Thursday, December 4, 2008

CIOhio Keynote - Ram Charan

From Kevin Gadd - originally posted on his blog - Central Ohio Startups

Ram Charan, Global Business Advisor and Author was the CIOhio afternoon keynote speaker. There was no presentation Powerpoint. Ram just laid it all out from his experiences. It was quite impressive!

· You must always practice to be better

· We tend to recycle leadership characteristics but some are more important at certain times

· For these times Ram suggests the following are most important

1. Inspire your people in tough times
o Requires integrity and trust
o Be engaging and substantive
o Have humility
o This is not evangelism

2. Practice realism with a touch of optimism
o Articulate opportunities for the future
o Create positive energy

3. Practice frequent communication
o Break the bunker mentality
o Communicate the good and the bad

4. Leadership by hands on management
o Requires urgency – do it now and stop discussing, make tough calls
o Requires speed
o Requires flexibility

5. See the action in the external environment
o Get out to the end consumer
o Watch what is happening there
o Take no one’s word for this, see it yourself
o See things through other people’s lenses
o Go outside your industry and function
o Probe front line people
o Ask a team member to describe a change they see in the world at a staff meeting
o This is a form of social architecture

Remember - People are very anxious when they see no solutions

CEO’s and CFO’s are wrestling with the following issues now

· CASH – weather the storm and review cash positions daily

· Reduce your breakeven point to the lowest level

· Reduce complexity

· Understand that almost all companies will be smaller and get ahead of the curve

· Put people first
o Focus on the most talented people
o Change agents are the key people to keep around
o Those that have a the attitude to collaborate horizontally

· Make the tough calls!

3 specific things that the CIO’s can do

1. Learn about your company’s cash situation
a. What is being done about refinancing the debt?

2. Visit your peers in the company
a. Where is their pain and how can IT help reduce it?

3. Align you budget
a. What keeps the lights on is first
b. Compliance spending is next
c. What projects can increase the cash flow in the short term?

How best to trickle information down to the bottom layers?

· Have layers meet at the same time and translate information into the language of the audience
· Create cross functional teams
· Practice realism with a touch of optimism

Recommendations for small businesses

· Watch your cash!
· Watch your customers!
· Look for opportunities in this crisis!


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