Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Quirky Easter Eggs - Food for Thought

Quirky things I found over the Easter Holidays to think about, for example ...
  • ... you have to tweet 14 times per day, facebook 2 times per day and post on LinkedIn once per day, if you want to get significant attention online, recommends a marketing firm. Let's put aside the quality of the posts. If companies follow this advice (and many do) the trend reinforces itself and you have to tweet 14+x times a day to keep the level of attention - a zero-sum game.
  • ... trading activity on Wall Street almost came to a halt because everybody was watching the extremely entertaining showdown on CNBC between Michael Lewis ("Flash Boys"), the hero of his book Brad Katsuyama and competitor William O'Brien, founder of the BATS Exchange. The CNBC Power Lunch Show about High-Frequency Trading was the most watched show in the history of CNBC. 23 minutes of aggressive humor plus insights into a most important debate.
  • ... how an exchange closes down after losing half a billion USD worth of client money and it's 28-year old manager spends time in meetings to select coffee vendors for his planned café. Look at the recent history of Bitcoin Exchange Mt.Gox. Still, more than 300 dollars' worth of Bitcoins are missing after they filed for bankruptcy in Japan. The guy spent the last days closed in his office and held staff meetings about the Bitcoin Café he was planning to open. The selection of coffee vendors was worth negotiating. Apparently he was overwhelmed and unable to face the facts. Looking at the current preference for young founders of startups, they present quite a risk in the case of a company crisis.
  • ... the email and communication style of Alexander Dibelius, as brought to light by state prosecutors in Germany, as they research the bankruptcy history of department store Karstadt. Dibelius, head of Goldman Sachs in Germany, decided against backing Karstadt financially but was part of finding a bank who helped out which later went down because of their engagement. Dibelius' style in these email conversations seems crisp and short, surprisingly simple and to the point, but not terse. I almost began to like Dibelius.
  • ... the admirable move of Klaus-Thomas Neumann, CEO of Opel, to exit China, although (or because) he has excellent knowledge of the Chinese market from his previous position as head of Volkswagen in China. The temptation to try and win in China must have been huge - but he decided to rather fix Opel's European business. And Neumann is right: Chinese new car sales are going down, Opel's turnaround is ahead of schedule.
  • ... how authorities are often helpless in pursuing cycber criminals. A lack of skills is more than evident, it makes me shiver that the skills gap is so big. It looks like an open invitation to criminal hackers because the risk of getting caught seems so low. One story: a virus was sent to a police department in the US. The hackers threatened to destroy files unless police pay a ransom in Bitcoins, but the police did not know what Bitcoins were.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Customers as activists

Do customers have a say, when it comes to appointing people to management positions in companies? What happened last week in two Internet companies could become common practice. Appointments to the board of directors or to CEO might no longer be the responsibility of the Nomination Committee, but public voting good. 

What happened? 
A manager was appointed CEO, but resigned from this post within few days - due to large user protests (see below). In another company a member of the supervisory board was announced with pride but immediately criticized and asked to resign (see below).  

Case 1: Brendan Eich was promoted from Chief Technology Officer to CEO of the browser company Mozilla Firefox. Eich had invented JavaScript and was highly respected. But immediately after his nomination to CEO users called publicly to boycott the Firefox browser. The reason: in 2008 Eich had issued a cheque over 1'000 dollars to a political association which wanted to prevent same-sex marriages. Even Donald Trump protested the resignation, but Eich's departure is confirmed. 

Case 2: Condolezza Rice, former Secretary of State under President Bush, was appointed to the Supervisory Board of the company Dropbox, and immediately provoked a storm of indignation online. Overnight, the protest site 'Drop Dropbox' was created, on Twitter the number comments multiplied. The accusation: Rice was significantly involved in the decision for spying programmes for the Government, how could she possibly represent a company for secure data storage. 

What is the message?
Customer activists have stronger resources to fight back than ever before.


Monday, April 7, 2014

How Two Digital CEOs Express Their Thoughts

Two outstanding examples of digital CEOs: how do they express their thoughts openly and publicly?

"Apply the spirit of the tortoise to catch up with the Dragon spacecraft"

First, I highly recommend to read the shareholder letter by Ren Zhenfei, CEO of Huawei. Huawei builds telecommunications networks and competes globally with companies like Ericsson or Alcatel-Lucent. Huawei is based in Shenzen, China.

The fast-growing global company implemented a 'rotating CEO' governance structure where each CEO leads for 6 months. 3 deputy CEOs build the 'pool' of pre-defined leaders of the company.

