THINK Week in Review: The “Activism” Edition

CEO activism is part of a societal shift that some have called “the politicization of everything.” The ideological polarization in our political system — fueled by social media — has created a highly charged environment in which business leaders are increasingly on the spot to offer their views on complex issues with which they might have little experience. In fact, a recent Global Strategy Group report found that companies are now expected to respond to current events within 24 hours.

As HBR calls it: CEO Activism: “A polarized world demands new approaches to leadership. “Business is the greatest platform for change, and CEOs have an obligation to use their leadership to create that change of the world,” Benioff told us. “It could be around LGBTQ, it could be about schools, it could be about the environment. These are things where CEOs can take very simple and concrete actions, and I’m encouraging them to do that."

The Digital Power Values for the new C-Suite: The modern mindset of the CEO, CIO, CMO, CDO, CCO: “The concept that digital imposes a fundamentally new hierarchy of what matters, what works effectively, and what creates value isn't a new one. Years ago I explored in detail many of the known digital power laws that constrain and guide the technological universe. These power laws largely govern the success or failure of a product, service, or organization functioning largely in the realm of the digital universe. While these power laws -- potent concepts such as Moore's Law and network effects -- are typically understood rather well by the digerati and the startups that have done particularly well, they are still not generally well-understood by the traditional executive. Describing these in business terms is the purpose this view of digital power values.” Love the graphic.

Branches in decline and subpar digital CX frustrate banking consumers. “There is good news. Consumers want to have relationships with their banks because they trust them. However, this critical differentiator isn’t going to always be enough as large tech firms are gaining the trust and confidence of the digital consumer.

Banks and credit unions have a long list of priorities that demand attention, such as compliance and security, but building better digital solutions need to increase in priority. Financial institutions that proactively find ways to widen the scope and boost the quality of their digital offerings can still leverage consumer trust to successfully compete – even in an environment with fewer branches.”

The backlash against Big Data has begun: Managers push back against the certainties of big data. “Knowing your customer will never be a zero-sum contest between a researcher with a clipboard and IBM’s Watson. Nor should it be. The best insights come from some hard-to-define blend of what you know from listening to individual users, what you can learn from their collective past behavior and what you intuit they will want in future. The really flawed assumption is that a capsule of data inserted into the analytics machine will always generate the perfect brew.”

The best ideas come from misfits. “Misfits are valuable to companies. They don’t quite fit into a specific team. They’re always challenging why the company does what it does. They’re independent. They can seem counterproductive to everything that a manager needs to achieve – to maintain order. But those are the people that are going to change the game on how your company innovates.”

It’s been 10 years since the financial crisis. What has changed? Great work by the WSJ. “People aren’t going to be that stupid again. So they find another way to be stupid…I think there’s going to be other crises.”