Stacking the Deck

Stacking the Deck


Ooo-boy. Move over ladies and gentlemen, the above ranks will get crowded soon. A few more "O"s are set to whip their BMWs into executive parking spots. In the past two weeks I've seen two more chief "X" officer titles. As if we needed them.

The first is chief marketing officer. Well, that just had to happen, didn't it?

The other - are you ready for this? - is chief talent officer. Yep, there I was blithely reading a story - and jeez this is embarrassing - in my sister publication CIO US and there it was: chief talent officer. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I sighed and thought: "Only in the US." By the way, I can get away with that since I'm an expat.

Now, I'm gonna venture a guess, but 10-1 it's a title currying favour among the ranks of the e-people: Web producers/designers, content managers, Vignette programmers and others of that ilk. Can't you see it? Here's this Polo-shirted, chino-panted, cashmere-jumpered, Docksider-shod (no socks) CTO in charge of "The Talent": a gaggle of generation-whatevers (I'm a baby-boomer and stopped keeping track after Gen X) who never sleep, are sure they'll be multimillionaires before they're 25 and whose contract demands they get to bring the dog to the office and schedule regular consultations with Deepak Chopra.

It's so hip, so now, so, so . . . Hollywood.

So, will the CTO function as a permutation of the Hollywood agent? Lunch meetings will never be the same. "Hey baby, let's do pizza." Nor will job promotions. "Baby, baby I know you're far too big a star for this programming job, but it'll show your range and you really need to break out of the B2C mould."

Will companies have to deal with package deals a la Mike Ovitz? "If you want Trav the Vignette talent, you've got to take Jenne, the Web producer and Damien the content manager."

Will there be retinues? The dreadlocks hairdresser. The green/red/orange hair colourist. The T-shirt wardrobe person. And, if The Talent adds the proverbial family members to their entourage, we'll have offices soon resembling Camp Carefree. "Gee guys, I really need my 12-year-old sister as my personal trainer and my nine-year-old brother as my bodyguard."

Will we see an E-Variety touting the get? "Trav traps trade at $15,000 a day." "Jenne vexes vortal ventures." "Damien stars in The Omen VI."

I know I'm going to date myself, but when I started out companies hired people with skills and ability, not "talent". Welcome to the all singing, all dancing New Economy. It boggles the mind.

PS: The article with "chief talent officer" appears in this issue. So sue me.

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