CMO 2.0 Influencer Conversation with Dave Logan, Senior Partner CultureSync

Written by on July 27, 2009 – 10:01 am -

Dave_LoganI had another great CMO 2.0 Influencer Conversation with Dave Logan, the co-author of “Tribal Leadership,” professor at USC and co-founder and Senior Partner at CultureSync.

Dave started off by talking about the research that he and his colleagues, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright, did over a period of eight years and which led them to uncover five distinct organizational cultures. The context: as you move up through the various stages, everything you want – such as effectiveness, productivity, and innovation – increases, while everything that you don’t want – such as stress, anxiety, and even workplace violence – decreases.

Dave then took us through the aspects and details of the five tribal leadership stages and what the key motivator is for each. Worth noting: the reason they settled on a tribal metaphor is because they found that it is not the individual that determines a company’s culture, nor is it the organization as a whole. Rather the culture gets determined by ‘tribes’ – those naturally occurring groups of 20-150 individuals in organizations through which the work gets done.

Here is a summary of the five stages of Tribal Leadership:

  • Stage 1 is motivated by the motto “life sucks.” This is the domain of workplace violence and it makes up about 2% of tribes.
  • Stage 2 is motivated by the theme “my life sucks.” These tribes move very slowly, they don’t collaborate and they have very low performance – in fact they do the bare minimum not to get fired. They also have a high degree of cynicism (done that, been there) and they comprise 25% of the tribes.
  • Stage 3 is where people think “I am great, but you are not.” Productivity and effectiveness in these tribes increases, but they need to verbally compete to operate.This stage is very typical of professions where knowledge or personal achievement is key – or where you need to outperform you peers to get ahead. Again there is very little collaboration at this stage and people talk a lot about themselves. They comprise 48% of the tribes.
  • Stage 4 is where people are motivated by “we are great and they are not.” You find those cultures primarily in young organizations and high tech environments where there is little bureaucracy, making it easier to get things done. Because they are based on shared values, there is less politicking going on, less anxiety and much more collaboration. They make up 22% of the tribes.
  • Stage 5 cultures no longer need rivals and their theme is “life is great.” It’s focused purely on values – e.g, curing cancer. This is where the breakthroughs happen and they make up 2% of the tribes.

As a leader, you need to stabilize the level that your tribe is operating before you can work on moving them up to the next level. If you do not push into a new level from a stable position at the previous level, your tribe will operate in a position of weakness and have a high likelihood of regressing back. Of course, that also means that you cannot skip a level. Dave used the example of many dot.coms to make that point. They deluded themselves into thinking they were operating at level 5 without having gone through the previous stages. When the bust hit, many of those tribes regressed multiple stages – some as far as Stage 1.

As he describes it, one’s goal should be to reach Stage 4 and then stabilize your tribe there. That requires you to constantly review the values that you share with your team – always making sure that you are still fighting for the same thing. You also continuously need to connect people with other people as Stage 4 is characterized by fused relationship – where groups of three operate as a single unit.

Organizational change can come by changing one tribe at a time, and if you want to change the level of an organization as a whole, you have to start with the most senior executive tribe first. That is especially hard considering that traditional management structures are very much designed as Stage 3 environments – the leader is great and most others are not, they are dominated by two-people relationships, and they are very political.

The most important leadership skills for tribal leadership are: 1) the ability to notice and identify tribes, and 2) the ability to assess tribal stages, which is primarily based on listening skills to uncover what language tribes are using and what values they share. Transparency is important as well. Without it you cannot build the trust to get to Stage 4 and 5.

Other topics we discussed include:

  • Co-existence of the different tribal leadership stages within companies
  • How people in Stages 1-3 feel threatened by people who are better than them and therefore hire people who they can control – and how companies at Stage 4-5 develop processes to avoid this
  • Some simple techniques to help move an organization forward
  • How people can belong to multiple tribes, some of which span the corporate boundaries, and what that means for companies.
  • How good leaders get (re)defined by their tribes

As usual you can listen to the recorded podcast below and soon we will be putting up a transcript.


