Chief Development Officer — M.I.A.

Everyone knows there must be a Chief Operating Officer overseeing the major projects and activities of a large company. Why isn’t it also obvious that there needs to be a Chief Development Officer, at the same level of power and oversight, to ensure those same stretch projects through developing the human capability to accomplish them?

The best insurance for productivity is to have both positions and viewpoints. Why?

Any major increase in operational outcome requires a concomitant development of the people involved. The major increase calls for a new way of being that invents new levels of efficiency and effectiveness — whether through better communication and coordination, through inventing an innovative technology, or through inventing an innovative methodology.

If one’s people are left at the same level of power, communication and competence, the same level of production is most likely to occur. Same produces same.

As a substitute for intentionally developing the people involved, one might instead demand, threaten, require or even “cheerlead” the outcome and see if people scrambling about happens to develop them in the right direction for ensuring the outcome. This generates more friction and heat than light, and more heat than useful power.

A Chief Development Officer specifically identifying the new power required for a given outcome is the other half of the stretch project conversation. The Chief Operating Officer says what size stretch is called for in what direction. The Chief Development Officer says what resources and timing it will take to develop the sufficient level of power from the people involved. When the two agree they can both get it done in each of their respective and connected areas, then the sweet spot has been found, and they have a “right-sized” accomplishment to take on.

When things go off track regarding the project along the way, these two officers meeting can determine how and where to intervene in each domain — the activities domain and the orientation/capability building domain.

When this partnership is working well, the right-sized accomplishment gives a focus for the development of people where development isn’t considered a sideline — rather, it is seen as important, necessary, and timely. When the right developmental theme is addressed, the stretch project becomes more meaningful and fitting for the ongoing development of the organization and its strengths.

At some point in the development of organizational savvy, it will become obvious that development requires a fitting project to accomplish in order to focus the need for new ways of being and new ways of operating, as well as to provide feedback about whether the development is working or not. Also, at some point, it will become obvious that there is a clear need to bring due diligence regarding what particular development will be necessary to fulfill a particular stretch project. When both aspects become obvious, there will be two jobs tied at the hip — COO and CDO– operating in a coordinated and collaborative way where the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Until then, there will be plenty of extra struggle, friction and heat, and less light and power than the level of effort of those working warrants.





About Ken Anbender

Kenneth Anbender Ph.D. has spent the last 50 years working with more than a hundred thousand people directly on the principles and methods that support the fulfillment of a human life -- in community and at work. He has developed a body of work that is licensable called The Contegrity Approach.
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