Tag Archives: change

Reflection on Transformation

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Peter Drucker predicted that by 2020 a new world – completely different from our grandparents’ reality – would exist. Drucker, father of modern management, explained in a 1992 essay for Harvard Business Review, that “every few hundred years throughout Western history, a sharp transformation has occurred. In a matter of decades, society altogether rearranges itself – its worldview, its basic values, its social and political structures, its arts, its key institutions.”

To live through transformation is to experience how society rearranges itself over the course of time; it is to live our grandparents’ reality along with our children’s triumphs and challenges.

At a young age, I was given the opportunity to participate in a bygone age; an era of sailing ships, slow travel, unchartered waters, and traditional navigational tools like steering by compass and navigating by stars and sextant. I grew up on sailboats; traditional wooden sailing ships that had very few comforts beyond a bunk, a well-stocked galley kitchen, and a solidly built hull and rigging.

My childhood prepared me for thinking about transformation. Experiencing the shining Southern Cross constellation, dolphins playing at the bow, lava rolling into a frothy sea off the Hawaiian Islands, or voices joined in chorus to accompany raising sails is the best way to learn that we are part of something bigger – an ecosystem beyond our own “world.”

In business we are also part of ecosystems and our connections to networks, to ideas, and to each other means that we must stay relevant, interested, and moving towards bettering our organizational practices in a completely transformed (and dynamic) reality.

Transformation is about profound change but it may be our connection to the simple (yet important) things that guide us through. My work in Marketing and Strategy is about finding and expressing those connections to heart and meaning as well as learning through insights, conversations, and sheer determination how best to create, market, and adapt the products and services we deliver to our clients and stakeholders. In a broader context or ecosystem, we must align ourselves with human interest, values, and a larger purpose in order to stay meaningful and be relevant as the world changes around us.

Aristotle said that society is something that precedes the individual. If society undergoes change we cannot look to further individual or even organizational goals but rather explore how those goals connect us to something larger. That’s what carries us through transformation and what carries a ship safely through unchartered waters.

Esther Clark, April 2019

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Savvy Saturday April 14th

The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new. – Socrates

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Perspectives & Change

I took a month long hiatus from blogging to travel, write and explore some options for professional change in 2018. It was refreshing to see different landscapes and experience a glimpse into what major change looks like.

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I am back in Quito; writing from my home in sunny Tumbaco where my laptop sits surrounded by the beautiful green mountain and blue Quiteno sky.

Experiencing different perspectives is always enriching. It helps educate and embolden us to think differently and make unexpected connections between things.

Moving forward, I am thirsty for change – not for the sake of change in itself but rather for how it exposes us to different perspectives; encouraging us to find better problems to solve.

-EMC

 

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Visual Business Inspiration

Did you know that Ford made typewriters? Now you do… business inspiration for those who enjoy seeing brands evolve and change. – 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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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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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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Savvy Saturday August 6th, 2016

The worst place to develop a new business model is from within your existing business model. – Clayton Christensen

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Savvy Sunday July 10, 2016

“People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.” – Peter Drucker

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Culture and Change

I finished reading Jay W Lorsch and Emily McTague’s article “Culture Is Not the Culprit” in the April issue of Harvard Business Review. I couldn’t agree more with their central thesis that culture isn’t something you “fix” but rather cultural change is what you get when you put new processes or structures in place to tackle business challenges.

 

As someone whose work involves connecting NEEDS with the WAY of implementing processes or structures, I can’t help but think that a great change management plan is not change then culture but rather one AND the other. Yes, one might come first as a natural first step but just as left and right brain thinking is the hallmark of great leadership, cultural change and organizational change go hand in hand.

I don’t agree with only focusing on CULTURE but if there is no CULTURE to support change than change management will lose its effectiveness. “CULTURE eats strategy for breakfast”…Peter Drucker used to say.

  • EMC
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