C-Suite Intelligence 23rd April 2020

Winmark's C-Suite Intelligence service providing news, content and research to help leaders across all C-Suite functions address the exceptional business planning and management challenges they are facing.

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Online assessment tool to assess the impact of COVID-19 and help with next steps
This useful tool from PwC helps assess the potential impact of COVID-19 across six key business areas. Your score in each area will help you to think through your next steps, building on your strengths and giving renewed attention to places where you see gaps. This understanding can shape your response both in the near-term and as you look further ahead. 
  1. Crisis management and response: Information and impacts are changing hourly, requiring a well-organised crisis command centre that structures the response activity, flow of information, and communication to both internal and external stakeholders.
  2. Workforce: Remote working is quickly becoming the standard for many companies, with implications for technology, cyber security, and safety, among other issues.
  3. Operations and supply chain: Depending on how centralised their operations are and how geographically dispersed their supply chain, companies will experience the effects of border closures, travel bans, and other slowdowns in different ways.
  4. Finance and liquidity: Companies may need to rethink their financial forecasting, modelling, and communications.
  5. Tax and trade: Ripple effects on tax may occur at both the individual (for employees who’ve had to relocate, for example) and corporate level.
  6. Strategy and brand: Companies’ approach to innovation, risk, and their overall operating model — as well as brand health — will inform their response.
Click here to take the  COVID-19 assessment.  


Tips on building rapport over video -  from a former FBI negotiator
Chip Massey was the FBI agent called to talk down a perpetrator when violence seemed imminent. Over poor quality mobile phone connections he had to build rapport with desperate, angry people. In his current role as a specialist in corporate crisis communications he is frequently on video calls – hopefully somewhat less dramatic!
Here is his advice for those of us still getting the hang of bonding with strangers via video call, even if it's not a life-or-death situation. 
  • Prepare to stay calm. Your own voice and expressions will influence the other person's mood more than practically any other factor.
  • Conduct forensic chit-chat. In business conversations start with small talk filled with open-ended questions. It's a way to hear the person communicate their beliefs and values.
  • Voice concise encouragement. Phrases like "yes," and "that's right" are music to a talker's ears.
  • Repeat after them. Massey uses a technique he calls "three magic words," where, after listening to a person, he repeats the most important three words they said--or just the last three of their last sentences--to show them he understands and finds value in what they're saying.
  • Give difficult subjects space, but don't be afraid to circle back. If your conversation includes sensitive matters it's best to create a cooling-off period. Try shifting the conversation to topics that put the person at ease before returning to the contentious point.
  • Label emotions. If you sense an emotion in the other person, positive or negative, say so out loud. It seems simple, but a phrase like "It sounds like you're feeling overwhelmed," makes people feel recognized and leads them to lower their barriers. If you sense it and then describe it sincerely, the person will feel like you're making an honest effort to connect with them.
 Read here for full details.  
COVID-19 and the Board: A Chair’s point of view
The way in which boards do their work at this time will be a critical factor in an organisation’s ability to emerge from the current crisis and push forward into a new era of economic recovery. The Executive Chair of the Board, Deloitte US and the Chair of Deloitte Canada and Chile share five principles that strong boards exemplify: 
  1. Take care of each other. Chairs and their board members must support each other and their executive teams. The tone from the top matters, and boards are also in a unique position to reinforce a culture of inclusive human concern for the mental and physical well-being of the entire organisation.
  2. Challenge the operating models of your boards. Revisit existing structures and be agile in considering what aspects of the standard board agenda can be streamlined or deferred. Evaluate if new crisis-based working groups could support the organisation in more successfully navigating urgent issues. Set expectations for interaction, communication, and material production that respects the situation.
  3. Be flexible in board engagement. Issues related to illness, family care taking duties, stress, and bandwidth due to multiple board seats, as well as board members who have to return to their primary C-Suite responsibilities, all need to be considered.
  4. Take the long view. The board must keep a lens on two mutually inclusive issues: being the vehicle to hold an organisation to its societal purpose, and balancing decision-making between the short-term need and long-term success.
  5. Ask deliberate questions. Be thoughtful about avoiding questions borne out of personal curiosity. Focus instead on the critical issues facing the organisation in the short term, and those that will chart its future course. Continuous dialogue, including constructive challenge, can create a healthy tension that should be seen as positive and necessary to get to the best decisions. 
Read here for full details.

Fighting For CMO Relevance In 2020
The CMO role appears to be under increasing threat - B2C brands such as Uber, McDonald's and Johnson & Johnson have scrapped their CMO roles altogether.  

In this coming decade, as customers continue to write the new rules, CMOs have the opportunity to be leveled up or out of the C-suite. Companies need their CMOs more than ever as they seek to differentiate in the sea of me-too players created by the commoditisation of technology. Leveraging data and building teams around customers will help, but most of all, CMOs need to become story makers with customers taking the lead role.  

For CMOs to thrive, they must ultimately become a driver for growth. A stepping stone to this is through data — arguably marketing's greatest and most underutilized asset. With data, a CMO can add value like no other member of the C-suite. 

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