Rex Tillerson: CEO’s in government

Source:  The New York Times     Los Angeles Times     Reuters


America has elected its first CEO as President of the United States, with no political experience and a weak agenda.  Likewise, additional CEO’s have joined the president’s staff bringing with them the CEO mindset and Rex Tillerson is no different.

Rex Tillerson may be gifted with the ability to converse with heads of state across the globe, but running the State Department has proven to be a challenge.  In the corporate world micromanagement reigns supreme, when used in government it is a formula for disaster.  The Federal Government already functions at the highest level of inefficiency, adding the corporate mindset adds to the inefficiency tenfold.

Rex Tillerson is performing his duties as Secretary of State in the only way he knows how, as a CEO.  With that CEO mindset of consolidating, adjusting budgets, and reorganizing will only serve to bring the State Department to its knees.  Mr. Tillerson, like the president and most of the presidential cabinet, have one thing in common, no political experience.  This lack of political understanding and the CEO mindset clash on many levels.  And, as a typical CEO, Rex Tillerson, is reorganizing the State Department into something Mr. Tillerson is familiar with, the corporate organizational structure with budget cuts everywhere.

For Mr. Tillerson this means making all the decisions himself or delegating to a small few he trusts.  In no way can the Secretary of State, one person, be able to manage all the decisions and department functions of the State Department.  Allowing experienced bureaucrats to leave the State Department and leaving important positions vacant is a disaster in the making.  As inefficient as government may seem to a CEO, it is the best way a government can run, in some cases.  A shake up like this, and one predicted to take up to a year, paralyzes productivity something every CEO preaches.

Governments are not corporations, a CEO’s profit and loss mentality just doesn’t work, you can’t run a government for profit.  Historically governments that are run for profit fail; just ask Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and Ferdinand Marcos.

Therefore, reorganizing the State Department is a monumental task and one that could cripple progress to a snail’s pace.  To the world, the State Department is the public face of the United States government .  Therefore, changes that could negatively impact the State Department may come across as dysfunctional to the rest of the world, and the world will take notice, as well as advantage.

The Secretary of State is the top diplomat for the United States and the president.  Therefore, the Secretary of State should be concerned with defending the interests of the United States, shoring up support from our allies, and tackling world issues, not the monumental task of reorganizing the State Department, that is like reinventing government.