Category Archives: good business

Savvy Sunday June 11, 2017

fly fishing

“You don’t convince people by challenging their longest and most firmly held opinions. You find common ground and work from there. Or you look for leverage to make them listen. Or you create an alternative with so much support from other people that the opposition voluntarily abandons its views and joins your camp.”
— Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way

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Managers as Myriad Actors

One of the fundamental questions raised during the Global Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna two years’ ago was what our actions will be, as managers, when facing the Great Transformation; in other words, when facing transformational changes that lie in the future for companies, governments and communities alike, what actions will we take today? Will we be one of what Richard Straub, President of the Drucker Society Europe, calls the “myriad actors” who shape the future and impact others or will we abstain from courageous and decisive action?

Peter Drucker talked about the role of managers as “the central resource, the generic distinctive, the constitutive organ of society…” and that managers’ actions are essentially a “public concern” because our survival as a society is “dependent on the performance, the competence, the earnestness and the values of their managers.” (Drucker: The Ecological Vision)

The conversation in Vienna re-examined management’s responsibility to society and humanity. One of the things that drew me to the work of Drucker over 15 years’ ago was his focus on human-centric organizations. And yet, today, we still see organizations more focused on short term profits for shareholders rather than a balance of long and short term value creation for all stakeholders including employees, community and society in general.

Are we doing enough to keep that balance? Many of the speakers did not think seem to think so. They cited studies showing that only 13% of employees around the world are engaged in their jobs (Gallup’s “State of The Global Workplace” report) and that 63% of 1000 corporate board members and C-suite executives surveyed by Mckinsey claim that pressure to generate strong short –term results has increased over the past five years. Clearly, we have a lot of work to do – to shape the future towards value creation for all stakeholders and unleashing the incredible creative and human potential of the people who work with us.

How might we do this? By being “myriad actors”; by looking for ways to shape the future, “see around corners” (as Forum speaker Nilofer Merchant said) and impact others in positive ways. Some organizations, for example, choose to connect leading edge technology and a commitment to improving the human condition (see HopeLab recipient of the Drucker Award for Non Profit Innovation). Others focus on improving employee engagement levels (see Telus, and Dan Pontefract’s work).

I don’t think management can be taught only in a management program; I think it’s a combination of art and edifice – and perhaps this is what Drucker was referring to when he defined management in The New Realities, as a liberal art: “’liberal’ because it deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom, and leadership; ‘art’ because it is practice and application.”

We might not know exactly how the future will turn out or how it will shape our industry or impact our livelihoods but we can certainly act – in a myriad of ways – to ensure that we keep humans at the center of decision making within our organizations.

As Richard Straub states in “The Great Transformation” (EFMD Global Focus 2014), “Management is a real world practice of dealing with people and organizations. Managers can make all the difference in the world with their knowledge, their creativity, their emotions and their values.” Managers are myriad actors.

Esther M Clark

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A version of this blog post was published in 2014; two weeks following the Drucker Forum in Vienna.

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Savvy Saturday November 26, 2016

During this time of thanks and giving, I thought we would share this quote from Oprah Winfrey.

 

To move forward, you have to give back.

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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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cop·y·cat

Don’t be a “copy cat”. We want to hear your voice, your ideas, your work. Be authentic and true. Write with mistakes and correct them later. Go with the flow of your ideas and you will see that it leads you to somewhere that no one else could have imagined or written down. You cannot copy inspiration. Intelligence. Wit. Yourself.

If you do copy. Do so gracefully. State where you took the information. Hat tip your source. Thank someone who inspired you.

If you copy and take praise, remember that it is not professional and you lose moral authority as a person or entity or project you are associated with. Although the source may never find out, you will know that you did and that’s what matters.

– EMC

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Six Principles for Doing Business in Latam

Strategy and Business published a piece on doing business where governance is weak. They talk about how to succeed in markets that are prone to ethical and legal risks and focus their article on examples in Asia and the Middle East. It’s a fascinating read and one that illustrates principles for doing business that can be applied to our region of focus – Latin America.


Here are six of those principles that are crucial to doing business in Latam:

1) align vision and values – this is about ensuring that all stakeholders – from board members to business unit leaders – share the company vision and their corporate values which includes ethical behaviour and how to deliver a product or service in the region. This is particularly important when managing country operations from headquarters outside the region (e.g. from the US or Europe).

2) understand the “way to play” at the local level – uniquely local ways to play exist and should be planned for. How relationships are built and how local talent is utilized is extremely important when contemplating success in Latin American markets.

