Creating More Certainty

Current Issue
read current issue of pease strategic edge
Previous Issue
read previous issues of pease strategic edge

September 2011

Creating More Certainty
Since 2004, IBM has conducted a biennial *Global CEO Study Series which now covers 33 industries in 60 countries. Planning and pre-execution of the 2012 Global CEO Study is underway with data collection beginning again this December. The 2010 study, “Capitalizing on Complexity” is alarming. It’s clear. It’s also energizing. The study includes responses from 1,541 CEO’s and senior business unit leaders. Perhaps one of the more powerful findings of the study states that, “While eight out of ten CEO’s anticipate significant complexity ahead less than half feel prepared to handle it.”

The IBM study also took a look at some of their legacy data collected since 2004 and began to compare “Standout” organizations that were thriving, with sustained operating margin growth to the rest of the sample. Why were some companies thriving in uncertainty while so many others were not? The study discovered that the Standouts did not enjoy riding a wave of geographical advantage nor did they have the good fortune to be in the right industry at the right time (a rising tide lifts all boats). In short, the common denominator was creativity.

When all CEO’s were asked to list the top three leadership qualities for times of increasing complexity and uncertainty, Creativity (60%) was the winner followed by Integrity (52%) and Global Thinking (35%). In today’s business climate, creativity itself is being escalated to a leadership style. The study states that, “CEO’s now realize that creativity trumps other leadership characteristics”. It makes sense that vast, widespread uncertainty requires unprecedented degrees of creativity – to create and define the new state. Clarity and creativity can eventually establish a dynamic stability to the business environment. Dynamic stability is a stability that welcomes and expects uncertainty while meeting it with innovation at every level. And much study over time has indicated that stability releases ability.
The following are summary observations from the study about top Standout leaders:

Standout CEO’s (74%) make strategic planning an iterative (repeated with frequency) process. They establish a loop of continuous strategy
Standouts more likely to re-conceive their strategic planning process as needed
Standouts recognize and reward creativity throughout all levels of the organization
Standouts more likely (54%) to make data-supported but quick decisions (swift & right)
Standouts more open to allowing stakeholders to have access to them
Standouts allow and encourage others to question the status quo (even if working well)
While Standouts see just as much uncertainty/complexity ahead as the rest of the sample, only 6% of Standouts doubt their ability to handle it – as compared to 30+%
While many leaders doubt their ability to prosper in and from uncertainty, Standout leaders tend to believe otherwise.

I have a question for you but it will have to wait until November…


Receive usable observations, commentary, methods and research directly related to organizational and individual development by signing up to receive PSP’s bi-monthly e-mail communique, the Pease Strategic Edge