Category Archives: culture

Savvy Saturday February 25, 2017

“people who create, craft and love their art tend to focus on these seemingly bad ideas nurturing them into something brilliant. The innovators or the troublemakers who question the status quo may end up making something so remarkable that it creates a movement, a tribe, a following …and major business.”


From Esther Clark’s article “Seemingly Bad Ideas” published April 2016.

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Failure…yet again

Earlier this year I opened an article with an interpretation of a line from Arthur Ransome’s book Swallows and Amazons: “Better dead than duffers.” I have studied the cult of failure as part of my consulting practice and to help my clients understand how and if “fail fast, fail often” makes for a higher overall result.

I have spent the last week on vacation and continue to see this topic pop up in business articles, TED talks, presentation and discussions within my social networks. If you have the opportunity, pick up the December issue of Harvard Business Review where research around the “80% of companies that existed before 1980 are no longer around” idea is well diagnosed and ties into the discussion of creative destruction and “fail fast fail often”.

The purpose of this post today is a short reminder that mistakes are the “necessary evil” (as PIXAR’s Ed Catmull says) of companies who innovate, transform and disrupt. The evil or pain from the failure becomes less when value is extracted from the experience. Think about it.

Do you remember having skinned knees as a child while trying to ride your bike or learn to rollerskate? Did the pain lessen when you first took the freeing ride on your own?

Failure in business is exactly like that. If you extract maximum value from failure than although you might not have “failed fast” or don’t want to “fail often” you will have maximized the overall result of the project or the innovation bringing benefits to your organization.

All the best in 2017! May this coming year be filled with health, wealth and happiness.


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On Maneuver…

In international business, like in politics, local guides or experts are key to obtaining advantages in new markets. Here, two excerpts from the Art of War:

Sun Tzu:

Those who do not use local guides are unable to obtain the advantages of the ground.

Li Chang:

We should select the bravest officers and those who are most intelligent and keen, and using local guides, secretly traverse mountain and forest noiselessly and concealing our traces…we concentrate our wits so that we may snatch an opportunity.

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Culture and Change

I finished reading Jay W Lorsch and Emily McTague’s article “Culture Is Not the Culprit” in the April issue of Harvard Business Review. I couldn’t agree more with their central thesis that culture isn’t something you “fix” but rather cultural change is what you get when you put new processes or structures in place to tackle business challenges.


As someone whose work involves connecting NEEDS with the WAY of implementing processes or structures, I can’t help but think that a great change management plan is not change then culture but rather one AND the other. Yes, one might come first as a natural first step but just as left and right brain thinking is the hallmark of great leadership, cultural change and organizational change go hand in hand.

I don’t agree with only focusing on CULTURE but if there is no CULTURE to support change than change management will lose its effectiveness. “CULTURE eats strategy for breakfast”…Peter Drucker used to say.

  • EMC
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