A/B Testing does not work in this case

What initially looked like the problem of a city, far away in China, immediately covered the world, and completely took control of social, economic, political, and medical dynamics. Of our lives.

When the COVID-19 pandemic took its course, it quickly became obvious that previously known and used problem solving patterns would not be successful in this case. No decision could only be taken within a region, a country or econom, and there were plenty of decisions that had to be taken on a daily basis. All had to be arbitrated across medical, economic, social and political fields. That’s the rational aspect of this crisis.

People and societies went into lockdown and through different states of mind and emotions on it: solidarity, determination, ignorance, frustration, impatience, aggression,  and many others.
My friend Shakti wrote an interesting Blog on ‘Ten Livelong learnings from Covid-19’ and there are many different other perspectives on the current situation, looking at all different aspects of what’s going on right now.
For the rational and the emotional part, the big challenge was that there was not a situation in recent history that this could be compared to, or where problem solving patterns could be derived from.

By now we’ve all realized that after this crisis nothing will be like it was before and we still don’t know what the world will be like when this is over. Actually, there is no ‘this is over’; the world will have changed forever.

So, how can we learn from this and how can we make the ‘after’ better than the ‘before’? Since we don’t know what’s on the other side we’ll have to follow our vision.
The decisions we make as a global community now, the visions that drive us, define an opportunity to change what might have looked like a one way ticket to global destruction. We can break the no-alternative approach of our system; we can build a new one.

My CSFs for this new approach

  • Solidarity. Let’s show local and global responsibility for people in need and build a careful society.
  • Agility. Be quick in assessing facts and dare to change the course.
  • Sustainability. Stock indices aren’t an adequate measure of whether or not we are successful; if the world will be a livable place in 100 years is.

Can we do this?

Is your Chief Digital Officer MIA?

CDO MIAThe provoking abstract of the recent IBV Study on the role of the CDO:
“Business magazines have recently been thick with obituaries for the role of Chief Digital Officer. … Heralded in 2012 as “the most exciting strategic role in the decade ahead,” just a few years later, headlines appeared predicting the CDO’s demise. By 2016, a Forbes headline warned: “Say Goodbye to the Chief Digital Officer.” In 2018, we got “Does the Chief Digital Officer matter anymore?” and “The death of the chief digital officer.” And in 2019,
“Have we reached ‘peak’ Chief Digital Officer?” and “Chief Dinosaur: The Chief Digital Officer role is already heading toward extinction.”

© IBM Institute for Business Value 2019

Despite this attention grabbing opening the study offers some interesting insight on the role of the CDO. My top highlights are:

  • Digital transformation continues to be a mission-critical undertaking for many established companies
  • Placing a CDO in the organization can be associated with higher digital maturity of the company
  • Once the enterprise adopts new ways of working and is able to create new platforms, products and services fueled by digital innovation, CDOs will have worked themselves out of a job.

© IBM Institute for Business Value 2019

The study also explores the CDO challenge between digital transformation being an opportunity to fundamentally reinvent the business vs. tactically developing a set of technology-focused projects impacting a few business functions.
Should the better CDO be a technologist or a business strategist?

In my opinion the CDO focus should be on business strategy and leadership, and organizational change. A successful CDO will make digital transformation part of the core business function, and will be the shared responsibility of every member of the executive team. This will only be the end of the CDO job role, a ‘mission accomplished’ if the CDO does not provide the business leadership to continuously re-invent the organization and disrupt the market. And that would be the demise of the company.
So, the CDO better not be MIA!

Download the IBV CDO Study here.


1:59:40 vs 2:01:39

Kipchoge 1.59.38_c picture alliance dpa

Eliud Kipchoge breaking the 2 hr marathon mark © picture alliance/dpa / Herbert Neubauer

Not even 2 minutes is the difference between the official and the unofficial marathon world record. In normal life that difference seems neglible; in top level sports it’s a massive difference.

On October 12, 2019 the magical two hour barrier for the distance of 42.195 km finally fell. With 43 of the world’s fastest runners as pacemakers, an electric vehicle projecting the ideal position for each of the pacemakers onto the specially paved street, and a couple of other aides, Eliud Kipchoge ran 100 m in a 17 sec average across the complete marathon distance.

I believe the impact of this exercise is even more disruptive than simply stirring up a discussion about the validity of this record.

Of course, this is a record made in a laboratory, not relevant in the sense of Baron de Coubertin’s values, but it shows the power of determination and the potential of disruptive approaches. Without any doubt it opens the path for the 2 hours to be undercut in a regular, open race at some point.