Consequently, the CEOs' letter to the shareholders does not display the name of the CEO until the very end - but it shows a picture  and is very personal. It is a textbook example of the 'we' attitude of Asian corporate cutures.

The letter talks about Tesla versus BMW, it tells the Story of the turtle and the rabbit, it talks about employees efforts, Management mistakes and is all in all a phantastic read.

"There is no clothing policy at Netflix, but no one comes to work naked. You don't need policies for everything. There is no vacation policy, either."

My second recommendation: watch the presentation by Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix on how to 'reinvent Human Resources'. Netflix is a much-discussed Silicon Valley firm which brings Television Series to the Internet and is likely to change our viewing habits.

Hastings is a controversial type who does not shy away from conflict. For example, he fought with the SEC for Twitter as a medium to release material information to the public. Netflix is about to enter Europe and currently more than one industry meeting tries to anticipate the likely disruptive consequences.

His presentation gives interesting insights into a 'reinvented HR function' and how to manage people in horizontally flat hierarchies. There is NO vacation policy and tracking, for example:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Why we are fans of Joe Kaeser - or: how to position yourself in one day

Key take-away: Positioning is an act, it needs courage and does not allow for U-turns.

Last week Joe Kaeser, chief executive of German conglomerate Siemens AG, demonstrated what positioning is. In his case, it was done in a single day. He even forced Germany's chancellor Ms. Merkel to react.

What had happened? Mr. Kaeser went  to Moscow for a day to see Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Ms. Merkel, was informed about Kaeser's visit, which had been carefully prepared over the past weeks.

In Moscow, Kaeser acted as representative of German businesses who want to maintain good relations with Russia, idependent of the strong wording about economic sanctions by German politicans, in criticism of Mr. Putins takeover of Crimea.

It would have been easy for Siemens AG to postpone the meeting until the political situation is more relaxed. Or, the company could have sent someone else, for example Eckhard Cordes, who was instrumental to preparing the visit (Mr. Cordes heads the 'Ostausschuss', a council for Eastern Relations).

It became very clear that Mr. Kaeser acts independent of the German political sentiment of the moment. He stressed the fact that Siemens has been active in Russia over 160 years. In this period of time dictators, democrats, world wars had dominated the political landscape, but Siemens had weathered all these storms.

Ms. Merkels reaction was a signal of bending to Mr. Kaeser's decision. She stressed the fact that she talks to Mr. Putin herself quite often.

The clear winner is Mr. Kaeser - demonstrating to the world that he is independent, fearless, business-driven and, extremely pragmatic. Currently, there is no bigger stage for him than Mr. Putin's office. The Sentiment Analysis above shows a slightly positive overall judgement, based on 667 Tweets about the visit.

Disclosure: I have been reporting to Mr Kaeser while an employee at Siemens AG ten years ago.

For German-speaking readers: Frank Schirrmacher, FAZ, wrote a very critical excellent piece about the TV interview that featured Mr. Kaeser and ZDF anchorman Klaus Cleber. The text contains a link to the TV interview video.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Welcome Digital CEOs - the Future is Yours

Advent of the Digital CEO – Transforming Leadership Through Technology

(Please contact me if you are part of the Digital CEO movement.)

Today we see game developers who make more money than investment bankers and we estimate that 50% of millenials world-wide don't use traditional banking systems. The list of technology disruption and innovation is endless.

  • Valuations: Online home-rental company Airbnb has a higher vaulation than Hyatt and Interconti (10bn. USD vs. 8.4bn. and 8.0bn).
  • Business models: Fashion Company Zappos suggests individual clothing based on analysis of people's pictures uploaded on Instagram
  • Products: Sony builds technology into it's cameras which satisfies a new range of emotional needs, such as  feelings of belonging and sharing
  • Services: General Electric will put communication technology in all products, to 'catch customers in the act' providing them with highly contextual information in real time for problem solving.
To futureproof your businesses you need to increase
  1. your personal technology skills and your use of technology to lead
  2. the intensity of digital initiatives within the corporation
  3. the ability of the company to master digital change to deliver business results
"Using technology to lead" still is a relatively underveloped perspective on leadership. Strangely so, since in the past years we had no overarching management theory like 'Management by ....". One might say we enter an era of 'Management by tablet' which it might describe a highly mobile CEO with a real-time business dashboard on her/his tablet, using collaborative tools to lead and steer performance.

