We have all had them. Or, at least, I hope you have experienced at least one. Those incredible individuals that act as our mentors and see the potential we have yet to see in ourselves. Sydney Finkelstein’s new book, Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent is a great way to start the Fall season. Even in our current world of big data, leadership is still of primary importance. To have leaders that are values-based is authenticity in action – they walk their talk. When so many organizations are struggling with employee engagement, when was the last time a 360 review was conducted on your leadership? A bad leader can destroy a team, a division, or an entire organization in a very short period of time. Once you lose trust, it is almost impossible to get it back. That is why Superbosses are so important. They nurture talent, are collaborative, live their values and exhibit generosity of spirit – they never stand in your way. They inspire us, motivate us, and grow us. When we spend at least half of our life at work, having a super boss turns work into a creative playground that fosters innovation. I have had the pleasure of several of them and would and have, followed them anywhere. How many do you have in your organization? Do you qualify?
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.
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!
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.
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.
I’m starting to plan my return to Copenhagen Business School for the summer and came upon little gem. It was written by CBS Professors Sven Junghaven and Fleming Poulfelt, Per V. Jenster from the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai and Michael Jessen Holm, a marketing professional. Strategy Execution provides a unique and focused perspective on how strategy is conceptualized, and more importantly, implemented. I have seen many strategic plans on the bookshelves of senior executives – few are executed. Why? Some interesting answers are provided by the authors. Their focus is on small and medium size enterprise – a little examined segment of the market. Although centred in Denmark, this book would be useful for any SME organization or consultants who specialize in the area. Getting a different perspective from the standard North American festish with short-term profitability may give a competitive advantage in your strategic planning cycle. A worthwhile read.
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.
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.
I’m sitting in my little apartment here in Copenhagen, Denmark getting prepared for next week’s classes in advanced market research and competitive intelligence. Teaching at the Copenhagen Business School as a Visiting Professor is a wonderfully enriching experience – meeting faculty and students from around the world. Lots of fresh ideas, interesting discussions and lots of danish pastry and coffee at the faculty table. Hanging out in Copenhagen isn’t all that bad either!
Of course, I also had to visit the university bookstore. Bookstores are one of my favourite places to hang out and the bookstore at CBS didn’t disappoint. A new book by Thomas Davenport was filling the shelves – and since it directly ties in with the courses I am teaching, I had to grab it. “Keeping Up with the Quants” is a great followup to his first book – “Competing on Analytics.” Davenport and Jinho Kim have done a great job building a beginner’s guide to understanding and using analytics. From formulating a hypothesis, digging for data, interpreting the data into actionable insights and then communicating your results – the authors provide a roadmap that is both comprehensive and easy to follow.
Critical thinking and analytical skills are now a must in any business that wants to remain competitive. I gladly added this book to my recommended reading for the students and passed it along as well to other faculty. Adding to my book collection is always a joy – even if it means I need to buy another suitcase for the journey home.
If you are interested in how to manage creative people to maximize your innovation potential, here is a book to read over the holidays. Or give to you boss as a (hint) gift. Lina Echeverria is a leadership consultant with over 25 years experience in science and technology. At Corning, Lina went from scientist to Vice-President and tended both people and process that resulted in products ranging from faster optic fibre to flat-panel glass used in smart-phones and LCD TVs. Her emphasis is on culture that is defined by beliefs, attitudes, energy, interaction styles and rituals. Her focus is on the values that drive creative engagement. I love her commitment to establishing an oral tradition – the stories told that drive passion and respect individual freedom to create in a space that authentically welcomes innovators. A yummy, yummy book hot off the press!