Here’s an interesting question for the next telemarketer who calls you, or for the next clerk or customer service person you touch base with: "What’s the name of the president of your company?"
There’s a reason it matters. If the leadership of a company are cut off from vivid, direct contact with the front line, they are cutting off important information. Not just data, which is easy to summarize in a graph or a report, but visceral information that they remember and take action on.
Years ago, I took a friend to a chicken slaughterhouse in the Bronx. You pick a chicken, they bring it into the back room and bring you back fresh chicken parts. The thing you notice when you are walking to the car is that the bag is warm. A little different from the supermarket. Something you never forget, actually.
That’s how most CEOs and top managers make decisions. Not based on unemotional data, but on emotion-rich, experience-based stories. And if management isn’t permeable to the outside world, the whole organization is going to suffer, isn’t it?