Tag Archives: technology

Make Space for Humans

0As schools explore how to educate students and prepare them for a future that we can only imagine, organizations have similar questions. How do we create a product or service to address the needs of markets that don’t exist yet and how can we develop the skills required to do this?

The focus of most organizations is on developing skills and know-how to address different scenarios. Rote memorization of facts or of the latest management theory is useless if it is not combined with the skills and empathy needed to adapt to new or uncertain circumstances. As humans, we need to think, discern, and curate rather than just memorize and consume. It’s what makes us human, differentiates us from robots, and characterizes us as creators, builders, and makers.

Enter: “The Maker Movement.” In an MIT Sloan Management Review article on makerspaces, the author states that the “maker movement is a cultural phenomenon that celebrates shared experimentation, iterative learning, and discovery through connected communities that build together, while always emphasizing creativity over criticism.” With Make: magazine and “Maker Fairs” (part county fair, part science fair, and part innovation) entering cities and shared spaces since 2005, the movement has spread. But it’s not the movement that is interesting so much as the idea of making space for humans to connect things. A leading international school once described a Makerspace as an open space, both physically and symbolically, for members of their learning community to dabble, tinker, create and learn. The space serves as a connection point for curriculum, life skills, extracurricular classes, expatriate families, corporate partners, and community members. Some schools that don’t have a physical Makerspace instill a maker mindset in their students by having resources (including time, space, and teachers) available to fit students’ study schedules.

The woodworking shops of old, a mechanic’s workroom, the coffee salons, or a child’s playroom are not too removed from these modern connection spaces. While Makerspaces are examples of connection points, other physical and symbolic spaces can also provide us the opportunity to create, connect, and learn. A technique used by some entrepreneurs is reserving a 3-hour space away from the distractions of email communications, phone calls, or “management meetings” to create. Making space for us to be human fosters a culture of learning, experimentation, and entrepreneurship. It also connects us to ourselves and to others; creating a sense of empathy with those around us and those in our organization.

Educational makerspaces typically fuse together different curricula or subject areas such as computer science, design, art, engineering, mathematics, communications thereby promoting cross functional learning and practical application. Tinkering and “making” are powerful ways to learn and connect with others. Makerspaces in cities, universities, and organizations are inclusive spaces that communicate philosophies like “tinker, design and create together.” They represent examples of making space for humans by harnessing our need for play, for exploration, and for creation.

Defining such spaces – whether physically or metaphorically – can build confidence in questioning or rethinking the status quo; they connect opposing models to create something new or innovative. Pablo Picasso is known for his originality and pioneering the Cubism movement, a revolutionary style of modern art that Picasso formed in response to the rapidly changing modern world. His studio was a space overflowing with creativity. Nevertheless, a lesser known side of Picasso is that he also mastered traditional painting. He was a Master and an Innovator; two characteristics of some of the most prolific thinkers of our age. Roger Martin in Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking (2007) describes opposing models as “the richest source of new insight into a problem.” When we combine opposing thoughts and questions from different areas, or when we combine Mastery with a relentless sense for exploration and learning, we are connecting otherwise disparate ideas that can generate phenomenal outcomes.

I have heard it said that learning from things yet to happen is key to strategic resilience. For this to happen, there must be a space for learning and making. An organization that learns is able to grow and adapt by connecting new ideas, concepts or innovations. The keen learners of knowledge are respectful of both scholars and craftsmen (makers) and therefore see their organizations as learning organizations. They make space for connections between ideas, people, and actions.

Peter Drucker in “Management and the World’s Work” published in Harvard Business Review (1988) stated that it is “also management’s job to enable the enterprise and each of its members to grow and develop as needs and opportunities change. This means that every enterprise is a learning and teaching institution. Training and development must be built into it on all levels—training and development that never stop.”

All inventions and movements start somewhere. And great innovations start with addressing a “job to be done” by combining different pieces and solutions. Whether in the office, outside, or in a Makerspace, we need opportunities to learn by doing, and spaces to do this in, if we are to prepare members of our society to address the needs and jobs of tomorrow.

******

This article is one in a series related to the 10th Global Peter Drucker Forum, with the theme management. the human dimension, that took place on November 29 & 30, 2018 in Vienna, Austria #GPDF18

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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

a4ca71288a81cfc24b9acc92de1ac897

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Failure…yet again

Earlier this year I opened an article with an interpretation of a line from Arthur Ransome’s book Swallows and Amazons: “Better dead than duffers.” I have studied the cult of failure as part of my consulting practice and to help my clients understand how and if “fail fast, fail often” makes for a higher overall result.

I have spent the last week on vacation and continue to see this topic pop up in business articles, TED talks, presentation and discussions within my social networks. If you have the opportunity, pick up the December issue of Harvard Business Review where research around the “80% of companies that existed before 1980 are no longer around” idea is well diagnosed and ties into the discussion of creative destruction and “fail fast fail often”.

The purpose of this post today is a short reminder that mistakes are the “necessary evil” (as PIXAR’s Ed Catmull says) of companies who innovate, transform and disrupt. The evil or pain from the failure becomes less when value is extracted from the experience. Think about it.

Do you remember having skinned knees as a child while trying to ride your bike or learn to rollerskate? Did the pain lessen when you first took the freeing ride on your own?

Failure in business is exactly like that. If you extract maximum value from failure than although you might not have “failed fast” or don’t want to “fail often” you will have maximized the overall result of the project or the innovation bringing benefits to your organization.

All the best in 2017! May this coming year be filled with health, wealth and happiness.

-EMC

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

Right Brain, Left Brain

Steve Jobs believed the best way to add value in the 21st Century was to connect creativity with technology. And it makes sense…

Technology helps a process move to the next level. We tend to think of technology in terms of software or hardware or advances in technology…but technology is application of science (and engineering) for practical purposes.

In Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs he states:

Apple developed not merely modest product advances based on focus groups but whole new devices and services that consumers did not yet know they needed.

One of my favorite lines relating to business that I have used with some of my clients is:

How do you expect to think differently if you read the same books everyone else is reading?

So here is the crux of this post today – great leaders connect right brain and left brain. Creativity and technology. Art and business. Dreaming and planning. Out of box thinking grounded in real life actions. People and data. My favorite management thinker, Peter Drucker, would wholeheartedly agree.

 

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

“Everything we design, designs us back”

Called ontological design, it is a concept that considers how context and environment shape our ideas. Spaces where we work impact our work. Colors make us feel more creative or more restricted in our thinking. Furniture design can impact how we interact with our clients. Spaces with hammocks and green plants can help employees feel playful and encourage new ideas and approaches.Where we do business affects how we do business (and vice versa).

Our experiences are subjective and they can be influenced by our environment. I am reminded of a quote by the famous Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan who said:

“We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”

Embed from Getty Images

We often talk about this quote in terms of technology, yet there is so much more to what McLuhan says here. We are natural creators, born to create but also born to become part of the reality we construct and influence with our art, science and business.

EMC

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

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.

Embed from Getty Images

EMC

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

Why I Love Transformation (and Sailing Ships!)

Transformation is about profound change. Peter Drucker predicted that by 2020 a new world – completely different form 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.”

It is a privilege to live through transformation; to be given the opportunity to see how society rearranges itself over the course of the years; to experience our grandparents’ reality along with our children’s triumphs and challenges. But no privilege comes without responsibility and I feel extremely responsible having been given the opportunity at a young age to take a step back and experience a bygone era; in my case, an era of sailing ships, leisure travel, unchartered waters and traditional navigational tools like compass and sextant.

Pacific Swift First Offshore

Last year I wrote about what I had learnt about leadership on a 111 foot topsail schooner. This year I am grappling with how to be leaders in an age of transformation. The 2014 Global Drucker Forum focused on Transformation: Managing Our Way to Prosperity and it got me thinking about how we are given gifts through our experience and upbringing and how these gifts – when aligned correctly – can help us be able to “see around corners” and build a future in a transforming world; a world, as Drucker says, completely different from the one our grandparents and even parents grew up in.

I grew up on sailing ships; traditional wooden sailing ships that had very few comforts beyond a bunk, a well-stocked galley kitchen, and solidly built hull and rigging. How did this prepare me for thinking about transformation? I think living simply helps us to see something right in front of all of us: humanity. I think that with a human focus and finding those things that connect us all – 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 – we are more prepared to see how we can keep continuity, stay relevant and move towards bettering our organizational practices even in a completely transformed (and transforming) society.

Transformation is about profound change so we must dig deep to find the simple things that connect us all. We must align ourselves with human interest and a larger purpose in order to survive 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 have those goals connected to something larger.

EMC

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Visual Business Inspiration

This one got us thinking (and talking)…

smart phone

Image from FastCo Design “An illustrated guide to our maddening relationship with tech”.

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

Making Positive Change through Alignment of Values

I was inspired to write this after reading a recent Seth Godin post where he asks the question:

Are you doing this to get people to do what’s good for them or what’s good for you?

I think we all want to think we act altruistically and with our stakeholders best interests at heart; nevertheless, it’s a valuable practice to re-evaluate what we are doing and why we are doing it – and what stakeholders we might be favoring with our actions. This is what a board does – or should do – when it takes decisions.

Embed from Getty Images
At the management level, if we make a decision to launch a new product or service into a new market like Colombia, we are probably doing it to provide value to new clients in a new market. The client might be grateful to have another option to choose from or a new service that wasn’t available before in Bogotá or easy to access from his/her vacation home in Cali. This is common sense.

But what happens when you change status quo? When you “throw your weight around” as Seth Godin says. That’s when the importance of real alignment with organization mission (and what your customers value) comes into play. As Godin says are you changing pricing, technology or policies because “it’s good for the organization, because it raises quarterly earnings,” or because it’s good for the customer. Are you making decisions to delight the customer and to bring positive change to your community?

There’s no way of pleasing all people all of the time but if you are making changes in line with your core values and what your followers and clients value about you, this mean you are leading your stakeholders to change for their benefit, not forcing them to change for yours.

EMC

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

Generation C: Demographics or Behavior?

There is an excellent interview posted on David Solis’ blog this week where you can find his thoughts around disruption and disruptive technologies, innovation, social media and the future of a connected society. It’s an excerpt from David Passiak’s free book where he interviews 20 innovators in the start up world.

The whole interview is a great read (check it out here) but I found the piece below especially interesting as Solis jumps from describing demographics (something we look at constantly in the Latin American marketing and media space) to talking about actions, habits and behavior. Here it is:

“This is a big, big conversation. The easy answer is this—when we talk about Gen Y, Gen X and Gen Z, or Boomers and Millennials, we really tend to go down the demographic spiral. That limits our view of what is possible.
For example, you and I are both analog. We had to learn how to use digital in every iteration that has been thrown at us and they had to learn analog, which is crazy. And when you start to study behavior, you start to realize that older demographics, once they start using an iPad, a smartphone, or if they start getting a Facebook or Pinterest account, actually start to exhibit a lot of similar behaviors to Millennials. It’s fascinating. While it is not as extreme, there are similarities. This really introduces psychographics.
Talking about Gen C was my way of saying, “Stop looking at demographics and look at behavior.” Generation C is a collective of connected consumerism that just acts, thinks and influences differently than our traditional customer. It is a way to get people to see things differently, not by age but by their behavior.”

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,