Leadership is absolutely about inspiring action, but it is also about guarding against mis-action. – Simon Sinek
Leadership is absolutely about inspiring action, but it is also about guarding against mis-action. – Simon Sinek
“Care a little more.
Tell the truth.
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.
Sign your work.
Be generous for no reason.
Give the benefit of the doubt.
Make your mom proud.
Play by a better set of rules.
Choose your customers.
Choose your reputation.
Choose your future.
Thank the ref.
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.”
“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.
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:
Those who do not use local guides are unable to obtain the advantages of the ground.
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.
Now, more than ever, the power of collaboration is manifesting itself across space and time. Digital tools are helping us to create connections between seemingly disparate interests and to solve problems on a global scale. Nevertheless, in regions in development and, in particular, in Latin America, there exists a range of problems in the public and private sectors that could be solved through collaboration, innovation and excellence. Problems such as energy generation, response to natural disasters, and high school desertion to name just a few. Design thinkers say that collaboration is viable when there is a better understanding of users, a relevant place to prototype ideas and the built-in motivation to implement those ideas. If you turn this around, it holds true that if you don’t have these three elements, collaboration – and the viability of using “community” to solve problems – may just be impossible. What is happening in Latin America, then, to make “community” viable? Perhaps a closer look at these three elements can help us see why the region is falling short.
First, when we better understand users, we can better address needs and design a product or service that fits those needs. Seems simple, but implementation of this element is difficult in high context cultures such as those that exist in the majority of countries in Latin America. In cultures that encourage alignment with social status and formal social rules, understanding users – and users in multiple interest groups – is a challenge. It involves using interviewing techniques and empathy to gain a complete understanding of stakeholders and usage. Understanding what question to ask and being able to bring the answer from various areas into context, helps form an accurate picture of users and their needs. Striving for a better understanding of users – and using multiple research methods in order to overcome cultural characteristics – is key in solving users’ problems.
Second, designing solutions must be an interactive process. We will always need a place to work with stakeholders, test assumptions and take risks. This is why innovation centers sometimes fail: they need to work with community and not in isolation from them. Nevertheless, innovation centers in Latin America specifically are extremely useful in fostering more cross functional collaboration and mitigating some of the risks associated with large scale innovation investments in developing countries. Multinationals Dupont and BBVA as well as “multilatina” Stefanini have successfully gained insights and new products through their centers; illustrating that while innovation centers may have their drawbacks, they can be a relevant place to prototype ideas.
Finally, motivation must be present at the idea implementation phase. This means that while we may have a prototype or project, there is always more work to be done in implementing the idea. What can help with the successful implementation of the idea is community. As the old saying goes, people are more committed to that which they help build. If communities are collaborating on ideas that benefit them; they will have a higher successful implementation rate. There is also the possibility for the ideas that spread. Like a TED Talk, a good idea can spread and be implemented much faster when members of community that will benefit from the idea get involved and share their passion around a solution.
Is community viable? Yes it is. But seeing collaboration for what it is – working towards understanding users, engaging users and prototyping with users in the Prototype-Pilot-Product triad – makes community collaboration viable. In Latin America in particular, understanding these elements and their unique challenges in our region, is essential in community viability.
The first month of 2014 is drawing to a close. January has shaped up to be an interesting month for many of us. We have been able to “action” some of our New Years Resolutions and perhaps try something new in our business and in our community.
For Hipona Consulting, we are proud to be representing Scoopshot (P2S Media Solutions Ltd) in Latin America as their partner for the region.
It’s a wonderful gift to be able to combine what we love doing (connecting business and brands), with technology (the Scoopshot platform is amazing) and with our passion for building business in Latin America.
In celebration of our partnership with Scoopshot in the region and to the power of crowdsourcing – whether it be projects, ideas, design or photos – I am sharing with you an article that I wrote for America Economia on how the internet is facilitating global problem solving. The full article is available here.
Thanks for following our blog and looking forward to what the next month of 2014 has to bring!
Redes y Soluciones Globales
Por Esther Clark
¿Por qué miles de personas se organizan a través del internet para resolver un problema? ¿Significa esto que estamos viviendo un importante cambio estructural sobre cómo nos organizaremos en el futuro y del liderazgo en general?
