Showing posts with label Reputation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reputation. Show all posts

July 15, 2017

Another Nothing Burger

So I've noticed that not only in politics--but in life--people are want to throw around a lot of nothing burgers.

This happens when they make vague accusations--incriminating people or groups--but without substantiating what they are saying. 

It's a way of bullying, discriminating, and hating on others. 

Creating doubt about your victim--keep saying those derogatory, demeaning, and hateful stories--it tarnishes the other person's image, reputation, and credibility.

Creating an endless aura of fallibility on the other person's part. 

Here, we go...they screwed up again!

It's death by a thousand cuts of insults, pot shots, and sucker punches.

It's a definite form of verbal and emotional abuse and violence. 

Sometimes, there may be something to it--in which case the party that screwed up should take responsibility, correct their mistakes, and commit to sincerely doing better in the future. 

But often, there is nothing there!

And the false accusations are merely a way to cover up (management) incompetency or bias by the accusers themselves. 

It's a great way to dominate the conversation, but really the people making the stink are simply acting out--and not too flattering as the whiners and complainers.

They point fingers at others, but there are three fingers pointing back at themselves!

Why?

Because it's another nothing burger meant to deceive, discredit, and retard and take the focus off their own meatless patties!  

Where's the beef?

The liars and deceivers and propagandists are using you for their own means.

Another nothing burger in the oven and it ain't kosher! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 12, 2017

Getting To Yes

I thought this was a good and important customer service principle:
"Don't make me go through NO
To get to YES."

When it comes to customer service, the default for reasonable requests from good customers should always be YES!

We can either make the experience miserable for the customer and leave them fuming, never coming back, and bad-mouthing us or we can make it fair, easy, accommodating, and a WOW experience!

Why not build your customer base and reputation for excellence rather than erode it? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 1, 2016

What Do Red Lines Mean Anyway?

Whether with chemical weapons or nuclear capable ballistic missiles, we set red lines with Syria and Iran and what happens?

These are weapons of mass destruction we are talking about!


What message do we send our dangerous adversaries, when we say we are going to do something and then we hesitate or don't follow through?

Respect is earned and without that we are as good as roadkill. 


When we say something is crossing our red lines we ought to "say what we mean and mean what we say."

Our national security is important, and so are our red lines and follow through actions. ;-) 


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal adapted from here with attribution to hobvias sudoneighm)

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April 12, 2015

Live To Live or Live To Die?

In The New York Times today, David Brooks presents “two sets of virtues, the resume virtue and the eulogy virtue.”

The resume virtues are the skills you need to get ahead in the marketplace, and the eulogy virtues are “whether you were kind, brave, honest, or faithful.”


While we'd like to believe that most feel that being a decent human being is more important than how much money we earn, unfortunately our education and economic systems are geared far more toward the latter, where it's widely acknowledged that "money makes the world go round!”


In fact, many will often sacrifice the moral high ground for landing on a bigger, cushier hill of worldly possessions and pleasures. 


Interestingly enough, my daughter asked me last week, whether it is better to personally live a happy life but die with a horrible reputation or to live selflessly, struggling with life challenges, but be revered after you die?


To me the answer was simple--live, learn, and grow regardless of momentary personal happiness. Do what’s right, period--honor and chivalry is alive and well. 


But my daughter told me that over 90% of people polled chose their happiness in life as their #1 goal.


I suppose it's easy to say what's the point of leaving a legacy if you were not happy living your life every day, but I would counter with what's the point in chasing life's daily pleasures, if you were a bum and everyone knows it?


The point isn't even what people say about us when we are alive or dead, but rather that we know that we tried our best to live as decent, ethical human beings and that hopefully, we left the world a better place than when we got here.


Sure, there is no blessing in being poor or unhappy--but living purely to satisfy one's voracious materialistic appetite is just being a selfish little pig--come on admit it!


On your deathbed, will you wish you that in your life you had more money and status or that you had been a better, more giving human being? 


I say forget the resume and the eulogy, just think about what will really gives you peace of mind and inner happiness and it's more than any amount of money can buy or any seduction you can imagine.  ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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September 1, 2014

You're Probably Not A 10

There is a review online for nearly everything...from sources such as Amazon to Yelp, Angie's List, IMDb, and more. 

