What Italian CEOs may be blind to
I recently invited a group of Italian CEOs to assess the current culture of their organizations and describe the culture they would like to see for their companies to be able to effectively cope with tomorrow’s challenges.
20 CEOs participated in the survey. They were asked to select among a list of 100 values, the 10 that better represent the way their organizations operate today (Current Culture) and the 10 that they wish their companies held in the future (Desired Culture).
These are some highlights from their answers:
- Italian CEOs underestimate the entropy level (the degree of dysfunction of their organization): while the organizational entropy average in Europe – based on 467 organizations from 38 sectors in 21 countries in the last 5 years – is 21%, the Italian CEOs answers indicated a mere 11% of entropy. Are CEOs unaware of the amount of energy wasted in the organization due to fear-based behaviours? Or is it a dangerous sign of the CEOs’ over-optimism? In both cases, what is not acknowledged cannot be dealt with.
- Italian CEOs ignore how to cultivate the values that move and engage their employees. The only relationship-related value that CEOs chose in both current and desired culture is “teamwork“, and I suspect it is because it ensures more organizational effectiveness, not because they really care about collaboration. What about employee engagement, trust, employee fulfillment, open communication?
- Italian CEOs ignore their customers. In both Current and Desired Culture there is no value that has to do with customers (customer satisfaction, focus on customers, etc.). If CEOs don’t advocate a customer-oriented organization, who else will? Customers do not like to be ignored.
- Italian CEOs acknowledge that their organizations are very focused on structure, systems and processes while evolution-related values (innovation, creativity, continuous learning, etc.) are not listed at all in the top ten values. At the same time, innovation and continuous learning are ranked at respectively third and fourth position in the Desired Culture.
- Italian CEOs also shift from the value of “Short term focus” in the Current Culture to the value of “Long term perspective” in the Desired Culture.
The survey clearly highlights that many CEOs do not take into consideration the soft or relational elements of the organizational culture. They seem to see their organization as a machine that must predictably operate under a set of principles and processes to supply products and services that they expect customers to buy, with no need to create a relationship with them.
Well, Messrs. CEOs, I guess you need to start inviting and engaging employees and customers in the game, otherwise the entropy that you are not able to notice may hinder your organizational ability to fulfill your strategic goals, and customers will turn their back on you.
Also, the focus on the “here and now” may not allow the organization to be prepared for the change and innovation required to keep thriving in challenging market conditions.
Dear CEOs, open your ears, eyes and heart to what’s really going on in your organization, focus on your employees and your customers – listen to them, partner with them, give them consideration – and start building capacity to keep changing and learning.