I recently read a great post by Gerry McGovern about senior management and the web. The main thrust of the post can be summed up by the following extracts:
Rarely do I find organizations where senior management is truly engaged with the Web. The Web is still seen as some peripheral entity that is somehow disconnected from the core business.
Where is management? Absent. Completely absent. Management today pays lip service to the Web but doesn’t engage. It doesn’t think strategically about the Web. It’s all tactical. We need a new content management system. Tactical. We need to be on social media. Reactive. We need more engaging content. Tactical. Where is the strategy?
Gerry’s experience is much inline with my own experience at Headscape. I certainly feel his pain and associate with his frustration. What is more, I know we are not alone. Most web teams working within large organisations are frustrated by how out of touch their superiors are and how little they value the web.
Moaning is not enough
However, moaning about the problem does not solve it. Surely there must be a way to help senior managers “get it.” After all it is not there fault. Senior management tends to be from a pre-web generation that has only come online grudgingly and often doesn’t feel overly comfortable with technology.
How then can we help our CEOs, boards and directors better understand the profound impact the web can have on their business? How can we help them realise that the web is not something that can be bolted on to the side of an existing business, but is instead something that demands radical change of business models and strategies?
When I discussed this problem with Marcus he suggested that maybe its a generational thing and all we can do is wait for the current generation of senior execs to retire. I am not so pessimistic. Most senior managers are bright people. It is simply a matter of communicating with them clearly and in a language they can associate with.
Getting management’s attention
The biggest hurdle is simply getting in front of the board. These are busy people and many web teams get little face time with them. Things are further complicated when there are several levels of management between the web team and the top brass.
This is where an external source can be useful. These sit outside of the organisational hierarchy and so can go straight to the top. The question is what external element is most appropriate?
Would your CEO go to a conference aimed at senior execs and covering web topics? Would your board of directors be willing to attend a full day workshop on the web? What about a half day session? Would they see the value of paying an external consultant for something like that?
Should web designers be talking more at conferences already aimed at senior executives? Do such conferences even exist? If so what are they?
More questions than answers
As you can see I have more questions than answers. What I do passionately believe is that there must be away. If you can spare a few minutes jot your thoughts down in the comments. What do you think the best way of convincing your CEO would be? Hell, if it was the right company I would even be willing to come in and run a workshop for your directors free of charge, if it got them to take the web seriously.
Whatever the case we need to start discussing a way to reach these people and help them understand how profoundly the web is changing the business landscape.
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