At the April CEOtoCEO Breakfast the discussion focused on how to lead during a time of wide spread disruption. Disruption within the business community has also created anxiety for many CEOs. According to its 2015 survey, IBM
found that 54 percent of CEOs expect to contend with competition from outside their industries — rising from 43 percent in 2013.
CEO speaker John Buller of Loyalty Solutions posed the the following CEO round table discussion:
What are the most important changes that a company in your industry should make to thrive these disruptions?
The CEO’s discussion led to 5 leadership strategies to survive and thrive during periods of disruption
1. Having the right Organizational Culture
The culture needs to be built to allow change, with all of the voices from all levels of the organization participating.
Some comments were:
Create a culture that embraces change –find the right people to champion this change
Work with the willing – hire people that are willing to change
Build a Culture of Engagement (creating internal buy-in, bottom-up information flow, adaptability)
Make sure senior management is aligned and become promoters of change
2. Redefine your corporate strategies
The change from incremental improvement to a culture that is flexible to make change, needs to become your organizational strategy.
Some comments were:
Create an education effort around organizational change ‘How do we change?’
Purposeful/and deliberate plan for the future – ‘Create a process’.
Self-awareness – listening to changes – being able to be wrong.
Make sure you have a capital investment plan to be able to adjust to the disruption expense issues.
3. Identify organization change agents
The organizations needs to have change agents at all levels of the organization.
Some comments were:
Identify leaders that can champion change, find them at all levels of the organization.
Find the best communicators in your organization ,empower them to communicate like crazy
Coach up –Show you can adapt and support the change.
4. Embrace Technology Changes
In most cases the disruption will involve new technology and applications embrace the change.
Some comments were.
Have capital set aside to buy and train the technology change.
Educate your customers – expect they will need to be trained
5. Understanding Generational Differences
There is a definite difference in the skill level and motivation between the 3 generations now working in these organizations.
Some comments were:
The makeup of your organizational generations will have a significant impact on how you define and react to disruption.
Define and identify your next generations of leaders.
Focus on your company’s demographic – understand the differences
The topic of the April CEOtoCEO Breakfast was “Can You Survive the Age of Disruption?”
In the current business environment, operational excellence has become an imperative for business rather than a competitive advantage. The ability to rapidly adapt to a change in circumstances is what really sets companies apart today.
Consequently, chief executives need to deliver more than quality control, cost control and continuous improvement. They need not only to manage the continuous threat of disruption and ride the waves of change, but to overcome them, rather than be overwhelmed by them.
Here are 3 ways chief executives can out-fight the disruption beast.
“Companies should not fight disruptive ideas, but try them out on a small scale to see if they work.”
Reinvent your company, don’t just optimize it.As Theodore Levitt explained in his classic “Marketing Myopia”, one of the reasons for the decline of the railroad companies in the U.S. was that they saw themselves as railroad companies rather than as transportation companies. This led them to a focus on optimizing their companies, while the entire railroad business model was being outflanked by newer means of transportation: car, trucks and airplanes. So define your business on the basis of the customer need you are trying to meet, not the product or service you are currently offering.
Disrupt your own business.As Arie de Geus documented in his “The Living Company”, one of the keys to corporate longevity is a willingness to trying out new things. Using what essentially is a lean approach, companies should not fight disruptive ideas, new ways of meeting the customer need, but try them out on a small scale, see if they work, and take things from there. (I would recommend undertaking such activities in isolation from the core business. Let it be done by different people and house them in a different building. As Kodak experienced when it came to the digital camera business too late, new ideas have a habit of not developing well or soon enough when surrounded by those they could potentially disrupt.)
Manage your company as a “portfolio of opportunities”.This includes moving away from the traditional, linear strategy process. Strategic planning should not be about identifying the most likely future, but the range of possible futures, including extremes. (Often it is the extremes where your competition makes advancements, so it’s critical to keep informed about these.) Strategy formulation discussions should then be about how your company could best position itself, and which business to give prominence in each of these futures. Final commitment of resources should be delayed as long as possible and, thus, made part of strategy execution, when you know how the market is really changing. This enables you to optimize utilization of the resources of your company whatever the future turns out to be.
GE is an excellent example of how this is done in practice. It recently launched “Current”, bringing together its various businesses of relevance to Renewable Energy – LED, Solar, Energy Storage, Electric Vehicle and Predix, its predictive analytics technology. It had been developing and trying these technologies for years, and now feels the time is right to push them forward and make them a focus for the company.
There are lots of lists and do’s and don’t’s about “Leadership” from Leadership experts…but what about from their employees? So when I saw this article by Success.com it made me think about it a bit more and some of the insights were quite thought provoking.
