Category: Uncategorized

A Story: How Companies standing in their own way towards a digital transformation

Throughout my IT career, I cannot count the numerous times, we have come up with the “perfect” technical solution. Allowing companies to digitally transform themselves, propelling them forward into a sustainable future.
Just to hit a dead end, because the current company structure and culture had no room for such transformations.

A little story
A very specific story comes to mind of a Fortune 100 company in Switzerland, whose main vision was and still is to become No 2 in their industry sector, through the means/differentiation of providing outstanding customer service.

In order to assist this company to undergo a needed digital transformation towards a customer-centric model, I put a team together of world-class experts, comprising of industry-and technology experts and consultants specialized in process re-engineering.

Very soon it became clear that their existing IT Systems, grown over the past 20 years in an organic and cumbersome manner, where not up for the job of putting the customer in the center of their companies universe.

The IT environment was comprised of many different applications, not really communicating with each other, requiring lots of manual data entry and duplication, full of custom code, patches and fixes here and there. A nightmare for any customer service person, needing to have to open many different applications to serve a client. No, this IT environment was definitely not customer centric.

But the worst still came. There was no way of making the existing environment customer centric. Due to the organic growth, and no proper implemented development methodology, nobody had an overview what those applications and its add-on really did. Meaning that any change required, ended up being highly risky and had a cycle time of over half a year. Agility and flexibility was out the window.

Nobody right in their mind would drive a car in such a condition. Held together by rubber bands and chewing gums. Such cars would not pass inspection. They would make the decision to scrap the car and get a new one. One that is fit for purpose, meets their current needs and is safe. Where they can predict operating, service and maintenance costs. But no… quiet often, when it comes to IT in organizations they keep on driving with this barely functioning car.

Also this organization, against any common sense, decided to keep on driving with this old car. Yet again they just applied some newer versions of their CRMs (yes you heard me… multiple CRM Systems), patches and quick fixes here and there. And today, 3 years later, they are still where they were 3 years ago… far away from a digital transformation with their customer needs at the core of their business dealings… and their vision to become Number 2 in their sector … well…

I have to add here, this story is just an example of so many companies I have seen over my 20 years career. I learned from the failures of huge corporations. Having had the opportunity to work as a consultant for companies such AIG or Exxon before their big crashes. Today I can predict with pretty good accuracy which company will make it to the top, stay mediocre or even go under based on their IT Systems, their company structure, culture and their leadership philosophy.

What happens with common sense driven approach in such organizations?

  1. Short Term mentality based on quick profit gains versus long term purpose and vision driven organization
    Today most organizations are driven and led by short term profits. Responding only to annual dividends and the quarterly margin gain needs, demanded by the share holders. Executives of such organizations have no room and no time to develop a long term and sustainable company. Indeed, their whole focus constantly goes into urgent and pressing issues. It leaves no room for implementing a long term vision with a fit for purpose organizational structure and supporting IT Systems. Frankly, most of these organizations do not even have a vision. And if they have one, they do not base their actions and decisions on it.
  1. Self preservation versus a value creation driven organizatio
    Executives of such companies know if they do not bring the results here and now, next year they will be history. So they do the only thing they can do. They apply everywhere in the organization quick fixes, like chewing gums to their IT Systems, to keep the ship barely afloat as long as possible. They keep on flogging the dead horse by any means. Well, I do not have to say what this mentality does for the company culture and morale. It surely is not conducive of creating value for customers.
  1. Cost cutting measures versus empowering employees
    Cost cutting is at the core of those organizations. Decision power of financial budgets gets centralized even for the smallest amount. I know organizations where the MD can not even order a pencil. They drive on a reactive approach to meet yesterday’s financial goals instead of an active approach empowering their employees to increase their productivity/output. Even so numerous studies show that an empowered and intrinsically motivated employee produces in the range of 30% more profits or adds to the profits than their unmotivated and disillusioned counter parts. No, those cost cutting, short term driven organizations have no room to make a huge investment in a new IT System that has in average a 1 ½ to 2 years ROI. In many cases the Exec board cannot even make such a budget decision. And if you dig into it nobody can and will.
  1. Hiring and firing mentality versus talent retention and development mentality
    In such organizations it is the norm to see a new CEO and a complete new Exec team in place in intervals of 1 to 2 years. These organizations go in cycles of complete stand still for at least 6 months, nobody making any decision until a new Exec team is in place. Followed by cost cutting measures and firing wave and then maybe after a year the organization has time to take the focus away from themselves towards what really counts… their customer. But by then loyalty based on trust of customers and employees is down the drain, knowledge has been lost etc. It is basically devastating, especially if this cycle keeps repeating it self. Yes, and the IT systems… in year 2 they may start to look at it but until they are finished with the analysis and ready to make a decision, those decision makers are already replaced again.


