Moving into the C-Suite

moving up

You’ve made it! You’re now a CPO!

In last week’s blog, I discussed the short tenure of the CPO—what does this mean if you’ve just moved up to CPO? A recent McKinsey study focusing on executive transitions indicates that nearly half of top executives say they were not effective in earning support for new ideas when they moved into the C-Suite. One-third admitted that they have not successfully met their objectives during their tenure. While there is no predictor of success in a new role in the C-Suite, this blog is designed to provide some keys to success.

Many individuals want to start adding value quickly and make immediate changes; it could prove to be a career-ending mistake. The CAPS Research CPO study I mentioned last week and the related Korn Ferry Institute report highlighted the CPO’s tenacity in facing complex problems and ability to be calm and cool in a crisis. You know that procurement or supply chain professionals develop these skills through experience, so remember this is a strength that your fellow C-Suite peers can rely on. I’m guessing you don’t want a crisis now to show these skills, so following the Deming model of understand, plan do, check and act is a good recommendation for anyone taking on this new role. In the first hundred days, the new CPO should learn the business, business culture, political dynamics and pet projects of your other colleagues in the C-Suite.

It would be wise to evaluate the team and develop an assessment of the team strength, weak links, overall technical and relationship competence and develop a current state analysis. It always helps to get some meaningful metrics, benchmarks and a baseline of others in the industry. When comparing these performance indicators to your new organization, the gaps in team strength, organization and process will become apparent. Getting the team aligned to a shared vision, direction and focus will make your transition easier.

Developing a plan and getting input from your colleagues and stakeholders will assure your success when you present a comprehensive plan. The plan should include key activities, investment required, return on investment, key performance indicators, timelines and milestones and resources to be required and the change management process you will use to accomplish transformational change.

One thing to bear in mind, a transformational change of this magnitude normally takes about two years. If you make immediate changes without the preparing management and without the presentation of a complete program, you will not be considered part of the team. It’s always tempting to exercise your power and change things to show that you are there doing something, but it will be a disaster in the C-Suite.

The McKinsey study indicates that executives with the most successful transitions need more than 199 days to adapt to a new role. The four keys to success are:

  1. Build a plan focusing on internal alignment and the highest priorities of the business
  2. Create a plan that accommodates the business dynamics and culture
  3. Assess your team, understand the strong and weak players and get a perspective
  4. Every business has a business style, adapt to the style in the business.

You have made it, you’re in the game, make the right moves.

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