The Next Executive Acronym: CAO

Friday, March 14, 2008 by Mistlee

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The Next Executive Acronym: CAO

By Jason Lee Miller

The business world is increasingly dominated by acronyms and there's sign of that slowing up. In addition to CEO, COO, CTO, CIO, author and MIT advisor Michael Schrage is predicting the development of a CAO, or "Chief Advice Officer."

Remember Brad Pitt's character in the Meet Joe Black, the mysterious guy in the boardroom Anthony Hopkins listened to above all of his colleagues? The CAO appears to be that guy.

Instead of someone who manages information, like the CIO might do, the proposed CAO would take that information and funnel it into best courses of action for employees to help ease the strain of information overload.

Schrage says, "While good advice is surely good information, good information is not necessarily good advice."

He says lots of things like that, and says more about it in an article titled "The Future of Advice," published in The Conference Board Review.

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Technology is the main driving factor of the development of need for structured advice within companies. Blackberries and iPhones, email, instant messaging, wikis, blogs, and social networks means advice may be coming from a number of angles. Employees will need help managing all that.

"While technology's future may not be the future of advice," says Schrage, "the future of advice can no longer be meaningfully divorced from the media and mechanisms that carry it. There's never been a time in history when 'advice' and 'device' have been so intimate, interdependent, and intertwined. Executive advice in the global enterprise is overwhelmingly mediated, automated, or augmented by some sort of technology."

Often the advice coming across a network-what Schrage calls the "networkification of advice," isn't always good advice. For example, in call centers, employees often communicate with each other via instant message, or via a central chat room, asking for help with difficult trouble-shooting.

"Perhaps some firms simply aren't getting good advice about good advice."

It's not always a matter of right-answer-wrong-answer though. It's more about developing prudent approaches to situations. "There is no inherently right answer, but there are almost always questions and approaches that might facilitate desirable outcomes," said Schrage. "As a result, experts and advisers have different goals and different roles."

About the Author:
Jason Lee Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Currently pursuing an MFA in Writing degree, Jason received his BA in Communication, emphasizing in mass media. Certified in print journalism by the Kentucky Press Association, he has been noted by several news publications and his work has been cited in the Yale Journal of Law and Technology.

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