Some benefits for Digital CEOs:
  • Dedicated workforce
  • Business success
  • Loyal customers
  • Futureproof enterprise

Back in July 2012 I defined the 10 Secrets of Digital CEOs

Monday, March 17, 2014

6 things you may have missed at the world's largest IT show

CeBIT, the world's largest IT show since 1986, has successfully reinvented itself and was exciting, educational and a great meeting point for professionals from 100 countries. There is no better place to get an in-depth overview about technology, from the latest gadgets to sophisticated security systems, big data, robotics and ERP - to name a few.

Some CeBIT 2014 facts, presented by CEO Oliver Frese: 210'000 visitors, 92% professionals, 3'490 exhibitors from 70 countries, more than 300 Start-ups, more than 25 billion EUR in investments negotiated. Or, as the head of the advisory board, Jan Geldmacher said: "Meet the rock stars of the industry and discuss new business models."

Here are 6 things for CEOs - not to be missed:

1.) Get yourself a netbook or tablet with the latest security technology: biometric hand recognition. The chip recognizes your hand - no one else will be able to access the device. It is a lot more secure than fingerprints. The same technology is used in large access systems. (Fujitsu)

2.) What can be 'apped'? Train yourself to look at your business processes from an app perspective. This is an example how German policemen register parking fines. They take a picture of the license plate with their smart phone, get the driver data, take pictures of the car and the location, identify model and color. The ticket is immediately sent to your smart phone.(In the future, you will respond with a mobile payment).

3.) Think robots. The show star showed impressive sensitivity and micro movements. This robot is clearly able to evoke emotions and presents itself as a friendly companion. Some robots were even seen pole-dancing, quite an attractive showcase for male visitors.

4.) Attract IT talent to work for your company: CeBIT is a giant job fair and smart companies use the opportunity to grab talent right there. Fashion company BOSS drove a huge Exhibition truck into the 'Job and Career' section and demonstrated their commitment to find the best IT people.

5.) Meet VIPs. Jimmy Wales said that he contacted Julian Assange, the man who is searched after for having leaked classified U.S. information through his platform Wikileaks. Could Assange please change the name of his platform? Assange replied: "No, I can't do that. I'm so busy fighting a superpower."

6.) Listen to industry veterans. Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, was surprisingly critical in respect to the US government and was full of praise for Germany's attempts to fight data surveillance and phone-hacking. He gave away a classic Apple II and was greeted like a rock star by the younger audience.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Why IBM was wrong, the 'Social CEO' isn't more competitive and why social media usage by CEOs only increased by 2%

Two years ago, Forbes wrote a famous article about IBM's recent CEO study, saying "If you don't have a Social CEO, you're going to be less competitive."*

When I first read the report in the summer of 2012, it instantly clicked with me. I felt that my assumptions had been verified. For the first time a study explained why top management should be more 'social'. There seemed to be clear financial evidence that a company with 'social' engagement at the top was more competitive and subsequently, more successful.

I wasn't alone. Soon websites emerged, dedicated to 'Social CEO' matters and CEO.COM issued an annual survey to find out about the status of company leaders' social engagement - translated into the percentage of CEOs having LinkedIn accounts or Facebook accounts or sending Tweets.**

Over the last 2 years I had many conversations with CEOs about Social Media and we conducted our own research, comparing teenagers' versus CEOs' management of their online reputation***. My conclusion as of today: if a CEO does NOT go 'social' it currently has no negative impact, be it personally or for the company (see my recent interviews with industry luminaries like John Chambers, Jan Koum and others****).

There is just a neglectable 2 percent increase in Social Media usage by Fortune 500 CEOs over the last 2 years.

IBM most likely confused cause and effect. Going social doesn't bring CEOs competitive advantages. It's the other way round: competitive CEOs tend to compete in almost everything - so they compete in Social Media, too.

The cost of inaction are zero.

Sebastian Thrun, co-founder of Google x and the Person behind Google Glas and the driverless car, CEO of Udacity, told me recently that he thinks the job of a CEO is fundamentally antisocial.

Politicians and celebrities can measure the advantages of their social engagement. They need fans. CEOs don't need fans, this is what makes the CEO Job antisocial, as Sebastian calls it.

If we look at Social Media from the perspective of the 'Digital CEO' - the picture changes completely. I will do that next week. So for this week, please note that CEOs don't go social to increase their fan base.

