Category Archives: good business

2018: 3 nuggets of wisdom to start off the new year

I spent the holidays at home in Quito, Ecuador this year. I read, I wrote and I learned some really interesting things through in person conversations and online courses. In short, I became a little wiser as I rang in the new year! I share 3 nuggets of wisdom that represent my first post of 2018. May the new year bring you health, connections and opportunities to be present!

Young Women Travel Together Concept

Health is the basis for growth.

In all aspects, staying healthy is preferable to dealing with health consequences after the fact. This applies just as much to organizations as to personal physical health. Health is a smart medium/long term strategy.

Connections are gold.

Connections create opportunities that would otherwise not exist. After posting a note about this on LinkedIn last week, I received an overwhelming response from people (some connections, some not) all over the world. Connectors connect interests resulting in value creation and problem solving. Without connections (and the platforms and people that connect), innovation and growth would not be possible. Blockchain (and distributed ledger) provide some interesting opportunities for transparency, connection and efficiencies.

Being responsible means you are response – able.

Even if we are trained to blame others or the weather or some third party when faced with something we are unable to accomplish, doing so means that we are giving up our ability to provide a solution or “own” the situation. Taking responsibility even when other factors played a significant part, means we are “response-able”; a great takeaway from philosopher Fred Kaufman.

Happy 2018!

-EMC

 

 

 

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Peter Drucker and Education: It’s About Human Beings

Last month, I had the privilege of representing the region of Latin America at the Global Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna, Austria. The Forum is in its 9th year and as a former Drucker Challenge winner and writer for various magazines in Latin America, I was invited to participate and dialogue with some of the world’s leading management thinkers sharing ideas around the theme of “Growth and Inclusive Prosperity.” It strikes me, in symposiums such as this one, how conversations seem to lead back to education and learning: as formative and as restorative ways of improving our society and our organizations.

Peter F. Drucker was born in Austria 108 years ago. He passed away in 2005, but he has been almost unanimously claimed in the media, the business community and academic circles as the “Inventor of Management.” His work (including over 40 books and papers) guides most modern management practices and many of his ideas and concepts – such as “Management by Objectives” or “Knowledge Worker”– are part of our daily lexicon.

He was a teacher, professor, writer and consultant. He worked with large multinational companies as well as public sector institutions, schools, think tanks and entrepreneurs. He grew up in Vienna in a traditional prosperous Viennese family surrounded by philosophers and thinkers. He moved to Hamburg and Frankfurt to study at the age of 18. There he met esteemed economists and thinkers such as Hayek, Mises and Schumpeter.

Drucker’s education and thinking were characterized by an exposure to a wide range of ideas, personalities and schools of thought. Being of Jewish origin, Drucker moved to England in 1933 and later emigrated to the USA. In the US, he found a force driving social development: US corporations becoming global players in an industrial society. Working with corporations like General Motors, Drucker was keen to share his brilliant ideas about the importance of management; not simply from the point of view of efficiencies and productivity, but as a practical discipline that supports and furthers work in (and for) community and society.

At times, “leadership” has so taken over our thinking and our organizations that we sometimes forget about the importance and beauty (Drucker called it “Liberal Art”) of management. As Drucker said: “Management is most and foremost about human beings.” When we place human beings at the heart of what we do, we are able to make the decisions that drive impact and social change. This resounds with most teachers and educators I know and I have the privilege to work with. Management is a means of driving organizations forward by thinking through and planning for the best possible outcomes; it is not about money or “shareholder value” but rather about the impact your organization has on society and on the world; and sometimes it starts with one person.