But what you may not realize is that the knife cuts both ways...you are not only the reviewer, but the subject of reviews.

And if you're not all that...then everyone can know it!

The New York Times has an opinion piece by Delia Ephron about how reports cards are no longer just for kids, and that they are "for the rest of my life...[and] this is going on your permanent record."

From cabbies that won't pick you up because you've been rated a bad fare to your therapist that says you can't stop obsessing, restaurants that complain you refused to pay for the chopped liver, and the department store says you wasted their salesperson's time and then bought online, and even your Rabbi says you haven't been giving enough to the synagogue lately. 

People hear things, post things, and can access their records online...your life is not private, and who you are at least in other peoples opinion is just an easy search away. 

In Tweets, Blogs, on Facebook, and even in companies customer records, you have a personal review and rating waiting for discovery.

Your review might be good, but then again...you are not always at your finest moments and these get captured in databases and on social media.

Data mining or exfiltration of your personal information is your public enemy #1.

Of course, you'd like to think (or wish) that you're brand is a 10, but not everyone loves you that way your mother does.  

Too bad you can't tell them, "If I want your opinion, I'll ask for it"--either way, your gonna hear what people think of you loud and clear. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 8, 2013

What's Your Information Lifecycle


A critical decision for every person and organization is how long to keep information out there in the physical and cyber realms.

Delete something too soon--and you may be looking in vain for that critical document, report, file, picture, or video and may even violate record retention requirements.

Fail to get rid of something--and you may be embarrassed, compromised, ripped off, or even put in legal jeopardy. 
It all depends what the information is, when it is from, and who gets their hands and eyes on it!

Many stars have been compromised by paparazzi or leaked photos that ended up on the front page of newspapers or magazines and even government officials have ended up in the skewer for getting caught red handed like ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner sexting on Twitter.

Everything from statuses to photos put on social media have gotten people in trouble whether when applying to schools and jobs, with their partners, and even with law enforcement. 

Information online is archived and searchable and it is not uncommon for parents to warn kids to be careful what they put online, because it can come back to haunt them later. 

Now smartphones applications like Snapchat are helping people communicate and then promptly delete things they send. 

With Snapshot, you can snap a photo, draw on it, even add text and send to friends, family, others. The innovation here is that before you hit send, you choose how long you want the message to be available to the recipient before vanishing--up to 10 seconds.

Snapchat has sent over 1 billion messages since July and claims over 50 million are sent daily--although forget trying to verify that by counting up the messages because they have self-destructed and are gone!

Of course, there are workarounds such as taking a screenshot of the message before it vanishes or taking a photo of the message--so nothing is full proof. 

Last year, according to The Atlantic, the European Commission proposed a "Right-To Be Forgotten" as part of their data protection and privacy laws. This would require social media sites to remove by request embarrassing information and photos and would contrast with the U.S. freedom of speech rights that protects "publishing embarrassing but truthful information."

Now, companies like Reputation.com even provide services for privacy and reputation management where they monitor information about you online, remove personal information from sites that sell it, and help you with search engine optimization to "set the record straight" with personal, irrelevant, exaggerated or false information by instead publishing positive truthful material.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek (7 Feb. 2013), "Ephemeral data is the future," but I would say comprehensive reputation management is the future--whether through the strategic management of permanent information or removing of temporary data--we are in a sense who the record says we are. ;-)

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May 19, 2012

Those In The Know, Sending Some Pretty Clear Warnings

There have been a number of leaders who have stepped up to tell people the real risks we are facing as a nation. 

They are not playing politics--they have left the arena. 

And as we know, it is much easier to be rosy and optimistic--let's face it, this is what people want to hear. 

But these leaders--national heros--sacrifice themselves to provide us an unpopular message, at their own reputational risk. 

That message is that poor leadership and decision-making in the past is threatening our present and future. 

Earlier this week (15 May 2011), I blogged about a documentary called I.O.U.S.A. with David Walker, the former Comptroller General of the United States for 10 years!

Walker was the head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO)--the investigative arm of Congress itself, and has testified before them and toured the country warning of the dire fiscal situation confronting us from our proclivity to spend future generation's money today--the spiraling national deficit.

