Tag Archives: organization

Reflection on Transformation


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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Bread & Purpose

Aristotle said “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.”

This statement applies just as much to one’s profession as to one’s purpose. It crosses real and perceived work and personal boundaries. It applies to organizations as well as people. It ties to a purpose where others can thrive and grow. What you produce has merit; has purpose; helps fulfill the needs of another.

A few months ago I met Sara an artisan bread mak7XXAWNH3SBer. She loves making bread and takes pride in her creations. She tests new processes, times, temperatures and ingredients. She is extremely good at what she does; making bread. She is extremely good at filling a need; making wholesome creations that help people feel special, loved and cared for. She makes bread that fills our bellies as much as our souls.

The “market” may be saying that people buy bread from factories and where and when it is convenient for them; or maybe that the business purpose of small ventures should be to be acquired and to grow. To sell as much as they can. To make a profit or to make a million more of something.

But there is a group of clients and friends that crave this particular bread maker’s creations. A tribe of people that don’t want to buy bread the “usual” way,  and that waits for the next iteration of the barley loaf or multigrain sourdough.

Her work, her art, her talent and her passion collide with an unwavering need. It may be a niche market, an unconventional need, but it exists and it is important.

When you find your talent and where it fits in the world, hold onto it; although it may take on many forms, locations and iterations, it is what truly makes us unique and human. It is your gift. Your bread. Your purpose.


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2018: 3 nuggets of wisdom to start off the new year

I spent the holidays at home in Quito, Ecuador this year. I read, I wrote and I learned some really interesting things through in person conversations and online courses. In short, I became a little wiser as I rang in the new year! I share 3 nuggets of wisdom that represent my first post of 2018. May the new year bring you health, connections and opportunities to be present!

Young Women Travel Together Concept

Health is the basis for growth.

In all aspects, staying healthy is preferable to dealing with health consequences after the fact. This applies just as much to organizations as to personal physical health. Health is a smart medium/long term strategy.

Connections are gold.

Connections create opportunities that would otherwise not exist. After posting a note about this on LinkedIn last week, I received an overwhelming response from people (some connections, some not) all over the world. Connectors connect interests resulting in value creation and problem solving. Without connections (and the platforms and people that connect), innovation and growth would not be possible. Blockchain (and distributed ledger) provide some interesting opportunities for transparency, connection and efficiencies.

Being responsible means you are response – able.

Even if we are trained to blame others or the weather or some third party when faced with something we are unable to accomplish, doing so means that we are giving up our ability to provide a solution or “own” the situation. Taking responsibility even when other factors played a significant part, means we are “response-able”; a great takeaway from philosopher Fred Kaufman.

Happy 2018!





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Savvy Saturday September 9th, 2017

A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.

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Sharpening Tools

I read somewhere that leaders should sharpen tools not blame them. I think this is particularly apt when we consider leadership under the lens of constant learning. The best leaders are the best learners and if we identify a tool that is under-performing or not serving the purpose, we should learn how to get that tool to do the job we want it to do. It might mean repurposing the tool, changing certain aspects or “sharpening” it as mentioned in the opening sentence of this post.

Leaders are sharpeners of tools and are constantly looking to learn new ways of doing things or adapting tools to suit the StockSnap_VXH7L0RF9H.jpgjob to be done.


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Savvy Saturday July 22, 2017

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.
Colin Powell

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Chief Reminding Officers

I just finished reading the book The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business (2012) by Patrick Lencioni. We will be discussing it as a leadership team next week. I am always wary about the title “leader” since I think it is often misused, misrepresented and misappropriated; however, in my study of this book I came across an interesting point made by Lencioni:

Leaders should see themselves as “Chief Reminding Officers.”

As leadership, it is important to lead by creating clarity and over-communicating clarity. As a professional communicator, I relish the idea that leadership needs to be clear and consistent in messaging and coherent with how those messages take shape in the day to day operations of an organization.

Whether chaos or clarity reigns, leadership can contribute to organization health by being “Chief Reminding Officers” – helping members of the organization understand what is important, what is priority and what they/we should be focusing on.



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El Jazz y la experimentación en los negocios

Miles Davis decía que si no está cometiendo un error, es un error. Tal vez lo que quería decir con esta frase es que hay que arriesgar lo seguro, lo practicado y lo hábil para abrir paso a la creación de algo nuevo e innovador. La música jazz es un campo fértil para la experimentación y para diseñar con intencionalidad por la serendipia – que es el descubrimiento inesperado y el hallazgo fortuito – en nuestras organizaciones.

