IT IS IMPORTANT FOR A FIRST TIME CEO TO CREATE A STRATEGY BASED ON PRIORITIES, in addition to interacting with the board of directors and managing the people in the company. One helpful exercise I would recommend is to write down five priorities for the first 100 days, and then put them away in an envelope. Five or six weeks later, open the envelope and decide whether your initial priorities should remain as written or be reordered or replaced with others. During that five- or six-week period, a new CEO should identify the high-potential employees at the company and talk to them about their ideas as well as their own priorities. In parallel, a CEO should also speak with the company’s customers, asking simple questions such as what do you like, or what do you think we should do to improve? Once the CEO has a strong sense of the internal people and external customers, then he or she can take the listening tour to the investment community. When the CEO has gotten the full orchestra coming together, so to speak, it then becomes very important to communicate with the board, to share recommendations and compare notes. Finally, and most importantly, is the act of turning your priorities into a clear action program that people can see and experience. It should be an inclusive program that operationalizes big ideas and consensus priorities, not merely a command or decree.
DAVID PYOTT, Board Member, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.