En los últimos diez años han surgido varios proyectos, libros, talleres y presentaciones que analizan el uso del internet y de las redes para resolver problemas. No hablo de aplicaciones o de plataformas que nos ayudan a encontrar un bien o un servicio que necesitamos, sino de unos proyectos que concientizan el por qué de la colaboración online y del impacto de esta colaboración en nuestras vidas y en las vidas de los demás.
El mes pasado tuve la oportunidad de conversar con Don Tapscott, autor y co-autor de 15 libros, incluyendo Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet (2010) y uno de los fundadores del proyecto Global Solution Networks (Twitter: @GlobalSN). Tapscott hizo una presentación durante el Peter Drucker Fórum en Viena donde explicaba que el internet está uniendo personas e inteligencia a nivel global. Dijo que no es una era de información sino de comunicación, colaboración, participación e inteligencia colectiva.
Lo que me fascina en este tema no es sólo cómo el internet está facilitando la comunicación de ideas sino cómo el liderazgo está cambiando. Como dice Rachel Botsman, autora de Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption (2012) y quien hizo famoso el “collaborative consumption” (consumo colaborativo), los términos como economía colaborativa, consumo colaborativo, economía de compartir, economía de pares (“peer economy” en inglés) son distintos pero tienen algo en común: el poder está siendo redistribuido a redes de individuos y comunidades. Eso hace que los consumidores ya no sean tan pasivos y tengan la posibilidad de ser creadores, colaboradores, financistas, productores, proveedores y líderes en estas comunidades a través de plataformas como kickstarter.com, scoopshot.com, o wikipedia.com. Los activos están siendo utilizados de una manera diferente, el poder del “crowd” tiene efecto y nuestra contribución a la definición de los líderes (empresas y personas) está cambiando también.
Una de las preguntas que Tapscott está explorando en el proyecto GSN es el futuro de estas redes. ¿Cómo pueden los pilares de la sociedad – gobierno, sociedad civil, empresas e individuos – unirse de mejor manera para tener las respuestas a los problemas globales – calentamiento global, pobreza, seguridad alimenticia etc.?
Les dejo con dos links de presentaciones en TED.com de Tapscott y Botsman, que hablan con ejemplos claros sobre este tema y los efectos y oportunidades de un mundo más conectado y colaborativo y, confiamos en que más inteligente.
When I moved to Latin America over 10 years ago, I was told that my great grandfather (British) had travelled to Brazil from the UK over a hundred years before; it was my grandmother’s way of telling me that I was not the only one in my family to be attracted to South America and the great opportunities it held.
People and organizations are informed by the experiences of the people, companies and products that came before. We can’t help it. We walk with our ancestors every day in the conscious and subconscious choices we make and the languages we speak.
As a consultant, I have the opportunity to work with many different organizations and “walk with them” as they enter or expand their presence in Latin America.
One of the most important things I have learnt is to understand, at the outset, what ties the business to Latin America or the geographical markets they are entering. Even if the organization has no direct experience in the region, what is it in their DNA that makes them “Latin American” — able to be understood, respected, and sought out, by Latin Americans? I’m not talking about trying to transform companies into something they are not but rather looking for “relatable” stories that can be shared and enjoyed by future stakeholders.
I have seen companies with no local partners do very well — if and when they are able to tell a compelling story about their connection to Latin America or the country, city, community they are interacting with.
If you are interested in Latin America – or entering a new market – what stories do you have that tie you to that market?
Let me close this post on a personal note. Above, you will see a photo of my sister, Dr. Leah Clark and me in Pakistan in 2005. We are just outside Peshawar on the border with Afghanistan in the North West Frontier Province; where my father was born just before Partition in 1947. Below you will see a video by Google that has been shared widely in 2013.
When I talk about walking with our ancestors, I talk about finding out what makes us, them, the world “tick” so that we can create more valuable collaborative experiences.
Today I am posting my article published in AmericaEconomia.com earlier this year. It talks about the vital importance of humility and patience in business – two characteristics discussed during the Global Drucker Forum last week in Vienna, Austria. Here is the link to the article ¿Qué tienen en común la pesca y los negocios? and below is the article in full.
¿Qué tienen en común la pesca y los negocios?
