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Chief Executives and a little more

American and Italian Companies are different upon many aspects and one of the differences is based on the different manner in defining organigram and titles of executives and managers. According to an interesting article written by Sabry Ben-Achour and Shea Huffman, there are a few titles we should spend some words on, just to understand what so-designed people actually do. Of course it is to be done for granted we are aware the C-level is the highest in companies and we certainly have CEOs and COOs in Italy too, spite of the different responsibilities they can have case by case or the fact to be called “amministratori delegati”; what about, instead, Chief Agility Officer, Chief Knowledge Officer, Chief Networking Officer, Chief Electrification Officer and, last but no least, Chief Visionary Officer?

Chief Agility Officer is introduced by Ben-Achour and Huffman by saying:


“Sounds like an executive for a clan of ninjas, or the self-given title of a football coach. Alas, the “agility” this title refers to is the corporate variety, not the physical.”

Good for us. A CAO is someone aimed to the goal to create and nurture an “agile culture”, a change-oriented mentality in companies that want to get out from old schemes and traditional rules.

Chief Knowledge Officer

A CKO usually does researches and analytics for the company, providing the cultural and informational background other managers actually need; it is possible to get confused with the Chief Information Officer, a quite similar one with different buzzwords.

Chief Networking Officer

CNO is not “a position a fraternity would cook up for setting up parties with all the popular sororities.” Oh, my God, of course no! CNOs, who run the risk to work in overlapping with Chief Marketing Officers, connect people and businesses within their companies with people and businesses outside their companies, on sales, customer service and, overall, communication between offices. A CNO can also refer to a technical executive in charge of computer networking strategy. (Sometimes it is also possibile to meet a Social Network Manager or an Internal Communication Manager).

Chief Electrification Officer

Not normally used anymore in developed countries, the electrification officer was responsible for managing the electrical generating and distribution systems at companies during the beginnings of electrification in industry; an exemplus of those managers is still to be found in developing countries that still lack universal electricity.

Chief Visionary Officer

The nicest one, according to the skills and mental approach people usually recognize as typical to us, the CVO simply advises the CEO what direction the company should be driven on. His particular responsibilities, spite of those typical of any high-ranking executive, are also based on creating a forward vision for the company, especially if they are operating in a fairly new industry. According to our source, first CVO in the history was Internet pioneer Einar Stefferud. Another important proof, in our opinion, of what ‘visionary’ can mean.

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