Category Archives: social entrepreneurship

Good Money, Bad Money

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The basic idea of good money and bad money is that the type of money a manager accepts carries specific expectations that must be met. These expectations heavily influence the types of markets and channels that a venture can and cannot target. The very process of securing funding forces many potentially disruptive ideas to get shaped instead as sustaining innovations that target large and obvious markets. Thus, the funding received can send great ideas on a march towards failure.

As emergent ideas are being nurtured during nascent years, money must be patient for growth but impatient for profits.

When winning strategies become clear and deliberate ideas need to be carried out then money should be impatient for growth but patient for profit.

  • Clayton Christensen, Disruptive Strategy, HBX
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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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Building Sustainable Cities – and Societies – through Collaboration

Sustainability Treehouse Exhibition

Society is described by Aristotle as two or more people pursuing a common goal. A society could therefore be an elevator –even if none of the occupants talks to each other! We enter, we nod, sometimes say hello, press our desired floor and look at our smartphone, contemplate our watch or adjust our briefcase until we are awaken from our reverie by the elevator chime, the door opening or someone entering or exiting our walled ecosystem.

Cities are like elevators. They have a common goal as well as people passing in and out of them. They require technology to function and use resources to reach shared goals. They receive people from all walks of life and representatives of every industry sector imaginable. Elevators and cities are systems in movement; buzzing and chiming every passing second. But despite, or because of, the noise their members are missing valuable opportunities to talk to each other…

Building sustainable cities requires collaboration. Not just collaboration between public and private sectors but also collaboration with and between consumers and citizens. A public private partnership (PPP) is a concept used globally (and usually quite successfully) to help solve infrastructure problems relating to things such as water and energy, ports and roads through both public and private participation. But I think it’s time to look at the consumer or user more closely when we talk about building sustainable cities.

We are living in an age where collaborative consumption is becoming the norm: examples range from the popular accommodation web platform “Airbnb” to crowdfunding projects and ideas through “Kickstarter” or “SeedInvest”. We crowdsource design, suppliers and scientific solutions. Consumers and businesses have found their own ways to collaborate and there’s much more innovative problem solving in the pipeline.

This is where the future of our cities lies; sharing physical and virtual spaces to come up with innovative and workable solutions to our cities’ most pressing issues. We don’t need to be elevators – each going our own way with very little conversation – when we can learn through collaboration; opening up “two way streets” for dialogue and problem solving leading to sustainable city growth.

One of the main questions that arose during the Peter Drucker Global Forum in November 2013 in Vienna, Austria was the role of leadership in complex – and increasingly collaborative – times. With collaboration, where do leaders fit in? If and when we crowdsource our cities’ problems, who leads the charge?

One of the characteristics of modern cities – a modern public – is the potential to create and identify leaders from the very platforms used for problem solving. Anyone can start collaborating but it takes someone to lead and implement the ideas that those platforms or networks generate. In other words, we need someone – whether from government, business or community – to defend, promote, adapt and use the idea for the benefit of the city. Someone to say: “here is an example that works – what comes next?”

If we want to build sustainable cities we need to tap into the knowledge networks that already exist and leaders will emerge. It’s not enough to just design, build and operate or to elect the officials to make strategic decisions for us; while some of us might be happy with the status quo the reality is that the status quo is not sustainable. Forums, networks, industrial clusters, special economic zones – as well as the communities, businesses, governments and individuals that support them – are the platforms for building collaborative and sustainable cities and societies.

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This post was written in response to Masdar’s 2014 Engage Blogging Contest: Smart Cities & Sustainable Development. You can vote for my story above – or another one you feel best answers the question: “How can cities contribute to the advancement of sustainable development and address issues including water, energy and waste?” on Masdar’s web site: http://www.masdar.ae/engage

My bio: Esther Clark is a Contributor to Forbes Mexico and America Economia magazines on leadership and strategy. She is the founder of Hipona Consulting where she currently leads Strategy and Business Development. She is a 2013 Peter Drucker Global Challenge Winner and blogs about business, leadership, branding, social entrepreneurship, knowledge networks and Latin America.

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Savvy Saturday November 2, 2013

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I think one of the most misunderstood things about business in America is that people are either doing things for altruistic reasons or they are greedy and selfish, just after profit. That type of dichotomy portrays a false image of business.

— John Mackey

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The Power of Belief: Developing a Nutrient Rich Snack Brand

Since 2007, I sit on the board of dmff. The following guest post is written by Juan Almeida, founder of dmff. You can follow him on Twitter @jac2769.

It is an inspiring story about entrepreneurship and persistence. This “social enterprise” has developed a nutrient rich snack brand that has the potential to contribute to economic development in the Andean region and to fixing the global malnutrition problem.

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The Power of Belief: Developing a Nutrient Rich Snack Brand

Our global society faces many problems; one of them – malnutrition – is something that everyone can relate to whether the output is undernourishment or obesity. The World Health Organization predicts that obesity related diseases — diabetes, heart ailments, strokes, kidney failure — are rising fast across the world, and they will be the leading causes of death in all countries, even the poorest, within a couple of years.

While finishing my studies in business, I got this idea in my mind and fire in my heart to be part of a solution; to work with my homeland resources in order to fix the malnutrition problem. I faced major obstacles in developing my food business: outdated paradigms, closed mindedness, corruption and lack of access to capital and markets. With every obstacle I became even more convinced that nutrition – and good nutrition – is relevant to everyone.

A couple of years ago, while in Cologne, Germany (photo) working on our entry strategy to developed markets, an “interested businessman” asked me how I would get funding to accomplish our company’s goals of “developing a highly nutritious, all natural, tasty quinoa bar brand while selling and distributing a snack that has 94% of the micronutrients and macronutrients required by kids ages 5 to 12.” I answered that the right funding will be there in the right moment once an investor recognizes that good nutrition is fundamental to a healthy lifestyle.

Malnutrition continues to be a major problem and the “nutrients for all” community provides a mechanism to raise awareness and implement solutions relating to malnutrition and obesity. If you want to be part of our solution and increase the odds of changing the food system, I humbly ask you to contact us and together we will create a nutrient rich food brand that will bring the benefits of good nutrition to people who need it.

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Savvy Saturday August 31, 2013

A person who is quietly confident makes the best leader.

– Fred Wilson, Co-Founder, Union Square Ventures

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