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La canción “Take Five,” creada por Paul Desmond e interpretada por Dave Brubeck y su cuarteto del mismo nombre, logró una aceptación comercial espectacular en muchos países debido a varios factores incluyendo el empleo de un compás inusual de 5/4; inspiración para el nombre de la canción “toma cinco” en español. Escuchando nuevamente este tema, me vino la idea del jazz “mindset” o modelo mental aplicado a los negocios. Las habilidades que se practican con la experimentación musical son habilidades que también se necesitan en nuestras organizaciones modernas.

En música jazz, existe un equilibrio entre restricciones y libertad; se puede decir que la autonomía es guiada porque existe la capacidad de pensar e interpretar de forma diferente dentro de ciertos parámetros. Hay puntos donde uno puede escoger su acción, sus “notas” y su interpretación de la puntuación musical sin que las reglas estorben y que las decisiones sean rutinarias y mediocres. Para lograr este equilibrio en organizaciones no se busca siempre el consenso sino una cultura donde la mejor idea gana – fomentando debate y experimentación dentro de la infraestructura de la empresa. Elon Musk, emprendedor y fundador de empresas como PayPal y Tesla Motors, se suscribe a esta filosofía.

El énfasis en el liderazgo a veces nos hace indiferentes a las pistas o señales de los demás; sin embargo, estudios hechos por varios grupos, incluido el Dr. Ram Charan de Harvard Business School, dicen que la habilidad de escuchar es tan importante que la expresión cuando se trata de un líder efectivo. En música jazz, hay momentos para liderar y para seguir al líder. Los músicos reconocen cuando hay que acompañar a los otros miembros de su grupo y cuando es su momento para liderar o ser acompañados. Los mejores líderes en el mundo son estas personas que hacen que los demás “suenen bien” y muchas veces, no suelen ser los que salen en las noticias.

En ingles hablamos del “flow state” – un estado donde se siente que todo fluye y está en harmonía con el ambiente y con el cambio mismo. Músicos de jazz dicen que el “flow state” es cuando la creatividad fluye de un esfuerzo colaborativo entre músicos que trabajan hacia el mismo objetivo; puede ser una realidad tanto en los negocios como en la música cuando se logra conexiones entre personas, funciones, entidades e ideas. Muchas veces las organizaciones no se dan cuenta de la importancia de las conexiones y las relaciones humanas: entre el cliente y la empresa, entre empleados y gerencia, entre proveedores y los compradores, etcétera. Ser conscientes de estas conexiones y relaciones humanas es una manera de asegurar un ritmo donde fluyen ideas y soluciones innovadoras. Roger Martin, en su libro “The Opposable Mind” habla del pensamiento integrante y como los líderes más efectivos pueden contemplar dos ideas opuestas en su mente al mismo tiempo. Martin dice que estas ideas – provenientes de conexiones entre funciones o áreas distintas – ayudan a que la empresa este más conectada con el cambio y que sus productos y servicios sean relevantes para sus clientes en el corto y mediano plazo.

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Dave Brubeck decía “hay una manera de jugar seguro, hay una manera de utilizar trucos pero esta no es la forma en que me gusta jugar; me gusta jugar con el peligro, en él vas a tener la oportunidad de cometer errores con el fin de crear algo que no has creado antes.” No es cuestión de buscar el fracaso sino acoger la improvisación, la disonancia y el desorden que es el mundo de ahora. El jazz – la improvisación, el equilibrio entre estructura y expresión y las conexiones colaborativas – puede servir como un modelo mental que nos ayuda a desarrollar las habilidades más fructíferas e innovadores para liderar la organización moderna.


Escrito por Esther Clark y publicado en America Economia en mayo 2015.

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Savvy Saturday September 14th, 2013

Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.

– Peter Drucker

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Savvy Saturday August 10, 2013

Today’s savvy quote comes from Peter Drucker in a paper published in Harvard Business Review in 1989.

“People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete – the things that should have worked but did not, the things that once were productive and no longer are.”

What can we do about this? While change is inevitable, it’s important to understand that there are always attachments to the past in any organization – whether it be a business, a community, a family etc. There’s nothing wrong with having a history but the important thing is not to let history be an excuse for not changing or embracing new and innovative ways of doing things. Innovation is about unexpected connections between things – the past is always present. We don’t have to lose the past in order to progress but we need to reframe/reinvent/reconquer our notions about the past.

Happy Weekend everyone! E.M.C.

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