First, I am obviously not a chief petty officer, nor have I ever been one. But I have been a voracious consumer of chiefly product for 27 years. Thus, I think I am qualified to advance informed opinions regarding how well chiefs, writ large, are carrying out their responsibilities at sea.
Some believe that the Chiefs' Mess-the corpus formed by all the individual chiefs assigned to a ship-is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. We see the Chiefs' Mess as a powerful engine, deeply embedded in the ship and able to move critical levers with a collective flex of its will.
But today, this is not what really happens. Rather, the typical Chiefs' Mess nowadays is by and large ineffective. Perhaps more correctly, it is not doing what it was designed to do nor what it historically did.
Of course, some would emphatically disagree with this assessment. But when asked on what metric they base their glowing views of Chiefs' Mess performance, it becomes apparent that they don't have much to offer. Mostly, their disagreement reflects an admiration for individual chiefs rather than an evolved idea of how a given Chiefs' Mess produces desired effects.