En una escena de la película “La pesca del salmón en Yemen”, basada en la novela del mismo nombre escrita por Paul Torday, el doctor Alfred Jones, un científico especializado en piscicultura, conversa con un jeque yemenita sobre la pesca. El jeque explica por qué ama la pesca: “admiro a los pescadores. Sólo se preocupan de los peces, el río y el juego”. Más allá, dice, la pesca fomenta virtudes como la paciencia y la humildad.
En la pesca se encuentran muchas similitudes con negocios internacionales. Para hacer este tipo de negocios, una organización tiene que salir a otros “aguas” y adaptarse a diferentes idiomas, culturas y prácticas de negocios. Los resultados publicados por las empresas internacionales en sus informes anuales muestran que las alianzas y fusiones corporativas en el extranjero tienen una tasa de fracaso del 40 al 80%, porque no logran los resultados esperados en términos de ingresos, creación de valor o reducción de costos. Una forma de mitigar el riesgo implícito al hacer negocios internacionales -como en la pesca-, es conocer el ámbito donde se quiere estar en la adquisición de información, conocimientos y experiencias a través de expertos locales.
Otra característica clave de los negocios internacionales de alto riesgo es que la empresa tiene que tener fe en que un premio importante le está esperando después de atravesar el proceso de identificación, negociación y cierre del negocio. Un pescador sueña con pescar el pez gordo después de invertir innumerables horas esperando que un pez se acerque y muerda el anzuelo. Lo mismo sucede con los atletas y equipos deportivos exitosos. Tienen que saborear la victoria y estar preparados para ella, puliendo sus hábitos de tal manera que sepan por instinto cómo actuar antes de que se acerquen sus competidores.
Wayne Gretsky, el atleta de mejor puntaje en la historia de la Liga Nacional de Hockey canadiense, decía: “un buen jugador de hockey va donde está el disco, un gran jugador de hockey va donde estará el disco”. Un proyecto internacional de éxito requiere de visión, práctica y acción oportuna.
Hay una similitud importante con la pesca durante la fase de negociación de un proyecto, que tiene que ver con aguas quietas y aguas turbulentas. Cuando el agua está quieta, los peces se toman más tiempo en estudiar la situación y probar el anzuelo. En cambio, cuando los peces se encuentran en aguas corrientes de ríos, riachuelos o torrentes, existe mayor probabilidad de que pierdan la oportunidad de comer si vacilan mucho tiempo. Los peces actúan rápidamente y sin reflexión en aguas turbulentas. Los negociadores internacionales usan como ventaja el sentido de urgencia en la identificación de factores en el ambiente y la manipulación de los mismos. Los negociadores exitosos pueden cambiar la percepción del ambiente para lograr los objetivos de la negociación o simplemente si sienten que el ambiente es demasiado cómodo. Para ellos, la negociación es un juego donde los cambios sutiles pueden afectar el resultado logrado.
¿Y vale la pena la pesca en otros “aguas”? Los mercados emergentes están creciendo el doble que los mercados desarrollados, por lo tanto, el mercado emergente es atractivo. Sin embargo, esto no significa que las empresas en los mercados emergentes no exploren oportunidades de expansión hacia mercados tradicionales.
De hecho, el Boston Consulting Group (BCG) publica cada año un estudio de “global challengers” (contendientes globales) de los mercados emergentes que están entrando con éxito a los mercados desarrollados, con creciente presencia de mercado o, a veces también, con la compra de empresas de dichos mercados. Un ejemplo estrella es el Grupo Bimbo que compró las operaciones norteamericanas de Sarah Lee’s y luego las de Weston Foods en los EE.UU., para convertirse en la mayor empresa de pan en Norteamérica, desde el año 2009.
Los proyectos internacionales, al igual que la pesca, requieren de fe, perseverancia y humildad. A veces se busca el premio en los mercados emergentes y a veces son las firmas latinoamericanas las que incursionan con firmeza en los mercados tradicionalmente establecidos y lo hacen con mucho éxito.
PPPs or P3’s– Public Private Partnerships – are becoming increasingly popular forms of private and public sector cooperation in infrastructure development and shared service offerings. We hear about successful partnerships in areas like ports, road concessions, real estate development and energy generation projects. This is especially true in countries that typically look for investment and expertise in order to free up capital for other programs or when the project involves a strategic resource, capital intense investment and long term cash flows. But little is said about the human element of the PPP and why an overarching sense of purpose – or a shared belief in what the project represents to its users– is characteristic of successful PPPs.