*          Forbes article about IBM study
**        CEO.COM 2013 Social CEO study
***     Contact Susanne under smz (at)
****    Wie social sind die Technik CEOs? Für Wirtschaftswoche (english Translation upon request)


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Small stuff from Barcelona's Mobile World Congress

For John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, Barcelona is the digital capital of the world, reaping 127 m. in economic benefits from applications like smart garbage, smart learning, smart shopping, smart traffic and public transport. Chambers says: "Tie it together and the economic benefits are coming."

Chambers also says the first digital country is Israel, most advanced, most sophisticated: Israel takes a strategic digital approach to jobs creation, GDP growth, population distribution, education, moving whole cities to ther places, healthcare, A complete infrastracuture is layed out architecually.

Globally seen, Europe is slow to update their mobile and fixed line infrastructure. In Europe, the Netherlands and Russia are leading. Network coverage in Barcelona was significantly down for normal businesses in Barcelona, congress visitors used all available bandwidth.

Large events like pop concerts and soccer games present problems for mobile operators. Audiences use their mobile phones to stream parts of the event to their friends. On average, the general network availability goes down by 60%, one operator reports.

Mark Zuckerberg is NOT into using Social Media but wants the world's population to do so. The same holds true for Larry Page, co-founder of Google.

WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum got interested in telephony when growing up in Russia. His parents had one of a few landline phones.  Neighbors and relatives constantly came and asked if they could make a phone call. After his family emigrated to te U.S. calling home was still complicated, using calling cards from operators like AT&T, saying lots of numbers and codes before a call was placed. So he wanted to make contacts really easy. (WhatsApp will provide voice calls in the second half of 2014).

Global average: it takes 13 minutes to transfer a Facebook or other Social Media message (like WhatsApp) to it's recipient (used to be 6 hours or more).

To attract customers, a South-american mobile operator provides free access to Facebook for all of South America. So while travelling, people can connect using Facebook without roaming and data charges, explains Millicom CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht.

It reminds me of waiting at the Chilean border recently where my passport was scanned. While waiting for the scan of my passport the female customs officer checked her Facebook messages on her mobile phone!

Citi CEO Michael Corbat estimates to gain 220 million (!) new customers through their mobile banking solutions. In 2013, they already moved 155 billion USD through their mobile payment system.

"Bring Your Own Device" or BOYD is dead and has never lived, says Alex Pachikov from EverNote. BOYD is a sick idea because it means that people have the sexier devices at home and are unwilling to work with slow and clumsy company devices.  Give people better devices and manage them centrally, he proposes.

On average, something fundamental changes every 10 days for any kind of device (due to updates by device and software manufacturers). How would IT departments possibly be able to manage these updates if employees brought their own devices? Think security ...

In close cooperation with (German) labor unions, pharmaceutical company Merck threw out all their Blackberries and bought iPhones for management and sales personnel globally. Merck operates a large inhouse app store for internal and external apps, a Mobility Center of Excellence and manages the devices centrally, encrypts all data and attachments. Think of pharma studies, research data on new drugs and patient data. result: lower cost, increased execution speed.

KakaoTalk's South-Korean CEO Singo Lee used classic and modern art to explain the fundamental cultural differences between Asian and Anglo-European mobile phone users and resulting business models. Surrendering to nature and a fundamental desire to think 'we' is a secret to sucess in Asia. 'The Facebook effect' of showing off individually is something entirely Anglo-European.

The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona brought traffic to a standstill - local Telecom workers used the opening hour of one of the world's largest exhibitions for a strike.

Organization was a desaster, leading to free City tours in shuttle busses with drivers who took unscheduled routes.

Queuing for keynotes became a favorite pasttime for many, starting as early as 2 hours before the presentations started.

Even a congress like MWC that professionally deals with everything mobile and moving was unable to adapt their video trailers to the wide-angle large screens installed.
There is a new trick to prevent people from using their mobile phones and laptops during a presentation: darken the room 100%. Then people don't see their keyboards and the bright shine of their screens points at them.

Surprisingly many people at Mark Zuckerberg's keynote left the room and the exhibition site while he was still speaking.

Sunny but very cold weather drove people outside to warm up since halls and conference venues were heavily aircoditioned and a very high number of People were coughing and shivering.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The one piece of news I missed in 4 weeks without Internet access

Upon my return from this year's Aconcagua Expedition* I was wondering: had the world changed in the meantime? 4 weeks of absence without any mobile or Internet connection, had I missed out on something relevant? Among all the noise, there was one single piece of importance** for me (which is actually not much, given the incredible news stream every day). It was a discussion in Davos at the World Economic Forum.

