A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.
A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.
Create the things you wish existed.
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.
I came across this amazing video of Seth Godin’s over the weekend. It’s a great mix of classic Seth Godin (tribes, being “weird”, the entrepreneur/empresario) with doing business in a connected world. I found the following particularly interesting…
Godin describes the triangle of the connected world. We need Strategy, Implementation of Strategy as well as “Caring Enough to Fail” in order to create value, a following, and a company that matters. Oftentimes, our organizations get too big or too busy to question the status quo or care enough about experimenting and doing something that might fail. If we don’t care enough to fail how might we know what we are capable of and what our customers want and need?
In Latin America, I find organizations have a strategy and people to implement it but are set on what works rather than experimenting with failure ahead of the bell curve. How can we change this? Perhaps by leveraging connections and unexpected connections between things – and what is that? Innovation.
So this is the video that inspired me over the weekend to continue to tell meaningful stories to people who share (or will share) our views/concerns/needs. Let’s care enough to fail, be generous with ideas and…make them work through strategy and implementation.
Opportunity: we look for it every day. It’s what our organizations are built upon, it inspires us to create new products and it helps us set our sights and company vision on creating something of value; today’s best new ventures are those that act on an opportunity of changing (even just slightly) the status quo. But if there is opportunity at home, why consider expansion to a region like Latin America?
And that’s exactly the question posed to me this year by a group of executives in a stuffy office in downtown Quito, Ecuador. It’s an all too familiar question according to my colleagues in trade and investment promotion. Partners, clients and sponsors all want to know: “What’s the big deal about Latin America?”
Based on ten years of working in Latin America and conversations with hundreds of investors, entrepreneurs, employees and corporate executives, there are 5 reasons that seem to resurface when we talk about the “why” behind business expansion and opportunities in the region:
The fact that Latin America is a heterogeneous region gives companies a wide range of possibilities for market entry, collaboration and how they manage their operations. Countries in the region vary in their acceptance of foreign investment and ease of setting up a business representing opportunities for innovation, partnerships, and use of local resources. I have collaborated with international brands that have been wildly successful in this dynamic region – mainly because they didn’t try a monolithic approach to market entry and expansion in the region. BMW Group and their country specific local partnership strategy (usually allowing one well established business group to manage the brand in each country) is one example of a successful approach tailored to specific markets in the Latin American region.
2) Economic Powerhouse
Latin America represents a $4.8 trillion economy with about 600 million citizens. Brazil is seen as an economic powerhouse but there is no denying that rapidly growing Mexico and resource-rich countries like Chile, Colombia and Peru (the Andean Region) also have tremendous buying power. Buying power and growing number of consumers represents an opportunity for new ventures as well as entrenched players.
3) Burgeoning Middle Class
In the last 10 years, 50 Million Latin Americans have joined the middle class and present an opportunity for foreign companies not just as consumers but also as sources of talent from an increasingly well-educated and globally savvy middle class.
Apple is aiming to launch its first retail store in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by March 2014 in time for the 2014 FIFA World Cup; the rising middle class is driving demand for consumer products and electronics and, in the future, may be a factor in the establishment of more manufacturing plants if public and private sector are able to convince the manufacturing side of business that the talent and opportunity exist in the region.
Mobile penetration in the region is above 100% and Latin America will have nearly 300 million Internet users by the end of 2013 and nearly 400 million by 2017. Public and private sector organizations in Latin American countries are bringing most of their service and product offerings on line making the dynamic region more connected and transparent for doing business. This also brings ample opportunity for brands – from startups to large corporations- to engage with their customers, suppliers and stakeholders.
Latin American countries have high context cultures meaning there is a real focus on relationship- building and the “context” associated with doing business. While international companies studying their market entry strategy may find these nuances daunting – such as how connected you are – it is an opportunity for foreign firms to start with a clean slate and connect with the right people – and make the right impression – from the very start.
The risk-reward argument in favor of doing business in Latin America doesn’t quite cut it anymore; Latin America used to be touted as an opportunity for brave companies to make large amounts of money: “high risk brings high reward” people would say. But after helping organizations understand, engage and grow their market in Latin America in the last ten years, I have learnt that risk-reward is not the answer to why companies should “bother” with Latin America. Ventures that want to take advantage of opportunities in the region will likely enjoy monetary rewards as well as foster innovation and learning in their organization by diversifying their market, accessing new talent and resources, building a loyal following and creating a strategic contact network.
One thing I learnt early on in life is that we tend to value things when we don’t have them anymore. I spent 3 years of my childhood sailing around the world on a traditional sail boat. We relied on sail power (for the most part) and had no technological instruments aside from GPS and ham radio. We had no fridge, no running water, no phones and very little personal space.
It’s when we are put into situations of discomfort or when we lack a resource is usually the moment when we place an enormous value on comfort and resources. It’s like in a negotiation when we suddenly feel a lack of air or a rise in room temperature; we suddenly want the negotiation to end and place value on fresh clean (free) air. I wrote an article relating to this in America Economia magazine (in Spanish) and how good negotiators take advantage of these types of elements during negotiation.
So here’s the observation: when we have them (resources, assets, etc.), we usually take them for granted and look for the next professional challenge, innovative project, new market or exciting product. Greener pastures to speak metaphorically.
How do we, as professionals, leaders, and human beings, use the tools at our fingertips to bring benefits to our business and community but without losing sight of valuable assets such as our health, our families, our friends, our creativity and our natural talents?
Here are my thoughts:
1) Reality Check – take a break from social media, your smart phone, TV, caffeine etc.
2) Gratitude – an expression of gratitude for a job well done or a small gesture of civility like holding the door open when entering a building is a way of recognizing the other person and their action. It is also a reminder to oneself that we live in a connected (not just IT connected) world where our highly evolved social interaction is what makes humans different from animals.
3) Bucket List – write a list and start to cross off things you have always wanted to do. Don’t just wait for New Years; I found Michael Hyatt’s life plan here extremely useful.
4) Take Care of our Bodies and Minds. We appreciate our health when we are sick. If we look after our health every day we are placing importance on the tools we need to survive – our minds and bodies.
5) Down Time – I am a firm believer in white space – in having time in your day when you don’t do anything. For me, this usually results in more creativity and productivity! It helps me see what’s important from what is a supposedly “urgent”.