India has privatized several airports in the last 10 years and in August announced a fast track to privatize several more. This is in line with a global trend towards airport privatization in countries such as Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand and Peru. In February 2013, the Municipality of Quito inaugurated the new Quito International Airport in Ecuador; a PPP that includes direct participation by the Municipality of Quito, the Government of Canada, and the private sector.
With increased privatization and competition, successful airports – and airport PPPs specifically- have increased their focus on the airport experience and not only on development of commercial airport activities or the provision of a function or service. As we see with Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), branding is becoming a way for airports to distinguish themselves given increased competition in the airport sector.
CSIA is India’s second busiest airport and since 2006, the Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd. (MIAL), a joint venture between the GVK led consortium and Airports Authority of India, has led the modernization and upgrade of Mumbai’s international airport. The CSIA’s logo is in the shape of a peacock feather (a symbol of pride) and their branding efforts position the airport as a gateway to experiencing India’s dynamic financial and movie-producing capital.
Regardless of whether airports choose to promote characteristics like infrastructure (e.g. Atlanta) or personality (e.g. Perth), branding begins when partners understand the project’s connection to users. And because a brand is the result of consistency of actions across all product and service offerings and, in the case of a PPP, across actions of numerous project partners, it follows that PPP partners need to share a belief in a higher purpose in order to be consistent with what image they are projecting and how they are positioned in the hearts and minds of users. An overarching sense of purpose brings partners to the drawing board and keeps them connected throughout the project lifetime.
Belief in a higher purpose also ensures that project promoters from the private sector are connected to users and not just particular shareholder interests. This holds true with governments that have PPP expertise; Canada, India, Australia and the UK all conduct comprehensive government PPP programs and are more likely to reap the benefits of engagement with their private sector partners and the users of the PPPs. Partners share a sense of purpose and a belief in how the project will contribute to society as well as to specific communities and stakeholders.
In general, when there is an overarching purpose to a PPP there is more space for problem solving; it opens up possibilities for collaboration because project members are focused on the things they believe in rather than the things that they are responsible for. Decisions are made with the larger project purpose at heart; resulting in unexpected connections between departments, functions and organizations operating in industry sectors and markets with a connection to the PPP core business.
Belief is what makes talent and opportunity unite to create something of value for humanity; something that PPPs typically try to do given at least one partner’s public sector mandate. When partners grasp the partnership aspect of a PPP and sketch out and communicate the project’s vision, they not only lead a successful project but also create a successful brand.
Modern organizations understand the emotional connection to doing business and the “why” behind purchase decisions and client loyalty. Nevertheless, PPPs – and proponents of PPP – have yet to take full advantage of the emotional and human connections with their projects. Perhaps it is because of the number of partners involved in a typical PPP that branding does not take place but the dynamic nature of a PPP is precisely the reason why shared belief in a higher purpose and a unified brand is so vital to success. If a PPP has the potential to be managed as a brand, then every tangible and intangible experience associated with the project is part of the brand and can therefore contribute to the project’s equity. And who is not interested in project equity when we talk about investment and partnership?
Have you ever said the words: “it’s a small world”? If you are anything like me you probably have said or thought this a few times.
The seemingly curious connections or “ah-hah moments” that we experience in both personal and professional lives are links between the past and present and between the professional and personal (and some would say material and spiritual) aspects of our lives. It’s a way to make the unfamiliar (and sometimes scary) areas of our lives less so; of learning lessons from the past to enrich our future. The same thing can be said about organizations and organizational learning; that connections between different functional areas or geographic markets (Latin America and Europe for example) can lead to the innovations that characterize successful companies.
I ran into someone who I had not seen in about three years. Seeing them again brought back some of the same concerns or issues that were so present in my life three years ago. But spending some time reflecting on the experience, I realized that I had overcome many of those work issues and that I was now a different and more mature professional; I had learned from the past and was ready to tackle the future.
People come in and out of our lives for different reason and only you as an individual can make sense or draw conclusions from those interactions. What I would encourage you to do is to try to spend a few minutes thinking about connections and drawing from experiences in work and professional life to go out and do something innovative.