Worldwide business leaders admitted and agreed that they cannot keep customer data safe. They will be unable and unwilling to pay for customer data protection, Reuters reports. Keeping up with hackers proves too costly for most.

"Davos executives see data theft too costly, too hard to beat."

It frightened me a lot more than a very cold night in Camp3 around 19'700 feet (6'000 meters) where you hardly sleep.

As I am unable to buy a simple flight or train ticket without giving away my birth date and credit card data, I ask myself how the future looks like. We are only 20 years into the Internet and companies already call it defeat.

That discussion was on January 24, 2014.

Three days before, all of Switzerlands debit card transactions had been deducted twice from bank accounts because of a software error at Swiss Card processing company SIX.

The discussion in Davos was sparked by Target, the U.S. retailer, who tries to recover from data theft of up to 110 million customers' data and estimates are that it may cost 'billions of dollars' (Wall Street Journal) to restore trust among Target customers. What has been the result for Target? Sales plummeted, the stock price fell, the company morale is very low. Call Centers are flooded with calls. To upgrade call centers, to pay back customers' losses - all this is incredibly expensive and may take years.

Try and get behind WSJ's firewall to read the full story about Target's CEO attempts to recover. Will Target survive? Would our businesses survive?

And please note, that an article of very high relevance is behind a paywall, secured away from readers (unless you give away your personal data and pretend to be a subscriber). What a crazy idea given the fact that my data is not secure.

Honestly, it's nice to be far away where you pay with cash and have a lot less worries.

*   It was a great trip with a great team and guides, perfect acclimatization, perfect ascent until bad weather stopped us on summit day - so we returned safely and happily but without summit.
** Some people died (Hoffmann) and that Germany's largest user group, the automobile association ADAC, was hit by a huge reputational scandal for forging car rankings and more.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book recommendation: "The Economics of Good and Evil" by Tomas Sedlacek

This week we would like to recommend a fantastic book to read:

Tomas SedlacekVaclav Havel (foreword) (2011). Economics of Good and Evil. The Quest for Economic Meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street. Oxford University Press.

"Sedlacek takes mainstream economics as his clay, digging both his arms in up to the elbows in an attempt to explain the beliefs and ethical values underlying modern economics." - The New York Times

"A widely admired economist who sits on the National Economic Council in Prague radically rethinks his field, challenging assumptions about the business world in this work, a bestseller in the Czech Republic."- Publishers Weekly

Available on Amazon.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Storytelling Class continues: “Corporate Storytelling”

“My name is Jordan Belfort, the year I turned 26, I made 49 million dollars, which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week”.

Talking about storytelling; this movie (The Wolf of Wall Street) is a good example of how successful storytelling can be. My goodness, was I mind blown after this 180 minutes of entertainment! There are many aspects in the movie that fascinated me, but mostly it was the fact that Mr. Belfort had this amazing ability of storytelling. I'm not saying I agree with Mr. Belfort’s way of work, but boy, did he know how to move a crowd. 

I am not talking about the “straight line persuasion” method that Mr. Belfort was using on his customers, I am talking about the “informal” and well scripted speeches he held for his employees. Seeing him standing on this stage, nice suit and well groomed face, like his employees, I was at the tip of my chair with my mouth open.. I was flabbergasted. I wanted more. I wanted to work for Mr. Belfort, I wanted to be part of his movement, I wanted to share his vision. 

Mr. Belfort knew that by corporate storytelling, he could create coherence and progression concerning his company's identity and development. By storytelling, he could get his employees to identify with his vision and work towards the same goal. 

Again, I don't agree with Mr. Belfort’s way of work, but he understood that stories connect people and when telling a story right, it will move them. A story that leaves nothing to imagination creates a bond between the storyteller and the audience. Stories can be used to inspire, connect and share ambitions. 

With the increasing influence of social media, the concept of corporate branding has been taken to the next level. The focus is on corporate communication that starts from within, the corporate stakeholders. Mindshare, relationship- and network branding has become increasingly important in corporate communication as people (my generation more than ever) demand this added emotional value. 

Wait.. I think I just mentioned the content for our 2 upcoming events;
The storytelling class continues “Corporate Storytelling” in the A I B I C ontemporary, Armin Berger Gallery in Zurich on March 10 and The CEO Conference about “How to communicate the Energy Transition” that will be held at Alstom in Mannheim on June 6.

We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Valerie Wijnandts
CEO Positions AG 

ps. These events will not include any lions walking around, sudden appearance of a marching band nor an Apéro at a private beach house. ;)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Online Stakeholder Management - Hier twittert und bloggt der Chef

Lesen Sie einen interessanten Artikel aus der Bilanz (Januar 2014) über die Social Media Präsenz von einigen ausgewählten Schweizer CEOs.

