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

Keeping Up With The Quants

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.

Keeping Up with the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics

Idea Agent: Leadership that Liberates Creativity

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!

Idea Agent: Leadership that Liberates Creativity and Accelerates Innovation

The Intention Economy

It’s been a busy Fall!  From classes starting again and working with the Conference Board here in Canada, I’ve been running.  At our last meeting of the Customer Experience Council, we had the pleasure of listening to a presentation on VRM – Vendor Relationship Management – by Doc Searles.

Searles has  done it again.  From the Cluetrain Manifesto and ‘all markets are conversations’ to ‘caveat venditor‘ – let the seller beware.  Customers are beginning to take charge of their own data, maybe not tomorrow but its coming.  The market is shifting to being driven by demand – the customer. Beyond customer-centric, The Intention Economy shows us a world ruled by customer intent – vendors must respond to the intentions of the customer instead of responding to a crowd.

Consider a world where you were able to build your own loyalty programs and dictate terms of service to the vendors that you favor? Control the flow and the usage of your personal data? Once again, the message is ‘The end of business as usual’.

Big data gives you big data.  Insight into the marketplace is what is required. VRM is forerunner of what is to come.

The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge

Becoming China’s Bitch

The title may offend you but the message needs to be heard. Following up on Bill Clinton’s recent speech, the message needs repeating, over and over if necessary. Regardless of your political affiliation, the speech resonates because the main message is true. The only advantage left in North America is our incredible aptitude for creativity and innovation.  Innovative organizations come from creative people.  Each and every one of us.  And working together we can rebuild a broken economy.  The key is together – because if not – the title of this book will become a reality.

Peter D. Keirnan has written a manifesto for the radical center and outlines nine catastrophes we currently face and five factors that are freezing our ability to act. It’s a tough read but stick with it.  He states “Ask any foreigner what the essence of America is and they will tell you it is our unfettered ability to dream the big dreams. And then make them happen.” Canada and the US have the largest undefended border in the world as we partner in economy.    It’s time to reclaim our creative capital and put it back to work.

Becoming China’s Bitch: And Nine More Catastrophes We Must Avoid Right Now