Savvy Saturday June 3, 2017

“Leaders often believe their organization is capable of doing anything. In reality, organizations often fail because they force new innovations through their existing resources, processes, and profit formula.”

Clayton Christensen – Disruptive Strategy, Harvard.

I am 50% through this course with Christensen and I was thrilled to study this section of the course talking about how organizations should plan and choose what they say YES and NO to.  This theory is central to my management style (things should be simple but no simpler) and my usual contribution when executives are planning projects and future actions. – EMC

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Savvy Saturday May 27, 2017

“Customers rarely make buying decisions around what the “average” customer in their category may do—but they often buy things because they find themselves with a problem they would like to solve.”

…from the Christensen Institute.

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Savvy Saturday May 20, 2017

Inspired by a HBS course I am taking, here is Clayton Christensen talking about deciding what you stand for and stand for is 100% of the time! Enjoy today’s Savvy Saturday! – EMC

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“You can talk all you want about having a clear purpose and strategy for your life, but ultimately this means nothing if you are not investing the resources you have in a way that is consistent with your strategy. In the end, a strategy is nothing but good intentions
“resisting the temptation whose logic was “In this extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s OK” has proven to be one of the most important decisions of my life. Why? My life has been one unending stream of extenuating circumstances. Had I crossed the line that one time, I would have done it over and over in the years that followed.

The lesson I learned from this is that it’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time. If you give in to “just this once,” based on a marginal cost analysis, as some of my former classmates have done, you’ll regret where you end up. You’ve got to define for yourself what you stand for and draw the line in a safe place.”

C. Christensen How Will You Measure Your Life?
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¿Llegó el fin de la ventaja competitiva?

Existen artículos y libros que hablan del “fin de la ventaja competitiva”. En ellos se explica que la empresa del futuro se basa tanto en activos tangibles como en activos intangibles, conecta –en vez de dividir– intereses y destaca por el alineamiento de valores en vez de la competencia entre intereses, empresas y mercados.

Puede sonar idealista dentro de una sociedad y un mundo de negocios que se vuelve más competitivo cada día, pero a raíz de este movimiento, en la administración de empresas hay una idea muy sencilla y comprobada: un enfoque equilibrado es la clave para que una empresa tenga éxito en el corto, mediano y largo plazo.

Si nos enfocamos sólo en ganancias, no invertimos en proyectos innovadores. Si seguimos sólo lo que hace la competencia, no tenemos apertura hacia ideas nuevas e innovaciones que crean mercados (como explica Clayton Christensen en su libro The Innovator’s Dilemma). Steve Jobs, durante sus años creando productos para su empresa Apple, decía que no le importaba lo que quería el mercado, porque el mercado no sabía lo que quería.

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Photo: Creative Commons

La idea fundamental del “fin de la ventaja competitiva” es que no nos encerramos en lo que hace la competencia ni en generar retornos. Las organizaciones tienen que redefinir el éxito; por ejemplo, la nueva ventaja competitiva puede ser la conexión de la empresa con la sociedad. Empresas que son conectadas con sus stakeholders y crean productos y servicios que tengan relevancia en las vidas de ellos (ejemplo: Netflix, Uber, etc.) son mucho más exitosas que las empresas que niegan los cambios en los deseos y comportamiento de sus clientes. La conexión entre una empresa y sus seguidores hace la diferencia siempre y cuando la empresa tenga contemplada esta apertura a la innovación y conexiones inesperadas.

¿Cómo lograr este equilibrio entre proyectos innovadores que no generan ganancias todavía y los servicios o productos que son codiciados en el mercado? Existen tres áreas estratégicas donde una empresa del futuro “vive” este equilibrio:

  1. Visión organizacional: La visión de la organización está con un propósito duradero y cautivador aprobado por el directorio y desarrollado en conjunto con todos los stakeholders.
  2. Plan de mitigación de riesgo: Se identifican riesgos y su mitigación en todos los proyectos de la empresa, incluyendo proyectos que contemplan un cambio al statu quo.
  3. Plan de innovación: Más que una palabra de moda, la innovación tiene que ver con la inversión en proyectos innovadores y arriesgar fondos en proyectos que son interfuncionales y que pueden demorar años antes de alcanzar la rentabilidad.

Una reevaluación de la definición del éxito a través de la visión organizacional y los planes de inversión (incluyendo mitigación de riesgo y de inversión en innovación/investigación y desarrollo) dice mucho de qué tipo de empresa queremos ser y si estamos aprovechando la innovación y la conexión de intereses. La empresa del futuro, entonces, necesita un liderazgo que tenga una visión amplia del éxito y de la prosperidad basada no sólo en la ventaja competitiva.

 

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This blog post was originally published in September 2015 by Forbes Mexico as a featured business article.

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Savvy Saturday April 8, 2017

Buy less, choose well.

Vivienne Westwood

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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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Savvy Saturday March 25, 2017

If you always do what you‘ve always done, you will always get what you‘ve always got.

(Quote attributed to H Ford, Einstein etc.)

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Learning & Growing with What Ifs

Today I am reflecting on the International Society for Technology in Education or most commonly known as ISTE.

In this space, I write about leadership, strategy, entrepreneurship, management thinking and Latin American markets. But mostly I look at “what if’s” and asking questions that get leaders in their fields thinking about human centered organizations.

So why am I writing about ISTE and technology in learning? First, it is part of a workshop I am participating in but also, it has a lot to do with “what if’s”. If we are to build learning organizations (organizations that continue to learn and grow through new markets and connections) “owning” own learning and seeking out questions and answers to questions are keys to doing this.

That’s the essence of ISTE Standards:

Promote future-ready learning

And if we look closely at Standards 3 & 4 specifically, “Knowledge Constructor” & “Innovative Designer”, these are really ways to construct knowledge and design solutions based on “What If’s”.

Specifically, Standard 4c called my attention because it is exactly what future ready organizations do when launching a product or service – prototype, test, and refine.

One of my favorite quotes relating to this is from Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, venture capitalist and entrepreneur promoter:

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

Striving for perfection (or what we believe to be perfection based on constructs) in a constantly changing world means that we may never get there. As the famous Lewis Carroll said:

My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.

Learning through exploration and design through “trying” are tenants of a successful organization. The problem may just be in staying knowledge-hungry students and asking the “what if’s” as we grow up…

 

  • EMC

 

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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