Tag Archives: managing complexity

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

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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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Are we social? Are we human?

Today I am sharing with you a small excerpt from Brian Solis’ blog – a blog that talks about the intersection of technology, culture and business. The reason why I think these words are important for all of us to hear and internalize is because social, as Nilofer Merchant pointed out at a conference I attended last year, is not social media. Social is being human. It’s about interaction and about getting closer to our customers to understand them, listen to them and create amazing products from one human being to another. From one organization to another. Media and social media is the WAY to do this. Not the WHY. Read on for some great thoughts from Brian Solis.

Customers and employees are still underserved and underappreciated.

Some would say, in business, social media lost its way.

Others would argue social media failed to live up to the hype.

There are unfortunately still many examples of businesses not getting it, viewing or outsourcing it as a mere “marketing” function, and operating in siloes where social becomes anti-social by design.

Without purpose and collaboration, social will always be just another thing that businesses use to defer the inevitable…change.

Even though the “cool” kids moved on, there’s a real need for businesses to become social…to become human. Our work is just beginning. Perhaps observing the gap between the expertise we have and the insight we need to make a difference is where we need to begin.

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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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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 16th, 2013

Today’s quote comes from Charles Handy, Social Philosopher and Writer, who presented at the Peter Drucker global forum this week in Vienna. He said:

“Money is the means and not the goal in life and organizations.”

This coincides with Drucker’s thoughts on the purpose of organizations; that is, to create customers.

Excellent forum this year and hearty discussions around the topic of managing complexity.

EMC (from Vienna)

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Peter Drucker and the 2013 Global Forum

The 5th Global Peter Drucker Forum takes place in Vienna, Austria this year. I am honored to be one of the winners of the 2013 Global Challenge and to be a participant in the Forum. This year the focus is on managing complexity and it’s going to be an interesting couple of days.

Here is the link to my winning essay entitled “Managing Complexity: The Cantuña Story of Talent, Opportunity and Belief”.

And here is a link to a video explaining who Peter Drucker was and how he has contributed to the field of management.

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