The 4 Reasons Why Your Big Company's CEO Will Fail
How exactly did you become manager in the first place, again?
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I have worked for 14 years in service and consulting companies, for various and varied clients.
I've had to work for nearly twenty clients, most of the time for large companies well known to everyone. I have been a developer, project manager, architect, and I have been able to work in contact with operationals, ops and some of the managers of these companies. It is following various recent exchanges that I wanted to share my personal observation, on some fundamental differences between startups and a number of large companies.
Before continuing, I would like to warn you that I am deliberately provocative, and that the exercise of this article necessarily tends to be generalized. Moreover, this article does not refer to the employees of these companies, but to the C-Suite.
You Are Not Entrepreneurs
And neither am I. But did you sweat and stress when you started your business? Have to fight for the first customers, do the accounting, file your company's statuses, or set up a payroll system? No. Instead, very often, you have gone to the right school that allows you to pass above the glass ceiling, and that allow you to avoid knowing the operational management of a company. How many HR reps complain about their applications? Frankly, if you knew their work, you would do something. So go and dive into the world of entrepreneurship, discover what it is; I'm sure it will enrich you much more than you can imagine.
Perhaps then you would understand the first reason for a company's existence: to survive. To the question of the objectives of a company, I more than often hear the answer "earn money." Oh, really? Really, really? Do you think startups all make money in the first year? Do you really believe that your company is not in danger of disappearing one day? And making money is your goal in life?
You Are Managers, Not Business Leaders
Do you need a vision? You buy it from Gartner or a Big Four. A commercial strategy? A consulting company will set it up for you. A marketing strategy? Who can do the sales can do the marketing (I'm kidding, it's separate). An operational strategy? An expert firm in your sector of activity will define it. Do you need to develop or implement new systems? Developers from an external company will do it for you. You and your employees issue calls for tenders, you compare the offers made to you, and you ask your work to be done for you. And sometimes you ask other consulting companies to help you choose the supplier, because there is nothing better than a supplier to detect trundries from other suppliers. Do you think I'm exaggerating? No. I'm even being polite. Many of the large companies I have known operate like this. You buy your vision, your strategy, your delivery and often even part of your governance. Is that good? Is it effective? Efficient? Profitable? Does this give you a competitive advantage? Do you think Steve Jobs used to call Gartner regularly and ask them :
"But what do you think about the smartphone market?"
"But do you think Apple could do better?"
"Should Apple do it?"
"How much do I owe you?"
If you are not looking to be a visionary, even if you are wrong, you will only be remembered as a manager who "manages." And don't give me the excuse, "My business sector is blocked." Imagine, create!
As someone said: "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or come with me, and change the world?"
You Have No Vision
Who in the room knows a big company that has reinvented itself? Not many of us actually do, and many of us scratch our heads and say, "But yes, I know a small SME that has converted, but in what way, by the way? How many executives do not bring any real clear, credible, and serious vision for the next five years of their company? The overwhelming majority do not know and therefore aim for nothing.
I recently saw the Gartner slides of their major European symposium. We learn things that only very great visionaries can deduce:
You need to work on your employees' digital culture. All project managers know what an API Manager is, all employees are familiar with the competition at national and international level, all CDOs that boast of the startup spirit come from startups or are surrounded by people who have worked in startup, all companies have seen the breadth of digital come. More seriously, of course there is a concern for culture, your companies are locked into themselves in a world that is evolving towards a logic of networks and partnerships, and you are not training your employees. Do you honestly believe that when they get home they will follow their Moocs and Youtube videos and books by themselves to perfect their knowledge?
The switch from project to product. Extraordinary. Agility has been talking about products for years, not projects, and now we say to ourselves, "What is this product logic? That sounds like fun!" Of course, it's good! Your project does not close when you have delivered a new application! She'll live, she'll get better. Instead, you will give everything to do by providers, who will leave once the work is done. And you won't even know what's in it.
Afterward, of course, it is interesting to listen to Gartner because they are in contact with many companies, and know very well the topics that customers are discovering. But do we need a Gartner to know everything important they say? No!
All this would be avoided if the business leaders did some foresight themselves. Really.
You Have No Management Skills
Seriously, have you read different books on the subject? Have you really trained? I'm listening.
It is a rather sad picture of the situation. Is there any reason to hope? Yes, most certainly. It's not complicated. Read, talk to your company's employees, listen to them, consider them, keep an eye out, be interested in management and organizations. Get out of your comfort zone. If you don't, you may have had the best job you thought you could dream of, but not the job where you had the most fun. Do it for yourself, your employees, your customers, your partners, your bankers, your shareholders.
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