What it takes to be a CEO in the 2020s

7. February 2020

Date: 06‑02‑2020

Source: The Economist

The rules of management are being ripped up. Bosses need to adapt

On paper this is a golden age for bosses. Chief executives have vast power. The 500 people who run America’s largest listed firms hold sway over 26m staff. Profits are high and the economy is purring. The pay is fantastic: the median of those ceos pockets $13m a year. Sundar Pichai at Alphabet has just got a deal worth up to $246m by 2023. The risks are tolerable: your chances of being fired or retiring in any year are about 10%. ceos often get away with a dreadful performance. In April Ginni Rometty will stand down from ibm after eight years in which Big Blue’s shares have trailed the stockmarket by 202%. Adam Neumann got high in private jets and lost $4bn before being ousted from WeWork last year. The only big drawback is all those meetings, which eat up two‑thirds of the typical boss’s working hours.

Yet ceos say the job has got harder. Most point the finger at “disruption”, the idea that competition is more intense. But they have been saying that for years. In fact the evidence suggests that, as America’s economy has become more sclerotic, big firms have been able to count on cranking out high profits for longer. Nonetheless, bosses are right that something has changed. The nature of the job is being disrupted. In particular, ceos’ mechanism for exercising control over their vast enterprises is failing, and where and why firms operate is in flux. That has big implications for business, and for anyone climbing the corporate ladder. Read the rest of this entry »

Geht uns die Arbeit aus?

5. November 2015

Interview im Wiesner-Hager Kundenmagazin “contact” November 2015  WH_Contact21_karner

Karner Geht uns die Arbeit aus

Leading Light: Warren Bennis is Dead

9. August 2014

Date: 09-08-2014

Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

Bennis The man who invented the study of corporate leadership, Warren Bennis, died on July 31. WARREN BENNIS was the world’s most important thinker on the subject that business leaders care about more than any other: themselves. When he started writing about leadership in the 1950s the subject was a back road. When he died on July 31st it was an eight-lane highway crowded with superstar professors whizzing along in multi-million-dollar muscle cars.

Mr Bennis produced about 30 books on leadership.

Some of them are classics, such as “On Becoming a Leader” (1989). All are surprisingly readable, stuffed with anecdotes, examples and literary references. He offered advice to leaders from all walks of life. Howard Schultz, the chairman of Starbucks, regarded him as a mentor. Presidents from both sides of the aisle—John Kennedy and Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan—sought his advice. If Peter Drucker was the man who invented management (as a book about him claimed), then Warren Bennis was the man who invented leadership as a business idea. 

Central to his thinking was a distinction between managers and leaders. Managers are people who like to do things right, he argued. Leaders are people who do the right thing. Managers have their eye on the bottom line. Leaders have their eye on the horizon. Managers help you to get to where you want to go. Leaders tell you what it is you want. He chastised business schools for focusing on the first at the expense of the second. People took MBAs, he said, not because they wanted to be middle managers but because they wanted to be chief executives. He argued that “failing organisations are usually over-managed and under-led”. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Get a Job at Google

23. February 2014

Date: 23-02-2014
Source: Thomas L. Friedman

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — LAST June, in an interview with Adam Bryant of The Times, Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google — i.e., the guy in charge of hiring for one of the world’s most successful companies — noted that Google had determined that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. … We found that they don’t predict anything.” He also noted that the “proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time” — now as high as 14 percent on some teams. At a time when many people are asking, “How’s my kid gonna get a job?” I thought it would be useful to visit Google and hear how Bock would answer.

Don’t get him wrong, Bock begins, Good grades certainly don’t hurt.” Many jobs at Google require math, computing and coding skills, so if your good grades truly reflect skills in those areas that you can apply, it would be an advantage. But Google has its eyes on much more.

“There are five hiring attributes we have across the company,” explained Bock. “If it’s a technical role, we assess your coding ability, and half the roles in the company are technical roles. For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.”

The second, he added, “is leadership — in particular emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership. Traditional leadership is, were you president of the chess club? Were you vice president of sales? How quickly did you get there? We don’t care. What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.”

What else? Humility and ownership. “It’s feeling the sense of responsibility, the sense of ownership, to step in,” he said, to try to solve any problem — and the humility to step back and embrace the better ideas of others. “Your end goal,” explained Bock, “is what can we do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.”

And it is not just humility in creating space for others to contribute, says Bock, it’s “intellectual humility. Without humility, you are unable to learn.” It is why research shows that many graduates from hotshot business schools plateau. “Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure,” said Bock.

