Tag Archives: ethics

Growth Mindset: Moving Towards Drucker’s Entrepreneurial Society

Entrepreneurship in the Spanish language is most commonly translated as “emprendimiento” coming from the verb “emprender” which means to ignite or start something. For many generations, entrepreneurs in Latin America have started their own businesses for d4e051b46efa7280a957f01bfb5aeecf1.jpgiverse reasons including, as the management thinker Peter Drucker pointed out, a response to a social problem disguised as a business opportunity. A glimpse at the “Rey del Banano” (King of the Banana) rags-to-riches story in Ecuador supports Drucker’s claim; born into poverty, Luis Noboa Naranjo launched the successful Bonita Banana Company after piecing together profits made from sales of newspapers and household items. Noboa later established the Noboa business group; at one time, his business venture was credited for generating 5% of the Ecuador´s Gross Domestic Product.

Nevertheless, an entrepreneurial venture or entrepreneurial economy does not an entrepreneurial society make. It requires something more: not just “igniting” entrepreneurial fires but having the mindset to ensure that the entrepreneurial flame will not die. An entrepreneurial society requires a “growth mindset” – an idea developed over a decade ago by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck to explain achievement and success. Dweck compares and contrasts “fixed mindsets” and “growth mindsets”; she concludes that if we focus on learning and improvement as a consistent goal, environment, and the country we are born in, economic realities, as well as adversity or failure, can become powerful impetuses to ensure we grow and overcome pre-conceived limitations to achieving success.

Harkening to the 2016 Olympics currently underway in Rio de Janeiro, an athlete with a “growth mindset” pushes through in order to grow as an individual, an athlete and a citizen representing a nation. They see their failures as a call to further action and continuous training; in other words as a “not yet” rather than a “not ever.” There are clear parallels in athletic training to Drucker’s own words describing an entrepreneurial society where “innovation and entrepreneurship are normal, steady, and continuous.”

For an entrepreneurial society to prosper, members need growth mindsets to consistently keep the entrepreneurial flame alive and support those willing to push the limits of an “employee” society in order to find solutions to the world’s problems. Peter Drucker saw entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial culture as the lifeblood of society (Innovation and Entrepreneurship: 1985). He heralded a new era that would see a shift from an employee society towards an entrepreneurial society. In Latin America, where I live and work, “emprendedores” are igniting entrepreneurial fires with creativity, innovation and problem solving skills; yet the region – like many other major trading areas in the world – continues to call for a growth mindset from members of society that would lead us through economic and political instability and clear past the “same-old” power dynamics.

Global discussions around “entrepreneurial society” must be inclusive with ideas from developing as well as developed countries, public and private counterparts, local and international companies, thinkers and managers, students and teachers, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, CEOs and investors. If an entrepreneurial society is to flourish, we need a “mindset” of constant learning and growth supported by connections across real and psychological boundaries. In every corner of the globe, adopting a growth mindset together with learnings from larger discussions of entrepreneurship and transformation, will help us move to a society of creators, co-creators and organizations that respond ethically, empathetically and effectively to the societies we serve.

-EMC

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Savvy Saturday February 13, 2016

Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.’

C.S. Lewis.

Tagged , , , , ,

Too Nice to Lead

We have heard the phrase “too big to fail” in the context of companies that are so big and so tied to the economy of a country that their failure would have disastrous national consequences. Some of these companies do fail, making the phrase a tongue-in-cheek epithet and also a severe lesson for many on the transient nature of business.

Embed from Getty Images

My partner always reminds me that no one or no business is irreplaceable. What gives a person or organization value in the world of business is being able to solve a problem in a way that their competitor cannot. The idea is to do business with people “who believe what you believe” as Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, would say.

So what does niceness have to do with this notion of failure and the transient nature of business? Can someone be “too nice to lead” or is this a construct that should be challenged just as business as usual was challenged by the most recent social entrepreneur and conscious capitalism movements in the last decade?

