I’m pretty excited about our new CEO Mads Nipper! It could seem like a paradox, since I haven’t met the man, and he will not even start until August 1.st. But I actually feel I know him enough to be not only excited – but also confident – in him, and that he can make a positive difference for Grundfos.
The reason is simple: I’ve been observing his behavior and how he has been engaging with the Grundfos organization. Hence, my belief and feeling is pretty much based on evidence.
But how can that be when he has not yet started working for Grundfos, and I have not yet met him? Well, actually Mads started engaging with Grundfos on our Enterprise Social Network only a few days after he was formerly released from his obligations with Lego. As a side-note and credit to Lego, it should be mentioned that Jørgen Vig, the CEO of Lego, had held – what is said to be – one of the warmest farewells to an executive in the collective memory of Lego employees (and Jørgen actually chose to share his speech on his personal internal Lego-blog for everyone to read!).
A small team, including Mads Nipper (our future CEO) and Kim Nøhr Skibsted (our Group Vice President of Corporate Communications) had planned the idea and created a public group for what is called ‘Mads’ Blog’. The group is open to all Grundfos employees and they can comment if they like. Personally, I think it’s courageous and smart.
I can think of a looong range of potential benefits, but a few of the most evident are;
- Many more – like me – will get a feeling of knowing Mads without having met him. Not only will he get a lot of individuals to commit and be highly motivated because we feel we can relate to our leader with a personal veneration, but he can also inspire all the ‘non-generation Y’ managers to learn how to ‘build virtual relationships at speed’. This is an important organizational capability for a successful globalized organization of the future.
- He invites to engage across hierarchy. This is a highly motivational signal to a deep hierarchical organization. It can provide a unique and effective balance between old school governance and grass root entrepreneurship, and it is the basis for creating a more agile organization, crowdsourced improvement processes, etc.
- A lot of people will learn how to effectively engage using an enterprise social network – just by following and adopting what Mads is doing.
So what is Mads actually doing?
- He’s sharing short messages.
- He does it at a frequency which is not too high and not too low – it seems that it matches how he himself prioritizes communication as a person and a leader. It just feels natural and authentic.
- He does it from his smartphone!
- He uses likes to show he has noticed or acknowledged – not too often and not never.
- He actually responds / gives feed back to the conversations if it is relevant.
- He uses signposting to make his organization engage or take over when it is relevant.
Another very important learning is the communication and the ‘dialogue maturity’ itself. The pattern I’ve observed is very traditional (even though Mads has been able to tune in on a real business critical theme quicker than anyone else I’ve seen starting from scratch!).
- Typically it starts with ‘Facebook like’ communication (hi, I’m here, I visited this and that, great work, I like this but don’t understand that, etc). This phase is actually important and needed. It’s about building the relationship, getting to know each other, and can be somewhat compared with the ‘Storming/Norming’ phases in team building dynamics.
- Then, over time, one or more ‘business purposes’ will become the center of conversation. If this does not happen, the conversations will dry out and the group will die. Mads has already now opted for transparent communication on some very important and business critical issues, so there is no way this will happen right now.
Only time will tell just how truly successful Mads’ Blog will be with Grundfos, but two things are certain: Mads will hit the ground running, since he is already engaging and learning with his organization, and in addition the initiative has helped drive the organization in a healthy and needed direction when it comes to communication, leadership, strategy, and use of social technology.