Ok, CEO: Answer These Questions

Accountability Be Accountable

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Key Point: How would you answer the following questions as a CEO? All major consulting companies conduct “C Level” surveys to help top leadership navigate trends and think through strategic challenges. Recently, I’ve been part of several of these, and please note that the specific questions and survey process are the confidential property of the consulting companies. However, I’m going to ask you my paraphrased version of sample questions that reflect the essence without compromising the survey protocol of the firms. These surveys usually take over an hour to complete. Then, the firms compile, analyze and give the respondent the collective feedback. To make this manageable, I’m going to ask you just a few representative questions. How would you answer them as the head of your organization?

  1. What is the level of urgency with which your enterprise needs to transform itself? Why?
  2. How successful has your organization been managing transformation in the past? Give examples.
  3. How effective is your organization at creating compelling customer experiences? Examples? Through what means?
  4. Think ahead to 2021 and you’ve been given an award for designing and implementing the most outstanding customer experience. Post on social media, the description of that experience in less than 140 characters.
  5. Name the top five emerging technology trends over the next three to five years, that will most disrupt your industry? Enterprise?
  6. To what extent do you have a well formed purpose and business strategy to navigate through the disruptive forces here now and in front of you?
  7. Your best strategy will be to: Defend, innovate, expand, diversify, or self-disrupt. Which one of these will be your lead stance? How confident are you in execution?
  8. You are being interviewed by major business outlets as the best example in 2021 of an organization that truly reinvented itself. Describe in 20 words or less the essence of your strategy ad business model change.
  9. To what extent is your leadership fully equipped to lead this transformation? Where are big gaps and what are you doing about it?
  10. To what extent are team members “all in” with the purpose, strategy, along with having the skills and mindset to fully participate in the transformation?
  11. How effective are you in using data analytics in a predictive fashion to improve both employee and customer experience? How will you be significantly better at this three years from now?
  12. How equipped and ready are you to PERSONALLY transform your organization? How will you transform yourself first as part of leading this?

The above questions were randomly selected, and samples only. The surveys themselves were much more extensive, specific, and connected. They twisted my brain.  And the technology/disruption section was most daunting to me. As an example, many leading enterprises are well on their way implementing Artificial Intelligence to both service customers and employees. It’s happening NOW, not 2021. The reality is, any thinking organization and awake leader is taking their institution through this type of honest reflection and discovery.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. You may or may not be the head of your organization (although 40 percent of our readers describe themselves as CEOs or Managing Directors). Nevertheless, your participation in answering these and similar questions is necessary.
  2. What did you learn about yourself and organization as you answered? What will you do about it?

Answering in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: These survey questions are interesting, and it is nice to see how much critical thinking and “brain twisting” these questions demand from corporate leaders. With more A.I. implementation and (of course), more technology we don’t even know about yet, planning more than four years ahead seems difficult. To put in perspective, in 2013, Uber was a brand new service and I was just hearing about Airbnb, Seamless, Snapchat, Venmo, and more. I see why we put an emphasis on learning and adapting.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Reverse Mentoring… Get Some

Accountability

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Key Point: Everyone who is not a Digital Native might want to hang with someone who is. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to have a reverse mentor and her name is Christina. She is a third year business student at the University of Alberta, and she works for me as an intern. In fairness, she is not your average student. Christina is an award winning genius and I won’t get into her resume. Suffice to say, it is ridiculously impressive. However, this is more than a story about how capable Christina is. It is about the way she thinks, works, and how she teaches me.

I’m the executive sponsor of Google’s G Suite in our company, and I should be a master. Everyone knows I’m not, and I am working on it. However, applying all Google applications is like learning another language and my brain just has to stop and think. Christina on the other hand, seems to navigate everything digital first. She is always teaching me something by just the way she does stuff. Sometimes it’s hilarious and I feel like, “oh geez, she must feel like gramps needs a lot of work.” Still, she is so patient and respectful. And my executive assistant feels that way too as she also learns so much from Christina.

