It appears we are to have an intelligence czar with unprecedented power … and responsibility. The question will soon turn to … WHO?

I wish to offer a nominee. And I am thoroughly confident in the correctness of my suggestion, no matter how implausible a political likelihood.

Lou Gerstner.

Lou is smart. (Understatement.)
Lou is tough … a “culture buster.” (Understatement.)
Lou is unflinchingly honest. (Understatement.)
Lou gets things done. (Understatement.)
Lou gets & thrives on Big Org politics.
Lou grasps the Big Picture.
Lou sweats the details.

Lou’s only shortfall is the lack of experience with a start-up, which the new intelligence apparatus is in many respects.

I could elaborate on any of the points above, but will choose but one: Lou is a … Culture Buster. In his autobiography, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance, Gerstner admits the following: “If I could have chosen not to tackle the IBM culture head-on, I probably wouldn’t have. My bias coming in was toward strategy, analysis and measurement. In comparison, changing the attitude and behaviors of hundreds of thousands of people is very, very hard. [Yet] I came to see in my time at IBM that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game—it is the game.” And it “is the game” for the new intelligence honcho. Frankly, I guessed that no one could break—and then remold—the IBM culture; I fully expected that the Board would eventually have to revert to the pre-Gerstner strategy and break up the company. In fact Gerstner did effectively destroy and then remold IBM, and most important to the new intelligence job, mostly vaporized the dysfunctional barriers between IBM’s former baronies. This is something, in the corporate world, that stands 10.0+ on the Difficulty Scale … and is a challenge that is 10X more significant than the sorts that, say, Welch faced at GE at the same time.

Washington is of course in a League of Its Own. Perhaps no one is up to the job. Let us just pray that Mr Bush and Mr Rove don’t appoint a political hack and/or “Yes man.”

N.B. On the topic of “dysfunctional barriers,” you could do worse than to spend time with former Microsoft COO Robert Herbold’s The Fiefdom Syndrome. It’s perhaps the first book exclusively devoted to Barrier Busting. In Herbold’s case he was quite successful at thwarting the growth of such barriers as Microsoft rapidly grew to Giantism.

I anxiously await your picks for I-tel Czar …