Auch wir durften in den letzten Monaten die Online-Präsenz und Reputation von Management-Teams einiger Schweizer Unternehmen analysieren und unsere Empfehlungen dazu abgeben. Über die vergangenen Jahre hinweg konnten wir unsere Expertise und Tools stetig ausbauen und verbessern, was uns nun eine vertiefte und detaillierte Analyse ermöglicht. Finden Sie hier unsere neusten Analyse-Tools.

Hier geht's zum Artikel Download.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Welcome, year of innovation 2014

This is the year of innovation - let's celebrate by trying out new things. It will help us professionally: the mood, the mindset, it all comes together.

Or, as my business friend Prof. Ben Gomes-Casseres' writes: "2014 looks to be interesting for business innovation. I predict that it will be the year of the “business remix” – read about that in my Harvard Business Review blog:"

Be inspired:

I tried Google Glass. It's a nice idea and probably in my future, but for the time being I don't want any more devices which require updates, energy and attention. Sebastian Thrun, the founder of Google X, demonstrated Google Glass, he was busy taking pictures with Glass and taking phone calls by issuing spoken commands. You see all these Google people running around with their gadgets, but I wonder how often they actually are switched on. A Russian said: "I Soviet Russia, Google Glass would look at you." He hit the mark.

Then I travelled in an Airbus A380 between Los Angeles and Paris. In the beginning I was scared of flying in such a big plane, but the way passengers are guided in and out, the structure of the interior makes you forget the large size. More legroom, more room for your elbows, - and on your personal touch screen 3 live cameras, where you can watch the plane flying. An amazing view over Iceland and Greenland, plus champagne. The return trip was terrible, due to a tire problem. Air France said we should be glad the plane was flying at all and presented us with a delay of eight hours, we missed all connecting flights. Would we get entry into a lounge? No. A voucher for food and beverages? No. refund for the lost connecting flights? No.

On December 31 in the Morning I tested a Tesla Model S and we were so stunned afterwards that no one talked. The car was flat out convincing. As Tesla is installing more and more superchargers in Switzerland and Germany, it's time for a Tesla. However, in Switzerland you don't get any of the perks that US customers are presented with, like a tax reduction, a trade-in for your present car or a fuel-car in exchange when you need to drive into regions where no chargers are installed. I especially liked the idea of online repairs: some repairs don't require a serviceperson, but are made over a wireless connection. Otherwise the serviceperson visits you where your car is, they don't do repairs in a garage any more.

Next I started knitting - which was funny, since my hands and fingers clearly remembered how to do it from my times as a teenager. The inspiration came from two young men who sell knitted ski caps and engage grandmothers to knit the caps with much success. I read the article and liked the idea so much that I wnt into an oldfashioned shop and bought wool in pink, orange and read to make a ski cap for me. I think knitting might be good for long conference calls. Someone reminded me that knitting was allowed in school (I am the post 68 generation, I had forgotten this.)

With my dad I went into a very dark forest with fir trees. The trees had been planted very close to each other and had grown so high, it was frigthening and completely dark at first. The deeper we walked into the forest, carefully seeking our way between the rows of fir trees, the more comfortable we got. The soft very soft ground consisting of millions of needles was very impressive and wonderful to walk on. We became very quiet was we walked.

So - what's your experiment? How do you innovate?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weshalb wir Norbert Reithofer klasse finden

Siehe ab Minute 8:20 ---

Innovation ist nicht alles.
Aber ohne Kommunikation ist Innovation nichts.

Wenn Innovation Kernaufgabe der kommenden Jahre ist - und zwar nicht nur in Silicon Valley - dann steht eine grosse Änderung an: Innovation findet nicht mehr hinter verschlossenen Türen statt, sondern partizipativ, im Lichte der Öffentlichkeit:

  • Der Airbus A380 war das erste Flugzeug der Welt, dessen 'Kinderkrankheiten' im gleissenden Licht von Twitter in alle Welt posaunt wurden - jedes Flugzeug hat diese Startprobleme. Nur ab sofort schaut die Welt zu.
  • Der Tesla Model S war das erste Elektroauto der Welt, dessen 'Kinderkrankheiten' im gleissenden Licht von YouTube in alle Welt posaunt wurden - jedes radikal neue Fahrzeugmodell hat Startprobleme. Nur ab sofort schaut die Welt zu.

