Thanks to DAU for publishing Digital Pentagon in the Nov/Dec edition of Defense AT&L Magazine.
The time has come for the Pentagon to retire its Industrial Age management model and invent a radically new approach for the Digital Age. The Department of Defense (DoD) faces an increasingly complex operational environment at a time of decreasing defense budgets. The DoD would yield better results if it harnessed its strategic initiatives to enabling innovation instead of strict cost-cutting measures. The enterprise that more than 40 years ago helped invent the Internet for research and development collaboration must leverage the Web as a platform to network its acquisition workforce…. (see full article).
George Westerman has an interesting post Should Your CIO Be Chief Digital Officer? on Harvard Business Review.
He discussed the emergence of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Here are some key excerpts:
In many companies, “digital” is a cacophony of disconnected, inconsistent, and sometimes incompatible activities. One company had three simultaneous mobile marketing initiatives, conducted by different groups, using different tools and vendors. Other companies have multiple employee collaboration platforms with different rules and technologies. The problem is exacerbated as business units do their own things digitally, or as companies hire vendors who can only do things their own way.
The CDO’s job is to turn the digital cacophony into a symphony. It’s OK to experiment with new businesses and tools, but experimentation must be coupled with building scalable, efficient capabilities. The CDO creates a unifying digital vision, energizes the company around digital possibilities, coordinates digital activities, helps to rethink products and processes for the digital age, and sometimes provides critical tools or resources.
In an increasingly digitizing business world, most companies need better digital leadership and coordination. You need to create a compelling digital vision, coordinate digital investments, drive appropriate synergies, build a clean technology platform, and foster innovation. You need to energize a busy workforce and generate shared understanding in your senior executive team.
As we draw down from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our force needs to make a very difficult transition from a large, rotational, counterinsurgency-based force to a leaner, more agile, more flexible, and ready force for the future.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter
See Dr. Carter’s full remarks at the National Press Club on May 7, 2013.
A March 2013 Harvard Business Review article, Long CEO Tenure Can Hurt Performance, highlighted research on CEO tenure on impact with employees and customers.
It’s a familiar cycle: A CEO takes office, begins gaining knowledge and experience, and is soon launching initiatives that boost the bottom line. Fast-forward a decade, and the same executive is risk-averse and slow to adapt to change—and the company’s performance is on the decline. Optimal tenure length: 4.8 years.
The underlying reasons for the pattern have to do with how CEOs learn. Early on, when new executives are getting up to speed, they seek information in diverse ways, turning to both external and internal company sources. This deepens their relationships with customers and employees alike.
But as CEOs accumulate knowledge and become entrenched, they rely more on their internal networks for information, growing less attuned to market conditions. And, because they have more invested in the firm, they favor avoiding losses over pursuing gains. Their attachment to the status quo makes them less responsive to vacillating consumer preferences.
In part 3 of my Inventing a Digital Pentagon post, I had a similar point on tenure of managers and key headquarters staff.
While the DoD frets about the frequent turnover of political appointees and program managers, it should remain vigilant of people who are entrenched into key headquarters staff positions. Maintaining a steady pipeline of fresh talent and ideas in organizations fosters an environment for thought leaders to emerge. Innovation rarely occurs from someone who has been in the same job for a decade. The DoD should review those who have been in a key position for over five years and develop transition strategies to maintain a vibrant enterprise.
Beyond tenure, they reinforced the importance of being attuned to the enterprise (internal and external) information networks. I couldn’t agree more.
Po Bronson had an inspiring piece in Fast Company in 2002: What Should I Do With My Life?
People thrive by focusing on the question of who they really are — and connecting that to work that they truly love (and, in so doing, unleashing a productive and creative power that they never imagined). Companies don’t grow because they represent a particular sector or adopt the latest management approach. They win because they engage the hearts and minds of individuals who are dedicated to answering that life question.
This is not a new idea. But it may be the most powerfully pressing one ever to be disrespected by the corporate world. There are far too many smart, educated, talented people operating at quarter speed, unsure of their place in the world, contributing far too little to the productive engine of modern civilization. There are far too many people who look like they have their act together but have yet to make an impact. You know who you are. It comes down to a simple gut check: You either love what you do or you don’t. Period.