Today, I read again in Fortune (21 May 2012) an interview with another national hero, former Admiral Mike Mullen, who was chairmen of the Joint Chiefs (2007-2011).

Mullen warns bluntly of a number of "existential threats" to the United States--nukes (which he feels is more or less "under control"), cyber security, and the state of our national debt. 

Similarly, General Keith Alexander, the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the head of the Pentagon's Cyber Command has warned that DoD networks are not currently defensible and that attackers could disable our networks and critical infrastructure underpinning our national security and economic stability.

To me, these are well-respected individuals who are sending some pretty clear warning signals about cyber security and our national deficit, not to cause panic, but to inspire substantial change in our national character and strategic priorities.

In I.O.U.S.A., after one talk by Walker on his national tour, the video shows that the media does not even cover the event.

We are comfortable for now and the messages coming down risk shaking us from that comfort zone--are we ready to hear what they are saying?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Vagawi)


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March 17, 2012

Goldman Sachs Reputation Sacked?

When Greg Smith published his editorial in the New York Times (14 March 2012) on the alleged debased culture and greedy exploits at Goldman Sachs, this was far from surprising after the many misdeeds of Corporate America over the last decade that saw the rise of Sarbanes Oxley in 2002 and the massive financial bailouts in 2008, which does not represent who we really are and can be. 

It's not that Corporate America is bad, it's just that they frequently get rewarded for doing the wrong things

All too often, promotions, corner offices, year-end bonuses, and stock options are the rewards for racking in profits, but are not necessarily tied to innovation and/or customer satisfaction.

I believe over the years this has taken many word forms from snake oil salesman, charlatans, spoilers, and many others.

Greg Smith who worked for a dozen years at Goldman--in of all things "recruiting and mentoring"--described the venerable Goldman Sachs as a place where:

- "Interest of clients continue to be sidelined" 

- "Decline in the firm's moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to it's long-term survival."

- If you make enough money for the firm...you will be promoted."

- At sales meetings, "not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients." 

- Leaders callously "talk about ripping off clients" and call their clients "muppets," a British slang terms for "idiots."

The funny-sad thing is that after all these horrific accusations, Goldman has not come out and full-on-full repudiated these claims. 

On March 15, the Wall Street Journal reported "Goldman Plays Damage Control" saying that "it will examine the claims."  

Rather than denying the accusations in specific ways and pointing out their true moral fiber, the Chairman in a memo to employees chose to downplay the accuser calling him only one "of nearly 12,000 vice presidents" of 30,000 employees. In other words, this is just the opinion of a lone wolf. 

More generally, the Chairman wrote coyly that this does "not reflect our values, our culture, and how the vast majority of people at Goldman Sachs think of the firm and the work it does on behalf of our clients."

In another article, in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (19-25 March 2012), it states similarly that "Goldman Sachs would have you believe it's learned from the financial crisis. Don't be fooled."

The article goes on to list a scathing history of scandal from Goldman Sachs Trading Corporation that "blew up" after the stock market crash of 1929 to Goldman's settlement with the SEC for a whopping $550 million in 2010. Further, it describes a current conflict of interest case with El Paso and Kinder Morgan that they call a Goldman "heads-I-win, tails-you-lose approach."

While I have always respected the likes of Goldman Sachs for their unbelievable brainpower and talent, the accusations against them and by extension against others in Corporate America is very concerning.  

The notion that customers are but idiots for Corporate America to pillage and plunder is not democracy and capitalism, but greed and evil.  

When we no longer value a creed of service above pure profiteering then moral bankruptcy is just a prelude to financial bankruptcy. 

No company can stay afloat and be competitive over time, if they do not work to strengthen their balance sheets, income statements, and cash flows.

However, at the same time, no competitor can thrive for long on a culture of greed and duplicity that sees people as victims to spoil, rather than as customers to serve.

While I do not know the details of Greg Smith's accusations, this last part I know in my heart to be truth. 


(Source Photo: here)

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April 10, 2010

Knowing Who Your Friends Are

You’re on the Internet doing your business, but who is at the other end and how do you know that you can trust them?

That is what so called Reputation Systems are all about—creating mechanisms to authenticate the identities of partners online and measure just how trustworthy they are or aren’t.