The least important attribute they look for is “expertise.” Said Bock: “If you take somebody who has high cognitive ability, is innately curious, willing to learn and has emergent leadership skills, and you hire them as an H.R. person or finance person, and they have no content knowledge, and you compare them with someone who’s been doing just one thing and is a world expert, the expert will go: ‘I’ve seen this 100 times before; here’s what you do.’ ” Most of the time the nonexpert will come up with the same answer, added Bock, “because most of the time it’s not that hard.” Sure, once in a while they will mess it up, he said, but once in a while they’ll also come up with an answer that is totally new. And there is huge value in that.

To sum up Bock’s approach to hiring: Talent can come in so many different forms and be built in so many nontraditional ways today, hiring officers have to be alive to every one — besides brand-name colleges. Because “when you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.”
Too many colleges, he added, “don’t deliver on what they promise. You generate a ton of debt, you don’t learn the most useful things for your life. It’s [just] an extended adolescence.”

Google attracts so much talent it can afford to look beyond traditional metrics, like G.P.A. For most young people, though, going to college and doing well is still the best way to master the tools needed for many careers. But Bock is saying something important to them, too: Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.

Management thinkers disagree on how to manage complexity

28. November 2013

Date: 27-11-2013
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

THERE can be few better places to talk about complexity than Vienna. This was the capital of the most complicated political organisation yet seen: the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was also the centre of some of the most convoluted cold-war spy games. On November 14th and 15th hundreds of management enthusiasts converged on the Austrian capital to debate the subject. They had little interest in the complexities of the Habsburgs or the cold war. They were preoccupied instead by two points: that business is more complicated than ever before; and that managing complexity is at the top of businesspeople’s agenda.

Whether they were right about the first point is debatable. In the 18th century it took six months for letters to travel from East India House in London to Calcutta and back. Today, supply chains can be managed in real time, and masses of data can be crunched instantly at the touch of a button. But they were right about the second. Businesspeople are confronted by more of everything than ever before: this year’s Global Electronics Forum in Shanghai featured 22,000 new products. They have to make decisions at a faster pace: roughly 60% of Apple’s revenues are generated by products that are less than four years old. Therefore, they have a more uncertain future: Harvard Business School’s William Sahlman warns young entrepreneurs about “the big eraser in the sky” that can come down at any moment and “wipe out all their cleverness and effort”. Read the rest of this entry »

Die Krise des Marketings

26. July 2013

Wenn die Marketing Manager so viel Kompetenz haben wie der Autor des Artikels, wundert er mich nicht, dass sie keinen Einfluss in ihren Unternehmen mehr haben. (hfk)


Von Thorsten Hennig-Thurau

Die einstige Königsdisziplin gilt in vielen Unternehmen nur noch als Beiwerk. Schuld sind kurzsichtige CEOs, aber auch die Zunft selbst. Ein Weckruf.

Beginnen wir mit einer recht niederschmetternden Feststellung: Das Marketing ist heute in vielen Unternehmen keine treibende Kraft. Zwei Drittel der Vorstandsvorsitzenden der größten deutschen Unternehmen sind Naturwissenschaftler, Ingenieure oder Juristen, nur jeder fünfte CEO hat zuvor im Marketing gearbeitet. Und es kommt noch schlimmer: Nur 10 Prozent aller CEOs gaben laut einer Fournaise-Studie an, die Arbeit ihrer Marketingmanager zu schätzen. Da scheint es fast schon konsequent, dass einige Firmen wie beispielsweise der US-amerikanische Online-Dienst AOL, der Unterhaltungskonzern Walt Disney und der Unterhaltungselektronikhändler Best Buy Marketing als Vorstandsaufgabe für überflüssig halten. Marketing ist in vielen Unternehmen zu einer Unterabteilung degradiert worden, die gerade mal als Schnittstelle mit der Werbeagentur fungiert oder die operative Preissetzung übernimmt.

Dabei war Marketing doch eigentlich ganz anders gedacht. Wie hat es die Managementlegende Peter Drucker so treffend gesagt: Marketing ist die gesamte Geschäftstätigkeit, betrachtet aus der Ergebnisperspektive – nämlich der des Kunden. Der amerikanische Ökonom Philip Kotler und der Münsteraner Marketingpionier Heribert Meffert haben daraus das Konzept der marktorientierten Unternehmensführung gebaut, nach der nur erfolgreich sein wird, wer sich ganzheitlich an den Wünschen und Bedürfnissen der Kunden orientiert und entsprechende Angebote macht. Mit anderen Worten: Kundenorientierung ist der Dreh- und Angelpunkt für erfolgreiches Wirtschaften, und Kundenzufriedenheit ist die maßgebliche Grundlage für finanziellen Erfolg. Read the rest of this entry »

Das Dilemma* mit kontinuierlichen Veränderungssystemen

26. November 2012

Serie Realitätsverweigerung #7

von Helmut F. Karner

Es gibt dreierlei Arten von Problemen laut dem höchst originellen “Amt für Arbeit an unlösbaren Problemen und Maßnahmen der hohen Hand” (“Denkerei”: Brock, Sloterdijk & Co.): :

  1. grundsätzlich unlösbare (weil sie z.B. den Naturgesetzen widersprechen)
  2. die „typischen lösbaren Alltagsprobleme“
  3. die epochenbezogen unlösbaren Probleme. „Jede Epoche, jede Gesellschaftsformation erzeugt in sich Probleme, die im Rahmen des Systems nicht lösbar sind”.

