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What is the point of a COO? A CEO? A CVO? A CKO?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-12 10:37

The COO. Chief Operating Officer. What, exactly, does that even mean? What do COOs do?

Mostly, they do what CEOs don't have time to do – the menial toil of running the company, whether it's marketing and sales or research and development.  It's different for every company.  Often though, the COO studies to be the next CEO. Having a COO is a way of training, evaluating and grooming a future CEO.

But COOs are a dying breed. Since 2000, the percentage of S&P 500 and Fortune 500 companies with COO positions has shrunk from 49 percent to 35 percent. Many companies, according to executive placement firm CristKolder, are realizing that these duties can increasingly be taken on by chief financial officers, who aren’t as limited to numbers knowledge as they were in previous eras.

By Shea Huffman

"C-suite" or "C-level" refers to the highest-level executives at a company, taking their name from the three-letter initials starting with "C" that make up their titles. The most familiar such positions are chief executive officer (CEO), chief operations officer (COO) and chief financial officer (CFO). Such titles usually tell you who holds the power in different organizations, but recent trends, especially in the start-up scene, have all sorts of C-suite officers popping up that have some wondering what their titles actually mean.

Here are five C-suite titles we've found that seem a bit unusual in name at first, but might (or might not) make some sense once you figure out what they do.

Chief Agility Officer

Sounds like an executive for a clan of ninjas, or the self-given title of a football coach. Alas, the "agility" this title refers to is the corporate variety, not the physical. This one is technically a proposed position, but it derives its moniker from the growing agility movement, a corporate philosophy that emphasizes eschewing a rules-based work process in favor of an organization that is highly responsive to change. The chief agility officer, in that sense, is "tasked with creating and nurturing an Agile culture that pervades the whole organization."

Chief Knowledge Officer

Did the head librarian decide her title wasn't exciting enough? No, this officer is actually a fairly common position to see these days in companies like advertising firms, legal firms or even NASA. A chief knowledge officer is typically in charge of research and analytics for her company, gathering information on technology, customer relationships and successful business practices. They're also usually in charge of formulating and executing whatever strategic company-wide goals an organization wants to strive for, and to make sure they don't lose that knowledge after achieving a success; basically remembering what worked best. If it sounds similar to the more common chief information officer, that's because they do pretty much the same thing, but with different buzzwords. But CKOs totally swear they're different and you shouldn't get rid of them.

Chief Networking Officer

A networking officer sounds like a position a fraternity would cook up for setting up parties with all the popular sororities. CNOs are often favored by ad agencies and consulting firms, and are in charge of well, networking; they connect people and businesses within their companies with people and businesses outside their companies. The position can have some overlap with a chief marketing officer, but with less of a focus on sales and customer service, and more of a focus on communicating between offices and setting up those boring team-building exercises you always skip. A chief networking officer can also refer to a technical executive in charge of computer networking strategy, which arguably makes more sense.

Chief Visionary Officer

In the land of vague titles and start-up companies with unclear purposes, the chief visionary officer is king (or queen). Or really, they advise the king or queen (the CEO) on which direction to take the company. As the title can be used to formalize an advising position, the CVO is typically a high-ranking executive who performs executive duties, but with added responsibilities of creating a forward vision for the company, especially if they are operating in a fairly new industry. Internet pioneer Einar Stefferud is ususally recognized as the first CVO.

Chief Electrification Officer

If this one sounds like a title from the early 1900s that refers to the person who kept the all the lights on, that's because that's exactly what it is. Not normally used anymore in developed countries, the electrification officer was responsible for managing the electrical generating and distribution systems at companies during the beginnings of electrification in industry. The title still pops up occasionally in developing countries that still lack universal electricity. It also makes for a pretty cool title for the co-founder of a solar power start-up.

Pentagon Says Bergdahl En Route To Texas

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 10:24

The U.S. Army sergeant held hostage for five years in Afghanistan has left a hospital in Germany aboard a U.S. military plane destined for San Antonio, Tex.

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All by yourself

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-12 10:18

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Friday, June 13:

In Washington, the Labor Department issues the Producer Price Index for May.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon celebrates his 70th birthday.

A three-day festival celebrating duct tape gets underway in Avon, Ohio. There's a parade, and clothes and the opportunity to get stuck to someone.