Some familiar examples of reputation systems include everything from scores for vendors on Amazon or eBay to activity statistics on Twitter to recommendation distinctions on LinkedIn to networks on Facebook.

The idea is that we measure people’s trustworthiness through the number of transaction they conduct, reviews and recommendations they receive, and associations they keep.

These are all instances of how we unmask the identities and intent of those we are dealing with online—we obtain 3rd party validation. For example, if a vendor has hundreds or thousands of transactions and a five star rating or 99% positive reviews or is a select member of a power seller” network or other select organization, we use that information of past performance to justify our current or future transactions or associations with them.

MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring 2010, has an article about reputation systems called “Online Reputation Systems: How to Design One That Does What You Need.”

According to the article, reputation systems are “the unsung heroes of the web,” because “they play a crucial role is building trust, promoting quality, improving collaboration and instilling loyalty.”

Without some way of knowing whom we are sending a credit card payment to, friending, or chatting with on the Internet, we would be violating the cardinal rule of safety that our parents and teachers taught us from the earliest time that we could understand that you “don’t talk to strangers.”

I remember a very good video for children produced by Service Corporation International (SCI) called “Escape School,” which taught just such lessons by Bob Stuber a former police officer and child safety expert.

Even as we grow up though the dangers from people criminals and predators still exist; hopefully we are a little older and wiser in recognizing it and dealing with it, but this is not always the case.

For example with online dating networks, people sometimes pretend that they are a rich brain surgeon or the proverbial “tall, dark, and handsome” physique to lure someone on a date, only to be exposed for who they really are upon the first date.

People are inherently driven to connect with others, and online we are able to connect easier then ever before—with people from all over the globe, virtually anytime of the day or night—and it is often tempting to let our heart lead and dismiss any concerns about who we are dealing with. Further, the veil of anonymity online seems to only heighten the opportunities for abuse.

The dangers of people pretending to be something they are not and the need for recognizing whom we are dealing with is an age old problem that society struggled with—from the snake oil salesman of time past to those occasional dishonest vendor on sites like eBay today.

The MIT article states “Small, tightly knit communities arguably do not need central reputation systems, since frequent interactions and gossip ensure that relevant information is known to all. [However,] the need for a central system increases with the size of the community and the lack of frequent interaction among members. In web-based communities with hundred or thousands of members, were most members typically know each other only virtually, some form of reputation system is always essential.”

Predators act out online everyday using social engineering to trick people into divulging personnel or organizational information, getting them to send money (like the fake emails from Nigeria or a lottery) or sending out malware when you click on the link that you know you shouldn’t be doing.

Another example with children is evident on NBC Dateline’s “To Catch A Predator” series where Chris Hansen stakes out the child predators who arrange meetings with kids in chat rooms on the Internet and then make their appearance at their homes or other meeting spots. Child predators prey on the fact that the children online don’t realize who they are dealing with and what their evil intentions are. Thank G-d, law enforcement and NBC has been able to turn the tables on some of these predators when law enforcement is pretending to be the vulnerable kids in order to catch the predators---who are fooled into thinking they are talking to children, only to be caught often literally “with the pants down.”

Whether we are socializing online, surfing the Net, or conducting some form of ecommerce, we must always pay attention to the identification and reputation on those we deal with. As the MIT article points out, with reputation systems, we can use ratings, ranking, and endorsements to build up information on ourselves and on others to build trust, promote quality, and sustain loyalty.

Of course, even with reputation systems, people try to manipulate and game “the system,” so we have to be ever vigilant to ensure that we are not duped by those hiding their true intentions or pretending to be somebody or something they are not.

As social creatures, optimists, and those of faith, we are tempted to just trust, but I prefer the motto of “trust and verify.”


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February 27, 2010

Why Reputation Is The Foundation For Innovation

Toyota is a technology company with some of the most high-tech and “green” cars on the planet. But right now Totoya’s leaders seem to lack integrity, and they haven’t proactively handled the current crisis. As a result, everything they have built is in danger.

Too often, IT leaders think that their technical competency is sufficient. However, these days it takes far more to succeed. Of course, profitability is a key measure of achievement and sustainability. But if basic integrity, accountability, and open and skillful communication are absent, then no amount of innovation in the world can save you.

