Tag Archives: complexity

Reflection on Transformation

sailing

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 2, 2016

“We are at a critical point where rapid change is forcing us to look not just to new ways of solving problems but to new problems to solve.” -Tim Brown

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Community is Viable

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.

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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.

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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.

– EMC

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Savvy Saturday October 17th, 2015

“Courage is grace under pressure.” – Ernest Hemingway

Grace under pressure.

Grace under pressure.

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White Space

We all need “white space” in our lives. White space allows us to think, be creative, be strategic, focus on what counts, do something fun, laugh, cry or a combination of all these things.

I usually factor “white space” into a project because it provides you or the project manager the opportunity to pause, reflect and tailor actions before things go too far in the wrong direction.

White space is not only reflection. White space is planning, thinking, future looking, story building time that allows us as human beings to remember we are human. Check for mistakes, celebrate a success, write that thank you letter or start that side project you have always wanted to do.

White space makes us human. Without white space we run the risk of becoming machines. e3dc9e58e2c5faad2871843721955e3d

EMC

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cop·y·cat

Don’t be a “copy cat”. We want to hear your voice, your ideas, your work. Be authentic and true. Write with mistakes and correct them later. Go with the flow of your ideas and you will see that it leads you to somewhere that no one else could have imagined or written down. You cannot copy inspiration. Intelligence. Wit. Yourself.

If you do copy. Do so gracefully. State where you took the information. Hat tip your source. Thank someone who inspired you.

If you copy and take praise, remember that it is not professional and you lose moral authority as a person or entity or project you are associated with. Although the source may never find out, you will know that you did and that’s what matters.

– EMC

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Legacy and Future – let’s not throw away the past!

Strategy + Business published an article about Adidas reconnecting with its past in order to inspire its future. It reminded me of a discussion we had this week while we were “ideating” for the future of one of our organization’s business units; I mentioned the unit’s “legacy” and how this presents challenges and opportunities for the organization going forward.

In the cited article, the authors talk about how Apple, Adidas, Lego, Burberry and others came to a point where each company:

…realized that it had a distinctive history rich with memories, experiences, and signature processes that could be used to design the future — not through a slavish adherence to tradition, but through thinking differently about strategy, innovation, and products.

People and organizations all go through moments when they fail. Sometimes organizations never recover and slowly become irrelevant to their stakeholders. Case in point: Netflix vs. Blockbuster.

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Last year at the Peter Drucker Global Forum I heard Nilofer Merchant talk about “seeing around corners” in order to understand what we should expect as leaders of organizations. For those companies who have a legacy, a history, a track-record, a story, a “tribe” – sometimes it is a matter of looking at “signature” products/services/processes/experiences in a new way. Successful businesses (past, present and future) connect with stakeholders in a unique way: bringing out the best and brightest of the brand, its clients and the overall organization.

EMC

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El contexto sí importa

Previa a la visita del Papa Francisco a Ecuador hubo una explosión de comunicación de palabras, frases e ideas atribuidas al pontífice. Muchas de ellas eran hermosas expresiones de la necesidad de unión, de vivir con alegría, de evangelizar y vivir su fe, de tener vidas coherentes y valientes.

Una buena cita encapsula una idea o un pensamiento y de una forma particularmente esclarecedor. Da a lector o al público, la libertad de imaginar la masa real debajo de la superficie de las palabras como un iceberg. Invita al lector de pensar, contemplar y aplicar esta idea en su vida profesional o personal.

Es justamente esta invitación a la contemplación de palabras que a veces nos hace falta cuando se trata de frases o palabras fuera de contexto. Las palabras hermosas se quedan como palabras hermosas o nos conducen hace pensamientos o ideas equivocadas si no se los entienden dentro de su contexto.El arte de la comunicación es alinear las palabras con contexto paraEl contexto sí importa inducir acciones concretas hacia una meta.

Características de nuestro mundo social y físico inmediato – las calles donde caminamos, las personas que encontramos, las palabras que escuchamos – juegan un papel muy importante en la conformación de lo que somos y cómo actuamos.

El contexto sí importa. Con la visita del Papa Francisco y los mensajes que compartió con América Latina y el mundo, no hay que olvidar el contexto de su comunicación. El lenguaje y las palabras no solo describen el mundo pero tiene la capacidad de crear mundos; las palabras conllevan mucho poder.

– EMC

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Always be learning – here’s to 2015 and 2014!

A friend of mine who I met at the Drucker Forum two years ago observed that we often celebrate the new – the “new” year  without giving the old – the “old” year its due respect and celebration.

As we enter into 2015, I have learnt so much from friends, family, colleagues and projects over the course of 2014. One of my key takeaways from 2014 is..

Always be learning.

It’s simple but it encapsulates my belief that we should always be striving to create a better world and the need to focus on improving ourselves as human beings. From an organizational perspective, I believe that learning – lifelong learning – is fundamental to success and being relevant and in touch with the world around us. It´s the world around us, after all, that provides us with clients, employees and stakeholders.

Happy 2015 and may we always be learning from each other towards a brighter future and a celebration of our accomplishments past, present and future!

EMC

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Turning Overload into Coherence

For the last month I have been involved in an ongoing process of transformation with an organization in the education sector. While my role was not clearly defined at the beginning, each day that passes it is becoming clearer that my work is based on making things coherent.

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Coherence is defined as systematic or logical connection or consistency and an integration of diverse elements, relationships, or values by Merriam-Webster dictionary.

I was reading a piece from a US education organization where they were talking about the challenge of leaders in the education sector and they used the phrase: “turn overload into coherence.” I thought it particularly apt for a post on this blog where I often talk about leadership and about managing complexity (the theme from last year’s Drucker Forum).

The challenge of turning overload into coherence is not reserved only for the education sector. It appears everywhere where we have high-level strategic decisions being compressed into a hectic schedule of priorities and deliverables. The key is finding coherence; connections that allow us to utilize resources efficiently while contributing to the mission of the organization.

In previous posts, I have talked about branding, authenticity and how to consistently do what you say you are going to do and what people expect of you. Coherence is fundamental in branding; ensuring that your message, values, “reason for being” is consistent and integrated across all your communications and your actions.
In closing, coherence is the way to take abstract ideas and ensure they are implemented in the various areas of your organization. Actions yield results but they should be the “right” results and implemented by motivated individuals who understand why they are doing what they are doing.

EMC

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