Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why CIO's Need to Change Their Role

Last night I got to have dinner with a group of 20 CIO’s. My role was to help bring the CEO perspective to them on what they do and how they do it.

I based my CEO perspective on several inputs: my own experience dealing with IT departments; input from CEO’s, CIO’s and Consultants on the Boardroom Metrics team; and, scanning some easily accessible press to see what other CEO’s are saying.

Going-in, my theme was this – there’s a reason so many CIO’s report to the CFO – CIO’s aren’t helping the CEO with his/her priorities. Writing applications and protecting the Company jewels is important grunt work. But it’s just grunt work. And it won’t get you to the Boardroom table.

Sadly, what I heard last night reinforced the theme. It’s not what I was hoping for.

Somehow, too many CIO’s have become content being relegated to cost-center, execution-leader status. They fail to see how what they do can be important strategically. Furthermore, they see the tactical issues they face as being somehow unique – that the execution details in IT somehow make them different from what every other department in the Company has to face.

My suggestion: WAKE.UP!

First, every department faces execution hurdles – overcoming them is simply part of the job. Get over it.

Second, the reason other departments like Marketing and Sales so easily access the CEO’s share of mind is because they’re working on what the CEO cares about – building the business and making money.

Third, the IT group could also easily be at the table if they 1) learn the business and 2) start applying what they know (IT stuff) to what the CEO cares about.

IT groups have the potential to create more corporate efficiency than any other function in the Company. They have the potential to bring the Company closer to the Customer than any other function in the Company – including sales and marketing. And IT is the only corporate function with the tools necessary to bury internal silos forever – increasing collaboration, effectiveness – and results!

There was some great discussion last night on how CIO’s and IT got to where they at. And not at.

Someone commented that the worst mistake that’s been made is defining internal groups as ‘the customer’ and accepting the role of ‘supplier’ – including signing up for internal service level agreements and other bits of structure that keep the IT group fully at bay from the rest of the organization.

I’m not sure if that’s true - but it sounds logical and dangerous.

In terms of changing and working closer with the CEO, there is a common theme that everyone seems to buy off on: CIO’s need to LEARN THE BUSINESS.

Understanding the business is critical if CIO’s are going to help the CEO and the Company achieve their priorities.

However, that won’t happen until a fundamental mind set shift occurs. CIO’s can no longer be content in their role as suppliers, followers and executers.  

What CEO’s are looking for is corporate leaders.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Impact99 - Igniting a Social Workplace

In 2012 I've attended two HR conferences. They couldn't have been more different.

The 2nd Annual Talent Management Development Conference in July was classic HR. All HIPO's, Blackberries and handwritten notes. A place where an HR leader could openly admit that her company 'racks, stacks and chops' it's employees - and not find herself trending on Twitter.

The only racking and stacking going on at yesterday's Impact99 was the clever ways that participants tweets were being broadcast and highlighted during the session. Participants so engaged they drove #impact99 to the number three trending spot on Twitter during the morning session.

If there was any overlap between the people that each conference attracted it wasn't very obvious. However, the presence of Telus, TD Canada Trust and several other large, well known Canadian companies yesterday suggests that some large organizations ARE addressing HR issues in some very forward thinking ways.

Here are some of my take-aways from yesterday:

1. there was a refreshing focus on how, not what. It all felt a bit Gary Vaynerchuckish (in his most recent evolvement) - little talk any more about what is social media and whether it matters - and serious discussion about how to manage and implement it for maximum results.

2. the presentations by both Telus and TD were eye-opening. First, it's always great to see 'young' corporate leaders who are articulate, passionate (a green dress!), and successful. But hearing that these two large organizations (TD now has 85,500 employees) have implemented essentially open, un-moderated access to social media tools that have driven their employee engagement levels out of the ballpark suggests the kinds of companies I'm glad I'm doing business with. Their message: by integrating social media into the workplace, not on top of it, social media has unleashed much of what is human in organizations - the desires to collaborate, question, learn, teach, help, support, etc.

