He took a risk when he went to bat for virtual reality tools for product development, letting designers get new products to market faster by using digital mock-ups in consumer focus groups. The first iterations were derided as "cartoonish," but they're now used in the development of more than 80% of the company's new products.
Passerini took a risk when he pushed to arm every P&G knowledge worker--tens of thousands of employees--with a digital "cockpit" of easy-to-read charts containing the data most relevant to their jobs. The idea was that there would be one shared version of the facts, so people would stop debating what's happening and focus on solving problems. The first attempt fell miles short of that vision, requiring an 18-month detour to rearchitect the business intelligence environment. Today, however, cockpits are used by 38,000 P&G employees.
Perhaps boldest of all, he led a sweeping reorganization in 2003 that not only outsourced swaths of IT but also made technology part of a broader group Passerini leads called global business services that includes human resources, facilities management, and other services used across the company. The uncertainty in that move initially sent IT morale plummeting but now has turned IT's focus much more sharply on business innovation. Morale, Passerini says, has bounced back.
For taking risks like these, and ultimately delivering business value, Passerini has earned recognition as InformationWeek's 2010 Chief of the Year.
Passerini's most difficult stretch goal, however, still lies ahead. P&G CEO McDonald describes the strategy as "digitizing the company end to end." This isn't just a technology strategy; every business unit leader is expected to show progress on digitizing his or her business. And it isn't a pet project that'll live on only in PowerPoint. McDonald put this digital ambition in his 2010 annual report letter to shareholders, pledging to make P&G "the most digitally enabled company in the world."
That digital mission is part of meeting some audacious global business ambitions. McDonald aims to add 1 billion new customers by 2015, taking P&G up to 5 billion customers worldwide. He has committed to growing market share profitably, and to do that, McDonald reckons, P&G will have to become a $100 billion revenue company that can operate like a nimbler, $10 billion one.
Delivering on all these goals will provide the ultimate test of all that Passerini has put in place.