If chief enablers, enrollers or experience officers are generally the good cops, chief enforcers are most definitely the bad cops. These are the CEOs at the top of the hierarchy oozing command and control from every pore. But this is exactly what’s required to lead a production-focused organization.

The overall thesis of this series of four articles is that the only four ways to succeed as a CEO are to act as chief enabler, enforcer, enroller or customer experience officer. This is the final choice flowing from your overall strategic choice, which dictates your choice of culture, organization, how to operate, and the CEO’s role.

The framework for What It Takes To Accelerate Through A Strategic Inflection Point is laid out in that earlier article. The main point is that you must align your culture, organization, operations and CEO’s real job around one of four strategies. The overall framework for CEOs’ focus is laid out in my article on Why Most CEOs Are Not Strategic Personally. This current article will dig into what it means to be the chief enforcer.

POI Framework



Best-in-class producing/manufacturing organizations have cultures of stability/discipline, results and authority (and independence), hierarchies of scientific leaders operating with command and control ways of working, led by chief enforcement officers leveraging strong, clear policies.

Strategy – Produce

Being best in class in production producing things more effectively and efficiently than anyone else. This requires extraordinary discipline and consistency, constantly refining and refocusing your processes and procedures.

Culture – Stability

Best in class producers thrive on stability. They focus on results and appreciate the clarity that comes with clear authority. Tell them what to do and they’ll get it done.

Organization – Hierarchy

Classic hierarchies work best for production-focused organizations. The chain of command works with people that appreciate being told what to do. They want to know whose direction to follow.

Operations – Command and Control

This is where command and control works. Yes it’s old school. Yes it blunts some innovation. But for people that appreciate being told what to do, working with command and control is a good thing.

CEO – Chief Enforcer

In a production-focused, stable, hierarchical organization operating with a heavy dose of command and control, the “E” in CEO should stand for Enforcer. If everyone is looking up, they are ultimately looking up at the CEO. Any wobble there can destabilize everyone in the hierarchy below the CEO – which is everyone.

These CEOs lead with policies mandating definite courses or methods of action that all must follow. For production-focused organizations policies inspire and enable. Producers find clarity inspiring. Tight swim lanes enable them to do their job.

Swim Lanes

  • Producers work best with swim lanes separated by solid walls topped with barbed wire.
  • Deliverers working across a matrix want to know where various players’ swim lanes intersect.
  • Servers focused on customer experience need flexible swim lanes so they can go wherever required to satisfy their customers.
  • Designers and inventors don’t even want to be told they have to swim, let alone have swim lanes.

Producers love enforcers. Others in the organization won’t be so sure. Those that value independence will see the CEO as too controlling. Those that value flexibility will see the CEO as too rigid.

For design and customer service focused organizations, strict enforcement of policies and a command and control way of operating is exactly wrong. It is way too controlling and rigid for them. But for a production-focused organization, it’s what’s needed.

If you’re leading producers, be unapologetic about your policies and controls. Those that choose not to follow those policies and live with those controls should choose to work elsewhere. Or you should make that choice for them. The #1 regret experienced leaders have looking back on their careers is not moving fast enough on people. In a hierarchy, people will look to the leader for examples of leadership. In these cases some early public hangings can send exactly the right signals to those looking for stability and clarity.