Strategy

Making sure teams can work together

Working with many companies over the last couple of years, one of the biggest challenges often is to get  teams to work across the organizational boundaries. Often the main part of the problem is that we expect collaboration to occur in networks of relationships that do not mirror that of the formal reporting structures. Collaboration needs to be managed by leadership with a focus on setting up informal networks.  This article from Harvard Business Review provides some good, pragmatic approaches.

Grow through experiments

Harry_Waisman_labPractice makes perfect. Who hasn’t been told that at some point in their life? But is it true?

I like Adam Grant’s take who believes that what separates the good from the great is the willingness to try new things. You may be successful the way you are, but regardless of whether you are a company or an individual if you follow the same thing, the same routine, the same strategy over and over again you are more or less standing still, it means you are not growing.

Especially today where our world is changing at an incredible speed we need to have the willingness to experiment. To experiment with what you already know, and to experiment beyond that.

As Adam Grant said in a recent interview with GQ:

“..I would love to see every individual, every group try at least one experiment every week. Whether that’s shifting the structure of your meetings, or rotating around the leader for that decision—you can make a long list of what kind of experiments might be relevant. But to me, that’s kind of the big lesson of organizational psychology: the people who are willing to try new things beat the ones who don’t.”

How can you break your silos of your own built routines and start to experiment?

(Photo Credit: Harry Waisman Lab)

Company values drive behaviour


One of the most important dimensions of job satisfaction is how you feel about your employer’s mission.” writes Robert H. Frank, an economics professor at Cornell University. Futura1-1024x720

Values shape company behaviour. It is about how we treat employees, our customers, the type of products we build, the office environment we provide and much more. Most companies state values that usually always sound great, but actually are not shown in behaviours.

Some questions that leadership can ask themselves could be:

  • How do we live our values at this company?
  • What are stories and examples we can share that show how our values are put into practice?
  • When a department, team or individual does not stick to the company values are there consequences? And what would these look like?
  • How do we as leadership ensure that even when making difficult decision we can stay true to the company values?

 

 

 

 

Who makes a better boss – men or women?

Gender doesn’t matter, talent does.  And when you know that between 2014 and 2016, only 15% of workers in Germany were engaged at work then it is more than urgent to take a look at the management culture and to not just hire for experience or skills but for the talent to truly work with and inspire people.

Read more in Gallup’s latest blog post.

So you want to be a CEO?

Adam Bryant has interviewed 525 chief executives through his years writing the Corner Office column for the NY Times. In his last column (unfortunately) he sums up what his takeaways are from what’s important about leadership, culture and the “men vs. women” question. A great read – this is my favorite takeaway from the article:
cornerlessons-top-superJumbo-v3
“You have to be open and alert at every turn to the possibility that you’re about to learn the most important lesson of your life.”

 

 

 

(Photo credit: NY Times)

Digital transformation dreaming

creativeThere is a huge pile of research reports and studies on my desk how digitization will change the way we do business. And I am sure there are similar piles in many managers’ offices. But what good are the best reports if you are unable to move the transformation forward?

Those that are succeeding in moving along their digital transformation have two things in common: one, they not only understand what digital transformation means, they also know that it means a fundamental change for the whole company. And two, they ensure that they have the right resources with the right expertise to transform their corporate culture to meet the upcoming challenges.

Digital transformation needs to driven by the CEO. Not your Head of IT. Not your Head of Sales. Not your Head of Something Something. It needs to be one of the top strategic priorities for the whole company driven from the top down.

Digital transformation is not walking down a straight path. You will need to be open for new business models. For new ways of implementing products and services. And your corporate culture will need to allow failure.

Digital transformation can be driven an internal facilitator like a Chief Digital Officer or even be outsourced into a new venture that can work without any “analog”disruption from the organization in form of resistance or doubts. But whatever way is chosen at the end of you will need a leader.

Digital transformation needs a leader who has a strong project management background, who is a multitasker, open to try new things. You will need someone who is impatient, a fast thinker , who plays well with others and is able to influence change within the culture of the board and with it the rest of the company. And you will need someone who is a strong communicator. Someone who can combine the “old” with the “new”.

That is why it is imperative for all organizations to start understanding what digital transformation means for their business and  how the digital competencies of new and existing directors will fit emerging strategies. And it is the CEO’s task to ensure that this journey is started on the right path.

Enabling (digital) transformation

filmNext week  I am joining a panel discussion about “Digital Transformation and Shared Economy – what family owned companies can learn from start-ups”as part of the Pioneer Festival in Vienna, a major event for future technologies and entrepreneurship.

The impact of digitalization presents unprecedented challenges for all companies – big or small.  Digitalization can not only extend the reach of organizations and improve management decisions, but most of all it can speed up the development of new products and services. But this can also mean that your traditional business model may become disrupted. Having a solid strategy for your digital transformation is therefore key.

For established companies working together with start-ups for their digital transformation can have many benefits. These range from having better access to new technologies to an increase in innovation as well as learning to be more lean and fast.

But what are the most important pre-requisites for a successful transformation? I know that there are a few but here are my top 4:

  1. The C-suite is boss
    Digitalization is a key change for any business model. But it will also mean changes in your corporate culture. Therefore it can only be successful if the transformation process is owned and backed by CEO.
  2. Startup mentality is part of your DNA
    If you want to be innovative and foster new technologies, you will need people that have an entrepreneurial mindset in your organization. And you will want to give them all the support they need. Digitalization means being hands-on, open to trial and error and being convinced of its success. And being given the space to to develop new business models will be key to get ahead in the process.
  3. Protect innovation
    Innovation, just like any change, can often fail if the organization does not embrace it. As mentioned above, it is critical that people working on digital transformation are given the (protected) space to create and develop new ideas and are able to test these in an agile manner. Give them the autonomy to go  and impact things.
  4. Truly understanding your customer
    The key word here is “customer centricity” – if you do not know who your customers are nor what they really need you will already have lost. Services and products should be developed with a focus on what the customer needs rather what the organization believes is needed. And ideally, this should be done as fast as possible to quickly meet the market demands.

 

But something we must not forget: digital transformation is not only driven by technology but also by humans and how they communicate this transformation.  I think the latter is often forgotten when we hear or read about digital transformation. But that is something I will focus on in my next article. Watch this space!