3. collaboration and agility are key pain points that social media is addressing in organizations. For years now, business has been moving at light speed and CEO's have been lamenting the drag of organizational silo's and the futility of planning for anything beyond tomorrow. Now, it turns out that social media is a key weapon in the fight to destroy silos - and connected organizations get all the insight they need to make on-the-fly tweaks to operating direction and priorities.

4. as someone tweeted yesterday, there was gold in getting a panel of CEO's reactions to some current social media vendors and thought leaders talking about what they see. The CEO reactions ranged from 'that's nice, but how?' through 'you have my attention, I want to hear more'.  What go their attention? How to stop wasting money on training, and the massive importance of mobile (more people in the world have access to mobile than they do to running water!). And, if it hasn't already, it sounds like 'gamification' is about to take over from 'social media' as the most hotly contested 'new thing' in organizations.

No question, Impact99 speaks to the converted. For those who already believe or are already there, it was a great rah!, rah! event and massive dose of encouragement to keep on keeping on.

However - and there's absolutely nothing wrong with this - Impact99 doesn't represent reality in terms of most businesses, CEO's, and management consultants today. Many, if not most that I know still haven't put much/any consideration into the role that social media could and will play in cementing culture and competitive advantage in their organizations - and in their competitors.

As Courtney Shelton Hunt pointed out in her closing keynote, not being right there on social media doesn't mean going out of business tomorrow. And she's right. It doesn't.

But wow, when you see what the Telus' and TD's are doing, you have to think they are building themselves a substantial competitive advantage.  You get a strong sense that those still questioning social media and wondering what a twitter is had better wake up soon or risk being left WAY behind (it took Telus three years to get where they are now) in their quest for employees, customers - and perhaps/likely even their next job.

Congratulations to the organizers of yesterday's event. Christine Mcleod and Pam Ross are passionate, intelligent, forward thinking and connected. They did a great job and staged a truly interactive, entertaining and thought-provoking event.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Please, Tim Cook Wake Up Now

A few years ago my daughter's new Mac arrived home with an original iTouch. After an hour of loading apps and using the touch screen I knew that RIM was in trouble.

The fact that I haven't loaded iOS 6 on my iPhone yet (it's just a Maps app! after all) doesn't have quite the same sickening feeling of that night way back when, but it's close.

Like most people I just want my phone, computer, tablet to work. I'm not a technology person - I'm a user. The kind of person that was foreign to RIM several years ago. And, thanks to both RIM and Microsoft, I hate updates.

Updates screw things up, change settings, mess with reading lists, lose contacts, etc.

So. I've hesitated. And I've hesitated more subconsciously than consciously - it's some kind of RIMDOWS hangover. It's both interesting and troubling. Based on my experiences until now I never expected to think of Apple in the same light as those other, over-the-hill providers.

Unfortunately, my daughter didn't hesitate. She loaded the new Mountain Lion update on her Macbook Pro a couple of night ago. AND IT'S NEVER RESTARTED.

Clever me. I sent her to Google and the Apple website for fixes and insight. There are lots. She's not the only person this has happened to. Nothing helped.

But, HERE'S THE REAL SCREW UP. She took her Macbook Pro to the Apple Store the next day for some real help. Like many people (most? the world?) she needs her laptop for work.

And they told her to go away. How dare she just show up like that?! She didn't have an appointment.

In fact, they let her know pretty clearly that she was fairly nutzo for even thinking that she could just walk in and have someone take a look at her computer like that.Wow. Another. Dumb. Customer!

So she left. Helpless and angry. The clerk - is that what they call them at Apple Stores? - shrugged.

Which is the scary intersection with the other over-the-hill computer companies from the past. BEING BETTER AND SMARTER THAN THE CUSTOMER NEVER WORKS! It didn't work for RIM and won't work long for Apple.

The we-can-do-no-wrong attitude is what leads to risky, untested updates, failed apps, lousy service and weak apologies. Unchecked, it spells doom.

So. Tim Cook. Please wake up now. Whether you see it yet or not, Apple is in trouble.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New from Boardroom Metrics - Business Expert Directory

Boardroom Metrics has launched a new web service called is a web directory where consultants, coaches, trainers, speakers and executive job seekers can profile the services they provide and link searchers to their website and other social media.