When I was a child, I used to think about business leaders in much the same way as they are portrayed in the Mary Poppins movie – male bankers who live in fancy concrete buildings, care about ROI and are not too pleased with seeing money spent on “feeding the birds”. But I also had a secret desire to see a business person flying a kite! The key then and now is humanizing business and showing that the people leading the business understand human dreams and challenges and use business to help develop or solve those things their stakeholders care about. Can leaders do this successfully without empathy, without compassion and without “niceness”?

Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education has published articles on the link between business and forgiveness as well as business and compassion. Niceness is a positive trait in leaders because it creates a sense of engagement, helps build both personal and corporate brands and fosters loyalty amongst employees, clients and stakeholders. Niceness is a negative trait, on the other hand, if it undermines other values in the workplace such fairness, productivity and value creation; if it stops leaders from breaking down social structures to make the organization work better or encourage innovation.

Niceness therefore is a positive leadership trait when it humanizes the leader, makes him or her memorable but does not compromise what is best for stakeholders and the business. As we move towards customization across various industries it follows that leaders – and the brands they represent – need to be more in touch with their stakeholders and the world around them. If success means creating and maintaining a strong connection with people in and around your business and appealing to the very basic and simple human principles of dignity and of understanding, then “too nice to lead” may just become a tongue-in-cheek epithet of a bygone leader.

– EMC

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Ethical Systems Thinking – Connection and Purpose

Embed from Getty Images

If we look at the world around us, we see systems and processes intertwining in service of humans, organizations and society. But what happens when those systems and processes break down? What happens when they no longer serve organizations, society or humans? What happens when particular interests overtake those systems, twist them, corrupt them or make them serve purposes far removed from the purpose for which they were created?

People reading this blog will know that I love innovation. I love finding connections between things and I think that systems and processes should be dynamic, flexible and transform with society and organizations. One of my favorite courses during my Masters was called “Persona y sociedad” and was an ethics courses for leaders of organizations. It was pure Peter Drucker. We explored the purpose of organizations and their role in society.

My post today is simply a reminder for current and future leaders of organizations to seek out opportunities for innovation through improvement or creation of processes and systems that serve a purpose; mediocrity or self-interests break those systems and end up serving only one person or at most a handful of particular interests. Without connection we are nothing. Even two strangers in an elevator are a temporary society – sharing a common purpose. Connection and purpose is what makes an organization relevant to stakeholders. Breaking this does nothing in the long run than break apart the organization.

EMC

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Savvy Saturday August 2nd, 2014

“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.”

Clayton M. Christensen

Embed from Getty Images
Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Savvy Saturday May 25, 2013

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Peter Drucker

Tagged , , , ,

Doing Business in Latin America

Every year the World Bank publishes a report Doing Business on how easy (or difficult!) it is to start and run a business in 183 economies across the globe. The report also makes conclusions regarding ease of business across major trading regions such as Latin America. In the report’s own words:

It measures and tracks changes in regulations affecting 10 areas in the life cycle of a business: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.

I always study this report (and have been doing so since I worked in the Trade Section of the Canadian Embassy in Quito) since it tells me what are the new and reoccurring risks of doing business in Latin America and what my clients might or should be concerned about. It helps me think about mitigating these risk factors and what should be considered in a regional or country strategy. That’s why I’m writing about it here; it prepares entrepreneurs, shareholders, legal counsels and your executive management for success in the region.

Nevertheless, here’s the essence of my post today, if a business has the right people (team, country manager, board of directors etc.), the right “can do” attitude and the right market (profitable, growing and strategic – even if it’s within a region that may be deemed unfavorable for “doing business”) these risks can translate into issues and these same issues into a risk management plan. In effect, the presence of potential risks that chase away a weaker competitor makes doing business for those with the right people, action plan and market for their products or services extremely fulfilling. And that’s the beauty of working in developing markets.

One caveat before signing off; there is a correlation between ease of doing business and corruption. In other words, if doing business is perceived as being difficult due to a plethora of regulations and paperwork, there is always the temptation to take the easy road. I am not advocating this here. I am encouraging businesses to persevere with the highest ethical standards and to grow a profitable and good business; a business that others will want to emulate for its integrity, people, sense of purpose, perseverance and, of course, long-term profit numbers!

Tagged , , , , , , ,