Some of the most significant characteristics of Digital Natives according to the Zur Institute are:

  • They are intuitive learners rather than linear. (They do not use or easily relate to manuals).
  • They learn via participation rather than passively, as illustrated in the difference between Wikipedia and Britannica.
  • Their brains have developed a high capacity to multitask and to rapidly task-switch (hopping).
  • They see the world in less hierarchical terms – the Internet levels the playing field, making everyone more equal online.

Companies like Microsoft are formally employing reverse mentoring. For Kristin Ruud, Human Resources Lead at Microsoft Norway, turning to millennials for insight is key to business success. She says, “Generation Y consumes services in a completely new way. Beyond the clear ability of the Gen Y’ers to drive business impact through their day-to-day core work, there are also invaluable insights to be harvested through full engagement with this group, insights that will help ensure we are able to meet the needs of a demanding consumer market.”

Traditional mentoring normally involves a seasoned exec showing the ropes to a younger and often less experienced colleague. With mentoring by Digital Natives it’s the complete opposite: These “kids,” new to the world of work, with completely different social behaviors and backgrounds are coaching senior leaders on what the workplace should look like, what drives younger talent, and how to move forward. Christina does all of the above and hopefully she is getting something from hanging out with me too.

So Christina, this blog is a tribute to you, all your Digital Native colleagues, the way you just get things done and show me what’s possible by the fearless ease by which you approach things with a natural digital lens. Thank you.

(I’ve also had the benefit to be reversed mentored by my son, Garrett, who is also a Millennial. He is teaching me much about the importance of video and storytelling. Thank you, Garrett). 

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Intentionally hang with a Digital Native. There is a natural digital experience difference between the oldest and youngest millennials.
  2. Be confident and humble enough to know how much you can learn from these reverse mentors. And while ideally they are respectful, don’t be shocked that these Digital Natives are not overly impressed with your title and office. The Internet does level the playing field. And remember, they’ve been “smarter” than their parents from the beginning.
  3. Be energized and have fun. It’s like getting a little bit of a brain transfusion.

Mentored in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: I too have had the pleasure of working with Christina, and I’m definitely on the “old” side of the Millennial spectrum. I consider myself a pretty intelligent individual, but I’m had my brain scrambled a few times learning how sophisticated she is when it comes to social media and technology. I look forward to learning much more!

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

From Code to Click

Accountability

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Key Point: Why would almost 200,000 people spend thousands of dollars and invest a week of their lives to attend a SalesForce conference? I think it partly has to do with the totally accessible movement defined as “From Coding to Clicking,” and the truly millions of opportunities being created as a result.

We all will literally have the ability to create and co-create digital experiences and applications without writing any material software code. Using the amazing platforms built by public cloud based powerhouses like Google and SalesForce, most of us will be able to become data scientists and software “engineers.” IT and business is merging into a fully integrated partnership, and it’s rapidly happening at an individual level as well. When we get the ability to fully leverage these big system platforms, the investment starts to turn into how well you and I can use the full potential of these amazing foundations. Let me give you an example pertaining to SalesForce. To promote this technology mastery, there is a SalesForce certification for almost every role in any organization. When one applies certification competence, we become much more valuable to our companies, others and ourselves. We build more personal equity. I’m going to share a just a few examples of the hundreds of certifications offered by SalesForce through their learning and certification platform called Trailhead:

Administrator’s Certification: Confirms you have the skills and knowledge to customize, configure, and manage a SalesForce implementation.

Developers Certification: Platform Developer 11; gain skill and knowledge in advanced programmatic capabilities of the SalesForce platform to build custom applications on their platform.

Marketers Cloud Social Specialists Certification: Add skills in the social landscape and components of Social Studio; including post creation management, analysis of conversations and reporting.

Specialists Certification: (This would be for executives). Learn how to lead and optimize the full use of the SF platform. And Google has the same “mastery” mentality and learning opportunities.

While these platforms are essentially equal for all, building on top of them is totally unique, customizable and scalable in distinctly different ways for each participating organization. Hence, the more each of us know about harnessing them, the more advantage we and our organizations have.