The article, “15 Traits of a Terrible Leader” was sharing feedback from the YEC (Young Entrepreneurs Council) from different members. I thought it was a list worth sharing and discussing with your leadership team to see how well you would grade yourself and your team in these areas. In a time where more and more companies are hiring Millenials and others, this is a perspective we could all use…
Lack of Transparency
Dismissing Ideas other than your own
Valuing Experience over Potential
Lack of Empathy
Forgetting about Leadership Development
Being Overly Conservative
Permitting Negative Gossip
Poor Communication Strategy
Being too Slow to Adapt
You can agree or disagree with this list, but either way, I think there is value in discussing each of these to see how you, as the leader of the organization, believe you are doing in these different areas. You may choose to dismiss some based on your business but I believe this is a worthwhile group exercise to have a lively debate among your leadership team. But as I tell the CEOs/Business Owners I work with all the time, the value is in the “Process of doing” as much or more than the actual outcome. Meaning, you might not change everything, but having a healthy discussion about where you stand and “why” in each area has tremendous value.
I believe it is also valuable to “assign a score” to each item on the list. A “current score” and a “desired score.” This means you might only have a desired score of a 5 in one category and a 10 in another category (on a scale of 1 – 10) but it is how well you think you and your leadership are doing that really matters. Look at the gaps…this is a classic “gap analysis” of where you want to be and where you are. Wherever there is a big gap, schedule a time in your next management meeting to discuss “Why” and this will make for a great…and helpful…discussion.
It’s that time of year where we all talk about books that we read this past year and which ones stood out in our minds. These lists will start pouring in over the next couple of months. I will share some of these with you along the way. But to give you an early start, here are the top Business Books for 2014 as put together by Strategy+Business. Let us know if you have read any of these and what you thought…good or bad…it will help the rest of us that haven’t read them get a better idea if it is worth our time our not. Here’s the list…by topical category…
So if you were looking for things to fill your time during the holiday season, this should solve that problem. Enjoy…and let me know what you think of these books or if you have some of your own you would like to add to the list. If you have read a book and want to give our readers a brief summary, please e-mail me (Blaine Millet) and I would be happy to put your review up as a blog post.
There is a famous quote I always loved from Jack Welch, famous CEO from General Electric. He said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, then the end is near.”
Today the rate of change is eclipsing most organizations and they can’t keep up. Competition is coming in from everywhere around the world and there aren’t any solid plans on how to deal with it. Competition is coming from places we never expected…primarily because someone else sees the inefficiencies in this particular industry. Product/Service competition is accelerating faster than we have ever seen in history. Commoditization is moving full speed ahead.
Step back from thinking about your product or service for a moment…despite all these competitive pressures. Step back and think about your Customers. Are your customers changing? Absolutely. Are the experiences they expect changing? Absolutely. Are you changing the experience you give to your customers? Most are not.
The one area you have complete and absolute control over is the experience you deliver to your customer. Complete control. You can choose what the experience should look like, feel like, smell like, and be to your customer…every day. And if your customers love your experience, the majority will forgo the latest and greatest advancements in product/service just to enjoy the experience they have with your company. This is the antithesis to commoditization…it is what customers want.
I turned Jack Welch’s quote in a slightly different direction focused on the customer, “If your customers are expecting a better customer experience than you are delivering, then the end is near.”
You have no control over the rate of change on the outside…it is just going to happen and accelerate. You do have control over what you change on the inside. I have always believed in the phrase, “Change what you have control to change and let others focus on what they can’t change.” Your customers aren’t a bad place to start. They are also probably worth the investment of time and innovation to create a totally awesome experience. The end doesn’t have to be near…it’s in your control.
For those of you who were fortunate enough to attend our CEOtoCEO breakfast this past week, you heard an excellent presentation and discussion about Culture…the Art and the Science. We want to thank Steve Gandara from Excellent Cultures and Brad Root from GM Nameplate for giving us the real world look at what it’s like… Continue Reading
As we begin to kick off our CEOtoCEO Innovation Teams, John and I are totally immersed into seeing how successful companies are innovating and on the flip side, what is keeping companies from innovating – or at least why they aren’t being as successful as they would like. Sometimes figuring out why something doesn’t work… Continue Reading
I was in a meeting this past week with a Business Owner of a mid-sized company and we were talking about, what else, how to create a social media strategy that leverages his business strategy. While that was an interesting and lively discussion, it wasn’t the point – it was about “innovation” in his organization… Continue Reading
As many of you know by now, I have thrown myself into the “social media fray” and have become fully engaged in learning, understanding and using this revolutionary new media. It has been an eye-opener to say the least. When I first met Blaine Millet and Clay Loges, my consultants and coaches, I realized the… Continue Reading
We all know Social Media is one of, if not the hottest topics of conversation today. So what? Why should we, as business owners and leaders, care? Great questions and EXACTLY what we are lively presentations and discussion are going to be in the next CEOtoCEO Breakfast Series. As a business owner, there are some… Continue Reading