As we crawl out of an energy sapping recession it is interesting to identify how leaders are responding to the new competitive and economic environment. IBM has completed a global study of over 1500 CEO and their excellent report “Capitalising on Complexity” makes a very good read.

I’ve captured and summarised the key findings below and you can read the full report here

Complexity not Change is the BIG C

In previous studies CEOs consistently identified change as their most pressing challenge. Today, complexity is their primary challenge. And, a surprising Seventy-nine percent of CEOs feel ill-equipped to deal with the raising complexity and succeed in this drastically different world.

Many CEOs no longer believe that incremental changes are sufficient in a world that is operating in fundamentally different ways.

Four primary findings

1) Successful CEOs make customer intimacy their number-one priority.
2) The most successful organizations co-create products and services with customers, and integrate customers into core processes. They are adopting new channels to engage and stay in tune with customers.
3) Creativity is the most important leadership quality, according to CEOs.
4) Better performers manage complexity on behalf of their organizations, customers and partners. They do so by simplifying operations and products, and increasing dexterity to change the way they work, access resources and enter markets around the world.

To capitalize on complexity and turn it into a competitive advantage a small group, 20% of CEOs are focusing on three areas of their business:

Reinvent customer relationships
In a massively interconnected world, CEOs prioritize customer intimacy as never before. Globalization, combined with dramatic increases in the availability of information, has exponentially expanded customers’ options. CEOs said that ongoing engagement and co-creation with customers produce differentiation. They consider the information explosion to be their greatest opportunity in developing deep customer insights.

Embody creative leadership
Facing a world becoming dramatically more complex, creative leaders invite disruptive innovation, encourage others to drop outdated approaches and take balanced risks. They are open-minded and inventive in expanding their management and communication styles, particularly to engage with a new generation of employees, partners and customers.

Build operating dexterity
CEOs are revamping their operations to stay ready to act when opportunities or challenges arise. They simplify and sometimes mask complexity that is within their control and help customers do the same. Flexible cost structures
and partnering capabilities allow them to rapidly scale up or down.

Read the full report here

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