There is a lot of buzz to transform your company by integrating social media applications. Sure the Internet and its applications layers create more and more open environments and enterprise networks are expanding fast.
But what does this mean for an executive to work in a REAL web2.0 environment. An environment that is COMPLETELY OPEN and relies totaly on the CONTRIBUTIONS of its members. In an environment where there is no "top-down" neither a "bottom-up" communication as everyone is on the same level.
How do you deliver as CEO of a virtual company when 98% of your workforce is virtual and you can only direct less than 2% of the workforce ?
We all heard the saying “it’s lonely at the top” but how does this works in a “flat world” as there is no longer a summit…. Does this translates into a “it’s lonely in the field ?”
In a flat world... do you have to be a flat CEO to be succesful ?
As a CEO, you do not longer have a team… you have a network and with the concept of “all power is in the network” … what is left for a CEO / COO ? What is his/her reason to be ? How can he raise up in a flat world that is getting flatter every day ? Where do you position yourself… in the center and get overwhelmed or on the borderline to keep a clear view what happens but to far away to influence daily operations.
Everyone can give an easy solution like "the CEO has to be everywhere" but this is just impossible as he/she will gets quickly overwhelmed participating in all discussions.
He/she has to be at the same time in the center for daily operations and at the borderline to monitor all network activity.
In fact, the 2.0 CEO has to have a very dynamic role ... constantly running around to create fluent operations and at the same time, communicate a lot so all actors continue to make things happen. You don't need to be a "specialist" CEO but an all-rounder.
Also, the network of contacts executives have to make new deals is of almost no importance as virtual companies are very "closed communities".
- Team spirit is a natural thing and is now empowered by the whole network. People can join and leave the group as they want but it is up to the CEO to keep the discussions animated and most important, act quickly in case of a conflict.
- Team motivation is increased because everyone feels their voice has equal weight and they are all part of a particular experience. There are no salary questions neither social differentiations. Everyone is working at the same level (contacting the CEO is as easy as contacting your mom… if not… we no longer operate in a flat world).
- Decision making is something fuzzy and is done through a shared understanding of what needs to be done - without the ability to have a senior over-riding the populous will.
- Deliverables are a natural outcome of the group following the alignment of shared objectives. A CEO can not decide…he can only influence the group to set goals and deadlines.
- Communication has to be very transparent and required clear and short messages in order to gain momentum and to maintain your positions as CEO.
- Legal issues have to be settled from the start as each individual has to be responsible of his acts. The network cannot accept illegal practices (like using copyrighted material) but it is upto the CEO to get things settled as legally, he/she is responsible for the acting of each individual member of the team.
- Rewards are mutual as a 2.0 leader can only succeed with the positive results from the entire organization… so he needs to take in account the rewarding of the whole team.
- The disapearing of the individual: everything is network based and nobody takes care of the individual. There is no longer a HR function and everyone is know under his login name (or the nickname he picked when he subscribed).
- Self esteem : this is perhaps the most difficult issue for a CEO... Lack of power, lack of direct control, difficulties to take network-wide initiatives, the lack of staff to empower/motivate... it definitely is not given for each to be a web2.0 executive.