10 useful insights you can learn from Cindy Alvarez as a #digitalfirst leader

Inspiring Leaders in a #Digitalfirst world – Cindy Alvarez

In my role as independent board member, chairman and international leader, I frequently meet frustrated business leaders not feeling knowledgeable enough or feeling a risk of missing out on digital opportunities for their businesses. They also worry about not being involved enough themselves in social media and in the digital transformation.

Therefore we will be launching a series of interviews with inspiring leaders embracing the digital world, to understand more of their personal journey and get access to some of their insights.

We will start with Cindy Alvarez. Cindy is the Director of User Experience at Yammer and part of Microsoft’s User Experience Leadership team and Cindy is passionately curious about how people think and work. She is the author of the excellent book Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy.   

I met Cindy when we were in Silicon Valley in US in January 2015 with a group of start-ups from Scandinavia. The start-ups are all part of the accellerator program Born Global, where I also work as a business coach. Born global is led by professor Sören Sjölander from Chalmers University of Technology.  The Silicon Valley journey was led by Associate Professor Henrik Berglund, with an intense week of company visits, workshops and discussions. During that visit Cindy led a really insightful workshop on customer development. A topic that is as important for a Startup as it is for a major corporation, and she shared practical examples on how to validate product or company ideas through customer research.

Cindy’s journey to become a #Digital Leader

So how did Cindy herself come into the executive leadership position she currently holds? Listen to her inspiring response (if the video does not open, you may watch it here);

There are many routes that take you into leadership positions in the digital world, and a core drive will be for leaders to be passionately curious and embrace risk to move forward in this new world.

Which #Digital Trends, Businesses and Leaders to monitor?

Which trends and examples of businesses and leaders does Cindy believe we should keep our eyes on going forward? Listen to her insights here (if the video does not open, you may watch it here):

Cindy shares that people will progressively have more and more choices which make way for the growing trend of consumerization and mass personalization.

Cindy points us at other inspiring leaders such as Sarah Milstein, the CEO and co-founder with Eric Ries of The Lean Startup Conference. Sarah has shown how you can increase diversity of speakers with a dedication in selection and supporting with speakers training. Sarah has been featured on the topic of female speakers in Harvard Business Review .

She also points us at the leader Sarah Mei, who is the Director of Ruby Central. We learn that Sarah has started an outreach to get more female programmers along and the importance of creating the right environment for them.

Cindy also shares how Microsoft, the largest software company in the world, is willing to make big changes and works hard on regaining relevance with their customers. She can see evidence that it is starting to happen with redefining job roles, increasing focus on analytics, and not the least training that is totally re-thought as less formalized.

Give and get inspiration and value through networks

What networks does Cindy believe will bring value to both to herself as well as to her business? Don’t miss out on her respons to our final question – which furniture she would be (if the video does not open, you may watch it here)…

There is no doubt that networks, both digital and in real life, are increasingly important for us in both our business and private life.

Cindy uses Yammer for everything at work. The benefit of using the social collaboration network is that it forces you to post smaller things and with that become more inclusive and more agile and test things much earlier in the idea process. It also allows her to much better use her facetime with people, as much of the update information is already known. Personally Cindy uses Facebook for private conversations as it helps her stay updated on friends.

Cindy also uses Twitter, and she shares that she has Twitter friends. Twitter has helped her get speaking engagements, she has helped people get jobs and she has learned more about the world and about peoples’ perspectives about the world. She also shares about the inspiration she got from her Twitter friend @anildash, who only retweeted women for a full year, and that she has increased her focus on following female tweeters, and how that has given her new perspectives. She explains how great it is to be able to throw questions out and get answers, and how Twitter keeps giving her new insights.

Finally, as a furniture, Cindy would be ……… a ladder! She choose latter because they are very useful; You can sit on it or you can climb all way up and enjoy the height!

How to become more #digitallyInvolved

To get more insight of what Cindy knows and shares, we highly recommend you to read her book Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy. The book is a hands-on guide to help organizations validate their products or future ideas and build a customer base. It is based on Cindy’s experiences spanning Microsoft, mid-stage start-ups and early stage start-ups.

If you are in Sweden on April 21, 2015 you can listen to Cindy at the BusinessToButtons conference, or join Cindy at a dedicated Lean Customer Development workshop on April 20. Get more information and sign up here http://www.inuse.se/academy/lean-customer-development/uncovering-business-opportunities/

To further expand your own network of inspiring digital leaders – we recommend you to follow Cindy on Twitter as @cindyalvarez and also some of the leaders Cindy recommended, such as @SarahM, @sarahmei, @anildash, @ericries and why not follow her boss @SatyaNadella .

We believe it is important to share insights from inspiring #digital1st thought leaders, if you are one of them or know someone we should talk to, please send us a hint via https://digoshen.com/contact/ or via twitter @digoshen .

These interviews are shared both on my own blog www.liselotteengstam.com as well as on this blog of Digoshen www.digoshen.com, where I am Chairman of the Board.

At Digoshen we believe that Companies, Boards and Business Leadership Teams need to understand more of the digital world to fully leverage the potential when bringing their business into the digital age.

We provide inspiration and support to help transition business leaders into more insightful digital positions for themselves and their companies.

Follow us on twitter: @digoshen , our CEO @katycaroan and Chairman @liseeng