Wann braucht die Innovation die kommunikative Einbindung des CEO? Hier das Fazit unserer letzten CEO Konferenz: Es sind drei Phasen.

a) Die Wahrnehmung von Trends und Neuerungen muss vom CEO in das Unternehmen eingespeist werden. Digitale CEOs senden interne Tweets an alle Mitarbeiter, wenn sie zum Beispiel auf Reisen etwas Spannendes entdecken.

b) In der Krise muss sich die/der CEO direkt mit der Innovation identifizieren und die Kommunikation dominieren. Nie Sprecher vorschieben! Digitale CEOs nutzen YouTube oder die Firmenwebsite, um Probleme und Gegenmassnahmen zu erläutern.

c) In der ersten Zeit der Markteinführung ist die/der CEO Chefevangelist für die Innovation und identifiziert sich darüber mit dem Produkt. Floppt das Produkt, muss sie/er sich auch damit identifizieren und - wie im Fussball - freiweg erklären, wieso man verloren hat. Digitale CEOs nutzen YouTube.

Glänzendes CEO-Beispiel: Norbert Reithofer, BMW, der sich für den Erfolg seines Elektroautos ganz weit aus dem Fenster lehnt. Das überzeugt, nach innen wie nach aussen. 

Die nächste CEO Konferenz findet am 5./6. Juni in Mannheim statt. Thema: Wie kommuniziert man die Energiewende? Interessiert an einer Einladung? Bitte registrieren Sie sich hier.

Why we like Norbert Reithofer

Watch from minute 8:20 ---

Innovation is not everything.
But without communication, innovation is nothing.

If innovation is the core task of the coming years - and not just in Silicon Valley - there is then a big change: Innovation is no longer behind closed doors, but participatory, in the light of the public:

  • The Airbus A380 was the first aircraft in the world, the "teething problems" in the glaring light of Twitter have been trumpeted all over the world - each aircraft has this startup problems. But now the whole world is watching.
  • The Tesla Model S was the first electric car in the world, the "teething problems" in the glaring light of YouTube have been trumpeted all over the world - each radically new vehicle model has startup problems. But now the whole world is watching.

When does innovation require the communicative involvement of the CEO? Here is the conclusion of our last CEO Conference: There are three phases.

a) The perception of trends and innovations must be fed by the CEO in the company. Digital CEOs send internal tweets to all employees when they discover, for example something exciting, while traveling.

b) During the crisis, the CEO must identify directly with the innovation and dominate the communication. Never advance speakers! Digital CEOs use YouTube or the company's website to explain problems and countermeasures.

c) In the early days of the launch the CEO is chief for innovation and identifies itself with the product. If the product flops, the CEO has also to identify with the flopped product and he has to explain why - like after a lost football match. Digital CEOs use YouTube.

Shiny example of a CEO: Norbert Reithofer, BMW, who shows strong personal support for the success of his electric cars. This convinced internally and externally.

The next CEO Conference will be held in Mannheim on June 5/6, 2014. Topic: How to communicate to the energy transition? Interested in an invitation? Please register here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Post-mortem Analyse Bundestagswahl 2013: Wie geht Wahlkampf in Deutschland via Social Media?

In einem Pilotprojekt wurde das Verhalten der Bürger auf sozialen Medien während des Bundestagswahlkampfes 2013 beobachtet. Gab es im Wahlkampf online Anzeichen für das Wahlergebnis? Wie haben sich die Bürger online verhalten?

In Kooperation mit der Business Intelligence Consulting BCMG stellen wir hier die Ergebnisse in Kurzform vor, den Report zum Download erhalten Sie über diesen Link.

Lessons learned
  1. Jedes Thema hat seine Zeit – Themen kommen und gehen. Themen wandeln sich im Wahlkampfverlauf, gerade im Endspurt, von Sachthemen zu Personenthemen.
  2. Zum Ende des Wahlkampfes hin nimmt die Zahl der neutralen Beiträge zugunsten von polemischen, negativen und polarisierenden Beiträgen ab.
  3. Über die großen Parteien wird am meisten diskutiert.
  4. Es lässt sich durch die Beobachtung der sozialen Diskussion NICHT direkt auf den Ausgang der Wahlen schliessen.
  5. Die Endrally zur Wahl findet auch oder gerade in den sozialen Medien statt. Hier sind jedoch die Schuldigen viel schneller gefunden und verurteilt als in den klassischen Medien.
  6. Privatpersonen haben zum Teil höhere Reichweiten als die sozialen Accounts von Fernsehsendern und Zeitungen. 
  7. Facebook und Twitter haben die größte Relevanz innerhalb der sozialen Medien, wobei die persönlichen Accounts der Kanzlerkandidaten die höchste Aufmerksamkeit geniessen.
Detaillierte Ergebnisse und konkret gemachte Erfahrungen diskutieren wir gern direkt mit Ihnen. Sprechen Sie uns an!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Crisis prevention: preparing for the unpredictable

The picture below has created an unprecedented social media uproar last week, altough it has been online for long. It was all business as usual until a blogger picked it up and now it goes around the world (the company has since removed the page).