Or maybe you prefer some alone time. You're in luck. National Hermit Week begins.

And some folks celebrate National Weed Your Garden Day. That's guaranteed to get you some alone time.

Cool Kids Lose, Though It May Take A Few Years

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 10:11

Call it revenge of the nerds. Popularity at age 13 fades by age 22, a study finds. And kids who try to act cool in their early teens are more likely to have alcohol and relationship problems later.

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Maybe Dinosaurs Were A Coldblooded, Warmblooded Mix

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 10:03

Evidence from bone growth now suggests that T. rex and its kin had the best of both worlds. Their muscles and nerves fired fast like ours, but they burned energy slowly, more like lizards do.

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Ex-'Times' Editor Jill Abramson To Teach At Harvard

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 10:01

The former executive editor of The New York Times, whose sudden dismissal sent shock waves through the media world, will teach undergraduate courses on narrative nonfiction.

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Legendary Actress Ruby Dee Dies At 91

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 09:15

The actress who starred with Sidney Poitier in the 1961 classic A Raisin in the Sun died Wednesday. She was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her work in American Gangster.

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Teen Smoking Hits A 22-Year Low, But Other Tobacco Uses Rise

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 09:14

Public health officials have dreamed of getting cigarette use down to 16 percent of teens, and that day has come. But some are turning to hookahs and electronic cigarettes, so the news isn't all good.

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Facebook Ad Targeting Will Use Even More Of Your Data

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 09:14

It will start drawing on Web browsing data to determine what ads users see, while allowing them to edit their own data profiles. Privacy advocates say the changes put too much burden on consumers.

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Who Runs The World? Rutgers Says Beyonce

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 08:52

Rutgers University students now have a homework assignment they might look forward to: Listening to Beyonce. Professor Kevin Allred discusses his course, Politicizing Beyonce.

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How Dreaming Big Led One TV Star To His Big Break

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 08:52

Before Cesar Millan became a TV personality, he was a homeless, undocumented immigrant from Mexico with a dream. He reveals how his career took off as part of NPR's series, "My Big Break."

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President's Student Loan Action Might Be Too Little, Too Late

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 08:52

President Obama signed an order that will cap student loan repayments at 10 percent of income for millions of borrowers. Georgetown University's Anthony Carnevale discusses whether it will help.

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Is Teacher Tenure Really The New Brown V. Board Of Education?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 08:52

A California judge ruled that the state's teacher tenure laws are unconstitutional because they disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students. Education Week's Stephen Sawchuk explains.

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Did Eric Cantor Forget That All Politics Are Local?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 08:52

The House majority leader says he will step down from that post after a surprise loss. For more, host Michel Martin speaks with Republican strategist Ron Christie and Univision's Fernando Espuelas.

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U.S. Drones Kill 13 Suspected Militants In Pakistan

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 08:40

The strikes are the first by the U.S. in nearly six months, and come just days after the Pakistani Taliban staged an audacious attack on Karachi airport, Pakistan's largest.

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Forget 10,000 Steps. For Happy Knees, 6,000 Will Do It

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 08:28

People are often told to walk 10,000 steps a day to be healthy. But if your goal is to avoid being crippled by knee arthritis, just 6,000 a day will to it, a study finds. And 3,000 is a good start.

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Has The FDA Brought On A Cheese Apocalypse? Probably Not

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 08:10

An FDA official warned that wooden boards used to age cheese could harbor harmful bacteria. But cheesemakers say they've long had safety measures in place to prevent any contamination from the boards.

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President George H.W. Bush Celebrates 90th Birthday With Parachute Jump

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 07:48

The former president had vowed on his 85th birthday that he would repeat a parachute jump on his 90th. Today's jump was his eighth.

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New Jersey Ambulance Companies Take Medicare For A Ride

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 07:05

The Garden State costs Medicare more than any other state for ambulance rides per kidney dialysis patient. A crackdown is set to start, but at one big dialysis center, ambulances remain everywhere.

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British Court Blocks All-Secret Trial For Terrorism Suspects

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-12 05:42

The Court of Appeal ruled that while the core of the trial can be held in secret, portions of it must be open to the public. It also allowed the suspects, known until now as AB and CD, to be named.

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