Emergent Learning for Wisdom

I have been having so much fun recently! Co-teaching a course in values-based leadership at Royal Roads University with Marilyn Taylor. The students have been amazing and the teaching partnership a joy. We have been discussing the shift needed in business towards a more conscious approach to leadership. Linking passion to purpose in service of an economic driver is a different way of being in the world.  Marilyn points out that ‘meeting these challenges requires not only the creation of knowledge but the development of wisdom.’  Its a privilege to work with adult learners – executives and entrepreneurs who are working full-time and yet continuing to explore new ways of learning, new ways of conducting the practice of business and new ways of being. A psychological shift in the realization that change is personal and any corporate change will start from personal change in the leadership. A deep understanding that to change the outside, we must change within. Marilyn’s book has helped my understanding of this difficult process. It is an invitation to use our experiences of disruption and distress in a positive way to change our frames of reference. Emergent learning comes from our practical experience, not from theory. It will be the focus of a keynote I am doing tomorrow night at the Ignite.Empower.Innovate. Women’s Leadership Conference.  I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am to be doing what I love on a daily basis. My wish is that you also have that opportunity to link your passion and purpose. How? This book can help you find your path.

Emergent Learning for Wisdom

Firms of Endearment

Its been a very interesting summer – but then, Copenhagen always brings me some surprises. I come back refreshed and inspired by the students at CBS and the people I meet in my travels. A gift given to me by a client upon my return, is “Firms of Endearment: How World Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose” by Raj Sisodia, Jag Sheth and David B. Wolfe. Today’s best companies get it – doing good is good business.

For me, finding a book like this is a present from the universe. My entire focus in my consulting and teaching is linking passion to purpose – and that is the foundation of this book. For all you hard-core finance people, the authors have not only done a great job of telling captivating stories but also supplying the bottom-line ROI on this strategic approach. I think instinctively, we all know that great companies pay attention to all of their stakeholders and celebrate the creative capital of their people. This is a new form of capitalism – capitalism with a conscience. What sets these “Firms of Endearment” apart from their competitors? Culture. Corporate Culture. Like air, culture is invisible but pervasive. We keep returning to the same solution – so why are our organizations not paying attention? In order to have a sustainable winning game plan, a superior value creation model is a constant. This book will show you how to not only become a highly successful businessperson, but at the same time, become a good human being. Enjoy!

Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose (2nd Edition)

Anthropology in Business

It’s been a busy year but when you are doing what you love, it doesn’t seem to matter. I’m getting ready to return to the Copenhagen Business School where I teach one of my favourite subjects – Business Anthropology and Organizational Fieldwork. Conventional business practice ignores emotion – and without emotion there is no change. Emotion is the expression of our beliefs and values and in our global workforce, understanding and interpreting those multi-cultural world views is critical to competitive advantage. One of my go-to basics is a great book by Rita Denny and Patricia Sunderland. I use it as a reference for both consulting workshops and university teaching. They have compiled a collection  that captures the spirit, breadth and depth of work that has been conducted at the intersection of anthropology and business. This is the first major reference work for this rapidly growing field. Over 60 scholar-practitioners from both universities and major corporations from high tech to health care contributed their experiences.

Whether you are interested in change management, innovation leadership or consumer marketing trends, you will find this book to be an invaluable resource.

Handbook of Anthropology in Business

The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice

I’ve been waiting for this book ever since I viewed the brief ted.talk given by Zak Ebrahim.  It arrived in my kindle last night and I read it immediately.  It’s a short read – took me about an hour.  But the story is much, much larger. A tale of heartbreak. A true ‘write’ of passage. A message worth repeating over and over and over again.  A story for parents. A story for children. A story for everyone.  Thanks Zak – for having the courage to write.

The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice

Flat Army

At our last meeting of the Council on Customer Experience at the Conference Board of Canada, I got to add to my book collection – always a happy experience! Dan Ponterfract is the Head of Learning and Collaboration at Telus and has driven a philosophical and cultural shift in the way TELUS views and experiences learning. His book, Flat Army, documents how he drove change in TELUS corporate culture. He maintains that there is no easy way to undo what years and even decades of bad management practice have done to leaders. His emphasis? Command and control is rampant, evil and unnecessary. I love anyone who is willing to kill the elephant in our boardrooms! As you can tell, Dan doesn’t pull any punches in his book. To me it is a great story of the power of employee engagement  – what it takes and how long it takes to drive cultural change. Drucker was right when he made the comment that culture eats strategy for lunch. To work in this environment of change management means you need the qualitative skill to understand quantitative results. To permanently engage your employees, you need insight, not just data. And without your employees, your most recent strategic plan will remain in a binder on a shelf collecting dust. Doomed to failure with no means of execution.

If you need a quick qualitative skill update, check out my QRCA webinar on aspects of changing corporate cultures on April 24th.  Registration is free if you are working in this area. And who wouldn’t want to? Just my opinion, yes, but to me the only way to maintain competitive advantage in an increasingly complex world.

Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization

Fish Can’t See Water

Peter Drucker said that culture eats strategy for lunch.  Usually an afterthought in business, culture is finally becoming a hot topic … especially if you are after talent.  It is no secret that globalization requires an deep appreciation for the nuances of culture. This book is an excellent resource that combines both theoretical underpinnings with practical guidelines for implementation.  National culture has a profound impact on organizational cultures and therefore on the success of global companies. Insight into cultural diversity is a crucial skill in maintaining competitive advantage. If you work across national, economic and cultural boundaries – this book belongs to you.

Fish Can’t See Water: How National Culture Can Make or Break Your Corporate Strategy

Change the Culture, Change the Game

More often than not, corporate culture is appearing on the agenda of organizations. How to capture it, revise it, use it, expand it, change it.  Corporate culture of the past emphasized convenience for the organization – treating people as widgets in a factory.  Harsh words, perhaps. But the truth of the matter is that most organizations treat creative capital badly. But now that the economy is a concern, attention is being paid to maximizing creative capital. And that means paying attention to your people. Not as lip service. Certainly not as a branding exercise – a sound bite promoting ‘our greatest assets are our people.’ There is no faster way to disengage employees than to make marketing claims that have no basis in reality! The problem with corporate culture is that in order to shift it – it is also likely that your business model will also need an overhaul.

Being at the Copenhagen Business School over the summer was a transformational experience for me. The Danes are serious about corporate culture and I will be designing a course in corporate anthropology for next year. I am back in the classroom at Sheridan starting next week and also gearing up for a tedx talk on corporate culture mid-September. Corporate culture is definitely on the top of my “shift list”. I sometimes define creativity as an act of liberation from habit that brings something new into being.  We all are well aware that the old models don’t work – they just don’t provide competitive advantage in tough economic times.  So we agree that the shift is necessary – but how? That is always the question.

I’m a big believer in ROWE – results-oriented work environments. Digging through my library for potential sources of inspiration led me to “Change the Culture, Change the Game.” The authors have devised a model of accountability that can be used as a starting point for implementing organizational change.  Changing an organization’s culture is both a top-down and a bottom-up process. It involves all the leaders in your organization and should never be left up only to a Human Resources Department. Certainly not in a weekend retreat. How long did it take you to build the culture that no longer works? Its an ‘all hands on deck’ type of effort. Whether you are looking at a slight shift or a corporate overhaul, a need for improved performance or a change in business model – there is some solid information here for use.  Too busy to pay attention to corporate culture?  Well … survival is optional.

Change the Culture, Change the Game: The Breakthrough Strategy for Energizing Your Organization and Creating Accountability for Results