We’ve come a long way since the 1955 issue of Fortune which described the ‘successful American executive’ as someone who spent almost no time on politics, drank moderately, and only attended cultural events ‘because they must’. With a businessman in the White House and heads of Fortune 500 companies regularly appearing in the media as trendsetters, opinion formers and pundits, discretion is no longer the better part of valour.
Over the past 40 years something extraordinary has been happening in organisations. The staff and management who populate them have been getting progressively smarter, at least when measured by their education, ongoing training and number of books read. Paradoxically, the organisations themselves seemed to have become dumber. What is the nature of this organisational dumbing-down, you ask? Well, it takes the form of basic governance processes that seem to have virtually vanished.