EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

‘If you have two CEOs, you have no CEOs’, is the old phrase. Earlier this year, several major tech companies moved away from co-CEO experiments, including Salesforce and Oracle. Academics argue that the co-CEO model is doomed to fail due to the human inclination to indulge in competition, the lack of clear chain of command, potential internal strife and lack of consistent, external brand image.

But, bucking the recent tech management trends, Netflix has announced the adoption of a new co-CEO configuration. Some view the decision as a means of setting up the newcomer to eventually succeed the company’s long-time CEO. Others see the decision as a reality check; modern CEOs are often overwhelmed by labyrinths of unrealistic demands. Giving 110% as a CEO often breaks down to giving 10% across 11 different priorities.

CEOs as a single point of business failure?

When a CEO quits, gets replaced, or even takes a vacation, another executive is typically temporarily serving in the role, and a limited amount of work actually gets done, and no major strategic decisions are made. “Netflix’s move to co-CEOs says less about the limitations of individual leaders than about a system that sets them up to fail,” says John Gerzema, co-CEO of The Harris Poll. By revising the management structure, CEOs are better positioned for success.

Moments for new business management styles:

Another school of thought suggests that while the co-CEO structure isn’t conducive 24/365, there may be points in a business’s growth where a co-CEO structure does make sense. During turbulent times, custom-built management systems and leadership positions can help organizations minimize the impact of headwinds.

For more on traditional business management roles in the tech sphere, check out Cyber Talk’s glossary. For more on the pros and cons of revising your business management strategy, visit the Harvard Business Review.

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