As I am writing this I am starting to be amazed that such organizations can sustain as long as they do. The only explanation I can think of; is that each single one of these organizations has some very good people, keeping it all afloat, doing their jobs relentlessly. Because they follow their own inner values and beliefs. They are resilient to the craziness at the top and they keep out of politics.

Knowing such individuals personally, what makes them tick, their values and beliefs, maybe they should become leaders of the organizations. They believe in creating value for others by serving using servant leadership principles. They stay true to their beliefs and values, no matter what is going on around them. They are the true authentic leaders in the organization. So maybe all we have to do to turn such organizations around, catapulting them into the digital transformation age is changing the leadership approach, to the one used by the people who keep these organizations silently afloat in the background.

#authentic me: with power, charisma, status and wealth comes responsibility…

… I love living a good life, having fun, dance and laugh with my friends…but at the same time I am aware that even so I work hart physically and spiritually for who I am, it all is a gift and it all is only temporary… what is here today can be gone tomorrow…so I am very fortunate…

… Not every person has been born into a society or family, where if we put our mind and heart into it, we can achieve success on all levels relatively easily. Where we have easy access to education etc. Can be who ever we want to be…if we really want it bad enough…

For me my personal power, wisdom, health, status, wealth,  and my charisma are my gifts to give away to others. To act as a role model … To pass those things on to help those who are less privileged…and if it is only a smile to a random person on the street…

I can do this, because I have learned that there is always enough to go around for everybody. And things come and go…

Why do I mention this. Tomorrow I’ll spend a day on a race track, surrounded by super cars, lots of wealth and fun.  I love fast cars, the buzz I feel when I hear an engine noise. The G that pushes one into the seat… Oh yes, I love living on the edge… Always have…and it is perfectly ok, as long as I stay humble and thankful and remember those less fortunate…

And tomorrow is about me giving back by doing a fund raiser for Hayag, our children project in the Philippines. I will spend the day standing in the drivers box and reminding the pilots about their responsibility to give back…give a little back to those who build the micro chips that run the cars so smoothly around the track. Built them under minimum wages, so we can have a fun day and enjoy yourselves… today and tomorrow…


#Authentic me: Thanks “God” I have a brain to think…

Martina looking for answers

…it is what makes me unique and distinguishes me.

Why do I mention this? People who know me often wonder how I can think so much about random things. And way would I even be interested why something is how it is or why people behave how they behave. Well, very simple. I have a gift. A brain/mind and intelligence to think. Allowing me to come up with visionary ideas and concepts. To be unique and carve a new path, my own path.

Furthermore, I love to understand the unexplained. I must say I am not always successful and have learned over time that many things are outside my realm of understanding. Nevertheless, I am grateful that I can make up my own mind about things, people and world events. I am not merely a pupped in the crowd. I have my own opinion and can create my own point of view and with this also my own self image and who I am.

Downside of it: Well, I have a lot of deep thinking lines in my fore head:)  But if they get unbearable there is always Botox:) No, joke aside. I am walking quite often a path seldom walked. A path that requires courage, that can be very lonely at times, and bares many pitfalls.

Gedanken zu Werte und Wertschätzung

…Wir beschäftigen wertvolle Mitarbeiter..

“...unsere Mitarbeiter sind uns wertvoll…

Diese Aussagen hört man nicht nur von den Personalabteilungen. Haben wir uns jedoch Gedanken darüber gemacht was diese Aussagen bedeuten?

Werte sind individuell und demnach verschieden. Bin ich mir meiner Werte bewusst? Was sind das für Werte?

Damit wir Wertschätzung “ausüben” könne, müssen wir zuerst erfahren, was den die Werte des gegenüber überhaupt sind. Haben wir uns genügend Zeit genommen um dies herauszufinden? Haben wir in den Zielvereinbarungsgesprächen auch dieses Thema angesprochen? Was passiert wenn uns jemand nach unseren Werten fragt? Können wir antworten?

