Digital transformation or the radical change we’ve been able to witness since the late eighties does seem quite insane. This year the iPhone only turns 11 years. Google has just turned 20. The minds behind the brands seem inseparably linked with their success. Microsoft: Bill Gates. Google: Larry Page & Sergey Brin. Amazon: Jeff Bezos. Apple: Steve Jobs. Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg. And for those who still remember: studiVZ was founded by Ehssan Dariani und Dennis Bemmann.
» The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.
Steve Jobs «
But to what extent does the brands’ success depend on these iconized characters? What can CDOs and drivers of digital innovation learn from this?
Management à la Louis XIV
The French absolutist monarch Louis XIV is said to have declared “L’état c’est moi.” – „The state, that’s me”. In view of vibrant personalities like Richard Branson or Elon Musk, the sentence could be paraphrased: “The brand, that’s me.”
A brand’s identity and success are closely related to its leading heads. Elon Musk made investors believe in electric mobility, Mars flights, and Hyperloops. Even if there’s always a trace of madness in his ideas, he is authentic at any rate. And this is what matters in transparent times like today. Still, in terms of business, this kind of volatility and authenticity is also a sword of Damocles. Simply tweeting to consider reprivatizing Tesla at a price of USD 420 per share can also leave behind a pile of shards.
The sensation caused by his interview with Joe Rogan proves that the world still lags behind Musk’s ideas. Entrepreneurs smoking pot in a state where marijuana consumption is legal? That’s clearly too extreme.
Of course this doesn’t imply that marijuana consumers are automatically better digital entrepreneurs. What it shows, however, is that disruptive change isn’t contrived carefully from behind an office desk. It needs courage and this very pinch of madness to put change into practice.
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