The Janitor and the CEO


Even as the blogosphere was heating up with the election bug, I was too busy with my other hobby – business development. My entrepreneurial sister and I had a Vulcan mind-meld as we lay down the blueprint for a series of e-commerce site roll-outs that will cater to the Mindanao market in the last quarter of 2009. That was until I came across these two paragraphs from de Quiros.

The job at hand is not CEO of a company, it is janitor of a building. What this country needs today is not someone to manage things, it is someone to clean up things. What we need today is not someone to make a business flourish, it is someone to make a dwelling place habitable, one whose previous tenant left it in a condition only cockroaches, rats, and real-estate speculators, in ascending order of predation, can appreciate. Who better to do this than Noynoy?

Or if you persist in using the CEO image, the job at hand is CEO, but only of a company that has been bankrupted by a bunch of crooks. Whom would you hire to revive it? An efficiency freak with a long résumé but who has business interests that compete with the company, who is a known tirador or beholden to people who are, and who therefore can only be trusted to efficiently pillage some more? Or someone you can trust?

Halo halo metaphors

De Quiros prefers the janitor metaphor. I prefer the turnaround master or the transformative CEO and not the plain-jane vanilla CEO.

A turnaround or turnabout is defined as:

  1. A complete change or reversal: a prompt economic turnaround
  2. The act or an instance of turning about and facing or moving in the opposite direction; a reversal.
  3. A shift or change in opinion, loyalty, or allegiance.
  4. A sharp, positive reversal in the performance of a company or the overall market.
  5. Positive, sustained reversal of hitherto prevailing negative conditions, or in the performance of an economy, firm, industry, or market.

Janitors clean up, period. After the janitor cleans up, what next?

Transformative CEOs and turnaround masters not only clean up shop, but they make the shop thrive by introducing innovation that fosters positive growth.

Why settle for a janitor when you can have a transformative CEO?

Why settle for just a clean-up when you can clean-up AND flourish, thrive, prosper?

Why aim your sights low, when for the same amount of effort and the same amount of time, you can aim high and hit the mark.

De quiros went further to say that

A CEO is accountable only to the stockholders, not to the hundreds of men and women employed by the company. The hundreds of men and women he can order around and fire as he pleases. Its political equivalent is that the president is accountable only to the taipans and coniotics who spent for his campaign, not to the citizens of the country. The citizens he can bully around and screw as he pleases.

This is where Conrado lost me. His metaphor likened the citizens to employees. I say, de Quiros is WRONG. Nothing can be further from the truth. De Quiros, messed up his metaphors. The correct “template” is  government officers and staff are employees, and the citizens are the shareholders. Shareholders have the power to make or break a CEO. What can be be gleaned from from the previous paragraph however, is that Filipino voters have forgotten that they are shareholders – and the government officials and staffs have forgotten that they are employees whose main role is to serve the shareholders.

When shareholders put a CEO who is already a known thief or arsonist, the shareholders should not be surprised that the company’s funds were bamboozled or that the company’s facilities were burned down. The shareholders were wined and dined by the wannabe-CEOs. They chose the candidate with the most honest smile and pedigree. Yes, the CEO was honest – but he was also indecisive, leading the company to ruin. The CEO chosen by the shareholders didn’t steal from the company but led the compnay downhill just the same.  In financial terms, $1,000,000 lost from theft versus $1,000,000 lost from inefficiency is still the same $1,000,000 down the drain.

The Question of Trust

Even as De Quiros makes a litany and swipes at the various candidates on the issue of trust, the Aquino scion is automatically given the presumption of trustworthiness because he is the son of Cory and Ninoy.

Really? How about this for trust? What do you trust him to do?

If you were a tenant living in Hacienda Luisita, will you trust the son of the lord of Hacienda Luisita to make good their promises that you will have your own piece of land? For all the rhetoric of being the voice of the oppressed, the tenants of Hacienda Luisita were served bullets, bullied to receive a stock certificate instead of a tangible piece of fertile soil that can be sifted through with their bare hands.

I trust that Noynoy will do more Hacienda Luisitas.

I trust that Noynoy will scuttle CARP some more.

I trust that Noynoy will keep the constitution chained to the rent-capture interests of the landlords and oligarchs that have held the Philippine nation’s economic development a hostage.

Which puts this issue of trust in Noynoy akin to a used Trust condom

best thrown in the trash can.



  1. A turnaround CEO’s specialty is using unorthodox methods to do the job.

    Companies in crisis situations whose Boards hire such elite CEO’s need something done differently to arrest the current trajectory of their companies’ fortunes.

    Is Noynoy such a breed of executive?

    Sorry. I almost had my lunch come out of my nose contemplating the above question.

    Noynoy is a cut-and-dried traditionalist that the worst of Pinoy society’s aspects had molded.

    To quote the insightful observation of commentator UPn grad on FV:

    Noynoy is a simple man, not a visionary — trained to be respectful to elders, to be prayerful, deferential to priests, imbued with a sense of responsibility to duty as a big brother and of protecting family under siege, not to sprout wings and to soar into greatness. Lucky for him he was told that Malacanang is in his destiny. I disagree that Noynoy is Obamaesque nor Ninoyish. Noynoy is a simple man — a caretaker in the image of his mom — not a leader with vision.

    To achieve a different outcome, you need to apply different approaches. What is so different about having another Aquino in Malacanang? What is so different about some bozo waving around the “L” gesture tying yellow ribbons around every telephone pole he passes?

    The challenge is quite simple.

  2. Hyden Toro · ·

    What I see in the candidate aspirants are: (1) What is it for me ? (2) I will run as President. Or I
    will run for Vice President.

    It is for them, their LARGE EGOS, their self importance and themselves. Not for us !

  3. Windows MT · ·

    De Quiros used to be a good writer but to equate the office of the President to an uncomparable position (janitor) in an organization is wrong on so many levels. So if GM is a failing company we should get a street sweeper to become the CEO of it and then it will be productive?

  4. I’ve noticed that the common theme running through all the pro-Aquino commentary is completely apologist — everybody KNOWS this guy doesn’t have what it takes to be president, yet they persist in finding excuses why he should be. De Quiros knows it, too; his article as much as said, “well, under normal circumstances this wouldn’t be the guy, but right now he’s what we need”, notwithstanding his lack of understanding of what “right now” really is, of course.

  5. uncle pinoy · ·

    A better analogy would be that of a building manager. The building manager makes sure the building is clean and secure, ample lighting in the hallways, there is hot running water, and that the tenants can go about their legal businesses free and unimpeded. He will collect rent or fees to ensure that he fulfill these efficiently and at a price the tenant can afford (otherwise they leave). His belief is: if the tenants are happy and prosperous, there will little to worry about.

    What he does not do is tell the tenants where his children should go to school and what they should study, what they should eat and not eat, what car to drive, or run businesses inside the building that can may conflict with this responsibilities as manager.

    Government right now is like the ubiquitous big brother who wants you totally dependent on him.

  6. Obviously Quiros has NEVER run a company. He has NEVER led an organization of any size or complexity. because if he has, then he will know why there are janitors and there are CEOs.

    And yes, Noynoy can stay as a janitor.

    We need a CEO for a President.

  7. […] We can’t expect different results by doing the same things. As I previously blogged in “The Janitor and the CEO” – Why settle for a janitor (who you are not sure can even do the job) when you can have a […]

  8. Windows MT · ·

    De Quiros used to be a good writer but to equate the office of the President to an uncomparable position (janitor) in an organization is wrong on so many levels. So if GM is a failing company we should get a street sweeper to become the CEO of it and then it will be productive?

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