Our challenge is to think of those disruptive approaches that will help solve real world problems!

All companies must record employees’ working hours – what does that do to Digital Transformation?

All companies must record employees' working hours

Image courtesy REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

“Member States must require employers to set up an objective, reliable and accessible system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured,” the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on May 14.

This decision was triggered by a case a Spanish Trade Union filed against Deutsche Bank and to me, went to an unexpected level of detail. This blog post won’t enter the heated political discussion, but will look at what this outcome could do for the digital transformation in Europe.

The implementation boils down to

  • Businesses have to record the time worked each day by each worker
  • The law is binding for companies that are doing business in Europe
  • Means or systems of recording are not specified by the law; that is the authority of EU countries

For years, I have enjoyed the benefits of a work model based on trust and commitment to drive results for customers and the business. Work-Life Balance has been part of an employee and manager responsibility and employee empowerment, not formalized via specific implementation practices.

The way this has played out was, that meeting project deadlines and driving results for customers defined what had to be done. When projects where delivered, I’ve had the flexibility to take time back. I even tracked my own annual leave times. With a global job responsibility, I crossed time zones back and forth and spent many hours in airports and on airplanes to get face time with clients and business partners in their time zone.

As a result, work related phone calls happen on the commute or at home. I making use of downtime to do work emails while waiting for at a doctor’s appointment and I am thinking out work strategies on the weekend. At the same time I am stepping out of the office to see a doctor, leave work early when I go on a weekend trip, or I even extend a break when I meet a personal friend for coffee or lunch.

This is a flexibility I am enjoying and it gives me the room for creativity I need to succeed. For me it is an efficient use of time to maximize results. Logging times in these scenarios would be a massive effort. Am I now crossing the law if I decide not to record any of those times that I work outside standard hours or outside the office?

I am out of wits how this law can practically be implemented in times where more and more jobs are digitally transformed to bring more flexibility to employees, where technology enables us to work anywhere anytime, and where at the same time we want to restrict an omnipresent digital surveillance.

I am not seeing how this law is giving employees room for personal initiative and how it is making European businesses more competitive on a global scale. Unless I am missing something in the full verbiage, I think it lacks concept of a trust based working model based on dynamic times, flexible locations and virtual work settings, giving employees more flexibility and work-life balance. Instead it’s weighing them down with concerns of 24/7 tracking and monitoring.

Looking forward to your thoughts on this.

Tacky vs Professional Marketing

The major Marketing challenge is about capturing the attention of your target audience, yet at the same stay true to your brand. Seth Godin has a blog on Permission Marketing and the recognition that when someone chooses to pay attention they are actually paying with something precious. There is no way they can get their attention back if they change their mind.

That puts a big responsibility on the marketer, because attention becomes an important asset, something to be valued, not wasted.


I thought long and hard about this POV when looking at the recent suchdialog campaign ‚firma.suchdialog‘, featuring the Head of Sales in a very traditional fashion. He’s the old kinda sales guy, smoking cigarettes, drinking whiskey, aggressively getting things done, talking very straight and not always being pc. He even sequesters aliens to scale the work for his customers.
A very edgy take on promising success to clients.

The campaign, launched on LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and in direct mail, and in all these channels instantly received a lot of attention. It also prompted a many responses, and it polarized the audience. Many folks applauded its creativity, but a few also dissed it and called out its tackiness.

So how do you determine if this is just desperate attention grabbing or seriously edgy marketing? My way of figuring this out is by comparing the campaign with the identity of the brand. Check out the web site and see if the campaign manages to bridge to a serious value prop. If the campaign can’t deliver it, don’t buy it.
It’s a simple as that.

Can you do Strategy?

Last week I was invited to host a Strategy Doing Day at suchdialog. Initially I wasn’t sure how you would ‘do strategy’, but I came to understand a great model of sharing, collaborating on and vetting of Corporate strategy.
The day event implementation was based on a set of stations where Project Owners presented in a ‘show and tell’ fashion their strategic projects for their colleagues.

The model was pretty simple and well known, but I thought applying it to the socializing of corporate strategic topics was an amazing way of alpha testing them.

Way to go team, let’s define a strategy for doing strategy!

Failing for Success

fail fast fail forwardListening to Reinhold Messner live last night and also watching the movie Manaslu by Hans Kammerlander, both world renowned alpinists talk quite a bit about their struggles and the challenges they overcame, or couldn’t. This gave me a new perspective on the concept of failing.

