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Management article
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Reference no. R1112G
Authors: Bob Frisch
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 2011

Abstract

In many companies, the top management team is officially responsible for helping the CEO make a company's big decisions. But another, unofficial group usually does that job de facto. That's the way it should be, argues Frisch, of the Strategic Offsites Group, provided that the CEO is deliberate in devising the role of this informal and unnamed ‘kitchen cabinet.’ Problems can nevertheless arise when senior executives learn about important decisions after the fact, mistakenly assume that they have real power to protect their departments, and find themselves in a system where the way decisions are actually made goes unacknowledged. The key, according to Frisch, is to make better use of senior executives' time and talents by giving them specific responsibilities that complement - but do not overlap - the advisory duties of the kitchen cabinet. A CEO who explicitly acknowledges the role of her cabinet and strikes the right balance between it and her official advisory group of executives can get the best from both.

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Abstract

In many companies, the top management team is officially responsible for helping the CEO make a company's big decisions. But another, unofficial group usually does that job de facto. That's the way it should be, argues Frisch, of the Strategic Offsites Group, provided that the CEO is deliberate in devising the role of this informal and unnamed ‘kitchen cabinet.’ Problems can nevertheless arise when senior executives learn about important decisions after the fact, mistakenly assume that they have real power to protect their departments, and find themselves in a system where the way decisions are actually made goes unacknowledged. The key, according to Frisch, is to make better use of senior executives' time and talents by giving them specific responsibilities that complement - but do not overlap - the advisory duties of the kitchen cabinet. A CEO who explicitly acknowledges the role of her cabinet and strikes the right balance between it and her official advisory group of executives can get the best from both.

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