CEO

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.

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It’s time for more social savvy CEOs

A recent study from CEO.com showed that the leaders of today’s most powerful companies (aka Fortune 500) still see social media as a non-necessity in their leadership toolkit. In fact, 61% have no social media presence whatsoever.

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Courtsesy CEO.com

This is totally anti-cyclical to consumers. Today there are more than 3 billion people on the internet and 2 billion are active social media users. We spend almost 3 hours online a day and 74% of consumers rely on social media to make buying decisions. So if social media is where your customers are, why aren’t there more CEOs active on social platforms?

Why Go Social?

The business of business are relationships. Relationships are inherently social. And leadership in the 21st century is all about strong communication. Social media provides multiple benefits for CEOs: it creates emotional connections, builds relationships and demonstrates innovation. Little side benefit: all of these increase leadership effectiveness.

A recent Weber Shandwick study said that 80% of employees would rather work for a social CEO. And 3 out of 4 consumers said they would be more likely purchase from companies who communicate on social media.

And we should not forget trust. Trust is the foundation for any business to operate. Be it internal or external, trust should be high on any CEO’s priority list. Edelman’s yearly Trust Barometer highlights exactly this. With more people placing trust in their peers and company employees than CEOs, social media provides a perfect channel for changing this. In today’s media landscape, there needs to be a move from just traditional media to a platform where CEOs can directly interact with stakeholders and customers. Richard Edelman defined the new role of the CEO to be the “Chief Engagement Officer”. A CEO that has a social profile can result in better communication, more transparency, higher employee morale and an improved brand image. By sharing stories, vision and values, the CEO moves from being just a business figure to a real person – resulting not only in greater visibility and influence, but also in more trust.

So Many More Opportunities

CEO.com’s study showed that those CEOs who are “active” on social media, Linkedin and Twitter were the preferred platforms of choice, although most of them were less active on the latter. With so much happening in the social media space, it will be interesting to see when executives will realize the benefits of exploring  other platforms.  Such as visual platforms like Instagram or YouTube. Personally, I also strongly believe that messaging and streaming apps will be interesting for CEOs to experiment with as these channels are genuinely social with their feedback mechanisms and their informality.

But when looking at today’s social CEO landscape, all this still lies in a very distant future.

Maybe for now it is sufficient for CEOs take some advice from Sir Richard Branson, who said, “Embracing social media isn’t just a bit of fun, it’s a vital way to communicate, keep your ear to the ground and improve your business.”

I is for Inspiration – Takeaways From Google’s Larry Page Letter to Staff

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Big news from Google this week. Alphabet. Their new holding company. And a great name at that. Suggesting anything and everything and many new ideas and multitude of opportunties.

Larry Page letter to staff, announcing Alphabet, has some pretty good, quotable quotes.  Something any CEO or leader should take note of as they are relevant for any business that wants to be successful.

“We are still trying to do things other people think are crazy but we are super excited about”

If you do not allow for genuine, contrarian ideas to be developed and heard in your company you are crushing innovation. Companies that have a true desire to keep innovating and investing in weird, amazing ideas are sure to be at the forefront of success.

“Over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes”

No one wants to end up being the next Blockbuster, Netscape or Kodak. Google is disrupting itself with Alphabet. And a clever move it is.

“Our company is operating well today, but we think we can make it cleaner and more accountable”

The restructuring allows Google to be agile (something the investors have been waiting for). Alphabet gives Google the flexibility to shift businesses. Not only under new umbrellas but also under new CEOs who may offer better leadership.

“Alphabet is about businesses prospering through strong leaders and independence”


With each new business under Alphabet having separate management teams, more opportunities are freed up for career development. This in return is great
for attracting and retaining talent. And we must not forget it allows for strong employer branding. A smart move.

“Alphabet … means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations”

Google may be a tech giant but at the end of the day it is all about your clients and your employees.

And a little marketing side note:  Is it smart to re-organize one of the most recognizable brands on the planet? Sure. In creating Alphabet, Google is following powerful trend in corporate branding just like Apple or GE.  And having a complete house of  strong brands makes for a strong catalyst for innovation.

 

 

Living in a Digital Economy with Analog Boards

analogIt’s been a while since my last blog – summer is turning out to be busier than I thought! Russell Reynolds Associates 2012 Study of Digital Directors did catch my eye this month though.

In today’s world, the CEO should also be the chief digital visionary in order to be able to lead the company’s digital transformation. And if this is not yet the case, companies – large and small – definitely need to start building their digital capabilities in order to remain competitive in this ever increasing technological environment. It was not surprising to read that almost all of the “highly digital” boards were in the U.S, with only two in Europe and none in Asia.

Technology is creating new ecosystems and opportunities. And these opportunities also demand the need for thoughtful investments. So in order to fully take adavantage of what our new digital world has to offer, CEOs and management boards need to start to adapt.

It’s time for management to become digital visionaries!