You might ask, “so what?” Great legacy firms like Microsoft and Cisco have been genius at applying certification learning systems for years. The big difference I’m noticing is that in most cases those certifications were limited or focused on IT or engineering roles. In the case of Google’s Cloud Platform and SalesForce, EVERYONE and EVERY role ideally becomes “certified,” and a power user. Not on every aspect of the full platform, of course, but as the system applies to each individual role.

At SalesForce’s DreamForce 17 conference, which just concluded, 175,000 (that’s the announced attendance) followers descended on San Francisco for four days. It was mind blowing to see the movement and momentum. And when SalesForce CEO Marc Benioff had a fireside chat with Diane Greene, Alphabet board member and head of Google Cloud, their partnership vision sparked a “WOW.” Everything in the public cloud harnessing the world’s leading AI/machine learning, predictive data science and search, etc, all at warp speed as these two giant forces connect to drive exponentiality. Talk about 10X.

The leading companies in attendance at DF17 want their employees to obsessively focus on applying their purpose to customers by leveraging every bit of advantage these platforms and their robust eco-systems provide. In that context – speed, agility and adaptability becomes THE advantage. That’s why the notion of rapidly progressing from “code to click” has huge momentum. Whatever market your company is in; financial services, construction, food services, etc, can be great at providing customers indispensable value. If you want to build your own software platform and apps on your own infrastructure, well, good luck. I’m “shorting your stock.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Determine what you will become certified in to make yourself more of a digital expert. Even if your company doesn’t use Google or SalesForce, think about making yourself way more marketable by becoming certified on these or other leading platforms. In most cases, these certifications are online and free.
  2. Business leaders and all levels of employees must be futurists, humanitarians, innovators AND technologists. What will you put on your resume to demonstrate that you are progressing in the technology category? Every role requires it.

Lorne

One Millennial View: Well, the homework didn’t end with your last earned degree. I’ve taken a few minutes to research what SalesForce has to offer in their Trialhead course department, and you can certainly access a wealth of information. While taking online coursework may seem daunting, you can’t really put “Watched Stranger Things Season 2” on your resume, so balancing your time by binging on a certification may be a great idea. You know, then go back to Stranger Things.>

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

More Experimentation and Play

Accountability

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Key Point: As part of building resilient and adaptive cultures we need to make more room for experimentation and play. This seems contradictory to the way many of us have been raised at work. It just seemed like the other day that we were learning new organization principles mostly driven by understanding total quality and lean manufacturing systems. (30-year-old ideas, btw). And the lessons associated with running organizations with these principles in mind still do have a place. However, that way of thinking exclusively has to give way to much more experimentation and play. Companies have to be more like laboratories than factories.

Recently, I spoke at a conference focusing on navigating the future. I talked about the eight cultural ingredients that I use as a framework to build a more abundant and adaptive company. The two speakers that I shared the podium with however, presented insights that made me really think. The two factors emphasized: Experimentation and Play.

Dr. Steve Shepard has written numerous books on technology and cultural adaption. He travels the world and is a leader in helping developing communities embrace technology to advance their cultures and circumstances. His principles are based on providing conditions for “tribal” self accountability, respect and abundance. The villagers he works with learn and apply technology to what deeply matters to them, rather than what outsiders think best. Underlying those values are experimentation and play. When he and his team make tablet computers available (e.g a MIT labs product that costs less than $100 USD,) and connects them to the internet, the village kids seem to intuitively and fearlessly Experiment and Play, most often getting the technology up and running within a day. Yup… Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, the works. More importantly, they rapidly begin to experiment finding ways to make their village more prosperous; (for example, e-commerce for local artisans and much more). As Steve storytells beautifully: “These are also places where technology brings competitive advantage, but it also brings economic growth, transparent government, access to healthcare and education, and perhaps most important of all, hope.”