3) identify key stakeholders – as mentioned in earlier blog posts, it’s important to identify who are the people that are decision makers and influencers in your industry and in the environment in which you operate.

4) build your brand – look at ways to engage your clients with your brand specific to the market. Understand your brand personality at a corporate level but tailor it to your market. You can minimize risk in Latam and emerging markets by having a strong brand that connects to users on many different levels.

5) stay vigilant – empower your local team but stay vigilant of what is going on. Tapping into resources like your country/Embassy trade representative or local expertise can help you stay in tune with local developments. Ensure that vision, values and company policies are not compromised.

6) adapt the governance model – this is the final suggestion from the writers of the article and it’s something that Hipona Consulting strongly recommends whether your company operates internationally or locally. It’s about making sure that members of your board represent the diversity and dynamic characteristics of your company, stakeholders and market. Local board members or committees can help connect the company’s interests to local interests and at times can prove very valuable to getting ideas – and company vision – across.

EMC

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Making Positive Change through Alignment of Values

I was inspired to write this after reading a recent Seth Godin post where he asks the question:

Are you doing this to get people to do what’s good for them or what’s good for you?

I think we all want to think we act altruistically and with our stakeholders best interests at heart; nevertheless, it’s a valuable practice to re-evaluate what we are doing and why we are doing it – and what stakeholders we might be favoring with our actions. This is what a board does – or should do – when it takes decisions.


At the management level, if we make a decision to launch a new product or service into a new market like Colombia, we are probably doing it to provide value to new clients in a new market. The client might be grateful to have another option to choose from or a new service that wasn’t available before in Bogotá or easy to access from his/her vacation home in Cali. This is common sense.

But what happens when you change status quo? When you “throw your weight around” as Seth Godin says. That’s when the importance of real alignment with organization mission (and what your customers value) comes into play. As Godin says are you changing pricing, technology or policies because “it’s good for the organization, because it raises quarterly earnings,” or because it’s good for the customer. Are you making decisions to delight the customer and to bring positive change to your community?

There’s no way of pleasing all people all of the time but if you are making changes in line with your core values and what your followers and clients value about you, this mean you are leading your stakeholders to change for their benefit, not forcing them to change for yours.

EMC

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Authenticity can help you become a better leader

Authenticity is what separates leaders from followers. Coherent actions that build on the reputation of an organization or leader are at the center of what makes a brand and a loyal following of customers, community, employees, —people!

We are skeptics. People sense “hype” and increasingly gravitate toward “real” experiences. Access to information, reviews, testimonials, stories etc. through various social media and community platforms have also made people demand more coherent and authentic actions from leaders.

To prove my point on the power of authenticity, here are a few phrases on authenticity:

Yes, in all my research, the greatest leaders looked inward and were able to tell a good story with authenticity and passion. – Deepak Chopra

“How can I differentiate my company in the marketplace?” My reply to every president, chief executive officer, or vice-president of marketing is always the same: “Why do you want to be different?” We are swimming in an overabundance of products and services. “Different” is no longer a differentiator. What is? Creating an authentic relationship with your customers. -Sohrab Vossoughi writing in Bloomberg’s Businessweek

“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” -Oprah Winfrey

“Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.” -Lance Secretan

Authenticity may be considered a buzzword by some but its benefits go beyond buzz….being authentic can help you connect and develop long term (and mutually beneficial!) relationships with markets in Latin America. Here are some my articles in Spanish on the topic of authenticity:

La Autenticidad y el marketing 3.0 (America Economia)

Liderazgo y una taza de té (America Economia)

Cual sería una foto auténtica de tu empresa? (Forbes México)

EMC

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Building a strong foundation for growth

Here is a short post inspired by Copyblogger’s “3 Powerful Tips for Building Your Business and Career”.

1. Focus on what you love and what you are good at. When you immerse yourself in something, you become an authority in it. While you may not want to use the word “expert” (we are all still learning aren’t we?), you will be someone that people come to in order to find out more about a topic or how it relates to their business or life.
2. Don’t ignore your shortcomings – are you deficient in a certain area? If you are an international organization, you might want to get help in particular overseas markets. If you are a small start-up, you might realize that you lack “experience” – think about putting together an advisory board.
3. Be compelling. Think about your audience and think about what is valuable to them. You love what you do but do others feel the same way? Tell your story. Get supporters. Get fans. Treat your loyal customers well.

Growth is about a strong foundation – if that foundation is built on expertise and on humility (being open to confronting what is missing and doing something about it) and your value proposition is told in a compelling way, growth will follow.

EMC

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