If you look up the company on Google, coverage on the uproar ranks higher than the company website (see bottom).

Can this be predicted? No. Can it be corrected? NOT by removing the staff page, but by changing hiring practices immediately. Also the new publicity should be used to promote the positive change withing the company. Go from worst to first.

How should companies prepare for the unexpected crisis? Since the most important is to react quickly and precisely, you need to establish a person who can make decisions immediately, who has all the external media contacts and who can access all online social media channels of the company. There is more what the person needs to do and know, - call us, if of importance.

Here is the link to the company.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sneak preview: Recent and upcoming projects

Here is an update about some of our recent CEO Positioning projects - including projects we are planning for. In all cases, our contribution was advisory, concept, contacts, key messages, scripting and, parts of the realization.

JUNE/C-level content and contacts: our customer needed high-level testimonials from customers and prospects to kick-off a brand new B2B technical marketing campaign. The CEO also needed to get in touch with new C-level contacts of their existing customers plus he wanted to find new potential customers. We designed, staffed and moderated a high-level event with a diverse mix of roundtable speakers (including himself) and filmed the roundtable plus testimonials. Results: follow-up talks with three new companies, new contacts, two films, testimonials.

JULY/Introduction of a revolutionary product in the financial industry: to open up a previously proprietary trading platform our customer decided to produce a video in which the CEO personally explains the reasons and mutual benefits for this revolutionary step. The clip was placed on the company website, 35% of viewers continued immediately to the trading platform. Another result: the CEO has been asked by ZDF and ARTE to be part of a film about the financial system.

AUGUST/Global Conference keynote speakers: This CEO invited 250 of his top researchers to a one-week conference. He used the conference as a live knowledge exchange and needed some of the best speakers worldwide on innovation. These were to mix with his own best researchers to create a very sophisticated melange of new ideas. We brought him in touch with some of the most interesting international speakers and negotiated special fees/conditions.

SEPTEMBER/Customer Executive Board: To build against a drop in customer comitment, this global B2B infrastructure provider wanted to reorganize the customer executive board setup. We designed a new meeting structure, proposed new content, researched the top customers and suggested burning topics. We complemented these designs with 'hot' industry speaker contacts and unusual locations.

OCTOBER/Announcement of a change in strategy: After a legal problem was removed our customer decided to announce quadruple play for his subscribers, accompanied by a change in content services and price plans. The chairman of the company appeared in a video clip which we produced to convey the message of change. The goal was to demonstrate personal comitment to enhanced subscriber quality and the new strategy. Result: 25% of website visitors watched 100% of the clip within the first week. The viewership remained unusually high subsequently. The change was accepted without any public discussion.

NOVEMBER/CEO Conference: This Wednesday we will hold our bi-annual CEO conference in Dusseldorf. The subject is "Innovation needs Communication". Our host, Vodafone Global Enterprise, will talk about one of the hottest topics around: Vodafone Analytics. Late last year, O2 and GfK announced their analytics initiative and made such a mistake in communication that they had to bury the project for the forseeable future (a public outcry is not a nice thing). What are lessons learned?

DECEMBER/Conference filming: We composed a global team of 10 highly skilled editors, camera people and interviewers to obtain super high-level scientific content for strategic purposes of our customer. The CEO and some of the top speakers will get special treatment like filmed interviews in visually arresting places and unusual setups. The material will later be reviewed and uploaded onto a private MOOC platform to educate employees.

JANUARY/Social CEO: Two of our CEO customers will kick-off the new year with a team effort to increase the company reputation by involving their top management teams in online social initiatives. Before, we visit team members individually and explore their current online exposure together. In a subsequent group workshop for the executive management team we then discuss strategic options and potential benefits, risks and compliance issues for the company 'management team going social'.

I hope you have gained a better understanding of our work. We are happy to discuss your CEO Positioning issues one-to-one!