Dass die Politik zur Lösung der Probleme #3 nicht fähig ist, verwundert aus ihrer (falsch verstandenen) Not zum Kompromiss nicht. Dann muss halt die “Natur” die Probleme lösen: Finanzcrash, Klimawandel, demografische Veränderungen etc.

Was mich allerdings betrübt ist, dass meiner Schätzung nach die von den Unternehmen in ihrem Dilemma angestrebten Lösungen zu mehr als 90% in der Kategorie #2 stehen bleiben.

Und dann geht es ihnen allerdings  so wie dem Esel im Dilemma (siehe Fussnote*).

Viele der Veränderungen, die uns umgeben/bevorstehen, sind einfach nicht mehr im selben “Betriebssysstem” zu lösen: Read the rest of this entry »

Stimmt denn eigentlich Ihr Business Modell noch?

5. November 2012

Serie Realitätsverweigerung #4

Helmut F. Karner, 5/11

Zeitgemässes Innovationsmanagement ist seit 5 Jahren um eine Dimension erweitert:

  • Produktinnovation: eh klar, wer da nicht dabei ist, gibt seine Gegenwart auf
  • Verfahrensinnovation: eh klar, weil sonst stimmen die Kosten, die Zeiten, die Servicequalität nicht
  • aber: Business Model Innovation ist die neue Dimension, bei den Avantgarden unter den Unternehmen seit 5 Jahren auf dem Radarschirm. Wer da nicht dabei ist, gibt seine Zukunft auf.
    John Kotter nennt es in seinem Artiekle “Accelerate!” in der HBR vom November 2012 auch “Context Change”. “Today any company that isn’t rethinking its direction at least every few years—as well as constantly adjusting to changing contexts—and then quickly making significant operational changes is putting itself at risk. But, as any number of business leaders can attest, the tension between needing to stay ahead of increasingly fierce competition and needing to deliver this year’s results can be overwhelming”.

Was sind die Fragestellungen bei der Business Model Innovation? Read the rest of this entry »

Das Dilemma der Kurzsichtigkeit – und wie Unternehmen langfristig überleben können

22. October 2012

Reinhard Bacher,22/10

Serie Realitätsverweigerung #2

Für viele Unternehmen wird der Druck immer größer, kurzfristige Erfolge nachzuweisen. Das liegt oft am (Geld-)Hunger von Investoren – egal, ob es nun darum geht, Dividenden auszuschütten, oder ob die „Braut geschmückt“ werden soll, um sie möglichst gut weiterverkaufen zu können. Es werden kaum noch Investitionen, die sich nicht in kurzer Zeit rechnen, getätigt. Dadurch geht vollkommen der Fokus auf eine nachhaltige Unternehmensentwicklung verloren.

Unternehmen müssen wieder beginnen, verstärkt in die Zukunft zu investieren. „Machen wir ohnehin!“ bekommen wir oft zu hören – „trotz finanzieller Schwierigkeiten haben wir unsere Investitionen in Forschung & Entwicklung nicht reduziert.“

Aber ist das genug? Wie gehen wir mit den noch nicht ganz ausgegorenen Hoffnungsträgern bei unseren Produkten oder den noch nicht ganz aufbereiteten Märkten um?

Read the rest of this entry »

What Technologies Will Crowdfunding Create?

17. September 2012

Date: 17-09-2012
Source: Technology Review

Super-users, hobbyists, and gadget fans are investing in innovations they want, and creating a new generation of entrepreneurs along the way.

It’s becoming a common story. A project listed on Kickstarter, the Internet crowdfunding website, ends up wildly exceeding its financial goals. Suddenly, someone is in business.

That’s what happened to inventor Jay Silver, creator of MaKey MaKey, an “invention kit” consisting of a processor board and alligator clips that turns objects with high electrical resistance—bananas, Play-Doh, human flesh—into computer controllers. Silver listed the project on Kickstarter this year hoping to raise $25,000. He ended up with $568,106.

Since then, it’s been a race to negotiate with Chinese manufacturers, customs agents, and wholesalers to produce and ship what will be the first product of Silver’s newly incorporated company, JoyLabz. “I was going to start this company in a few years, but my crowdfunding success accelerated the timing,” says Silver, who is 33. Read the rest of this entry »