Looking back, no one would have thought that Toyota would go down in a flaming debacle of credibility lost. For years, Toyota ate the lunch of the largest American car manufacturers—and two of the three were driven to bankruptcy just last year. Moreover, they had a great reputation built on quality – and that rocketed Toyota to be the #1 car company in the world.

A reputation for quality gave Toyota a significant edge among potential buyers. Purchasing a Toyota meant investing in a car that would last years and years without defect or trouble—it was an investment in reliability and it was well worth the extra expense. Other car companies were discounting and incenting sales with low or zero interest rates, cash back, and extended warranties, and so on. But Toyota held firm and at times their cars even sold for above sticker price. In short, their brand elicited a price premium. Toyota had credibility and that credibility translated into an incredibly successful company.

Now Toyota has suffered a serious setback by failing to disclose and fix brake problems so serious that they have allegedly resulted in loss of life. Just today, the Boston Globe reports that Toyota has been sued in Boston by an individual who alleges that “unintended acceleration (of his Toyota vehicle) caused a single-car crash that killed his wife and left him seriously injured.” The Globe goes on to report that “dozens of people reportedly have been killed in accidents involving unwanted acceleration.”

While nothing is perfect, not even Toyota engineering, in my opinion the key to recovering from mistakes is to be honest, admit them, be accountable, and take immediate action to rectify. These are critical leadership must do’s! Had Toyota taken responsibility in those ways, I believe their reputation would have been enhanced rather than grossly tarnished as it is now, because ultimately people respect integrity above all else, and they will forgive mistakes when they are honest mistakes and quickly rectified.

Unfortunately, this has not occurred with Toyota, and the brake problems appear to be mistakes that were known and then not rectified—essentially, Toyota’s transgression may have been one of commission rather than simply omission. For example, this past week, the CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, testified before Congress that “we didn’t listen as carefully as we should—or respond as quickly as we must—to our customer’s concerns.” However, in reality, company executives not only didn’t respond, but also actually apparently stalled a response and celebrated their success in limiting recalls in recent years. As Congressman Edolphus Towns, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, stated: “Toyota's own internal documents indicate that a premium was placed on delaying or closing NHTSA investigations, delaying new safety rules and blocking the discovery of safety defects.” (Bloomberg News via the Austin American Statesman)

In other words, Toyota strayed from its promise to customers to put safety center stage. Rather, profit took over and became the benchmark of success.

Even the company’s own managers acknowledge the deep wound that this scandal has inflicted on the company, and have doubts about its leadership. According to the Wall Street Journal, a midlevel manager stated, “Mr. Toyoda cannot spell out how he plans to alleviate consumer worries….it is a recall after another, and every time Mr. Toyoda utters the phrase ‘customer first,’ it has the opposite effect. His words sound just hollow.’” Said another, “The only way we find out anything about the crisis is through the media….Does Mr. Toyoda have the ability to lead? That’s on every employee’s mind.”

Indeed, the Journal echoes these sentiments, noting that under Toyoda’s leadership, there was a focus on “getting the company back to profitability, after the company last year suffered it first loss in 70 years.” In other words, in an attempt to “reinstate frugality,” it appears that CEO Toyoda went too far and skimped on quality—becoming, as the saying goes, “penny wise and dollar foolish.” We will see if this debacle costs Toyota market share and hurts the bottom line over the intermediate to longer-term.

In recent times, we have seen a shift away from quality and credibility in favor of a fast, cheap buck in many sectors of the economy. For example, I have heard that some homebuyers actually prefer hundred-year-old homes to new construction due to their perception that the quality was better back then and that builders take shortcuts now. But somehow Toyota always stood out as a bulwark against this trend. It is therefore deeply disappointing to see that even they succumbed. While the company has a long road ahead to reestablish their credibility and rebuild their brand, I, for one, sincerely hope that they rediscover their roots and “do the right thing.”


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January 8, 2010

Speaking with Integrity

At work, there is often a lot more talking going on than just work issues. There is the office politics and the chatter about staff, colleagues, management, stakeholders, and so on.

“Oh by the way, have you heard what John said to Mary this week?”

