Babette Bensoussan explains how directors can better use the internet to inform their decision-making and how online networks could evolve as vehicles for knowledge exchange in the future.
Company Director (CD): What is your background?
Babette Bensoussan (BB): I am perhaps best known as an international specialist in strategy and competition and as the founder and director of The MindShifts Group. Over the past 20 years, I have undertaken major studies for, and mentored and consulted to, Australian and Global Fortune 500 companies on competitive strategies, competitive intelligence programs and strategic planning.
I have shared my knowledge and passion for excellence in strategy and competition by co-authoring four internationally bestselling books on business and competitive analysis. I teach in MBA programs and am an Adjunct Professor at UTS School of Business.
As an entrepreneur, I set up a number of businesses and recently established a new coaching business. I have served on the board of the National Australia Day Council, the NSW board of Adult and Community Education and am currently a non-executive director of Priority Management Australia.
CD: What energises you?
BB: People energise me, especially people who are open to learning, changes, new perspectives and growth. Strategy also excites me. I am a huge fan of exploring options and ideas, looking at trends and then devising strategies.
CD: What major challenges do directors face today?
BB: In my opinion, there are three. The first is thinking. Thinking is the most powerful thing we can do and the impact is phenomenal. Yet I see executives everywhere make quick decisions that satisfy short-term business demands without considering long-term ramifications.
The second challenge is uninformed decision-making. The information is out there and there really is no excuse for poor decisions. We have always managed to provide executives with new knowledge about competitors or the competitive environment, yet we don’t work in their industry.
I often see how overloaded we all are with information and yet decision-makers are starved for insights. Today big data is not the problem, analysis is. And we need to better understand the biases we bring to information, analysis and decision-making.
The third challenge is strategy. Sadly, many people have a limited understanding of the differences between strategy, goals, objectives and even tactics and actions. These words seem to be used interchangeably and often devolve to simply what is on the “to do” list. It behoves directors to clearly understand the differences to support executives in the challenges they have in maintaining a competitive and growing organisation.
CD: How and why do you use our LinkedIn member group?
BB: I have used it as a vehicle for learning and sharing of ideas. I have found wonderful new friends who share my thinking on strategy and the group has opened my eyes to key issues that directors face.
CD: How can decision-makers better use the internet to inform their decision-making?
BB: The internet is simply a repository of a lot of data and opinions. So if we want to make better decisions, the first step is to be clear what the decision that needs to be made is. If you are not specific on your search purpose then the internet can be overwhelming. So step one is: What is your precise question? You can always develop other questions as you proceed. Step two is to search first for anything that has been published. This allows you to see what has been written by others. You can then follow this up with chat groups, LinkedIn groups, slide share etc to see what people are saying. This might even connect you to experts that you could speak with to challenge any blind spots you have. Using the internet without a doubt can help better inform decision-makers. Like anything in life, good decision-making comes from hard work.
CD: How will online networks evolve as a vehicle for knowledge exchanges?
BB: Online networks provide the opportunity to share knowledge and learn from others. Sharing articles, challenging perspectives and reading other points of view enables all participants to grow and expand their thinking, philosophies and approaches to all manner of things. As part of your education, I believe it is important to allocate some time (say half an hour) every day to scanning your networks to see what people are saying.
CD: What are your passions outside of work?
BB: I am a member of a wonderful book club because I love reading. I also love watching movies, especially detective stories – I guess that is my drive for insights. And I do collage. That I guess is my bliss. A dear friend of mine is an amazing collage artist and I have learnt from her how to create some wonderful art that expresses my creative side. I have a couple hanging in my home and even one in my office. Even friends around the world have some of my art – so I guess you could say I am an international artist as well.
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