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Posted in CMO 2.0 Influencer Conversation | 2 Comments »

CMO 2.0 Conversation with Mark Gambill, CMO at CDW

Written by on July 20, 2009 – 9:48 am -

Mark GambillI just had another great CMO 2.0 Conversation – this time with Mark Gambill, the CMO at CDW. As usual we started by having Mark provide some context about his company and his focus there. In this case the company is an $8B provider of software, hardware and services to a variety of industries that has more than 400,000 customers.

The conversation then moved to how some of fundamental changes in the industry – e.g., the fact that people are making their buying decisions based on information they gain online and in social networks, that they increasingly bring their own tools to work, and that mobile devices are more and more looking like full fledged computers – is affecting marketing. Mark talked about the blurring lines between consumer and business applications and about the need to not flail as a marketer when it comes to integrating social media as part of your marketing mix.

He also talked about the need to segment customers differently and how deep consumer research allowed them to uncover six customer profiles that help them better answer the questions: “what do we stand for?”, “who do we serve?”, and “how do we win?” Interestingly enough (and we see more and more marketers follow this trend), much of the segmentation was based on behavioral characteristics of potential buyers and not traditional market segment data. Other information that came with the profiles include data on where those people like to hang out, how they prefer to receive and consume their information, who else they are listening to, and more. All of this allows them to create and distribute content – both online and offline – in a much more effective way than what they were able to do before.

We then talked about the challenges of developing a recognizable brand when you do not manufacture your own products but instead distribute those of companies that may have pretty strong brands themselves. The way CDW tackles this complex problem is by being “technostic” (meaning technology agnostic) and by positioning themselves as a trusted solution partner. They also realize that buyers establish trusted relations with people more so than with companies or organizations, and so every customer gets a dedicated account manager. With a maniacal focus on customized personal service for every customer they hope that this is what will allow them to deliver against that “trusted partner” brand promise.

We also talked fairly extensively about CDW’s commitment to and use of social media. They had started a small business community but then decided that they would be better served by engaging, as participants as well as sponsors, in places where people were already hanging out. (It is always good to speak with a marketer who resists “the not invented here syndrome” that we have witnessed so many times when companies deploy communities as part of their business processes. They feel like the only way to be successful is by hosting the community on their own platform, even if a strong community already exists on some other platform.) Mark sees social media as a meaningful way to engage people in the context of customer support, but he thinks there is a scaling issue when it comes to leveraging it for lead generation. This is something we have heard from other marketers who need hundreds of thousands, if not millions of customers to be successful. The key here may be to develop a comprehensive leader/ambassador strategy and to understand how those people will help amplify everything you do across the various platforms where your customers, prospects, and detractors hang out.

Although, as usual, we ran out of time, we did get to talk about the types of people that Mark is looking for in staffing his marketing department. Besides finding people who are a good fit from a corporate culture point of view, Mark is looking for well rounded people who, while they may not yet have the full battery of skills one might desire, can be trusted to learn them as well as embrace future skills that we don’t yet know will be valuable. Another important hiring criteria in Mark’s business is diversity. Mark is also convinced that a CMO has to increasingly become a well rounded generalist, with knowledge that goes well beyond marketing.

Other things that we discussed include:

  • The importance of face-to-face meetings in customer relations
  • The importance of good customer service in brand building
  • How they are monitoring what is being said about them in the social media space and how they are engaging
  • The importance of understanding “human 1.0″ in explaining what is happening in a web 2.0 world
  • The importance of appealing to the altruistic part of the brain instead of the pleasure side of the brain when running communities
  • The impact of the “green wave” on technology sales
  • The importance of ROI, customer loyalty and other marketing metrics

As usual you can listen to the interview below and soon we will put up a transcript of the call.


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CMO 2.0 Influencer Conversation with John Hagel, Co-Chairman of the Center For the Edge at Deloitte

Written by on July 8, 2009 – 7:19 am -

John_HagelI had a lot of fun conducting this CMO 2.0 Influencer Conversation with John Hagel, the Co-Chair of the Center For the Edge at Deloitte, and one of my all time favorite business thinkers.