Falls ja, gut gemacht und weiter so. Dann können wir nicht nur Wertschätzung üben, sondern auch Sorge tragen, dass die gemeinsamen Werte berücksichtigt werden.

Falls nicht, nehmen wir uns doch die Zeit und sprechen mit den Mitarbeitern und Kollegen über unsere Werte und Wertvorstellungen. Das Resultat ist sicherlich, dass wir uns und unser Verhalten und das unserer Kollegen und Mitarbeiter in einigen Situationen besser verstehen werden.

Vielleicht werden Konfliktsituationen damit vermieden, weil man die Werte des anderen achtet und Rücksicht nimmt.


Mit wem soll ich über meine Werte sprechen?

Sie benötigen auf jeden Fall einen Dialogpartner. Sei es ein guter Freund, Mentor, Partner oder Coach.

Ich wünsche Ihnen viele wertvolle Gespräche und einen guten Start ins neue Jahr!

Leadership Ability: The path of “real” courage

Before we dive into the “requirements” of how to be a successful leader, a quick refresher on the differences of management and leadership, as they get thrown often into the same pot. However, they are completely different by definition. Management is a skill set and leadership is an ability. Management skills can be learned and deal manly with the task to execute on processes to support the company’s vision and strategy. Leadership is one step up management and deals mainly with the ability to formulate a clear strategy and vision and to get management successfully execute on one’s vision and strategy.

The Main ingredients of a “Real” Leader
To be a successful leader the so called “soft skills” or rather abilities such as “empathy” become of high importance. The ability to relate to others, to understand what motivates others, what are their self interest to get the best out of the people becomes the main focus of a true leader. However the prerequisite for these relationship competencies rest on a foundation of self-knowledge, self-awareness. Those competencies are directly linked with the success or failure of a CEO’s ability to formulate, articulate and lead a strategic vision for a motivated, energized organization. Self-knowledge builds clarity about objectives; it fine-tunes one’s understanding the perspectives, values, aims and personality traits of others.

The recipe to “Real” leadership
Self-awareness needs a lot of courage and strength. It means to open up to ones vulnerabilities and fears. Being able to look into the mirror and do an honest self-appraisal about ones emotional strengths and weaknesses; values and attitudes, personality traits and unresolved conflicts. To accept one self as a “whole” person with all different shades makes one authentic.

Being an authentic leader means others will follow you. Your behavior, your words and actions match and others can now relate to you on all levels. They know instinctively you are true to who you are and therefore you are strong in your leadership abilities. That nothing will easily make you falter. That you stand to your word and you will do what you said you would do. Providing a framework of trust for others into your abilities to lead them to success.

What Now?
Ready to create your Signature Leadership dish? Visit our Leadership Awareness Weekend and let the World become your Oyster

Read about the Author: Martina Willis


The Trust gaining Factor: Authenticity = Client WIS-F-IWIG

Martina Willis Enterprises AG

The other day I enjoyed a lovely evening by 23 Degrees sitting outside in the streets of Malaga with an old friend and ex-colleague. She opened my eyes to a missing dot/connection in the current prevailing sales training methods of SPIN/complex solution selling techniques.
She said, you know what drives me crazy? They keep on telling us in sales training, we need to gain the trust of the client. But if I ask how, they can’t give me an answer. There and then, I realized, I am guilty of this as well. I keep on talking about trust but I never really explained what it is that creates trust.
No it is not a process, or a complicated technique to follow. The answer is actually very simple.
Be your authentic self. So the client gets a feeling of WIS-F-IWIG. What I See (and feel subconsciously) is what I get. A…

View original post 936 more words

Understanding the ‘helper syndrome’

Southern Spain is the land of many opportunities, but even more lost people, writes Martina Willis
original article  at:

SINCE I started to appear in the Olive Press a few months ago I have had an incredible amount of people randomly bowling up at my front gates.

Mostly wanting to work with me in one form or another, they promise this and that and, it is fair to say, a lot of them are rather odd.
What I have noticed with this bizarre form of ‘jobseeker’ is that, generally, they do not take care of themselves.

