Posts Tagged “management”
Leading global information provider seeks a General Manager with full P&L responsibility for one of its largest business units, as well as oversight of all product management, talent, and related operations associated with the business unit. Responsibilities: Provide strategic and tactical planning and execution for the global higher education market, including analyzing feasibility...Read More
Prestigious global provider of health care information seeks a Managing Director to build, lead, and manage its operations in the United States, including journals and clinical improvement products and services. Responsibilities: Develop U.S. strategic plan and contribute to overall global company strategy. Establish and manage U.S. office. Develop annual operating budget. Implement...Read More
SxSW Interactive is promoted as a major tech event in Austin, Texas. But over the
years Interactive has become the most important content-centric event in the
world. Last year it attracted 20,000 participants that crowded into a half
dozen campuses in the downtown area – including the entire convention center – to
discuss content creation in all formats, related technologies, user experience, social media,
and the future of music, film, and information at almost a thousand panels.
This year it looks more than 35,000 showed up to attend closer to 1,300 panels.
Most conferences that cater to the traditional book industry today focus on the
disruption created by the eBook. The eBook – even in its enhanced versions – is
a facsimile of the printed book. Although the digital format is challenging the
business, eBooks aren’t breaking any new ground or rules of the game. If you
want to understand how rapid the world of content consumption, including
reading, is really changing you need to be at SxSW. New forms of narrative
creation like transmedia are responding to radical changes in narrative consumption
that are not fads. According to the conference organizers, 72% of Interactive
attendees are under 40 years old. These are folks who live and breathe content
outside of its traditional packaging.
And, of course, all of this is changing the nature of leadership, management, and
hiring and retaining the talented people that make this happen. This year there
was a campus dedicated to talent management in all of its aspects and many
excellent discussions that I will report on here.
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” –Lao Tzu
There are a host of clichés about leadership: “leaders are born not made,” “the mantle of leadership,” “leadership is doing right when no one is watching,” “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things,” and so on. The fact is that leadership is an ambiguous concept. There is no recipe for creating a great leader, and while leadership is written about extensively, it is nearly impossible to teach. It is not a vocation or a skill and no MBA confers leadership on the graduate. This is because leadership is a quality of being that resists measurement and defies quantification. But, in its absence strategies fail, customers are disgruntled, and stock prices plummet. The best way to understand and assess a leader is by the impact the leader makes on the entire business ecosystem: the executive team, managers, employees, customers, consumers, and the world at large.
The ROI on leadership is what I intend to follow here by illustrating that impact, whether for good or bad. The intent is to illustrate and trace the qualities that make leaders effective or disastrous to the organizations that depend upon them. My focus is on content-centric businesses as they navigate the epic transformation underway, but the lessons can and will be drawn from all businesses worldwide.
Michael Hiltzik’s, in the LA Times, eloquently describes Kodak’s approaching demise in a way that aptly illustrates my purpose. I could easily substitute any number of content-centric companies and organizations that are now at an identical inflection point.
“It’s not uncommon for great companies to be humbled by what the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter called the forces of “creative destruction. Technology, especially digital technology, has been the most potent whirlwind sweeping away old markets and old strategies for many decades. Changing economics and global competition have reduced behemoths of the past, such as General Motors, into mice of the present.
Then came digital. Far from scorning the new technology, Kodak ramped up research and development to nearly 10% of sales in the mid-1980s and integrated digital features into its product lines, including video systems, scanners and photo enhancement software.
But its executives couldn’t foresee a future in which film had no role in image capture at all, nor come to grips with the lower profit margins or faster competitive pace of high-tech industries. At one meeting with Microsoft’s Bill Gates to discuss integrating Kodak’s photo CDs with Windows, Kodak Chairman Kay Whitmore fell asleep.”Read More
The war for talent was first declared in 1998 in a McKinsey Quarterly article authored by Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod. The authors continued to publish extensively on the subject, but most compellingly in War for Talent (Harvard Business School Press, 2001) whose major premise is that talent is strategic and the key to successful competition and profitable growth. They proposed that the strategic nature of talent was not an issue of temporary significance but one that would remain the cardinal rule for decades to come. They were right: as never before, corporate success depends on both understanding the requirements for talent—especially in a host of emerging areas of leadership and expertise—and the ability to acquire it rapidly and effectively.
In the content-centric businesses of publishing, media, and information, the requirements for talent to navigate digital content creation and distribution are changing and evolving faster than ever before. Consumers of content—from the general consumer to professionals and educators—are demanding content to be served wherever, whenever they want, and in the format of their choosing. Yet, few companies in these industries are prepared to meet these demands.
Penguin’s CEO John Makinson recently told a Reuter’s sponsored media conference, “It is tougher to predict how we will be 12 months from now, as an industry, than pretty much at any time that I can remember” and that “structural changes in the industry that were largely outside the control of publishers made it very hard to predict next year’s performance.”
I plan to follow these developments closely with a specific emphasis on identifying the kinds of strategic leadership that provide businesses with greater control over their environments, especially with regard to the predictability that comes from analytics and the value that is created from greater proximity to the consumers of their content. This will include profiles of the new CEO, illustrations of the strategic importance of the CTO, the new leadership roles required in marketing and sales in the world of social media, and the rapidly emerging role of analytics in understanding and harnessing the incredible velocity and volatility of markets today and well into the future.
The rise of web-based businesses almost 15 years ago illustrate that in times of transformation, talent is the only effective weapon. During the dot.com boom at the turn of the last century, there were heated battles for acquiring the new talents required to build the innovative platforms, products and services that were becoming the backbone of the Internet.
I was involved in a number of startups when the hiring of web designers, web developers, database administrators, developers, and network administrators (to name just a few) took place at record speed, truly living into the maxim: he who hesitates is lost. But it wasn’t just technical expertise that was needed. Managing and scaling new businesses that run entirely on the Web also required the vision, leadership and management experience that comes from seasoning in the field: experiences with both success and failure. My role was, in fact, to help these businesses fill this gap.
When the dotcom bust came, many said that the war for talent was over, but the Internet bubble of the late 90s was, in retrospect, a mere skirmish. We are in a time of continuous business transformation where the “steady state” of business as usual is hard to imagine.
Michael Moe, Co-Founder, GSV Asset Management and GSV Advisors, spoke about the transformation in education and educational technology on November 29 at SIIA’s Ed Tech Business Forum and concluded that “the number 1, 2 and 3 challenge are talent, talent, and talent.”
People are central to your strategy. Or, as was posted on the smallbusiness blog several years ago: If the answer is, “It’s People, Stupid,” what’s the question? The question is: What is the one most important Critical Success Factor for an organization to achieve success?Read More