Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer for Forbes Media interviews Luis Gallardo, Author of Brands & Rousers.The Holistic System to Foster High-Performing Businesses, Brands and Careers.
Previously posted @Forbes
The world is changing faster now than ever before, and if companies don’t react quickly and effectively to those changes, they’re destined to fall by the wayside. One way corporations can keep ahead of the curve is by installing a Chief Reason Officer (CRO), or so says Luis Gallardo, a global brand and marketing leader and author of the just-published book Brands and Rousers.
I recently sat down with Luis Gallardo to discuss his ideas on this notion. Through his 10+ years of experience working in corporate America, he has become an expert in a wide range of areas from brand management and engagement to business development to reputation management. His book, Brands and Rousers, offers guide to business success in the modern market through insights and examples from some of the world’s most successful organizations. In his book, he introduces the need for the CRO position in the c-suite.
Bruce Rogers: First off, this position is not something you hear about everyday. How did you discover a need for a person like this in the c-suite and why is this something that all companies should do?
Luis Gallardo: A Chief Reason Officer may sound strange, but when you step back and explore how businesses can adapt to the constant changes in culture, it makes perfect sense. Corporations, large and small, need to develop new executive positions like this in order to stay focused on their purpose and culture as progress occurs. Losing focus is a good way to guarantee that a company becomes stagnant.
Don’t let this happen. It is vital that companies stay on track and focused on their overarching purposes and incorporates the reasons behind their efforts in everything they do. All activities, strategies, employee engagement efforts, and customer loyalty programs need to be shaped by a company’s core values and purpose. When reason is clearly defined and communicated, a business can function as a solid front, moving forward with confidence.
To make this happen, every employee needs to have a firm understanding of the organization’s mission, from the CEO to new hires. Every decision – from handling a customer complaint to hiring a new manager – should be made with this central purpose in mind. This is such a grand undertaking that a chief officer is necessary to make that goal a reality.
BR: What are some examples of companies that have executives that behave like a CRO? What can be learned from their success?
LG: A company like Apple, where Steve Jobsbehaved like a CRO, thrived under this type of leadership. Jobs wasn’t just concerned about the success or failures of the company. He heralded and emphasized the “reason” of Apple through every product release. The company based its products on the idea that innovation should feel natural, or simple, and that the product’s design and function should be user-centric. When products and even marketing campaigns didn’t meet these ideas, he fought to remind the company’s staff and partners that it did not meet Apple’s core purpose or “reason for being.”
Other companies, like Nike, Red Bull, and Amazon, have also thrived by focusing on their inspirations – why they do what they do. Those, however, are some of the few success stories. When other companies identify their own CROs, they will have a dedicated individual who questions every decision based on how the product or service matches up to the company’s original mission.
BR: What is the CRO’s role within the C-suite? How does this position differ from more traditional company roles such as the CMO and COO?
LG: The Chief Reason Officer is the engine that drives the company toward commitment to its values, encouraging participation and actively seeking opinions and new ideas at all levels. As a high-level executive, he has the leeway and resources to use a range of motivational strategies, such as compensation, economic incentives, recognition, or promotion in order to secure enthusiasm and commitment from employees. And while many C-suite levels executives are tasked with these responsibilities, most are focused on their core area and the success of their own department.
Does the chief marketing officer really question the reason behind the marketing of a product? No, she is worried about sales, creative, and brand exposure. Will the chief financial officer concern himself with how an investment adds to the company’s overall mission? Or will he be more interested in the revenue potential of the investment. The CRO position is vital to bringing together all divisions in order to question and remind the company of mission, goals, and core values.
BR: So, what if a company decides that they would like to implement this position? Would it require the entire reconstruction of the C-suite?
LG: The implementation of a Chief Reason Officer means restructuring the C-suite, but don’t let that stop you. Oftentimes, the bigger the change, the more we resist it, but don’t allow yourself to halt progress because you’re scared of the risks involved. Standing still is the worst thing a company can do, and creating this new position will help you move forward with confidence, guaranteeing everyone is on board. As any leader can tell you, buy-in ensures that not only are good ideas put into practice, they succeed.
Conventional positions, such as CFO, CMO, or COO, originally evolved out of a need for specified roles in order to cover all bases more effectively. However, there are flaws in this structure that have developed over time. When the CIO is responsible for technology and the CFO focuses on numbers, they are forced to focus on the survival of their individual silos. This can cause conflict as they fight over budget and resource needs. Successful businesses of today (and tomorrow) need to think holistically, acknowledging their companies’ reasons permeate all aspects of business.
In my book, I also explain other chief officers that can be implemented surrounding the six techniques for successfully building a business or the 6 Rs: Reason, Revenue, Rousers, Reputation, Relationships and Resilience.
BR: Restructuring high-level executive positions would be a difficult task, but I agree that standing still is one of the worst things a company can do in this day and age. What are some other consequences that can result from businesses refusing to be forward thinking when it comes to their executive’s roles within the company?
LG: Another imperfection with the typical executive model is the ability for individuals to neglect responsibilities that might be covered by an exec. With a new model, every person would feel more ownership in company goals and would take responsibility for improving the organization by whatever means available to him. The CRO works across all business areas and “silos,” acting as the glue for the whole organization. The big hurdle once the strategic choices are made is turning common sense into common practice. That takes focus, time, and resources, and it requires an executive-level professional who can handle the role of organizing, yet breaking down barriers, of departments. A CRO can also track progress and lend insight into projects at every level to tie everything back to the central mission of the company.
Losing that central mission can cause epic failures. Bic created a line of underwear, Frito-Lay tried lemonade, and Enron lost its way to telling the truth – these companies left behind what they were, and the suffering was obvious, even dangerous. They needed leadership that would bring them back to their callings, or not let them stray in the first place. It is still possible to innovate and grow with the times, but the reasons behind the changes should remain.
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