Sunday, September 11, 2005

What do executives want?

What do business leaders want?

What’s important: today or tomorrow? Short-term results or longevity? As Peter Drucker once remarked, the successful business executive must have “his nose to the grindstone and his eyes to the hills.” Decisions are invariably a tradeoff of now vs. later. These translate into operational excellence (doing what we do now better) vs. transformation (seizing opportunity by doing something new).

Given a choice of today or tomorrow, senior managers want both. Indeed, the art of management is finding the right balance between the two. The IBM Global CEO Study 2004 summarized the views of 456 CEOs from around the world. Top execs are consistently looking for:

Primarily Operational Goals

Revenue growth from:
New products and services
New markets
Customer intimacy
New channels

Cost containment through:
Operational improvement
Infrastructure costs
Efficient customer service

Primarily Transformational Goals

Responsiveness to changing market conditions and risks, agility, to deal with:
Increased competition
Changing market dynamics
Marketplace behavior
Competition from new sources
New Distribution channels
Increasing customer power

…but less than ten percent rate their record of change management in the past as successful

Both Operational and Transformational

A “customer responsive” organization, which takes:
Reduced cycle time, rapid response
Information for swift decisions
Continuous reinvention, adaptable processes for real-time response
Customer intimacy, hearing the voice of the customer

Source: Your Turn, The Global CEO Study 2004, IBM
Permissions Dr Abigail Tierney, EMEA Marketing Manager, IBM Business Consulting Services

Informal learning is the path to transformation, for it involves exploring new territory that won’t be found in any formal curriculum. It also requires faith that the rewards of venturing outside one’s comfort zone outweigh the risks of stalking new ground.

Hearts & minds

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