The idea of having full control over the results of a project is a common desire, but impossible to achieve in extreme outdoors settings.
Kammerlander’s movie makes it very clear, that when circumstances change within minutes, the ability to assess new settings and adjust quickly is critical for success, even survival and invariably include the ability to accept bad decisions and recover immediately.

The same applies to complex technology projects, as now any project is subject to rapidly changing conditions.

The Agile interpretation of this approach is summarized the statement ‘fail fast, fail forward.’

In an Agile setting failure comes quickly after a new approach is being followed, almost inevitably. And, that’s by design: the investment made in a new idea is not as big as in a traditional waterfall model where cohorts of people could be working on this new concept for weeks or months before it is unveiled – and possibly not accepted by its users. In two week sprints that follow the observe-reflect-make principle, prototypes help to detect issues quickly and the the impact of failure is not as big, and it is quite easy to recover from it. This is the picture of a toddler learning to walk: Pulling himself up, falling down, getting up again until he finally can walk on his own.

A major insight in Messner’s talk was, how important it is not to center this experience around yourself, personally. It is about persevering to pursue your goals, and being comfortable and in the safe zone will not drive you to excellence. In order to achieve great things, one has to bring all his capabilities together. That only happens outside the comfort zone, and with the immanent risk of failure. If you don’t fail, it simply means you are not pushing hard enough.

Failure is only a failure if it’s final, if you don’t learn from it and give up. If you continue to persevere failure is part of getting better. Fail fast, fail forward!

Spiderman and Netflix

I spent quite some time trying to make sense of this pancart, that a LinkedIn connection posted last week. While it is very placative and eye catching, it didn’t quite jibe with me.


© financialforce.com

Only when I read a blog by Seth Godin headlined ‘The Spiderman Paradox’ did things finally start to make sense. Seth is comparing Power and the Responsibility that comes with it. And while there always is the effect of an attitude or a culture in an organization, the impact of disruptions comes down to the decisions we as individuals make multiple times every day. My takeaway from his blog is, that it’s us as individuals that build a powerful culture of customer centricity and stem those disruptions multiple times every day.



Observe, reflect, make. Happy 2019!

Going into this new year 2019, I wish for all of us that we will be bold in doing good for others and the planet, that we learn and grow, succeed and fail forward, continue to motivate and help others, and in all of this enjoy our life. Thank you all for many opportunities to grow and have fun with you this past year and in the many years at IBM.

I decided to leave IBM, and I do this with a sense of gratitude that I have played my part in the transformation of such a great company. I am very much filled with pride that I was able to work with amazingly talented and good people that are always dedicated to client’s success, continuously innovate, and put trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.

Looking forward, I am very excited about new experiences and learnings that I will be able to share with you. I am very much looking forward to the continued dialogue.
A happy, healthy, and prosperous 2019 to all of you!

How CMOs can drive growth and change – Insights from the 19th CMO Study

19th CMO StudyA wealth of insight on what keeps CxOs up at night is in the Global C-Suite Study. Now, with the support of IBM Watson Natural Language Classifier the IBM IBV analyzed contextual responses and ascertained overarching themes to produce a CMO specific view.

As organizations are evolving from product-led to experience-led businesses, many of the current business models may be threatended. With CMOs now being the brand stewards and customer champions of their organisations, they have to increasingly transform corporate cultures to think and operate in customer-centric ways.

CMO Must Do List

© 2018 IBM Global CMO-Study

One of the surveyed CMOs of a US Financial Services organization states that “The role of the CMO is evolving into ‘Chief Experience Officer.’ We need to own the client experience from beginning to end, across the organization.”

This mandate clearly lays out the new job and the main priorities of a CMO in a leading organization.

While I am finding new nuggets of insight every time I read through the study again, I wanted to let you participate right away.
Feel free to download your own copy here.

Data points and quotes are referenced from the 19th edition of the global CMO Study and C-Suite Study.


The Road to Rabat

My opinion on Digital Transformation, Customer Engagement, Marketing and Social Media.

The AIIM Blog

My opinion on Digital Transformation, Customer Engagement, Marketing and Social Media.

THINK Marketing

My opinion on Digital Transformation, Customer Engagement, Marketing and Social Media.

Musings - Michelle Killebrew

My opinion on Digital Transformation, Customer Engagement, Marketing and Social Media.


DigitalNaiv(e) Notizen rund um Gesellschaft, Digitalisierung, Marketing, Technologien, Technik und Skurriles

Insights from a Business Builder and Fixer

Value Driven Innovation, Strategy and Growth