GPDF17. Photos courtesy: Peter Drucker Society

The Global Peter Drucker Forum honors the work and ideas of Peter Drucker. Designated the “World’s Management Forum,” it takes place every year in Vienna in honor of Peter Drucker and is comprised of several plenaries over the course of two days. The sessions involve authors, consultants, directors, entrepreneurs and students presenting their ideas around particular topics and themes; issues of relevance to business and the management of organizations. While education and learning was a constant topic of conversation, one session in particular, “Applying new lenses to look at the challenges of our time,” was particularly enlightening from a learning perspective. Sarah Green Carmichael (Senior Editor of Harvard Business Review), Hal Gregersen (Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center), Thomas Wedell (Partner at The Innovation Architects) and Roger L Martin (Director at the Martin Prosperity Institute, #1 on the Thinkers 50 list and author) talked about the “problems” we are trying to solve as leaders and society and that often it is the frame from which we see the problem as more of the issue than the problem we are trying to solve. Wedell talked about spending more time understanding the problem and less time trying to solve it while Gregersen characterized those people that ask catalytic questions and seek out situations where they are wrong as the most successful individuals (employees, leaders or managers) in driving their organizations forward. In other words, our fascination with certitude – and the idea that our view is the only one that matters – is the driving force behind ineffective management of organizations. Looking for the questions to ask is a directly correlated with moving out of comfort, certitude, bubbles of isolation and with embracing what we may find uncomfortable – silence, distinct environments, injustice – in order to make positive change.

Fellow Canadian, Roger Martin, has written several leading business management and strategy books including The Opposable Mind (2007). Former Dean of the Rotman School of Management in Toronto, Martin now runs the Prosperity Institute and along with other participants at the Drucker forum calls for a transformation in business education.

This is where we come in. As educators, administrators, managers and leaders, there is a resounding call to make our organizations more human and more human centric. The “how” is really up to us but I would venture that there are some pearls of wisdom in the works of Peter F Drucker; not as the “guru of management thinking” as he is commonly referred to but as the teacher and human being who returned to basics and touched the world of management thinking with simple phrases such as: “don’t tell me what … tell me what you are going to do on Monday that’s different.”

-EMC

 

 

 

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Drucker-Savvy “Leadership”

This week I will be participating in the Global Peter Drucker Forum (#GPDF17); dialoguing with speakers, participants and Drucker Challenge winners about the conference theme: Growth and Inclusive Prosperity. This is my third Drucker Forum and I am looking forward to learning and sharing insights with top management thinkers and practitioners: thought leaders, writers, consultants, CEOs, students, teachers and entrepreneurs.

I have written about the “cult of leadership” and I see it prevalent every day in organizations. My goal, this week, is to unpack more inclusive management practices as well as effective strategies for managing an organization in a world that is constantly changing. No geniuses, no “administration”, no so-called leaders; real human beings ensuring that real human beings can realize their full potential – and by extension their organization’s full potential – through solid yet iterative practices, processes and measurements.

My recent article for Forbes Mexico pulls ideas around social ecology, VUCA and the theme of the Drucker Forum together for a Latin American audience.

And growth and inclusion is really what needs to be talked about and implemented. Not just from “leaders” or “theorists” but as a question of  how we as managers and as organizational thinkers and doers can ensure that organizations don’t need geniuses or superhumans to manage it. Drucker said institutions  “must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”

Human beings. That is what we are. Take away titles and offices and paycheques. We must find better solutions for growth and learning by more effectively connecting interests, harnessing opportunities in our complex, ambiguous, volatile and uncertain environment, and creating organizations & mechanisms that solve problems through a human centered approach that thrives on creation of value.

EMC

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Savvy Saturday October 21, 2017

Today’s savvy thought comes from Peter Drucker and from one of the objectives of the Founder of the Global Peter Drucker Forum, Richard Straub. As I prepare for the upcoming Forum in Vienna in just a few weeks, I am also pondering the theme of the Forum: Growth and Inclusive Prosperity.

Marketing is enthusiasm transferred to the customer.(2).png

 

 

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Savvy Saturday October 7, 2017

This weekend, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving. In the spirit of gratitude, I am sharing with you a quote that calls us to live appreciation and not just “say thanks”. In business, as in life, gratitude and appreciation is characteristic of great leaders, mentors, teachers and friends. Happy Thanksgiving!

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
John F. Kennedy

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Savvy Saturday August 18th, 2017

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” – Bill GatesStockSnap_3QX7WQCK52.jpg

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Savvy Saturday July 22, 2017

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.
Colin Powell

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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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