I know you should never judge people by appearances, but it tells me immediately that they suffer a form of the ‘helper syndrome’. This is when somebody elects a ‘helper’ occupation, such as a therapist, counsellor or healer in order to fill in a gap in their lives.
This could be from the classic empty-nest syndrome when a child leaves home or from a complicated work-life situation they left behind in their home country, thinking a life in Spain would be so much easier.
However, what they have not understood is that happiness is a state of being and NOT doing. And as long as they adopt a ‘helper’ occupation in order to fill this gap in their lives, they will never succeed in their occupation.

At The Source Of Wellbeing I am looking for therapists who have found their inner source of wellbeing, exactly that, and radiate this state of being to our clients.
They need to act as role models when guiding our clients to achieve a balanced body, soul and spirit.

Our beauty therapist Jade is one such example and loves and breathes this state of being from the inside out.
When you are in her presence you feel immediately lifted and her heart is reaching out for you.
Tina, our yoga instructor is the same, making you feel at ease and content the second you step into her presence.

However, these types of professionals are sadly few and far between in southern Spain. And I’ve stopped counting how many times I have felt sheer exasperation after interviews.

But it would not be me if I could not see an opportunity in seemingly negative experiences.
To this end, I’m starting a weekly meeting for local women called ‘We First’ next month.

In these sessions, we will share stories of how we learned and found the courage to put ourselves first and how we found our own inner source of wellbeing.
Ultimately it means we can share this experience with our family and friends and, of course, give hope to other women who want to find more fulfilled lives.

REVIEW: The Source of Wellbeing retreat

Jon Clarke, editor Olive Press,  visits a brand new retreat in a hidden valley 20 minutes from the coast, where multi-talented owner Martina Willis is weaving her magic on many different levels.

ECHOING to the sounds of running water, croaking frogs and nightingales, it was hard to believe that I was just 10 miles and 20 minutes from the fleshpots of Fuengirola and Marbella.

Following an intensive massage, and with a healthy chickpea tortilla salad and a bottle of gewurztraminer awaiting me on my dining terrace, things rarely get much better.I had been invited to check out the hottest new wellbeing retreat to open on the Costa del Sol; a place where smiles are guaranteed.

Set up by a talented Austrian, whose CV would put many a CEO’s to shame, The Source of Wellbeing is set to become one of the must-visit hideaways this year.Also running as a luxury B&B, this amazing spot, based on the banks of the bubbling Alamino stream, is a genuine oasis of near-tropical vegetation. Well-appointed with spacious rooms, outdoor jacuzzis and hectares of grounds, it is a wonderful place to hole up for a few days, and a great base to explore the nearby Guadalhorce Valley.


Also expect to be spoilt by Martina and her team, which includes a great range of masseurs, chefs and therapists. Based at the heart of one of the true secrets of the Costa del Sol – the Barranco Blanco – there is only one way in and one way out… a dirt track, with one very small sign. But, once located, you drop down into a stunning valley which counts less than a dozen properties and one of the loveliest streams and waterfalls in Andalucia.

The Source of Wellbeing is the brainchild of Swiss-educated Martina Willis, a woman still in her 30s who counts working for Larry Ellison and Bill Gates on her CV. After studying mechanical engineering and marketing, she worked for 19 years in the IT sector, in particular with Oracle in Europe and Microsoft in Seattle, where she became the youngest product manager in the company’s history. But, after the inevitable burn-out, working sometimes 120-hour weeks with her own company, based in the UK, Saudi Arabia and Sweden, she decided to look for a career change.

Out went the private plane and yacht and in came a focus towards self-development and a drive for health and happiness.She moved into life coaching, got a diploma in MindTraining and has started to help focus and train senior executives and corporate teams around Europe. “I have now made it my life goal to equip people to become the driving force to change organisations,” she explains. “Let’s face it, the economy needs to adopt a new business model, away from profit and towards customer and employee satisfaction. “In short: a happy successful employee will generate a happy customer.”

Her new Wellbeing project encourages executives and business owners to learn from her, as well as offering hard-working women, or those who have lost their identity, the chance to escape and enjoy a well-earned pampering break.“When people look at me, they see this petite blonde who’s had a lot of luck to be successful in business and seems to have it all,” she says.“What they don’t see is the incredible hardship I have had to overcome along the way. The physical and emotional abuse I endured in my life from an early age and the obstacles I have had to overcome in my private and business life to be successful.“It has been a hard drive to become happy and I have had to break through detrimental and addictive behaviour patterns to become the assertive and strong person I am today. “Ultimately, I love to help people face the fear they have in their lives and help them achieve their goals without the need for approval of others