Walk the Talk at the Top (MIT Sloan Mgt Q&A)


Q: How do you improve situations where BU managers or others posture alignment for digital platforms to upper management but are not really invested?

J: Visibility, visibility, visibility!

“So many questions, so little time!” This series of posts is based on the questions I had no time to answer after my MITSloan Management Review Webinar in July 2018: Don’t Let Politics Back Your Digital Initiatives. I suggest you first check out the slides I used in order to understand the context for the questions in this series. Or you can listen to the webinar ($).

This is where “walk the talk” comes into play. The situation you describe sounds like a stalemate to me. Only the CEO or top person can effectively break it. Preferably that will happen through persuasion, setting an example, and visibly leading the organization forward. (see MIT engagement article)

The CEO or top person must:

  • Clearly articulate the value of the digital program,
  • Show the value (s)he personally attributes to it through individual, personal behavior.
  • Be visibly involved in the digital initiatives.
  • Make digital progress reports a regular part of executive meetings.

This will create a sense of emulation, where the laggards will eventually feel uncomfortable because they have little to report. The most successful change factor based on my research is behavior of other people – both senior management and peers.

On the other hand, I’m wondering when you say they “posture alignement to upper management” but do not do anything concrete. It makes me wonder how involved your upper management really is.


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