CEOs globally know their role has changed, do you?

CEOs today have a very different idea about their roles and about the challenges facing their organizations, according to two new studies just released, one by IBM and the other by the International Associaiton of Business Communicatiors (IABC).

The findings of the 2012 Global IBM CEO Study centre around 3 points, all of them fundamentally linked to communications among employees, customers, partners and other stakeholders. In A View from the Top: Corporate Communication from the Perspective of Senior Executives, CEOs and other senior executives identify communications as one of their key responsibilities and a core competency that needs to be developed across the organization. In both studies, technological changes and increased scrutiny of business are perceived as having fundamentally changed the rules of the game.


1. Values are the key to preventing chaos while giving employees the freedom they need to deliver the responsiveness their stakeholders expect, according to the IBM report. Like an orchestra conductor asks musicians to tell a certain story or convey a certain emotion, CEOs now need to focus on moving their teams to deliver certain values, rather than micro-managing their technique. This brings a coherence to the performance, despite the number of individual performers on-stage.

Prospero & Partners is experienced in helping companies to discover the authentic shared values held by the diverse workforce. We can also help translate those values into specific behaviours to make it easier for employees to understand what is expected of them. We also have a unique approach to exploring the dark side of values so that companies can avoid dysfunctions that could stem from the values.

2. The IBM survey also reveals that the myth of monolithic customer segments is dissolving and companies are discovering a multitude of individuals instead. How can employees be equipped and empowered to deal with this new reality? This point is addressed in the IABC report, where CEOs discuss the need to engage with many more stakeholders in a conversational and genuine way. This requires an army of communictors, i.e. everybody, not just a single deisgnated spokesperson. This implies constantly building communication skills and equipping people throughout the organization to be able to act on the conversations that they have with customers and others. I wrote a previous post contrasting the result at one company that has empowered its employees in this way (Lenovo) and one that has not (GDF-Suez).

How can we help? Prospero & Partners can provide culture audits and help design change programs that empower and equip employees to be more responsive. We can diagnose elements of the existing company culture and institutional structure that could prove to be obstacles to the expressed ambitions.Finally, we can provide training and support to teams and individuals implementing this new style of customer relationships.

3. More than two-thirds of the CEOs interviewed for the IBM report aim to use partnerships to amplify their innovation. The challenge of a partnership strategy is understanding and reconciling the differences in values, expectations, cultures and institutions that can prevent partnerships from meeting their full potential or even cause total failures.

The team at Prospero & Partners has years of experience working in multi-stakeholder settings to help diverse people define common ground and elaborate mutually acceptable rules of engagement to co-create new meaning and value. Let us help you build a strong foundation for your innovation partnerships.

Have you come to terms with what these trends mean for your organization? We’d love to have a conversation with you to explore the implications for your organization and how we can help you meet these challenges.

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A View from the Top is available free-of-charge to members of the International Association of Business Commnicators and can be purchased by non-members. IABC has also released a series of podcasts based on some of the Conversations with CEOs.

The 2012 Global IBM CEO Study is available to people who register for IBM’s mailing list.

Image: iStockPhoto


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