Tag Archives: values

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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Savvy Saturday May 9, 2015

“Try to become not a man of success, but try rather to become a man of value.”
— Albert Einstein
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Savvy Saturday December 6th, 2014

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.

– Leonardo da Vinci

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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.


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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.

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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.


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“Can you hear me now?”

How important is it that your client hears what you are saying? What about your spouse, your son or your daughter? What about your community?

I think you will agree that communications is very important; not only the technical stuff – “press this button to complete transaction” or “clean your room now” or “we were able to grow our market share by 10% in the last quarter” – but also the soft stuff. Telling people what they mean to you (yes, even your clients!) and listening to their opinion of you and your work can be more revealing than facts and figures. Why? Because they help you pinpoint values. Yes, that’s right, values.

Let me explain. Here is the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition:

something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable

Hearing what others think of you and what you do can help you understand what they find valuable or desirable about you. It may be different from what you think. It may be exactly what you planned, imagined or even hoped for.

I am not suggesting that we should live our lives and lead our businesses based on what others think of us but rather that communications (sitting down with your employee for lunch, talking to your client how their business is doing, or reading to your child at night) can help forge connections that can become very valuable.

If you want more “a-ha” moments (sometimes called “lightbulb” moments) then it starts with making unexpected connections between things. If we connect more often with people around us we may very well have more “a-ha” moments and don’t we all want more of those? And, on the flip side, don’t we all want our voices heard?


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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!

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