The mission of is to help independent practitioners and others increase their on-line visibility.

A strong directory listing is a great way to be found by someone looking for a particular service or expertise. 

Also, the links that can be created from a directory like are important inputs that Google and other search engines use to increase the visibility of a company's website.

Searchers on can sort for business experts by keyword, geography and specialty, for example ‘Leadership Coach Chicago’. They can also see what else you are doing on-line, including websites, other social media like LinkedIn, Twitter and others. Using the contact information and on-line forms provided, potential clients can contact you directly by email and phone.

A listing on complements – and strengthens - whatever you are doing on-line already – even if all you are doing is LinkedIn.

If all you are doing is LinkedIn, then provides another search engine optimized outlet for your information to appear. You can even have your profile highlighted and promoted for better visibility. provides different levels of on-line visibility depending on the package. Packages range from free to $29/month.

For those who already have a strong on-line presence – and want to make it even stronger, then the links and added visibility that creates will be highly appreciated.

More information is available by visiting the website.

The site is still in Beta and any/all feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Early adopters who join in the month of September 2012 receive access to the Associate level package free for a year. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Executive Transition Boardroom Metrics TV

Here's an except from a Daytime tv interview done a few weeks ago here in Toronto. It's all about the challenges of executive transition out of the corporation and the Boardroom Metrics value prop. Key messages:
  • execs in transition lose their mojo fast
  • everybody wants to be a change agent and strategic leader so find something different
  • Boardroom Metrics provides a 'safe' platform to learn and go public

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Younger. Today.

It 's 9:00pm. Florida time. Tried looking for the Leafs game. Leafs game? New coach? Found a high school game. Not watching them either.

It's 80 degrees. Heat lightning. Outdoors. By the pool. Just like Toronto during the the last week of July.

Global warming will be good for Toronto. It already has been. What a winter! Average temp has been what? +2?! That's pretty cool. In a too warm kind of way.

I'm reading a book called 'Younger Next Year'. For the second time. We all have our inspirations. This book was mine. Basic premise is simple: we're either thriving or decaying. Thriving equals hunting, learning and doing. Decaying equals winter. Hibernation. Toronto from October to April. Eating, sleeping and watching TV.

I've been here 3 days. Haven't seen TV yet. Maybe they don't have it this far south? But I've kayaked, cycled, swam, cycled, swam. Golfing tomorrow at 8.

It's spring break. That's fun! On the beach today with college kids from Ohio. Toronto south. Except for the Univerity of Miami hard-0n. Just jealous I guess. I am. Where do U of M kids go for Spring Break? Key West? South America? Toronto?

I love Toronto. Seriously. But seriously - this is better. A friend of mine's mom comes here every winter. From Toronto. What everybody's noticed this year is that her mom is inspiringly younger than she's ever been. I can tell it's unnerving. In a very cool kind of way.

This is my third time here this winter. Aside from the tan and lack of bags under my eyes it's probably difficult to tell I'm thriving. But I am.

It's 9:00pm. Florida time.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Podcamp Toronto Day 1 Thoughts #pcto2012

Observations from Day 1 of Podcamp 2012 in Toronto:

1. The enthusiasm level is down from 2 years ago, the last time I attended. The crowd seemed smaller, the buzz more muted.

2. Social media has become corporate media. This was all business. From presenters pitching their wares to audiences seeking the next big thing.

3. The next big thing is Facebook. Three out of five presenters mentioned that one in seven people IN THE WORLD is on Facebook - repeating a theme my buddy John started talking about too many years ago - anyone who doesn't think Facebook is for business is crazy.

4. The next new thing is Pinterest. For now.  Everyone was talking about it. What I learned. In North America at least, it's for women and images - so magazines love it. One brave and creative soul did talk about pinning his resume.

