The Evolution of the C-Suite: Part 2

The Evolution of the C-Suite: Part 2

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Part 2 of a 4-Part Series with Sandee Kastrul & Anna Frazzetto “The C-Suite - From the Peak to the Reality”

Sandee: So who will be left? Going from the peak level to a realistic level, what is the makeup of the C-Suite? Maybe the answer lies in our ability to do just that when the lines get fuzzy. If we’re holding to our silos and our expertise, we may become extinct. But if we are building the capacity to work with people who think and see differently than we do, then we’re securing our seat.

Anna: I couldn’t agree with you more. I think that’s what challenged everything. The Chief Digital Officer (CDO) role challenged the thought process within an organization. The role of CDO has not necessarily been an IT-centric one. It’s also not necessarily marketing, sales or revenue-generating-centric either. A person in this role has the ability to intertwine and interweave with all the different components, understand the complexity of different aspects of the business and mesh it all together. That’s the secret sauce.

The question is really, “How will this movie end?” I feel like right now, we’re at the good part of the movie - all of the characters and the plot have unfolded, but what’s the final scene going to be? Who is left?

Sandee: What kind of movie do you think it is? Is it an adventure? An action movie? Is it a love story? A romantic comedy? A horror movie?

Anna: I think that at certain points, it’s been a horror movie. But, it’s probably more like a drama. A little bit of a thriller. A drama thriller. It’s not comedic at all, because there’s been a lot of pain along the way. But definitely a drama.

Sandee: That brings me to my next question, about the challenges in all of this disruption and change. Change is uncomfortable; that’s how we know it’s working. So, in this drama thriller, what’s the biggest challenge or conflict that companies face as we stand here on the cusp?

Anna: When people at different levels, or with different functions realize that they need to look outside of their parameters, challenges reveal themselves.

Here’s a classic example of friction between functions. Look at people who run sales organizations, or operations and delivery organizations. Delivery always says, “Sales doesn’t know what they’re doing — they’re overselling; they don’t understand how we have to deliver the service offering. Sales has an easy job, and all the work is in delivery. On the sales side, sales says, “What does delivery have to do? I’ve done all the work. I brought the clients to the table. I closed the deal. But delivery botches it up because they can’t deliver it right.”

Now, just expand on that when you look at the company as a whole. I think that’s where the challenge is, when it’s one team or side against the other. “It’s not my job, it’s your job.”

Ultimately, we’re all in it together. We need to figure out how to gain a competitive advantage. We see a lot of big companies gobbling up little companies. So, as a small/medium-sized company, how do you hold your ground?

Well, you can’t have friction at the management level. You need to pull together and be able to work collectively. That’s the biggest challenge, plus the recognition of the funding required to make these changes. Nothing is more frustrating for organizations.

At Harvey Nash, we conducted and produced the results of a CIO survey, which I spoke of at the event. We had 4,000 respondents, and one of the stats we found was that getting funding and budgeting was the biggest challenge they experience. The board and CEOs all are driving toward making more money. Revenue, revenue, revenue. But, as the old adage goes, you have to spend money to make money, even though many companies can’t increase their budgets.

Those are the main challenges and obstacles organizations are facing. Getting different functions to work together, getting the proper funding - and also having the right vision. I think being a true visionary is the most critical thing for a CEO right now. Being able to lead a company through these challenges. Your CDO cannot be the only person that comes in and says, “Okay, we’re going to put together a digital strategy.” That’s just one component of a bigger puzzle. The CEO needs to have the vision to lead an organization forward in order to gain competitive advantage. To come full circle, we’re back at the initial question, “How do you get smart people to work together around the table?”

Sandee: Everything you’re saying is really connected. From the vision to being able to build out that vision with data and information from all internal and external data points converging. It’s about getting everybody to buy into the vision, the truth and the relationships and strengths that everybody is bringing to the table. That’s so critical. Then you need to fund the vision everybody has already bought into. It’s not that you need funding for a divergent thing that’s not in the budget. It’s all part of something much bigger.

Anna: A great example of people working together was on a CXO Disrupt 2016 panel, on which both sides were represented. Someone from McDonald’s marketing side and someone from their IT side explained how they’re working collectively to drive different initiatives and strategies within the organization. Similarly, the Jones LaSalle representatives were from marketing and IT. These are great examples of how organizations really need to look deep inside themselves - it can’t be a battle about territory. You must realize that we’re all in it together and cooperation is what’s going to make your company unique and different.

One of my favorite shows was Survivor. Its slogan, “Outwit, outplay, outlast,” applies to what these companies need to do. How do you gain competitive advantage? You need to outwit, outplay, and outlast your competitors. The only way you do that is through the power of pulling different groups together to work collectively.

Up next week: Part 3, “The C-Suite: From the Peak to the Reality”

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About Sandee

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I believe that the definition of leadership is making opportunities for others. I am a leadership geek and find that the richest opportunities for all of our futures lie in education. I am a believer in reciprocity in education and that as educators we are both teacher and student. I believe that the world can be a classroom if we open ourselves to the notion that application, concatenation and liberation start with listening. Schedule Sandee to Speak

About i.c.stars

i.c.stars is a non-profit organization in Chicago for adults with a high school diploma or GED. Using project-based learning and full immersion teaching, i.c.stars provides an opportunity for change-driven, future leaders to develop skills in business and technology. To learn more go to

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