Council Advisors
Home Our Practices Leadership Capital Careers Contact
« Return to insights

G100 Network Notebook | May 2017

Transformation Lessons from Transportation

Last year, I sat down with former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett shortly after he traded his Ford director seat to lead a new operational division in Smart Mobility. Our conversation takes on greater significance today, given how Ford’s recent management shakeup requires Jim to reprise his role as CEO and usher in transformation at Ford. From our short video with Jim on design, leadership, and disruption:

“You have to look at new business models in the sharing world today. … I see an opportunity for performance for Ford in this segment. … The secret in this, which is part of our strategy, is how do we up-the-game in terms of the fitness of sharing – and we have some ideas about that.”

Part of the challenge large organizations face with internal innovation is scaling culture, says new McKinsey research that shows how some companies find success with a “digital factory” model:

“Agile cultures are built on the belief that it is impossible to predict or detail the most impactful solution up-front. … This cultural shift demands that senior management let go of a grand illusion: that through extensive market research and analysis, they can divine market needs and control customer reaction.”

The Board and Cybersecurity

A survey of 5,000 board directors in 60+ countries ranks cybersecurity last in the order of risk priorities, yet directors acknowledge security is the area where they struggle most on the board, mainly due to a lack of expertise. This may explain why the number of CIO directors on Fortune 500 boards has risen 74% in the past few years, Harvard Business School researchers suggest:

“Out of the 23 board processes directors were asked to rate, cybersecurity came in dead last. This varied by industry – 42% of respondents in the IT and telecom industries reported strong measures. The materials and industrial sector admitted the lowest effectiveness of cybersecurity processes of all. And in the particularly vulnerable healthcare industry – a common target of data breaches – only 21% of directors felt cybersecurity practices were above average or excellent.”

What You Don’t Know About Utah

It’s booming, per Bloomberg, and the numbers for the fastest-growing state say it all. Utah’s economy expanded at nearly double the rate of U.S. growth for a comparable period. How? A unique mix of demographic, lifestyle, and pro-business trends draws more large companies that feed local industry:

“Zions Bancorporation, Utah’s biggest financial institution, outperformed 64 companies in the S&P 500 Financial Sector Index during the rally after the election, returning 33%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Salt Lake City-based Control4 Corp., which develops home-automation software and hardware for businesses and individuals, gained 56% this year, beating the Russell 3000 Index’s 5% and the 6% for the S&P 500.”

Artificial Intelligence and Immersive Computing

Andreessen Horowitz partner Frank Chen has emerged as an explainer-in-chief for AI after his video on the basics went viral. His follow-up presentation on the promise of AI does not disappoint, unveiling emergency service, healthcare, energy, retail, legal, and translation applications:

“AI is going to get into every important piece of software we write, the exact same way the relational database got into just about every piece of software we wrote…for the last 40 years.”

The video serves as a reminder of how Google sits at the edge of computing. Echoing this is an op-ed by Google’s VP of Augmented and Virtual Reality, Clay Bavor, who demystifies the world of immersive computing and explains how it aligns with Google’s work in mobile, cloud, and machine learning:

“Immersive computing will remove more of the abstractions between us and our computers. You’ll have access to information in context, with computing woven seamlessly into your environment. It’s the inevitable next step in the arc of computing interfaces.”

Workplace Diversity

A Wisconsin-based technology company has increased by double digits the number of women in senior leadership and management roles, while making other strides recruiting – and retaining – minorities in technical positions. This is a byproduct of Rockwell Automation’s continuous investment in coaching its largely white and male workforce on building diverse teams, reports Bloomberg:

“Unlike many tech companies and those in other industries, it never set hiring quotas or established formal mentoring programs. Instead, it focused on getting white male managers to change their attitudes. “Most companies are looking to the women and minorities to fit in or to tell them how to fix things and leaving out white men,” says Susan Schmitt, Rockwell’s senior vice president for human resources.”

The Truth About Trade Deficits

Do not expect trade deficits to close with tariffs or other trade barriers because currency intervention and fiscal balance are the bigger levers, says new research from Joseph Gagnon and Fred Bergsten of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. An excerpt:

“At the peak of the global imbalances in 2007, essentially all of China’s trade surplus could be explained by China’s currency manipulation. At the same time, about 35% of the US trade deficit was explained by foreign currency intervention and another 25% by the US fiscal deficit.”

The (Career) Path Less Traveled

Executives outside of human resources should think twice before passing on the CHRO role; it is an underserved path for career development and value creation, finds a survey of search firms, CEOs, and CHROs with nontraditional backgrounds. Researchers underscore the strategic importance of HR leadership and reveal what attributes people outside HR bring to successfully navigate the CHRO role:

“Nontraditional CHROs approach HR with skills and frameworks that reflect a variety of business disciplines, while traditional HR leaders might rely too exclusively on function-specific HR disciplines. … “HR was a position where I had a view across the biggest challenges of everyone’s business – leadership issues and how to allocate people across teams. It was a vehicle for changing the growth trajectory of the company.””

TED as a Service

 A new Fortune profile of TED owner and curator Chris Anderson explores how his growing media company helps more organizations deliver ideas for maximum impact. TED corporate sponsorships, for example, now make up 40% of revenue, reflecting a greater pivot to services:

“TED began creating co-branded conferences for the likes of IBM, Intel, Unilever, and UPS a few years ago. More recently, its corporate services have broadened to include on-demand talks, in which TED brings in several of its speakers to address employees at company events, public-speaking classes taught by TED coaches, and residencies that allow companies to rent space at TED’s sleek New York City headquarters to get an up-close view of its creativity and vigor.”