Category Archives: Leadership

Savvy Saturday April 1st, 2017

Leadership is absolutely about inspiring action, but it is also about guarding against mis-action. – Simon Sinek

(Note: Today’s quote is about leadership in light of presidential elections tomorrow in Quito, Ecuador).
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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 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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Savvy Saturday December 31, 2016

 

“Strategy is a commodity, execution is an art.” – Peter Drucker

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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.

-EMC

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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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If you follow one blog…

“Care a little more.

Show up.

Embrace possibility.

Tell the truth.

Dive deeper.

Seek the truth behind the story.

Ask the difficult question.

Lend a hand.

Dance with fear.

Play the long game.

Say ‘no’ to hate.

Look for opportunities, especially when it seems like there aren’t any left.

Risk a bigger dream.

Take care of the little guy.

Offer a personal insight.

Build something magical.

Keep your promises.

Do work that matters.

Expect more.

Sign your work.

Be generous for no reason.

Give the benefit of the doubt.

Develop empathy.

Make your mom proud.

Take responsibility.

Give credit.

Play by a better set of rules.

Choose your customers.

Choose your reputation.

Choose your future.

Thank the ref.

Reward patience.

Leap.

Breathe.

Because we can.

It really is up to us. Which is great, because we’re capable of changing everything if we choose.

All we can do is all we can do, but maybe, all we can do is enough.”

I opened my email up this morning and found this inspiring message from Seth Godin. Subscribe to his blog, it is one of the best blogs that I follow!

-EMC

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An end is a new beginning

“What feels like the end is often the beginning” or “one door closes, another door opens” are useful phrases to think about when a project meets its natural, or unnatural, conclusion.

With international projects, these phrases are particularly relevant. Often times we are met by closed doors on the path to success. It does not mean that the project is done but that it might need to be re-envisioned or changes in someway.

Life is dynamic. Business is always changing. So should our projects. A closed door or “end” is just an invitation to a new beginning.

-EMC

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The Ben Franklin Method

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin, founding father of the USA, was once a poor writer?

Now recognized as an important politician, inventor, scientist and writer, Franklin was not always this way. In fact, he considered himself a poor writer but took an active interest in improving his writing capabilities. The poems and articles authored by Franklin are the fruits of his labor; he worked on his storytelling skills by deconstructing and reconstructing what he considered “great writing.”

He did this by taking a magazine of the time – The Spectator (equivalent to the modern day The New Yorker), finding an article he liked and as he read the article he would highlight arguments and write down key points and data. When he was finished, he would write the article himself using the notes he had taken. Later, he would compare his article to the original and see where his writing was weak, where it was better and what writing conventions he needed to work on.

After much practice, he soon got “better” than the best articles and went on to write poetry, prose, rhetoric etc.

The moral? The Ben Franklin method works – if you want to get better, consider looking at the best and deconstructing then reconstructing the work of art, project, plan,…whatever it may be. The term “neurotic spreadsheeting” has been used to describe this method but the story of Ben Franklin is always sure to inspire us to take action in actively improving our storytelling or other skills.

-EMC

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