combined, they couldn’t cover the capital needs of any major industry for more than a few months. Contrast this with the fact that at the turn of the century a pledge by J.P. Morgan to buy a stock would stop a financial panic in its tracks. Just as business figures grace the covers of People and the comings and goings of CEOs are reported in the gossip columns of newspapers, the tycoon of fictional lore, isn’t what he used to be.
In his place is a new CEO, one who understands that management is about people. It’s not a bag of tricks or a bundle of clever analytical techniques taught in business school. It’s about integrating human beings and harnessing their skills and dedication to perform efforts upon which all our livelihoods depend.
If one listens carefully today to what chief executives think is important, one sees this sea-change in attitudes. For example, at our customer satisfaction roundtable held in Chicago,
While feting Ford’s Don Petersen at
Attending to what the customer thinks is important is what joins both outgoing Chief Executive of the Year (1988) Bill Marriott with his successor Don Petersen. In the photo nearby, Marriott is congratulated by Petersen after receiving a “lifecast” portrait. The scuplture, created by artist Willa Shalit, and made possible by the Touch Foundation, a non-profit organization assisting the blind, is traditionally given to outgoing chief executives of the year.