How (One) CEO Works, or "How I Selfishly Endanger Others"

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In the October 29, 2007 issue of FORTUNE, there is their weekly “How I Work” segment that profiles and/or glorifies an executive. This time it is Bobby Kotick, CEO of videogame maker Activision. They've evolved from Atari 2600tapes,” to a modern game maker.

Anyway, the part that jumped out at me was this (and I can't find this online), after talking about all of the gadgets and phones he uses:

“I have an Audi W12. I'm a distracted driver, so I wanted the most airbags.”

Yikes. I hope he was trying to be funny. It's not really “ha ha” funny. Did executives make jokes back in the 1970's about how they needed to drive big American cars because they drank a lot and needed protection in a likely DUI wreck?

Does this Audi W12? have external airbags to help protect the less fortunate who he might smash into?

At the least, here's an example we can use of very poor preventative problem solving, eh? It's better to NOT be distracted, thus avoiding an accident, right? Maybe he should hire a driver or put his distracting gadgets in the trunk? To his credit, I'm sure he's not planning on getting in a wreck, but he's counting on “being careful” with his unsafe practices — not a good strategy in any environment.

Maybe we can, without naming names, use this in our Lean training — how buying a very expensive, large car with lots of air bags is poor error proofing.

Just a note to the Activision board about your CEO's judgment, or lack thereof, on public display. There are a lot of laws being proposed about banning 16 and 17 year olds from “distracting driving.” Does that need to be extended to immature CEO's driving their $120,000 cars?

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent book is the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. His latest book has been released as an "in-progress" book, titled Measures of Success.

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