5. Apple is the technology of Podcamp. iPhones and iPads. Paper was also surprisingly prevalent.

6. New term from yesterday: 'profersonal'. The mix of personal and professional on social media.

7. Most intriguing story from yesterday - the use of Facebook by the Hard Rock Cafe in Florence Italy. Contest to draw prospective staff from all over Europe. Free meal coupons for everyone who applied. Self-booking interview slots using Event-Brite. Arranging accommodation, and self-scheduling all on Facebook.

8.  Another sign of the trouble BB is in. An app developer from Cleveland talking about having to go to eBay to find a BB so she could develop an app for a client. Her advice to other developers. Don't bother. 

9. And a special call-out for the two young dudes who lead the session on not giving the same presentation. You guys asked for this. And you know it. You sucked. Being young and smart doesn't mean you know what you're talking about. It's even worse when you call people out by name and generally put down the rest of the people in your space. Your schtick was funny for five minutes - then your presentation wasn't any different from any other presentation (hey, nice use of Powerpoint!) - and it really came crashing to earth when you gave all the same answers that everyone else has. You might want to think about your ROI and how-to-measure-social-media answer. It was disappointingly irrelevant ("talk to my friend"?!?). Suggestion - you seem like nice, smart guys. Stop partying, get off of Facebook and go explore social media.

10. Bottom line. There was tons of great stuff yesterday but I came away feeling that the un-conference idea - and the corprification of Social Media is taking it's toll on PodCamp. Un-conferencing hurts because it opens the doors to anyone with a presentation. Corprification hurts because those attending, or thinking of attending are all thinking in terms of ROI. There's a conflict there.

Podcamp is on today too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bashing RIM Boy

Thanks to Boardroom Metrics Executive Tim Herron for passing along this Financial Post article on Roger Martin titled 'Business School Dean Doesn't Walk the Talk'. I couldn't have said it better.

PR for Boardroom Metrics

We've been working with Daniel Schneider of Brand Management Agency on getting our story out. Thanks to Daniel for getting this post on job transition into the Huffington Post yesterday.

Summary of the key do's and don't from the post:

 Do figure out what makes you unique. Don't be a generalist!

Do move steadily. Don't panic!

Do learn modern marketing techniques. Don't ignore the traditional ones! 

Thanks Daniel.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Yesterday I screwed up. It wasn't too huge. The world won't end. I still have my job running my own company. But in hindsight, it's bugging me. It's bugging me because I did what I see others doing all the time. And when they do it...and they seem to do it a drives me f#*#% batty. What did I do? I missed a Skype call. I didn't need to. I could have scheduled it properly. Taken it seriously. Prepped for it. Set a reminder. But I didn't. I paid lip service. Assumed it would be unimportant. Got selfish. Got lazy. Scheduled it incorrectly. Then completely forgot about it. As it turns out, the call was important and helpful. The professional gentleman half way round the world with serious interest in what we do persisted (he got me on the phone instead) and helped me get my act together. Why? Why did I do it?!? There are various rationales. I'm busy. I didn't have perfect access to the 'helper' technology I normally use. I really did mean to get to it but just got behind. There was more research I meant to do. Which is all BS. The truth is I saw myself heading for this screw-up all week and didn't care enough to fix it. Plain and simple. I DIDN'T CARE. Which sucks. I need to fire myself. What's doubly disturbing is that this comes at a time when we're wrestling with integrity in others. We've been let down constantly by people who know better but don't care either. People who make commitments as I did, then ignore them. We're tired of it to the point of changing what we do. Tossing people over the edge. Calling them on their shit. Today, I'm calling me on my own shit. And promising myself it won't happen again. It's a tall order. I'd better be tall enough to handle it. Or, I'm fired.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

RIM Boy Goes Public

In an interview published in Saturday's Globe and Mail, RIM's high profile Director Roger Martin took on setting corporate governance back a thousand years and clarifying for the world why RIM is in trouble.  As one commenter posted:
his point of view is no different or any more informed than the yeehaw one finds chewing the cardboard cup at a tim's. if this is a director no wonder the company has been in decline.
With apologies to yeehaw's everywhere.

Martin does make some seemingly shallow comments for someone who is a) dean of a business school b) a recognized governance thought-leader and c) a New England Patriots fan. A couple of examples:

“So we’re supposed to hand it over to children, or morons from the outside who will destroy the company?"
“If we were to say to Jim and Mike, ‘Well, we’re the board and you should go away now,’ they would have laughed at us.” 
People were saying we can’t make powerful phones like Apple. Yes, we can, but we couldn’t believe consumers would put up with that kind of battery inefficiency and that kind of network inefficiency.
The tricky aspect, he says, was the former bosses deciding what they wanted to do. They decided to stay on as directors
Mr. Lazaridis, he says, “is a genius – so having him off the board would be a good idea?” 
The two former CEOs are about more than RIM. Mr. Balsillie founded a global policy institute and pursued hockey teams; Mr. Lazaridis built a physics research hothouse. Had they become distracted when the company needed their full attention?
“I just don’t buy that,” says Mr. Martin, arguing that the outside interests energized the two. “We’re all human beings – they’re not automatons.”
The majority of commenters - surprisingly, even I couldn't resist - weren't impressed.

Sad reflection of the future of Canadian business if this hand puppet actually reflects the quality of business education at UofT.
 This guy sounds like he is just part of RIM's critical mass of arrogance which got them in this mess in the first place.
Martin is in cloud cookoo land if he thinks two CEOs who are busy doing Perimeter Institute, hockey teams, global affairs and other things can succeed.
What doesnt quite ring true here. A touted Harvard business major, keen on sports as a model of business situations; associated for many years with the principals of RIM, doesnt carry the clout to have the captains alter course when he signals iceberg ahead
This guy is quite a load.
One gets the sense from this article that Martin is feeling the heat. He should be. RIM comes off as a high profile screw up and he and his fellow governors come off as sight-seers on the Costa-Concordia (take that Titanic!).

One wonders what fellow Board members, employers and other clients think, if anything - but one poster did go so far yesterday as saying
I will be getting an MBA and I can now safely say that UofT will not even be on my long list. Too much hubris from the dean.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Best App Advice

Every time two tablet users get together (like at a Super Bowl party), 'have you found any good apps lately?'  comes up.

The best way I've found to solve that one is with apps for finding apps.

The one I use the most is AppHits. Not only all the latest apps, lists, etc. but also what's on sale. Use it all the time and it now accounts for most of the apps on my iPad.

The other one I use is AppAdvice. Great lists and blog type updates on latest, greatest apps.

Hands-down, the app I use the most on my iPad? Wooords.

I'd seen write ups about addictive games apps but never came across any until this one. It is a pure waste of time but amazing, fun interface and tons of challenge. If you rationalize hard enough you can even convince yourself that you're learning something.

Most shockingly useful app? Notability. Handwriting, typing, voice, email, PDF's, pictures. A true 'wow!, Windows was never this easy' note-taking app.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

#BeBald 2012

Ok. I couldn't resist. Which worries me. But here goes anyways! Based on my favourite company's latest marketing move.
For Immediate Release. Toronto. February 1, 2012

Only a month late (hey, it could have been years), Black Barry took over Jester's Pub for a pint of Guiness and asked how you planned to #BeBald in 2012.

Four Bald characters emerged from your #BeBald resolutions. All are bravely stepping in crap that their dogs left behind in 2011 and into a 2012 with unlimited reservations about the future.

The #BeBald Team

Popo Girl - The Axe Heaver
Saving the day with a photo, ten Facebook postings and 400 texts to her friends is nothing new for Popo Girl. She's social, insecure and just a bit needy.

Axe Heavers resolve to:
  • do something for once
  • stop questioning whether the network is down or not
  • be active on Pinterest
  • learn something about herself

Mark Stoner - The Ad Vendor
Able to fight on a plane and land in jail he's alcoholic, loud and a little bit smelly. But you can count on Max to liven up any flight to China.

Ad Vendors resolve to:
  • stand up
  • seize inappropriate body parts
  • get a new job
  • take you back to Vancouver

Justin Time - The Add-a-Chick
Always ready to stick up a bank, Justin is lazy and broke. His hobbies include chasing cougars caught under bar tables and using 'special' seeds in his spare time.

Ad Vendors resolve to:
  • connect with other morons
  • rock your world
  • encourage you to 'have another one'

Trudy R.U. Foreal - The Odd Renter Chick
Not afraid to call you on your sh*t, Trudy is obnoxious, loud and unabashedly miserable. She enjoys long walks on the roof and old school teachers.

Odd Renter Chicks resolve to:
  • stop speaking up constantly about what you believe in
  • be a cereal
  • have a positive credit rating
Tell us how you'll be a wierdo. Join the army and share how you plan to #BeBald in 2012....or 2013 or whenever you finally get around to doing it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Flux on. Flux off.

Our institutions are out of date; the long career is dead; any quest for solid rules is pointless, since we will be constantly rethinking them; you can't rely on an established business model or a corporate ladder to point your way; silos between industries are breaking down; anything settled is vulnerable.

From 'This is Generation Flux: Meet the Pioneers of the New (and Chaotic) Frontier of Business' posted earlier this month in Fast Company.

I'm sure
we're all attracted to articles that reflect our personal views of the world. I found this one both interesting and inspiring.

flux is what I thrive on. When I joined a consulting company at 27, what inspired me was working with multiple clients at the same time. Nothing was ever the same, or predictable. As my career moved along I happily left jobs - mostly voluntarily, but not always - and even fired clients. Same old, same old isn't exactly in my comfort zone.

For that reason
I've been attracted to and inspired by technology. For me - and our business - nothing has expanded networks, horizons, opportunities and thinking faster and more dramatically than the ability to learn from and tap into the constantly evolving (fluxing?) basket of web and social media tools.

To this day,
I still remember the thrill of signing up for Compuserve and clicking on that first web link. It was easy to recognize IMMEDIATELY that the world had changed.

A few years later
I got the same thrill listening to my good friend John R. - who I knew should be on plane selling to far flung clients - explaining how planes were outdated and how he could bring us great clients simply by optimizing our website. John wasn't wrong - and we landed Gulfstream Jets (ironically!), the Gap and others - without ever visiting them.

A key point
of the Fast Company article is that 'GenFlux' isn't a demographic - it's a mindset.

Not everyone will join Generation Flux, but to be successful, businesses and individuals will have to work at it.

From our vantage point
at Boardroom Metrics we couldn't agree more. We see the resistors. They're out there - both companies and individuals.

The arrogance
of the old school around everything from owning an iPhone, to marketing using social media, to hiring 'experience' drives us batty at times. It seldom seems to us there's much proof that the status quo is working. Yet the fear of and inability to 'break out' (even barely) and try a different approach is real - and (from our vantage point) incredibly stifling.

For those who 'get it', what we see is competitive advantage.

The keys to fluxing
seem simple. Open mind. Flexibility. Curiosity.

To flourish requires a new kind of openness. More than 150 years ago, Charles Darwin foreshadowed this era in his description of natural selection: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives; nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Just Saying.....!

Karen's done a little photo editing while I'm away.

Here's her capture of two headlines from the National Post yesterday. One on Boardroom Metrics - the other on the RIM bros.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bounces off the RIM

I don't have many/any big thoughts on RIM's move to dump its co-CEO's. It was time. Whatever they were doing clearly wasn't working any longer. It's a little scary that the new guy is a RIM insider who says his job is to stay the course "because it's the right one". RIM isn't Apple. The co-CEO's are not Steve Jobs. And the new CEO is not Tim Cook. However with a new Board Chair and a new Board Director, change seems inevitable. Hopefully, everyone understands the tough job ahead. Although BB sightings are still possible ('traditionalists', women with nails, kids with 3 year cell phone plans), they are hardly what they used to be. Turning that around won't be business as usual.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hey Fortune Magazine, Screw-Off

From an email just sent to Fortune Magazine Customer Service:

Hey Fortune Customer Service - ever since I downloaded the iPad app you've bombarded me with these crap emails that my subscription is ending. It is false, misleading and surprisingly unprofessional considering you are a business publication. Instead of trying to scare into prematurely subscribing why don't you remind me nicely at the appropriate time. Until then, please go away.

Why would Fortune resort to such unprofessional tactics?

The email itself is addressed to "J". Nice personal touch.

There is no indication of when my subscription actually ends. I think it's April??

These emails have been coming for four or five months now!

This is a nice way to mess with a brand. The writers and editors and lots of others are probably merrily working away at building a good product. And the distribution guys are working hard to piss customers like me off. Nice.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sh*t That CEO's Say

This morning I woke up to this headline in the Globe. Good for Lululemon.

Not saying that poking fun at your target audience is a great marketing ploy – but it sure is easy!

Shit that CEO’s say (seriously):

“everything is fine”

“we. are. seriously. screwed.”

“I don’t need a consultant, I need someone to think”

“people need to stop thinking and start doing”

“seriously folks – doesn't ANYBODY here know what they're doing??! 

“what are our customers doing?"

"customers are all the same"

"our business is different"

"employees are our most important asset"

“they’re just lucky they have a job”

“it’s just getting too expensive to fire people any more”

“f—k HR! 

“we are taking this to the Board”

“do you think that anyone on the Board has any idea what they're doing?!"

“f—k the board!”

“I still like the security of the Blackberry”

“s—t, I lost my Blackberry”

“can you Google that for me?"

 "social media is a waste of time"

“what am I supposed to do with Twitter?”

“I’m on Twitter." 

"I haven’t tweeted yet.”

“f—k Twitter”

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Governance: Fixing the Game

Roger Martin, famous RIM independent Director and Dean of the Rotman Business School at U of T  has written a respected book on corporate governance. It's called 'Fixing the Game'.

I haven't read it (I plan to) but recently, Forbes contributor Steve Denning ran this interesting article about Martin's book titled: The Dumbest Idea in the World: Maximizing Shareholder Value (from a quote attributed to Jack Welch).

Here's how it starts:
“Imagine an NFL coach,” writes Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, in his important new book, 'Fixing the Game', “holding a press conference on Wednesday to announce that he predicts a win by 9 points on Sunday, and that bettors should recognize that the current spread of 6 points is too low. Or picture the team’s quarterback standing up in the postgame press conference and apologizing for having only won by 3 points when the final betting spread was 9 points in his team’s favor. While it’s laughable to imagine coaches or quarterbacks doing so, CEOs are expected to do both of these things.”

According to the article, Martin argues that there are two markets - the 'real market' where real dollars show up on the bottom line - and the 'expectations market' ie, the stock market where dollars are traded and made based on how near or far a company is to meeting it's investor expectations.

Martin's point is that there is far more incentive for CEO's to manage the expectations market than there is for them to succeed in the real market. So managing companies becomes all about managing expectations, not about building businesses.

I agree.

Even in my modest tenure of running a too-small public company for five years, I quickly came to understand that running a business well - and running a public business well - were two completely different beasts. I frequently said to people around me that we made decisions running a public company that we would NEVER have made if it were private.

Martin goes on. He argues, according to Forbes, that "we must shift the focus of companies back to the customer and away from shareholder value”. "If you take care of customers, shareholders will be drawn along for a very nice ride.", quotes Forbes.

I don't disagree with Martin - how can you?

It seems to me (here it comes) that there might be no greater evidence that his argument is correct than the value that RIM created up to mid-2008 when customers embraced their smartphone/mobile e-mail invention and subsequently destroyed by ignoring customers evolving expectations thanks to the launch of the iPhone.

Research In Motion Market Cap Chart

Research In Motion Market Cap Chart

Given Martin's point of view, one has to assume that he is working feverishly in the background at RIM - clearly not to manage expectations, but to ensure that management truly understands what customers want - and is skillfully building an operating system and new hardware to capitalize on it.

I keep thinking that Martin (and others associated with RIM) need(s) to be careful.

His book may be great, but if RIM doesn't turn around it will forever be the asterisk on his reputation*.

*had great ideas, even wrote a good book - but failed to execute

Leadership Smeadership

Okay. I know it’s a settings thing. Sometime, a long, long time ago – probably when leadership was being invented – I must have indicat...