The other speaker was (Top 40 under 40) Shawn Kanungo, a Digital Innovation guru with Deloitte. He challenged me to think more about play and experimentation than purpose. Kanungo and team Deloitte were asked to help a large organization develop a strategy on how to build a culture of innovation and collaboration. Through ethnographic research, interviews, workshops and mining through data, they analyzed the organization through different lenses: “We discovered that – more than anything else – employees craved the freedom to play, to experiment and to learn. And, when it came down to human motivation, the most surprising fact was that ‘Play’ was MORE important than the organization’s ‘Purpose.’ In Lindsay McGregor & Neel Doshi’s awesome book, Primed to Perform, after surveying over 20,000 workers around the world, analyzing 50 major companies, conducting scores of experiments, and scouring the landscape of academic research in a range of disciplines, they concluded that ‘Play’ is the most powerful motivator – twice as potent as purpose and almost three times more than potential.”

I know enough about the importance of purpose to understand that paying attention to Experimentation and Play is more of an “AND” rather than “OR.” However, these innovators inspired me to learn much more about these concepts.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Let’s challenge ourselves to learn more about translating Experimentation and Play into the workforce. How do we define and apply these concepts? I know I certainly will investigate and even “Experiment and Play” in doing so.
  2. I do believe that “sameness” has a short shelf-life these days. “Old” ideas like “benchmarking” and “best practices” may set us up for failure. Constant Experimentation and Play may make us way more fluid, adaptive and transformative.

Experimentation and Play in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Now that we have the ability to use free tools like YouTube to teach us how to do pretty much anything, we’re often in a state of “Experiment and Play” just learning or figuring out DIY projects. I believe Millennials appreciate as much autonomy as possible, and if we can “Experiment and Play” our way to achieve better results, we don’t need the lesson of “best practices” for anything more than just a starting guideline.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Calling For Some Courage

Accountability

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Key Point: We need more courage in personal leadership. I just finished a three day conversation with some of the leading thinkers on the subject. We talked about many attributes required by leaders that will take us to a more desired future state. Upon my reflection of the deep discussions we had, the one attribute I think we underwhelmed was “COURAGE.” As serendipity often goes,  I “happened” to read Peter Diamandis’ blog extolling a new book about extraordinary people. And some insight on COURAGE arrived just as I felt the need to emphasize it more.

Brendon Burchard’s new book, “High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way,” is based on the world’s largest study of high performers; people who reach long-term external success while still maintaining happiness, health and positive relationships.

He discovered six habits that move the needle most when creating success. The 6th Habit is: Demonstrate Courage. The following is an excerpt from the book on the subject:

“We did a tremendous amount of research on courage, and we found that in the face of risk, hardship, judgment, the unknown, or even fear, high performers tend to do a couple of things.

First, they speak up for themselves. They share their truth and ambitions more often than other people do. They also speak up for other people more often than others do. In short, high performers are willing to share the truth about themselves.

Just as important, they ‘honor the struggle.’ They know struggling is a natural part of the process. That makes them more courageous, because they enter into a pursuit knowing it will be hard. They can handle the struggle because they expect it.

Many people complain about the struggle. High performers don’t. They’re fine being in the weeds, getting muddy. They know that showing up, even when they’re tired, will help make them the best.

Knowing that the process will be hard — not just accepting that it will be hard but appreciating that working through the tough times is necessary for success — makes them less afraid.

High performers have also identified someone to fight for… Courage comes from wanting to serve one person or one unit: Wife, husband, family, a small group of people. The will to work through uncertainty or fear comes from wanting to serve someone.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Speak up for the truth, and do what’s right.
  2. Embrace the struggle.
  3. Identify who and what to fight for.

Courage in Personal Leadership

One Millennial View: Wow. Really think about “who” the fight is for. You hear new parents talk about not fully understanding this until they’ve had a child. In my opinion, there’s no greater heroes than the men and women who fight in the armed services, and I’ve studied plenty enough to know that their fight isn’t just about the purpose, it’s about the person to the left and right of them. That’s what they fight for.  And that’s a real definition of courage that can be applied to more than just the battlefield.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis