Most perception gaps I’ve encountered exist between the C team and the staff. It’s much rarer when a perception gap develops between the whole organization and the market, which seems to be the case with RIM.
Sure: it happens often that the organization thinks it’s perceived very positively by its customers when in fact they score very low on various surveys that actually ask the customers…but in most of these cases the perception gap is still there between the c-team and the staff, since most of the staff, especially the customer facing ones are highly aware of customer problems.
RIM’s an iconic organization in Canada with a mutual dedication and loyalty between the employees and the company which probably ranks way higher than the industry average; this is just an assumption I developed from having numerous conversations with RIM employees and employees of other companies.
I think the employees want to believe in the future, in management, and this is what blinds them. Recent reshuffling of responsibilities in marketing and consequent departures talk about a different picture at the helm… maybe the co-CEOs want to remain blind leaving no room for marketing guys who should be and want to be responsible for closing the perception gap between the company and the markets.
This way an avalanche is developing starting with marketing spreading over all the way to operations (the COO is on medical leave right now).
Operations is focused on product development and launches for now (rather unsuccessfully we must add) but without marketing, operations will be less and less aligned to the “world out there”… and make no mistake about it: appealing as it may seem, you can’t align the world to your operations…not long term anyways!
Message to the investors:
DON’T DEMAND HEADS (YET), DEMAND A CONCEPT!
Message to Jim and Mike: FIND SOMEBODY WHO HELPS YOU DEVELOP A CONCEPT!
And now a side note which should not be taken too seriously; it’s a cheap shot that I did for my own morning entertainment:
I looked at departing VP digital marketing & media (he’s going to Samsumg), Brian Wallance on linkedin ( http://linkd.in/lbhY1F ):
11 years at RIM; started at the good times although I don’t know in what role or capacity. So he probably wasn’t brought in to his role to bring perspective or thinking (the two is closely related).
he was the “social” guy who is supposed to know what people want…if he’s leaving as a result of his own decision, he may know something;
looked at his tweets, though (http://twitter.com/#!/bdwallace): pretty polite and boring stuff, nothing that resembles an opinion or a concept of any kind. Here’s an interesting one though from April 18 : “”Blah blah blah Brian, blah blah blah Brian” – what I am hearing on this conf call…”
Clicked on his “blog” link, I got twitter again…
And finally: looked at his picture: he has the same glasses as all marketing guys I have met in the past 10 years . The guy knows how to pose though
Draw your conclusions.
“Something can be rejected competently only by the one who is at the same time able to defend it perfectly. And something can be advocated competently only by the one who is able to reject it perfectly.” – Andras Laszlo.
Truth is that you don’t need to be authentic to be successful in business; business is overwhelmingly (say 90% ) a mechanical process where authenticity has no place: you buy what works for others, you implement what’s proven (by others), you run things the way you and everybody else learned to run things: you go by the numbers. In the mechanical 90% part nobody is (allowed to be!) authentic.
Then there is that 10% where authenticity makes all the difference. It’s not only about questioning the fundamentals and the conventional: it’s about giving answers to ultimate questions. Not finding! Giving. Creating: seemingly from nothing. Not relying only on the comfortable, lulling support of facts or evidence; having the courage to go all the way, and back: creating and representing the context for those who are busy with the 90% !
Without this effort nobody is authentic!
Without authenticity people in leadership roles are, unwittingly or otherwise, pretentious; they are forced to spend most of their time dealing with the resulting mess.
If you are in a CEO role and you want market leadership, you must dedicate more time to this 10% than to the 90%.
If you sit on a board of a company that’s striving for great things and you are not authentic, you are a liability!
Larry Page demands commitment.The media is now full of news of Jonathan Rosenberg and other key people leaving for family or other reasons, but this is not the point.
I consider it to be interesting and relevant here that Schmidt was a archetypal manager, while Page maybe the archetypal leader (vision driven).
Vision matters; more so than operations: operations must be adjusted to vision and not the other way around.
The role of leaders representing a vision is two-fold: to start (as Page indeed did) and to stop: stop initiatives or course of action that lead away from the vision.
Now google must be realigned and this demands leadership.
Demanding commitment is the best start for Page in his new role.
Many of us consider moving over to the vendors’ side to be a step back. Very often this thinking influences how somebody’s career unfolds for many years.
It takes maturity to see that the borderline is not between vendors and buyers but simply between the exceptional and the rest.
Make career decisions based on where you have the chance to be exceptional and deal with people like yourself.
Writing another piece about social media wouldn’t make any sense: most of the important points about this question have already been made by smart people and tons of unimportant and useless points have been made by people in the hype machine.
Maybe I can add some value by emphasizing one particular point that applies mostly to established brick and mortar companies (as opposed to pure internet startups) grappling with the question of “what should we do about facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc.”.
Luckily the answer is pretty easy: F’get about it! Nothing!
Nothing good can come from such a question. Chances are you have much more important issues to deal with.
Ultimately it’s all about You and your Customers; … and everybody in between!
- your company needs an identity. Hey: you may not have one!!! Chances are if you can’t explain it you don’t have it. This has a lot to do with purpose, patterns, style, awareness, etc.
- you need a brand; a brand with a foundation of course (your identity), not as the abstract result of a couple of off-site exercises somewhere in Dubai or some mountains with celebrity guests, open bar and fireworks; … for the record: I am not an enemy of open bars with or without fireworks!
Regarding your customers:
it’s scientifically proven that customers (especially if they’re consumers) do not give a … don’t really care about your company; if anything they like to thrash companies. They may care about your brand, if it’s real… but they like to thrash brands, too. It’s not companies (they’re all in a significant crisis, including yours), not brands, but identities that connect with each other. Not all brands are based on identities, but all identities provide solid foundations for brands. So what connects you with your customer? I can tell you: it’s not your brand! It is what makes your brand!
OK, now an example. Although any industry may be picked, including unsexy ones, like chemicals or manufacturing, but I’ll use a consumer play:
Fashion focuses mostly on the style element of identity (others are purpose, patterns, awareness). This one element alone is enough to create passionate connections between consumers and brands. If for example glamor is the appropriate style element for the purpose -be it conscious or unconscious- of the individual customer (there is no such thing as an individual consumer) whichever brand captures glamor more successfully, will be chosen and two identities will connect. Again: the customer may connect with the brand, but has a bond with the purpose! And so does the brand.
We are almost back at the social media question:
Imagine what would happen if a fashion brand managed to expand its awareness from the style element all the way to the purpose. Better put: if an identity in fashion managed to expand its awareness from the style elements all the way to the purpose. It would be a revelation! A cause!
In such a case this identity would bond with customers almost organically, having the same expectations, speaking the same language, valuing the same things.
When such bond exists marketing terms like segments, consumers, and various combination of these will lose their meaning; and so will of course the mechanical thinking behind these terms and the behavior that tries to maintain them, etc. No bond, no clue! No clue, tons of segments.
So now really back to social media:
it’s clear that from this aspect what to do on twitter or facebook is a 3rd grade question at best and certainly not the first one that should be asked.
Create the bond and this question will take care of itself!
For simplicity’s stake let’s look at industries as systems.
The good student type perceives the system as something bigger than himself. The system demands loyalty and respect from them. The system can’t be ruled; ever; not in a lifetime. After a while a student becomes a teacher or a user of the system, representing this belief. Sometimes some people come and challenge their beliefs about the system and they will probably comply as long as these innovations make sense – within the system.
The bad student type also perceives the system as something bigger than himself; something that can’t be ruled; ever. This one will always struggle to understand the mechanics of the system, won’t be able to use it to his benefit and chances are that he’ll either leave the system or finds a component within the system where he can be a good student.
Then there’s the type that never was a student. This one perceives any (number of) system as pure potential with no significance whatsoever, as mere tools that he can use, change, re-define or replace with brand new ones he himself created, according to his purpose and will.
The key is harmony and awareness: find your place and let others be what they are! Be nice, no fighting!
If you’re a bad student, you’re probably in the wrong system: find a new one or find your specialty and focus.
If you’re a good student, learn and teach but don’t forget: not everybody is a student: manage your expectations towards others.
If you’re not a student, focus on purpose and create, change, re-define, replace or use accordingly; but no matter what everybody’s telling you, don’t try to be a a student or a specialist!
Tons of challenges for all 3 types.
This often misinterpreted or inadequately interpreted law is highly relevant today and with time it will be increasingly so, also as a leadership principle.
This law reflects truths and as such it didn’t need to be articulated for a long time. Legend has it that Plato was the first thinker in the West who considered the conditions to be such that fundamental truths were no longer evident for most. Long before his time the elite made up the majority. After a particular point in time the elite, representing the original state (normality) was in minority and had to assume roles that contributed to the maintenance of an organic hierarchy.
This law stands in polar opposition to the absurd notion of democratic leadership and similar terms promoting undifferentiation. It differentiates between high and low, between favorable and rejectable; it enables differentiation as the foundation of wisdom.
One last note: this law stems from a solipsistic world view that called forth very different organization and values from those dominant today.
1. Expect everybody to contribute only what they can. Not more! Not less! To do this you must know those around you. Knowing is being; see the qualities you potentially have in an actual state in those above you; see traits you have transcended or those you don’t exhibit in those below you; this awareness is the foundation of respect that is void of sentimentalism and that favors a natural and necessary distance.
2. Give what you can; specifically what you can and everything you can. For this you must develop your potentials; your potentials only; don’t dream about being somebody else because such daydreams prevent you from being present and from separating reality from illusion. Don’t be concerned about others’ views, opinions and reactions; this prevents you from giving all you can. Contribute objectively without regard to and fear of consequences. This is the only position that enables you to do the right thing.
3. Give everybody what’s appropriate for them. Differentiate! Providing less or providing more creates tension that is processed by conflict. Lack of differentiation results in leveling down: if you try to treat everybody the same way you end up treating everybody the worst way.
Loyalty is possible only towards the actually superior, Pistis (fides, faith) is not trust but certainty, which is not possible without intelligence in a supra rational, supra individual sense.
The elite is not concerned with talents; talent is a tool that should be discarded once a higher objective is accomplished and as such it does not deserve respect. Not all geniuses exhibit talent and definitely not all talented people are geniuses. Differentiate instead based on orientation.
Those whose orientation is “up”, meaning that they
- don’t organize their life based exclusively on necessity, circumstance and senseless compromise and
- maintain a high level of control over anything that is automatic and impulsive and stems from “outside” including such recent “values” as passion, excitement, comfort, etc.
- stand for and represent principles
deserve your attention and respect.
Show appropriate appreciation for the talent of those who -although may not be oriented upwards- but don’t get blindsided by talent, no matter how remarkable they may seem or by quantitative success that is precisely the result of downward orientation and an uncontrolled, senseless drive.
Innovation is now being bought and sold; it has become an industry; a hot one!
People specialize in it and it has become an item of discussion at board meetings and everybody makes presentations on “what do we do about innovation” and similar topics.
It’s clear that it’s never good when a good thing becomes an industry; with innovation however this is a logical impossibility. Qualitative factors are superior to quantitative factors; in other words quantity may originate from quality (innovation may permeate an industry), but quality NEVER originates from quantity: it is simply not possible.
It is possible to turn the outcomes of innovation into an industry; it is however not possible to “develop”, “mass-produce”, buy , “outsource”, in-source or crowd-source innovation….not REALLY.
It is possible to create favorable conditions for people to find ways to make stuff faster and cheaper but in this (quantitative) context innovation is not really innovation.
A good example of innovative ideas becoming an industry through numbers is the management theories of the 80s and 90s:
the idea was captured, books followed the idea, consulting companies followed the books, company policies were formed with the help of consulting companies, a lot of people who read the books declared themselves experts and set up their own consulting companies; when there were enough of these, they formed industry associations and introduced certification processes, charged money for membership and certification (creating the only barrier to entry), etc., until somebody had a different view, and a new cycle began.
A gradual unfolding of quantity from one single qualitative moment of insight.
The same goes for product innovations, scientific innovations, etc.
When leadership is present it can not and may not measured because it precedes quantitative factors.
In a hierarchical context this means that leadership, being higher than quantitative factors, serves as a foundation for these, and of course the higher can never be measured by the lower.
If we look at environments that are set up purely for objectives defined by quantitative measures, leadership may not emerge at all; to understand this we must go back in time way before certain conditions gave birth to modern business, to the middle ages, before the time of Philip IV of France.
When looking at hierarchies before the 1300’s we must be very careful not to project current views (characterized by progressivism, evolutionalism, egalitarianism, pervasive materialism, etc.) into those times.
The principles that today are abstractly described as leadership were dominance and power both being supra individual, most adequately represented by the highest echelons of the organic hierarchy:
- king (active aspect of dominance; analogy to Ghibellins)
- clergy (passive aspect of dominance; analogy to Guelfs)
- nobility (power)
Initially there was a caste above the castes that incorporated both the active and passive qualities and which provided a vantage point of integration for both after they emerged as separate but complementary representatives of the principle of dominance (always intellectual, from another aspect spiritual).
The top two strata dominated power, power dominated matter (as it appeared in the form of goods and services). In addition to military affairs (not in the modern sense of the word of course) nobility also fulfilled juristic functions and in this sense controlled commerce and economics, as well.
Why this long overview of history? Because in today’s business environment we can’t find appropriate examples that may highlight the principles of leadership; having a look at the analogies of dominance and power in the original sense, it’s obvious that economics is positioned below power; from the point of view of profit driven initiatives, neither power nor dominance may be grasped. There are plenty of theories (trait theory is a good example) to provide a substitute, trying to fill the void left in the ABSENCE of actual leadership.
And now, in context of the above, the identity question.
The identity problem breaks down into two problems:
- awareness problem: the identity is not known
- limitation problem: identity is constrained.
The two problems are related. Here we’ll look only at the awareness problem.
With the dissolution of organic hierarchies awareness declined and the views on identity shifted towards individualism, while the principle of differentiation between individuals disappeared: the undifferentiated mass gained significance and today it usurps the positions of dominance and power with a one-sided view on both, confuses manipulation with influence, is vehemently democratic and since it can’t differentiate between organic and artificial hierarchies it demonizes both.
In such an environment the principle of differentiation is so weak that it no longer provides a foundation for the individual to experience his own identity; to actively, consciously and distinctly experience the self. In lack of an appropriate foundation it happily adjusts to directives whose purpose is to liquidate differentiation.
The sense of purpose, the sense of appropriate style, the awareness of potentials, the power to lift them to the level of actuality, in short: the awareness of the self and the resulting collected, focused energy has considerably deteriorated.
Next up: the interesting problem of identity as limitation as context for the leadership question.
1. Pick your contacts carefully. There are search firms at every corner. Have relationship with consultants who are aligned to the same values and principles as you are (see also point 10). Meet them and get to know them well!
2. Be courteous; not only be acting nice, but by trying to understand whom you’re facing (point 1). An interaction with a search guy always has much broader implications than the position being discussed. Know who he/she is, where he’s come from, what he wants, how he sees your market whom he’s dealing with, what he thinks about issues important to you. If he doesn’t introduce himself thoroughly himself, ask him to do so. You maybe surprised by what you hear. Some search guys sit on boards, have factories, are investors, etc.
3. Don’t be opportunistic. One-off opportunities don’t build relationships. Remain in touch also when you’re not looking for something new. Calling when you want something and ignoring people when you don’t, doesn’t show class.
When you’re on the market or in the interview process:
4. Have the right expectations:
- the role of search guys is NOT to find a job for you! It doesn’t make much sense to start shooting out your resume to search firms when you’re looking for a job. If you still decide to do it avoid addressing them as Dear Recruiter!
- some of them are expected to do more than just listen to the audio version of your resume and ask situational questions so they can fill out a template. Some of them want to see you in action: what you think about macro events’ effect on your industry, can you develop concepts on the spot, can you adjust your thesis according to new information, do you have an opinion on what you want to do with a company, etc.; this is a good thing!
- both of you are there to do the right thing. If the job is not right for you, don’t go for it. This sounds contra productive especially if you need one, but long term it is the right thing for you. If the search guy decides it’s not the right thing for you, have respect: he probably has his reasons and perspective. If he’s wrong or you’re wrong things tend to balance out in the end.
5. Have an open, flexible mind. Believe and expect that absolutely anything can happen and that the right thing will happen. Don’t forget: the right thing is neither positive nor negative. It’s just right.
6. Don’t forget to always have unconditional class: even if you don’t win the position, if you feel you’re treated unfairly, in the face of whatever negativity!
7. Prepare. Know crucial facts, know what you want, know what you want to find out. Being prepared is incredibly impressive.
8. Take the conversation seriously; even if you are a celebrity CEO and you have 5 other interested parties talking to you right now and you feel you’re doing a favor by sitting down. If you don’t take the conversation seriously, you are in contradiction.
Note: in my experience well known celebrity CEOs who are courted by everybody always take the conversation seriously.
9. Listen, ask questions, clarify, understand. Listen, think in context; if something seems out of context ask questions, clarify, understand. Listen, … etc.
10. Resist making statements about yourself. Typical examples: I am a good communicator, I am cummunicative (I hear this a lot recently, but have no idea what it means), I have good people skills, I am highly intellectual (this is not a joke, I’ve heard it happening), I am operational, I am pragmatic, I am versatile, my time is very valuable, I am very high level (I’ve heard somebody saying this one too), I am highly qualified, etc. These statements are invariably almost always out of context; there is simply no context for them.
DO NOT say: “as you can see it from my resume”. Ever.
how to deal with candidates:
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