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7 Questions with Adam Hartung
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7 Questions with Adam Hartung
Name: Adam Hartung
Current title: CEO
Current organisation: Spark Partners
Lifetime innovator. Harvard Bschool and BCG alum. Built billion dollar new businesses at Pepsico and Dupont. Developed innovative approaches while leading turnarounds - then wrote a book on managing innovation and addressing disruptions. Over 400 Forbes columns on leadership with 90million readers. On several boards. My passion is helping people understand how to succeed in a fast changing world
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Helping people understand that success requires always moving forward, always growing. Standing still, or trying to defend a position, is always a step toward demise
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
After succeeding as an entrepreneur I went to Harvard for an MBA, then worked at BCG learning the ropes of strategy. By utilizing external data I learned how to develop powerful future scenarios that helped me build businesses much faster and larger than anyone anticipated. It's connecting resources to future scenarios that leads to greatest success
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Start the day by briefing on what happened overnight. Focus mornings on operational issues, to dispense as quickly as possible (unless a crisis exists.) Rest of the day is spent interpreting what's happening in the world into opportunities for growth. End each evening with a cocktail and a review of the day's news - thinking about how it impacts future scenarios
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
There are many reasons people follow a leader. You cannot be monochromatic - you have to understand these multiple reasons and do your best to appeal to all of them. There's no 1 secret to leadership, but rather 100 ways to succeed. It's important to be flexible, listening, and adapting to apply the right solution to the right problem
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. Clayton demonstrated that business leaders like to lock-in on a business model then optimize its performance. But this leads to hardened systems unable to adapt to a dynamic marketplace, making them brittle and subject to rapid deterioration. Leaders have to be flexible and adaptable, and build flexible, adaptable organizations focused externally rather than internally.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Force all managers to constantly develop future scenarios and explain how they will manage them. Only by building the ability to forecast changing conditions, and manage those conditions, can you build new leaders. Give the best of these the opportunities to create new businesses demonstrating they can adapt to market needs and develop new revenue streams
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
More a theme than a story. I watched people in PepsiCo's restaurant business claim that delivered pizza biz would never be as big as sit-down pizza. I watched managers in DuPont's medical imaging say x-rays and MRIs would never go digital, and that page make up for printing would never go digital. Over and over I've heard managers and leaders deny the potential for change, and end up getting clobbered as markets shift due to new technology and business practices.