Posted by: Daisy | March 4, 2009

Available: Court Jester to Organization

I read this post and thought, “Oh, this is good.”  How do I get a role like that at a company.

In the post, Rick writes about the need for every company to have what he terms an “untouchable”.  Someone who reports straight up to the CEO, and blogs in a very real way that can prevent public relation nightmares like the one that happened at Microsoft when they tried to ask terminated employees for some severance money back.  One of his commenters likened it to the role of a Court Jester being able to tell the King what the people think of him, without fear for his head.  Rick writes: 

I think the CEO of Facebook, for example, having a user advocate reporting directly to him and blogging in a very public way when boneheaded things are about to happen or have happened would potentially prevent self-inflicted wounds.

I think a senior Scoble type reporting into the senior levels of management and being very public about her blog, would have gotten the first WTF on the severance issue and probably saved some level of PR mess.

It is unfortunate that people have lost touch with people – whether employees, consumers, or the public sentiment and I have personally seen it time and time again when I think, “let it go, it’s not worth it” while others might be counting the beans to the last penny in the attempts to be fair and right.  Guess what?  Life is not as simple as right vs wrong, or fair vs unfair.  We are all human and have a head and a heart – and at the worst of times, it is important to think with both.

Do you think companies will start to look at this as an edge in this competitive world that’s lost touch with the very people who buy their products and services?

– Daisy



  1. I used to be employed at a computer company in a similar position. I was on a team of people who got paid to stand up for the customer on extreme issues; issues of more sensitivity than the entry level customer service rep could handle.

    We reported directly to the president of the company. We could override any decision made by any supervisor, which made us hated internally. The end result though, was that upper management knew what customers were saying and what their issues were. We reported on a monthly basis, the top complaints that customers had. The president, in his wisdom, took seriously what we reported, and demanded immediate resolutions by various department heads.

    I watched Glenn Beck the other day, and he was saying that it was unethical of the severed employees to keep the money they received in error from Microsoft. He said they should have known they got more than they should have. I don’t necessarily think that’s true. An average employee might be quicker to assume that they themselves made the miscalculation rather than a large company. They might assume that maybe their company was giving them more than they expected as a gesture of goodwill.

    Larger companies especially, can’t afford NOT to have people in “untouchable” positions, who represent the customers without fear of losing their jobs.

    I’ve been in organizations with ‘office of the president’ type call centres too if that’s what you’re referring to. I think this is a little different in that this court jester person is able to write about what they see/hear – not just make decisions in customer relations that tick off the P&L owner. And, on that side note, I’ve been that P&L owner where someone in customer relations thought they could make decisions to satisfy the customer which I completely disagreed with – certainly not a great situation until I had a good chat with them to help them understand the process and steps that are normally taken to ‘satisfy the customer’ for my area of responsiblity. It just goes back to communications at the end of the day – Daisy

  2. The cynic in me tends to think that things will not improve. We are all “untouchable” in a different sense of the word in that I feel like few of us are able to reach out and “touch” another human being any more.

    Big business manufactures everything we could ever need… except the ability to just be people and relate to other people as people. To the faceless corporation, everything is a commodity, something to be bought and sold. And to the consumer, the corporation is a machine pumping out what we demand, and other consumers are not people but obstacles that stand in the way of getting what we demand.

    Man, I read that back and realise just how deeply cynical and pessimistic that is, but it’s what I honestly feel at times. I honestly don’t think an “untouchable” or “court jester” in the terms you describe will necessarily make any of this better. Business is still out for number one, which is profit, and people are still trying to stop other people from being people. I don’t think we can look to others or the “right idea” to lead the way in this. We can only look to ourselves and be willing to take responsibility for how we treat others… and yes, that includes our dealings with the faceless corporation.

    I went off the track there, I think. :p

    Heh heh. Perhaps. Ultimately, big business is for making a profit, and that means treating customers properly. Giving them something they want for a price they’re willing to pay. Part of big business is the cost of doing business.. and I think that those gaffs that some who get out of touch with their customers might be able to avoid is with the use of a person who’s on the inside, who’s willing to speak/write freely about what they see. Obviously, you can not still be in business if you’re not profitable, but you also don’t have step on every single land mine, just because you’re out of touch – in essence, you pay someone to be in touch, and help you avoid the major mis-steps in the public eye. – Daisy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: