Six social-media skills every leader needs

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on February 4th, 2013 by admin

Organizational social-media literacy is fast becoming a source of competitive advantage. Learn, through the lens of executives at General Electric, how you and your leaders can keep up.

Few domains in business and society have been untouched by the emerging social-media revolution—one that is not even a decade old. Many organizations have been responding to that new reality, realizing the power and the potential of this technology for corporate life: wikis enable more efficient virtual collaboration in cross-functional projects; internal blogs, discussion boards, and YouTube channels encourage global conversations and knowledge sharing; sophisticated viral media campaigns engage customers and create brand loyalty; next-generation products are codeveloped in open-innovation processes; and corporate leaders work on shaping their enterprise 2.0 strategy.

This radical change has created a dilemma for senior executives: while the potential of social media seems immense, the inherent risks create uncertainty and unease. By nature unbridled, these new communications media can let internal and privileged information suddenly go public virally. What’s more, there’s a mismatch between the logic of participatory media and the still-reigning 20th-century model of management and organizations, with its emphasis on linear processes and control. Social media encourages horizontal collaboration and unscripted conversations that travel in random paths across management hierarchies. It thereby short-circuits established power dynamics and traditional lines of communication.

We believe that capitalizing on the transformational power of social media while mitigating its risks calls for a new type of leader. The dynamics of social media amplify the need for qualities that have long been a staple of effective leadership, such as strategic creativity, authentic communication, and the ability to deal with a corporation’s social and political dynamics and to design an agile and responsive organization.

Social media also adds new dimensions to these traits. For example, it requires the ability to create compelling, engaging multimedia content. Leaders need to excel at cocreation and collaboration—the currencies of the social-media world. Executives must understand the nature of different social-media tools and the unruly forces they can unleash.

Equally important, there’s an organizational dimension: leaders must cultivate a new, technologically linked social infrastructure that by design promotes constant interaction across physical and geographical boundaries, as well as self-organized discourse and exchange.

We call this interplay of leadership skills and related organizational-design principles organizational media literacy, which we define along six dimensions that are interdependent and feed on one another (exhibit).

Our clearest window on the development of these new forms of literacy is General Electric, where one of us is responsible for leadership development. Witnessing GE through this lens is particularly interesting; unlike Google or Amazon, GE isn’t a digital native, and its 130-year tradition of reinventing businesses and itself makes it worth watching. So does GE’s status as a “leadership factory.”

GE’s commitment to social media is perhaps most visible through its digital platform GE Colab, designed by GE employees for GE employees to facilitate global teamwork and collaboration. GE Colab combines the capabilities of Facebook, Twitter, and other social applications, allowing easy networking, information sharing, instant communication, advanced search, blogging, videoblogs, and more. Launched in 2012, the platform has already attracted more than 115,000 users.1

To get a sense of how executives deal with these new realities, we interviewed GE officers of various businesses and regions. These leaders and their organizations are at different mileposts along the journey to social-media literacy, just as different companies are. In aggregate, though, they described a rich range of efforts to build personal skills, experiment with technologies, invest in new tools, expand employee participation, and shape organizational structures and governance to capture emerging social opportunities. We drew on those experiences to illustrate the six-dimensional set of skills and organizational capabilities leaders must build to create an enterprise level of media literacy—capabilities that will soon be a critical source of competitive advantage.

1. The leader as producer: Creating compelling content
With video cameras achieving near ubiquity and film clips uploading in the blink of an eye to YouTube or other platforms, the tools for producing and sharing rich media are in everyone’s hands. GE’s Video Central now houses thousands of videos, many created by top leaders. More than a few executives have started to incorporate video streams into their blogs. As video communication rises in importance, effective leadership will increasingly require the kind of creative skills we know from the world of “auteur” filmmaking—an authentic voice, imagination, and the ability to craft compelling stories and to turn them into media products that make people take note and “lean forward.” To engage in real time on a personal level, executives will also need the technical skills to master the basics of digital-multimedia production, including how to shoot and, if necessary, edit videos.
Mark Begor, who runs GE Capital’s real-estate business, was nervous when he shot his first “unplugged” video message. “I was used to a studio environment where I could do several takes and have editors polish what I wanted to say.” That unease soon vanished with practice. He now routinely produces a weekly five- to ten-minute video for his division. “I talk about what I learned during the week, about a great deal we’ve closed, and the status of the business. I also add comments about employees that I want to recognize.” Begor says that this routine forces him to crystallize his thinking and that creating short stories people can relate to makes him more aware of his strategy and communication.

As Begor and others have discovered in this process, the logic of participatory media is strikingly different from that of traditional corporate broadcast media, where each and every piece of communication gets perfectly crafted. Too much perfection is actually a barrier to collaboration and cocreation, as it disinvites participation. To thrive in the world of social media, leaders need to acquire a mind-set of openness and imperfection, and they must have the courage to appear “raw” and unpolished—traits that may be as challenging for them as developing the creative and technical-production skills.

2. The leader as distributor: Leveraging dissemination dynamics
Business leaders have traditionally disseminated information along a controlled, linear chain that begins after the development of a formal meaning-creation process—think of how your company creates and distributes memos explaining new initiatives. While traditional distribution pathways won’t disappear, social media revolutionizes the standard information process by reversing it. Social communication makes distribution the starting point and then invites company audiences to cocreate and contextualize content to create new meaning. Messages are rebroadcast and repurposed at will by recipients who repost videos, retweet and comment on blogs, and use fragments of other people’s content to create their own mash-ups.

As the (vertical) broadcast media and the (horizontal) participatory media converge, leaders need to master the interplay of two fundamentally different paradigms: those of the traditional channels, which follow the logic of control, and of the new channels, where it is essential to let the system’s dynamics work without too much direct intervention. Since executives won’t be able to govern or control a message once it enters the system, they must understand what might cause it to go viral and how it may be changed and annotated while spreading through the network. Distribution competence—the ability to influence the way messages move through complex organizations—becomes as important as the ability to create compelling content.

Equally important is the skill of creating and sustaining a body of social followers who help to spread and reinforce the message. It becomes critical to know who an organization’s key—and often informal—influencers are and to leverage their authority to push content through the right channels. Finally, leaders must recognize their role as redistributors of the content they receive, so they can leverage the communication continuously happening around them.

Lorraine Bolsinger, vice president and general manager of GE Aviation Systems, acquired these skills through experimentation. She began blogging a few years ago but initially didn’t get much response. “It took time to get my audience actively involved,” she recalls. “I had to find my voice and become more conversational, more easygoing.” To increase the allure and sustainability of the dialogue, she eventually created a “360 blog,” where all her direct reports blog with her on the same platform. This networked blog, with 12 regular contributors, provides additional points of view on issues, promotes more frequent communication, and attracts broader participation. Bolsinger says that the quality of her group’s dialogue about strategy and operations has improved thanks to these efforts.

3. The leader as recipient: Managing communication overflow
Social media has created an ocean of information. We are drowning in a never-ending flood of e-mails, tweets, Facebook updates, RSS feeds, and more that’s often hard to navigate. “There is too much noise out there,” says Stuart Dean, CEO of GE ASEAN,2 who is an active blogger and tweets regularly about issues in his market space. “I’d use Twitter much more as a source of information if I could get exactly what I need.”

Dean’s sentiment is echoed by most executives we know—many of them barely find time to catch up with their daily e-mail load. What to do? As a first step, leaders must become proficient at using the software tools and settings that help users filter the important stuff from the unimportant. But playing in today’s turbulent environment requires more than just filtering skills.

In traditional corporate communications, consumption is a mostly passive act: you are pretty much left alone to make sense of messages and to assess their authenticity and credibility. In the social-media realm, information gets shared and commented on within seconds, and executives must decide when (and when not) to reply, what messages should be linked to their blogs, when to copy material and mash it up with their own, and what to share with their various communities. The creation of meaning becomes a collaborative process in which leaders have to play a thoughtful part, as this is the very place where acceptance of or resistance to messages will be built.

“You have to see the entire communication universe, the interplay of traditional and social media,” says Bill Ruh, head of GE’s Software and Analytics Center. Just as leaders suffer from overflow, so do their people. “As a leader,” says Ruh, “you have to develop empathy for the various channels and the way people consume information.”

4. The leader as adviser and orchestrator: Driving strategic social-media utilization
In most companies, social-media literacy is in its infancy. Excitement often runs high for the technology’s potential to span functional and divisional silos. But without guidance and coordination, and without the capabilities we discuss here, social-media enthusiasm can backfire and cause severe damage.

To harvest the potential of social media, leaders must play a proactive role in raising the media literacy of their immediate reports and stakeholders. Within this 360-degree span, executives should become trusted advisers, enabling and supporting their environment in the use of social tools, while ensuring that a culture of learning and reflection takes hold. As a new and media-savvy generation enters the workplace, smart leaders can accelerate organizational change by harnessing these digital natives’ expertise through “reverse mentoring” systems (see later in this article).

Steve Sargent, president and CEO of GE Australia and New Zealand, believes that social media is reshaping the leadership culture by pushing executives to span geographic boundaries, engage more closely with stakeholders, and amplify the impact of employees at the periphery. Over the past five years, as proof of concept, Sargent has established a mining-industry network that cuts across GE’s businesses and regions, linking informal teams that use social platforms to collaborate on solving customer needs. GE employees in Brazil, for instance, now work with colleagues in Australia to develop products and services for customers doing business in both countries. The network’s success led the company to elevate it to the status of a full-fledged GE mining business. “Markets today are complex and multidimensional, and leadership isn’t about control but about enabling and empowering networks,” Sargent says. “The type of leadership we need finds its full expression in the DNA of collaborative technology, and I am determined to leverage this DNA as much as I can.”

To achieve this goal, leaders must become tutors and strategic orchestrators of all social-media activities within their control, including the establishment of new roles that support the logic of networked communication—for instance, community mentors, content curators, network analysts, and social entrepreneurs. Organizational units that leverage the new technologies in a coordinated and strategically aligned way will become more visible and gain influence in a corporation’s overall power dynamics.

5. The leader as architect: Creating an enabling organizational infrastructure
Leaders who have steeped themselves in new media will testify that it requires them to navigate between potentially conflicting goals: they must strive to establish an organizational and technical infrastructure that encourages free exchange but also enforce controls that mitigate the risks of irresponsible use. This is a tough organizational-design challenge.

Most companies have a defined formal organization, with explicit vertical systems of accountability. But below the surface of org charts and process manuals we find an implicit, less manageable “informal organization,” which has always been important and now gets amplified through social media. The leader’s task is to marry vertical accountability with networked horizontal collaboration in a way that is not mutually destructive.

This challenge is reflected in GE’s policies, which embrace the value of sharing expertise and perspectives with family, friends, colleagues, customers, and other stakeholders around the world. With this openness comes a shared responsibility: employees must observe GE standards of transparency and integrity, refrain from speaking on behalf of the company without authorization, and be clear in their social messaging that their views are personal.

In this spirit, creating a social architecture that provides a meaningful space for internal and external interactions has been an ongoing mission for Andrew Way, vice president of GE’s Oil & Gas Drilling & Surface Division. “I love the social-media stuff,” he says, “so I surround myself with an organization that supports it.”

In Way’s last role in the division, he and his team launched a video project about the history and current timeline of the business. Since the videos are shared with customers, team members must make choices about which content can cross external boundaries. “It’s an evolving thing. Every quarter, the team adds a new segment that features important things that happened in the last three months. It has resulted in a continuing story, and people look forward to every new version.”

Way says that the videos have united division members around common goals, helping to bring new employees on board and making everyone more proficient in using new media. “Three years ago, an effort like this would have used PowerPoint with a standardized font. It clearly has created a new culture.” Boosting engagement with stakeholders such as customers is an added benefit, since videos often include them in segments to help tell stories.

6. The leader as analyst: Staying ahead of the curve
As companies start to digest the consequences of the Web 2.0 revolution, the next paradigm shift is already knocking on the door. The next generation of connectivity—the Internet of Things—will link together appliances, cars, and all kinds of objects. As a result, there will be about 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020.3 This transformation will open new opportunities, spawn new business models, and herald yet another major inflection point that leaders must manage.

It’s imperative to keep abreast of such emerging trends and innovations—not just their competitive and marketplace implications, but also what they mean for communications technologies, which are fundamental for creating an agile, responsive organization. Executives who monitor weak signals and experiment with new technologies and devices will be able to act more quickly and capture the advantages of early adoption.

GE’s leadership university, Crotonville, is leading a number of initiatives to help top executives stay ahead of those changes. One example is a program called Leadership Explorations, launched in 2011 to support continuous learning for top executives and organized in locales connected with a specific strategic-leadership theme. In Silicon Valley, leaders are immersed in a range of cutting-edge technologies. Part of the program there involves “reverse mentoring,” which connects media-savvy millennials with senior GE leaders to discuss the latest tech buzz and practice. Many participants continue to exchange insights long after the formal session is over. Exposing seasoned leaders to the millennial mind-set encourages them to experiment with new technologies—which, in turn, helps them better engage with up and comers.

Clearly, these are early days. Most companies recognize social media as a disruptive force that will gather strength rather than attenuate. But social-media literacy as we define it here is not yet an element of leadership-competency models or of performance reviews and reward systems. Equally, it has not yet found its way into the curricula of business schools and leadership-development programs.

This needs to change. We are convinced that organizations that develop a critical mass of leaders who master the six dimensions of organizational media literacy will have a brighter future. They will be more creative, innovative, and agile. They will attract and retain better talent, as well as tap deeper into the capabilities and ideas of their employees and stakeholders. They will be more effective in collaborating across internal and external boundaries and enjoy a higher degree of global integration. They will benefit from tighter and more loyal customer relationships and from the brand equity that comes with them. They will be more likely to play leading roles in their industries by better leveraging the capabilities of their partners and alliances in cocreation, codevelopment, and overall industry collaboration. And they will be more likely to create new business models that capitalize on the potential of evolving communications technologies.

It takes guts to innovate radically in leadership and organization, for legacy systems, cultures, and attitudes are powerful forces of inertia. Fortunately, the inherent quality of social media is a powerful transformational force. Social-media engagement will confront leaders with the shortcomings of traditional organizational designs. Leaders who address these shortcomings will learn how to develop the enabling infrastructure that fosters the truly strategic use of social technologies. When organizations and their leaders embrace the call to social-media literacy, they will initiate a positive loop allowing them to capitalize on the opportunities and disruptions that come with the new connectivity of a networked society. And they will be rewarded with a new type of competitive advantage.

Source: McKinsey Quaterly, February 4, 2013
Authors: Roland Deiser and Sylvain Newton
About the authors: Roland Deiser is a senior fellow at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University and author of Designing the Smart Organization: How Breakthrough Corporate Learning Initiatives Drive Strategic Change and Innovation (John Wiley & Sons, October 2009). Sylvain Newton is the GE Crotonville Leadership Senior Leader for Business and Regions.

What’s next for China?

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Thailand / Asia on February 3rd, 2013 by admin

As China gradually shifts to a more consumer-driven economy, companies must adapt their offerings and ways of doing business.

China’s economy is starting its historic shift to a more consumption- and service-driven model that should help sustain the country’s growth, albeit at a slower rate, over the next decade and beyond. As November’s 18th congress of the Chinese Communist Party showed, new government policies are helping to move the economy in this direction, even though investment—the historical motor of China’s growth—will still command the lion’s share of the economy in the near term.

These new policies will favor household income growth, improve the social safety net, and support the expansion of the service sector and private enterprises, especially small and midsize businesses. Two markers of a more economically developed society will be the higher productivity of its workers and higher productivity and greater efficiency on the part of government. These trends will create more and better-paid jobs and thus raise the share of the national income in the hands of consumers—the key determinant of China’s future economic profile.

China’s expanding cities will play a major role in these trends. In particular, the accelerated rise of smaller cities will make a key contribution to growth: during the next two decades, the dozens of cities with current populations of less than 1.5 million will contribute 40 percent of the total increase in urban GDP. Cities with 1.5 million to 5.0 million inhabitants will contribute about 25 percent and existing megacities the balance.

A new report from McKinsey’s China office, What’s next for China?, identifies key areas companies should focus on to thrive there.

1. Embrace the new trends in urban development.
Companies should design city-specific solutions—products, marketing approaches, and operating models—that meet the quite varied needs of the smaller cities that are expanding rapidly and underpinning China’s long-term growth. In addition, they should optimize their resources across the hub-and-spoke city clusters emerging throughout China. Hub cities will increasingly service the needs of the spoke cities, where most manufacturing takes place.

2. Focus on the growing demand for services and consumer goods.
As disposable incomes rise, consumers will be able to buy more services and goods. That should spur the expansion of new service businesses ranging from catering to financial services, as well as the further expansion of demand for consumer products, across China’s immense and growing market. At the same time, business services will grow more quickly as the country’s economy continues to develop.

3. Foster new skills and innovation capabilities.
The growth of the urban labor pool is slowing as the country’s population ages. Companies will have to increase their productivity through training, automation, more flexible production, and enhanced employee loyalty. They will also need to foster new skills, from strategic planning to the maintenance of high-tech equipment. At the same time, in parallel with the shift to an increasingly service- and consumption-led economy, China’s innovation capabilities can be expected to improve rapidly. Companies there should nurture them to develop products that meet the demands of this important and growing market and of other markets around the world.

Source: McKinsey Quaterly, January 2013

Att våga är vägen till lyckade beslut

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on February 3rd, 2013 by admin

BESLUTSÅNGEST Har du svårt att välja – utbildning, jobb, riktning i livet? Två nya böcker ger dig vägledning. I ”Välj rätt” berättar medicine doktorn om hur hjärnan fungerar vid beslutsfattande, i den andra ”Du har svaren” hjälper filosofen dig att formulera frågor.

I en värld av valmöjligheter är det extra svårt att fatta beslut. Gräset verkar alltid grönare på andra sidan. Samtidigt är en förändring alltid lite hotfull. Så här i början av terminen sitter många på olika utbildningar och undrar om de valde rätt. I gymnasiet byter elever skolor för fullt. Vissa skruvar sig på sin kontorsstol och tvekar om att byta jobb, andra tänker att det kan vara dags att lämna sin relation.

Starten på höstterminen är ett andra nyår. Fulla av sommarenergi vill vi styra om våra skutor och satsa mot en ljusare framtid. Beslutsångesten trappas upp. Hjärnan går på högvarv.
Lägligt nog har två nya böcker kommit som kanske kan hjälpa oss att fatta klokare beslut eller åtminstone formulera viktiga frågor om framtiden. Den ena är skriven av Katarina Gospic som disputerade förra året med en avhandling om hur vi reglerar våra känslor och vad som händer i hjärnan när vi fattar beslut. I sin nya bok förklarar hon mer förenklat varför det är smart att få koll på hur belöningssystemet styr oss och varför rädsla och ilska inverkar starkt på våra livsval.

Viktigast är att inse när känslorna tar över och hindrar oss från att tänka långsiktigt. Det är bra att få koll på när vi blir ”limbiska” (reagerar med reptilhjärnan, det vill säga mest känslomässigt) istället för ”kortikala” (reagerar med pannloben, det vill säga eftertänksamt och långsiktigt). Våra hjärnor suktar efter trygghet och snabba belöningar. För att fatta bättre beslut gäller det att vi använder pannloberna och den list vi människor också är rustade med.

Katarina Gospic uppmanar tveksamma läsare att tänka oss dödsbädden när vi ska ta beslut inför framtiden. Skulle du ångra om du gjorde si eller så? Ofta hjälper svaret oss att hitta vår inre motivation – en mer hållbar drivkraft än de snabba belöningar som hjärnan går igång på först.
Vi människor är förvisso utrustade med en hjärna som är unik med synnerligen välutvecklad pannlob. Den gör att vi kan föreställa oss framtiden, planera och hämma impulser. Men samtidigt är vi, precis som alla andra varelser på jorden, huvudsakligen gjorda för att skaffa barn. Många av våra impulser, styrda utifrån äldre delar av hjärnan än pannloben, syftar till att öka våra chanser att fortplanta oss. Därför får vi starka känsloreaktioner som gör oss kära, hungriga och rädda (för att skydda avkomman). Det är dessa kopplingar som styr hur vi reagerar på omvärlden, vilka beslut vi fattar och hur vi presterar. De bidrar till att vi ibland reagerar mer primitivt än nödvändigt.

Osäkerhet påverkar oss negativt. Att ta det säkra för det osäkra är ett tydligt drag hos djur och barn som har outvecklade pannlober. Rädsla är en av de starkaste drivkrafterna som kan få oss att ta fel beslut (eller rätt!).
–Vår ”default-inställning” är att välja trygghet. Uppbrott är förenade med så mycket osäkerhet att livet efteråt är svårt att föreställa sig, säger Katarina Gospic.

Att starta en process som att göra slut eller byta från det trygga jobb du har till ett nytt som du inte vet mycket om får amygdala att gå på högvarv i syfte att få dig att till varje pris undvika denna handling.
Rädsla för att handla är något många ångrar på dödsbädden, menar Katarina Gospic. Att våga blir ofta bra även om alla rädslor inte är dåliga.
–Konsten att fatta svåra beslut bottnar i träning. Första gången vi hoppar från hopptornet är det jätteläskigt. Vi är programmerade att vara lata och ta den kortaste vägen. Därför undviker vi att hoppa alls, men 57:e gången går det bra. Då sparar hjärnan energi, men en ansträngning kan ge en extra stor belöning efteråt, förklarar Katarina Gospic.

Själv säger denna 28-åriga läkare, medicine doktor och nyblivna författaren och företagaren att hon gillar att se livet och resultatet av olika händelser som livsläxor.
–När det inte blir som man tänkt sig lär man sig något nytt. Man får inte fokusera för hårt på att ett beslut ska bli helt rätt.

Vi behöver få bättre koll på hur belöningsstyrda vi är i vårt beslutsfattande, säger Katarina Gospic som skrivit boken ”Välj rätt” utifrån sin egen och andras forskning.

Välja väg i livet
Del 1
En serie om att fatta beslut för framtiden.
I boken ”Välj rätt” uppmanas vi fundera över vilka spratt våra stenåldershjärnor försöker spelar oss när vi ska välja. De styr mot snabba belöningar, trygghet före risk och yttre motivation. Men ditt bästa val kan vara det rakt motsatta – långsiktigt, riskfyllt och styrt av inre motivation.
1. Så påverkar kort- och långsiktiga belöningar.
Belöning är motorn i allt mänskligt beteende. Vår hjärna vill ha snabba belöningar. Att kasta sig bort från ett tråkigt jobb eller en ansträngande utbildning kan vara en sån. Långsiktiga mål kräver mer pannlobskraft. Vilket val gör vägen mot ditt mål mest givande?
2.Styrs du av inre motivation eller yttre?
Inre motivation är en mer hållbar drivkraft även om snabba pengar, socialt tryck eller prestige lockar till snabb belöning. Vem vill att du ska bli läkare? Varför vill du jobba i finansbranschen? Vad driver dig?
3. Väljer du trygghet eller risk?
Rädsla bidrar till flest beslut som blir fel i längden. Rädsla är en stark kraft som alltid försöker föra oss mot en trygg och säker strategi istället för en riskfylld. Detta leder lätt till beslutsångest och att vi inte väljer alls. Hur bra blir det?
4. Dominerar limbiska eller kortikala delar av hjärnan ditt beslut?
Lär känna dig själv. Söker du ofta snabba, kortsiktiga belöningar och lever ut dina känslor? Då ska du träna på mer kortikala, eftertänkta, val. Håller du ofta tillbaka känslor och funderar mycket länge inför beslut är det läge att agera mer limbiskt och låta dina känslor styra.
5. Ego vs grupp
I grunden är vi egoistiska. Hjärnan är inställd på att gynna oss själva för att vi ska kunna göra barn. Men respekt för gruppen och känsla för rättvisa är också inbyggt i våra hjärnor. Balans mellan vad som är bra för mig och för gruppen är eftersträvansvärt.
6. Optimera dina system
Ät bra, träna och se till att sova tillräckligt så har du en bättre grund för att tänka klokt. När vi är trötta blir vi mer limbiska, ängsligare och riskerar att ta kortsiktiga beslut.
7. Ta en paus
Du har tänkt igenom allt men kan ändå inte ta beslut. När man är väldigt engagerad är det lätt att inte se skogen för alla trän. Tryck på paus, gå ut och tänk på annat så får hjärnan vila från ditt dilemma.
Källa: ”Välj rätt – en guide till bra beslut” av Katarina Gospic (Brombergs)

Källa:, 17 september 2012
Artikelförfattare: Maria Carling (kontakt)