Rumors easily get started about office indiscretions, “dumb mistakes,” bad decisions, injustices, nepotism, and even office romances.

Yeah, it goes on everyday.

Some of it is true, but more often than not, a lot is exaggerated, taken out of context, only one side of the story, or just plain B.S.—but for many, it makes for interesting conversation nonetheless.

Speech is a true gift. It enables us to easily communicate with each other and to share feelings, thoughts, and form meaningful relationships.

But speech is also something that needs to be guarded, because words misused or abused can hurt others—their feelings, their reputation, their future prospects, and even their basic human dignity.

There is an old saying that G-d gave us two ears and one mouth, so that we could listen twice as much as we speak. In other words, our speech should be carefully thought and wisely used.

I remember this Talmudic story going something like this…there are various parts of the body arguing about which is the most important—the legs said without me you couldn’t walk, and the eyes say without me you could not see, and so on and so forth. But the mouth says, I am the most important because with just one (or a couple of) word(s), I can get you in trouble and even killed. And sure enough, on some pretense the man is called before the king and from the man’s mouth comes some insulting words to the king who orders that the man be executed for his insolence.

Indeed our words are very important—they can harm and they can heal.

I was reminded of this just recently, a young adult was telling me that a boy in her high school class made fun of her “in front of everybody” and she broke out crying—deeply hurt and humiliated. Sometimes, these are the events that can scar a person long after the event is over and seemingly forgiven and forgotten. Perhaps, this was just another person’s insensitivity or their misguided thinking that they are elevating themselves by putting down someone else, but either way, their words cut like a knife.

I ran into another example of this recently, when I heard of a Star-Trek fan who questioned whether artificial intelligence (e.g., like the character Data) could be considered human, “just like Jews and Blacks.” Whatever the intent, it was a shockingly racist and hurtful use of language.

Words can and do hurt others, and people should be careful with their speech as well as with their actions.

On this topic, I read this week in the Wall Street Journal (6 January 2009) about a movement to get people to stop gossiping—like the Jewish prohibition against lashon harah (evil language).

Essentially the mantra for better speech is kind/true/necessary. Before we say something, we should ask ourselves:

· Is it kind?

· Is it true?

· Is it necessary?

And “every word we utter should pass through [these] three gates.”

One organization called WordsCanHeal.org advocates for this and asks that people take a pledge, as follows:“I will try to replace words that hurt with words that encourage, engage, and enrich.”

This is a great and worthwhile endeavor for us all in the workplace and in our personal lives.


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October 13, 2008

Brand and The Total CIO

David F. D’Allesandro, the CEO of John Hancock insurance group has a bunch of wonderful books on building brand and career, such as “Brand Warfare”, “Career Warfare” and “Executive Warfare”.

All the books have three things in common. One, they are about the importance of brand. Two, they are about moving ahead in the corporate world. And three, they all end in “warfare.”

Brand is critical for building value. Brand is our reputation. It’s how we are known to others. It’s what people think and say about us. It’s a representation of our values and integrity.

We all know corporate brands such as those from consumer product companies and fashion designers. Those that have a “good” brand, tend to convey a higher status and cost a premium. We trust those brands and many people wear the brand labels as a status symbol.

We all carry a brand. Like a mark of “Grade A” or “Prime Beef” seared on a side of a hide of cattle, a brand is mark of distinction for us.

At work, we are branded as honest or not, fair or not, hard working or not, team players or not and so on and so forth.

As the CIO, it is imperative to have a brand that synthesizes the best of business and technology for the organization.

On one hand, many view the CIO as the technical leader for the organization; the wang-bang guru that leads the enterprise through the often confusing and fast-changing technology landscape. In this role, the CIO can make or break the future of the organization with wise or poor technical decisions that can put the enterprise on the cutting-edge, build competitive advantage, and increase revenue/profits, market share, and customer satisfaction. Or the CIO can lead the organization down a technical sinkhole with failed IT projects that jeopardize mission, alienate customers, drive out good employees out, and waste millions of dollars.

On the other hand, many like to say that the CIO is not and should not be tech-focused, but should be about the business—understanding the business strategy, operations, and requirements and then driving an IT organization that is responsive to it. Taken to an extreme, the CIO may not be required to have a technology background, an IT degree or even a technical certificate. This person may be from the business side of the house and could almost alien to the CIO organization and therefore, may not easily garner the respect of his more technical people.

