Avanoo CEO Daniel Jacobs knows a thing or two about disruption. Jacobs, CEO of Avanoo, a platform that helps companies sustain a positive culture, has spent his entire career at the crossroads of technology and driving organizational purpose. He has spent more than a decade running organizations that have a deep helping purpose, build tight communities and innovate technologically.
Jacobs will be a speaker at Chief Executive’s annual CEO Talent Summit, held September 24-25th at West Point, N.Y. at the Historic Thayer Hotel, discussing how to ignite change and drive clarity in the midst of disruption, exploring on how successful leaders are harnessing and amplifying their stories to create organizational change, unleash hidden potential in their organization and inspire a high-performance culture.
Jacobs spoke with Chief Executive to preview his session. Below are excerpts from this conversation.
What are the biggest disruptive workplace trends that you see in today’s environment?
The biggest disruptive trend I see is continuous disruption. Digital transformation is here to stay, innovation cycles are tightening to near-real time, and even the most ground-breaking innovations are commoditized within years or even months. The impact of continuous disruption is that no longer are processes, patents, sales processes great competitive advantages. Instead it’s our employees and cultures doing the innovating and disrupting who are our medium and long-term competitive advantages.
What are the challenges that CEOs face in building a positive, high performing culture?
Every workplace culture is unique; its stories, configurations, motivations… they are all unlike any other workplace culture in the world. The best way to build positive, high performance cultures is to find, honor, and connect with everything that is special about our people. This can be a challenge because often executives feel most comfortable being prescriptive about our businesses. We want to use a roadmap created by someone else (or that we created in the past) and do that. But a roadmap to the heart and soul of another culture (even yours from a few years ago)… won’t lead you to the hearts of the people right in front of you. They need you to see, honor, and elevate them.
What are a few ways that CEOs can bridge the gap between what they say and what employees are hearing?
A mentor once shared with me that the meaning of our communication, as CEOs, is the reception it gets. So if we feel there’s a big gap between what we are saying and what employees are hearing, that means we have an opportunity to improve our communication. We can do that by soliciting constant feedback about what employees think they’ve heard, and by refining our communications strategies based on that feedback.
What are a couple of things you’re looking forward to discussing at the CEO Talent Summit?
I am looking forward to discussing how stories and storytelling can help CEOs ensure employees feel connected to their culture and business strategy. I am also looking forward to talking about how technology and AI can give CEOs deep powerful, predictive insights into understanding how their culture is evolving in ways that drive business outcomes.