Where Do You Start?

Where Do You Start?

For some time I have been fascinated by the way that different people solve problems. Over the years I have worked with both creative thinkers and with directed, logical thinkers and found that each have strengths and weaknesses. Those who tend towards more logical, methodical and analytical approaches are often considered “left brain” dominant. They excel in mathematics and statistics and work through problems in a step-by-step manner. The creative and artistic types, however, are known as “right brain” dominant. Their expertise lies in a capacity for expression. This “lateralization” of the brain was popularized by Nobel Prize winner, Roger W. Sperry. While studying epilepsy, Sperry discovered that cutting the structure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain could reduce or eliminate seizures. This division of brain hemispheres has formed the basis of dozens, or hundreds, of books, seminars and training sessions. No doubt, if you have undertaken a personality or strength profiling exercise, you have experienced some form of this thinking. While this approach is pervasive, it has however, been called into question. Recent research indicates that while aspects of brain function reside in one part of the brain, it is too simplistic to assign left/right brain domination. For example, neuroscientists now know that our capabilities are strongest when both sides of the brain work together. That is, we are more creative and more logical when the left and right hemispheres collaborate. Creative thinkers have strengths and so do logical thinkers. And like the brain itself, which seems to borrow the best and most appropriate capability from any of its regions, leaders must be able to work...
The New CTO – Chief Transformation Officer

The New CTO – Chief Transformation Officer

When we think of technology, we mostly think of the most visible, in your face, technology – like computers or mobile phones. Or we might think of the changes that have occurred due to the digitization of business or our personal lives. But it’s not just in the obvious places that technology is having an impact – and in the world of business, that means opportunity. As I suggested recently, CIOs are being called upon to deliver more innovation and corporate impact. Likewise, the chief technology officer (CTO) is being challenged – not just around the notion of technology, but in the way that technology is transforming the business landscape. Let’s take a look at one small example – wearable tech. Once upon a time, business people would wear pagers on their belts. They would carry BlackBerrys in their pockets. And this would provide them with connectedness – with email and business applications wherever they may be. This meant that the time between client meetings could be productive. It meant that business travel didn’t separate business leaders from the running of the organization.We could not only make calls to prospects, check in on our teams and so on, we could make decisions, email colleagues and act on the information that we received. But wearable technology was still clumsy and simplistic in its impact. Over the last five years, technology has improved and become smaller. We know from Moore’s Law that computing power doubles approximately every two years, and at the same time, that technology shrinks. The average smart phone now carries more processing power than was used to put...
The New CIO – The Chief Impact Officer

The New CIO – The Chief Impact Officer

There once was a time when the driving force for corporate innovation was comfortably at home with the office of the CIO. It was a time when technology was vast and confusing – and in the corporate world – had newly emerged as a powerful way to drive efficiencies, transform supply chains and bring financial accountability to ever more complex global operations. And at the core of all this was information. Coupling the information of a business with the technology that helped accelerate and make decisions across that business generated untold billions in value for organizations around the world. But over the last decade, there has been a shift. There has been less emphasis on the strategic role of information technology and a greater focus on technology responsiveness. Less interest in business cases and capital expenditure than rapidly deployed apps and operational improvement. And there has been more of a demand to balance the back office needs with front-of-house expectations. Today’s CIO has a broad ambit – covering what I call “all things ‘I’”. Insights – CIOs have always been aware of the potential of big data, but the next generation of analytics platforms are turning our data warehouses into a ready storehouse of insights that can power everything from our marketing campaigns through to changes in our supply chains, partner networks and CSR programs. Interactive – As investments in digital marketing begin to outstrip more traditional forms of advertising, technology is no longer on the back end of the customer experience, but front and center. CIOs have an increasingly important role supporting front-of-house activities, feeding insights, data and...
Going Gaga–Leadership and Reinvention

Going Gaga–Leadership and Reinvention

One of the most enjoyable series of blog posts I have written was looking at the leadership styles of celebrities. I started with Britney Spears and Madonna, moved on to Angelina Jolie and eventually ended up with Conan and Leno – and in each of these celebrities I found some insight worth sharing. But these posts weren’t just fun to write, they forced me to look beyond the image – to dig deeper, below the surface – to discover a trait or an ability that wasn’t just more grist for the publishing mill. This week I was reading the 12 Most … website and came across an article on Lady Gaga. Now, there must be hundreds of websites devoted to this talented and controversial artist (and dozens of articles, believe it or not, connecting Gaga with leadership) – but Shawn Murphy took a different approach. He wanted to find 12 nuggets of leadership insight that are often overlooked. This was something that greatly appealed to me. Out of the 12 items identified, one in particular caught my attention. Reinvention. Gaga takes down her platinum albums before recording a new album. Why? To start all over as though she’s won nothing. It’s a reminder for leaders that previous successes do not make us special. They do not make us better than others. We must always step back before moving forward when we take on a new project or lead a team. This idea of stepping back before moving forward is important. Even as leaders we need to take stock and re-assess our position – and the start of a new...

The Kibbutz Model of Social Media

I have been thinking, for some time, about the different aspects of social media and how they can apply to the day-to-day challenges of leadership and the opportunities of business. In particular, I want to understand where social media can impact customer oriented thinking. Interestingly, for me, social media almost seems like a perfect storm of convergence. For example, just look at how: Technologies are getting easier to use – blogs make it easy for executives and non-technically savvy leaders to publish their thoughts and ideas on the internet People are attracted to ideas and connections – like moths to the flame, we all find topics that we are passionate about and engage in spirited conversation with others who share our passions Conversation and opinion rule – the conversations and opinions of customers are not only important online – they drive web traffic, promote products, deliver feedback, do a great job of marketing our offerings, and they can “encourage” a strong customer service ethic given their public nature Behaviors are shifting – we are becoming more used to “participating” in the online communities that form using social media But while social media applies easily to the marketing arm of your business – it strikes me that there are many ways to align social media and business value beyond just the marketing funnel. One such method would be to look at the complex models that govern the kibbutz. Let’s compare the elements and qualities of kibbutz and social media: Kibbutz Social media A form of unique rural community An online space which allows for the creation and curation of unique...

Start with Your Own Why

In this great TEDx talk, Simon Sinek explains exactly why some businesses – like Apple – inspire fans rather than “have” customers. It’s partly a function of biology. Sinek explains that the biological functioning of our brains is comprised of the limbic system – the evolutionary, older area that is responsible for emotions, behaviour and decision making; and the neocortex – the newer, homosapien brain responsible for rationalizing and language. Interestingly, the limbic system – what is also called “the emotional brain” – has no capacity for language. This explains why we make decisions with our “gut instinct”. It’s not our “gut” at all – it is not instinct – it’s our limbic brain making the decision that has not yet been processed through the neocortex. What this means for leaders, is that if we want to achieve our goals, we need to engage our teams, our colleagues and our entire ecosystem in ways that appeal to, and activate, the core of the brain – the limbic system. It’s an inside-out approach. We have to “speak” to the non-linguistic brain. We need to enter a conversation with that part of the brain that controls behavior, trust and loyalty. We need to reach the decision maker directly (as any good sales person will tell you). How can we do this? Sinek has a short, snappy line that we all should remember: People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Say it with me (and say it out loud) – “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. If you want to become...