John started off by explaining the meaning behind the name of the center which he co-leads with John Seely Brown – the Center For The Edge. For them, the edges are those areas on the periphery where you first see emerging new opportunities. The challenge with the growth opportunities at the edges is to scale them – either by connecting them to the core where all the money and all the people are, through collaboration, or through competition. There are many different types of edges, including geographic ones (think China, India), demographic edges (e.g., the younger generation entering the workforce), marketplaces with unmet needs, or technology edges. The key take-away for executives is to keep focusing on those edges as they are the places where future growth opportunities will first show up. They also need to realize that many of those edges are not part of their organizations or their existing ecosystems.

Next we talked about the newly released  Shift Index, a set of three indices and 25 metrics designed to make longer-term performance trends more relevant and actionable (you can download the full report here). The Index, which was based on a yearlong research project, helps explain, among other things, the intensification of competition that many companies are witnessing today, and which has lead to the mean for company survival to come down to 10 years compared to 75 years in the 1930′s. Other metrics within the index help executives measure the consequences of that intensifying competition and also allow them to measure their performance relative to others. The research also uncovered some concerning trends – one of which is that ROA (Return On Asset) in the US decreased by 75% in the last four decades. And that in the face of consistent increases in labor productivity over that same period.

One of the key conclusions of the study is that competition is intensifying and that companies are not doing so well – their existing management practices are not keeping up with the changes.

We talked about some of the things that companies can do in order to cope with the changes afoot. One of those is to shift from a knowledge stock mentality, where you aggressively protect and hoard proprietary knowledge, build scalable offerings around it, and then extract value from it for the longest possible time, to a knowledge flow mentality, where you realize that what you know today has rapidly diminishing value and where you refresh your knowledge stocks by participating in knowledge flows. One of the big challenges for companies is that unlike information or data flows, knowledge does not flow easily – as it relies on long-term trust-based relationships. So the key to success in this new economic reality is to move from a transactional world to a long-term trust-based world. Examples of taking on a knowledge flow approach include letting your key customers participate in product innovation, or turning them into affiliates to allow them to help one another.

In this increasingly fast-cycle world, John believes that the role of serendipity will be progressively more important. He defines serendipity as “unexpected encounters that are valuable and generate pleasure when you encounter them,” and rather than believe that serendipity is based on pure luck, he believes that we can shape serendipity – both by increasing quality and quantity of unexpected ecounters. One way of doing that is by selecting location. By choosing a “spiky” physical location where there is a high concentration of talent you are much more likely to encounter serendipity than if you were on a farm in Iowa. The same is true for the virtual locations you decide to hang out in – whether social networks or communities. Choosing location by itself won’t do the trick however. If you want to shape serendipity you still need to set yourself up so that you are attracting attention, and increasing visibility and findability for yourself.

Another thing that companies need to focus on to better deal with this new economic reality is to shift from a push model to a pull model – one in which you attract partners, customers and talent, instead of pushing out products and messages. John reiterated the importance of shifting from an intercept, insulate and inhibit marketing mentality to one of attracting, assisting and affiliating customers and prospects.

We wrapped up by talking about John’s evolving views about business communities since he wrote Net Gain almost 12 years ago (to date, and in my biased opinion, probably still one of the most important books on business communities). He would reaffirm that there are huge challenges to building communities, but that if you build them around the needs of the members they can be very powerful. He would also expand on the need for three distinct, and sometimes conflicting, skill-sets or cultures that  are required to ensure successful communities – centered around content, social interactions, and economic business models. Unfortunatelly, most communities only have one or two of those skill-sets engaged.

We also talked about:

  • The need to shift from firewall around the company mentality to a modularized firewall around core company IP
  • How you cannot participate in knowledge flows for very long if you are only a “taker”
  • The importance of face-to-face in building trusted relationships
  • The importance of having hyper-local face-to-face components in large online community
  • The balance between the need to increase the number of partners we engage with with the need to build deep relationships in order to allow knowledge flow
  • The talent Dilbert paradox and how talent is motivated by the talent development
  • How you need a high growth strategy to attract and keep talent
  • The importance of the “collaboration curve”  in scaling the organizational learning, which they described in detail on their new blog - The Big Shift
  • The importance for companies to start adopting a federated view/architecture for their online community efforts

You can listen to the actual CMO 2.0 Influencer Conversation below and soon we will be putting up a transcript of this conversation.


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Posted in CMO 2.0 Influencer Conversation | 7 Comments »
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