I am a big fan of Jim Collins. It is nice to hear again about his influence.
It is also sad to hear about CEO’s that don’t seem “to get it” when it comes our new digital world. It is also sad for the stock holders.
It is not a question of “if they will get it” but when, if at all. The velocity of digital transformations is stunning.
Years ago, Jim Collins wrote the best-selling book, Good to Great, praised by business leaders and academics alike. Collins noted seven characteristics common to firms that go from “good to great,” one of which was their ability to get the right people “on the bus.” This obviously includes the bus driver as well—the executives who guide their organizations. Unfortunately, more and more companies are concluding that they don’t have the right leadership. Significant CEO departures like Jeffrey Immelt leaving General Electric and Mark Fields stepping down at Ford highlight the struggle many companies face to find the right leadership in the digital age. As Michael Useem, professor at the Wharton School, said to the NY Times, “Who ever thought Ford would be competing with Google? But they are, and Mark Fields wasn’t moving fast enough.”
Speed is a serious concern for incumbent organizations. While their leaders are “driving the bus,” Jeff Bezos is flying past in a Prime-branded rocket ship. What has changed in the past sixteen years? The evolution of new, more profitable business models using new technologies like social, mobile, cloud, analytics, and platforms. The underlying technologies and rapid speed of evolution required to succeed with newer business models are real challenges for the average executive. Incumbent companies and traditional boards need new thinking and skills to succeed.