The true successful CIO melds business and technology together. Their brand is one where business drives technology and where strategy is paramount, but operations is a given! This CIO is someone who can be relied on to make wise technical decisions today that will enhance the strategic success of the organization tomorrow. The CIO is a leader who manages not only upward, but who reaches across the organization to build partnership and understanding; who inspires, motivates, trains, recognizes, and rewards his people; and who conducts outreach and brings in best practices from beyond the strict organizational boundaries. This CIO is loyal, dedicated, hard-working, smart, and has the trust and confidence to get the job done!

So what with the “warfare” part in the books?

Well, unfortunately not everyone wants us to succeed. So, we must work on our brand to build it and make it shine, but at the same time, there are others inside and outside the organization who for various reasons would like to tarnish our brand: perhaps, they are jealous, competitive, nay-sayers, change resistant, oppositional, confrontational, troubled, or just plain crooked.

What D’Allesandro says is that to be successful, what sets us apart, is our ability to build relationship with others, even when it is challenging.

To be a successful CIO, we need a terrific personal brand, but more than that we need to have courage and conviction to stand by our beliefs and the vision and the ability to articulate it to guide and influence others to advance the organization’s long-term business and technical success.
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January 10, 2008

Branding and Enterprise Architecture

User-centric EA is concerned with establishing a baseline and target architecture and transition plan for the organization. This endeavor includes everything from performance results, business function and processes, information requirements, systems and technologies, and how we secure it all. But how about including the organization’s brand and reputation in defining the architecture, especially in targeting and planning for a stronger reputation with customers and stakeholders?

The Wall Street Journal, 9 January 2008, has an article titled, “As Economy Slows, Reputation Takes on Added Meaning.”

Organization’s brands can be an asset or liability, based on how well it has been planned and managed and “cared for and fed.”

‘‘Mending reputations can’t be done overnight’ says Kasper Nielson, the Reputation Institute’s managing partner.” As we do in EA, comparing the current to the target architecture and developing a transition plan, Mr. Nielson “takes companies through a seven-step analysis of what’s causing their reputations to suffer, followed by a close look at which constituencies—employees, customers or investors—are affected and what they are seeking. Then it’s time for the hard work of figuring out what aspects of company conduct are helpful and what needs to be fixed.”

Many organizations only care about their technology and business alignment after they run into problems with poor IT investment decisions or programs that are failing or falling behind because of inadequate automation and technological sophistication. Then the organization wants a quick fix for an enterprise architecture and IT governance, yesterday! Similarly Mr. Neilson states about reputation, “A lot of companies care about reputation only after a crisis hits. Then they want to know, can you fix things? They don’t integrate reputation into their everyday processes. That’s dangerous. You have to do a lot of things right to build up a reputation platform.”

“‘Reputation is invisible, but it’s an enormously powerful force,” says Alan Towers, a New York advisor to companies concerned about reputation issues. He encourages CEO’s themselves to assume the role of chief reputation officer.” If brand and reputation is important enough for the CEO to take the lead role, it is certainly important enough to be considered a factor in building an viable enterprise architecture that will consider not only a company’s technology, but also how it is perceived to customers and stakeholders.

Some examples come to mind in terms of applying EA to organizational branding:

  1. Do we want to organization to be perceived as a technological leader or laggard?
  2. Is the organization viewed as having strong governance, including IT governance?
  3. Do stakeholders perceive that the organizations is spending its resources prudently and controlling its investment in new IT?
  4. Do stakeholders see the company as customer-centric, providing the latest in customer service systems, sales ordering and tracking, payment processing, website information and transaction processing, online help and other IT enabled user tools?
  5. Is technology seen as integral to the future of the organization or a sidebar or worse yet a distraction?

I once heard someone say that “perception is reality”. So, even if the organization is managing their technology and business alignment, if its stakeholders don’t perceive that to be the case, then the enterprise is not being effective with its constituents. The organization must factor stakeholder perceptions and its organizational reputation into the development of its target architecture and transition plan. Brand and reputation does not just materialize, but rather needs to be planned and managed to. EA can help to perform this role.


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