leadership

Clueless or Empowered

Those who know me well have probably heard me quote from The Cluetrain Manifesto ad nauseam, yet I am always astounded by how few people have read this life-changing book. It remains one of my most-referenced pieces of wisdom in navigating the digital revolution.

So, its good to see the folks at Forrester revisiting it and looking at contemporary practices that are emerging in the fulfilment of the vision and predictions of the Cluetrain Manifesto. I think a few of my colleagues in IT will be especially pleased by Empowered Chapter 12, whilst others will be wondering how on earth they are supposed to mitigate risks and keep costs down. 

Its good to see evidence that finally, leadership teams are beginning to actively grapple with these issues instead of ignoring it. And easy, it is NOT! But fun? Hell yes! Put it in your boss’ Christmas stocking, and if you ARE the boss, make sure you read this and change the way you lead. You will thank me for this later. 

 

by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler

Cluetrain

The Cluetrain Manifesto was an incredibly prescient book. It still amazes us that a book written in 2000, when blogs were novelties and Mark Zuckerberg was in high school, was able to identify the shift towards customer empowerment. Combine that with the insight that employees must directly engage with those customers, and you have a truly visionary work.

Because of when it was written, Cluetrain was not practical. A whole lot of people read it and said “Wow, this makes me think differently.” But it’s more inspiration than manual. Ten years later, its authors have seen their work’s influence blossom, but even in 2008, when we published Groundswell, it was hard to act on many of the insights in Cluetrain.

Well, welcome to future, folks. We didn’t set out to write Empowered to address the trends articulated so provocatively in Cluetrain — we were just following the idea that emerged from our research into the way technology empowers individuals, both customers and employees. But that research led us to this fundamental principle:

To succeed with empowered customers, you must empower your employees to solve customer problems.

Looking at this, it seems very Cluetrain. Specically, Cluetrain theses 53 and 56: There are two conversations going on. One inside the company. One with the market. . . . These two conversations want to talk to each other. They are speaking the same language. They recognize each other’s voices.

We have started to get a fair number of questions about it from others who find some of these thoughts familiar. We will be talking about it in our speech to the Web 2.0 Expo audience in New York today. But for the rest of you, here’s a little closer look, the call and response.

Cluetrain thesis 50: Today, the org chart is hyperlinked, not hierarchical. Respect for hands-on knowledge wins over respect for abstract authority.

Empowered Chapter 1: “Your staff are going to be coming up with solutions on their own . . . management’s new job is to support and empower employees.”

Cluetrain theses 8, 9, 10 and 18: In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge. As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally. . . . Companies that don’t realize their markets are now networked person-to-person, getting smarter as a result and deply joined in conversation are missing their best opportunity.

Empowered Chapters 3-6: “[In the United States, people generate] more than half a trillion impressions [on one another about products and services every year.] . . . Solving customer problems, making customers happy, and harnessing their power to talk about it is marketing.”

Cluetrain thesis 41: Companies make a religion of security, but this is largely a red herring. Most are protecting less against competitors than against their own market and workforce.

Empowered Chapter 12: “[L]ocking down technology doesn’t work so well. . . IT has two new jobs: 1. train and educate information workers about how to keep themselves safe. 2. Help [employee innovators] assess manage, and mitigate risks associated with their projects.”

We could go on, but there’s no need. We promise you, we didn’t set out to rewrite Cluetrain, we set out to create a practical manual for today’s connected world. In that world, though, the shout that is The Cluetrain Manifesto has become the reality of customers and employees empowered by social, mobile, video, and cloud technologies. Cluetrain’s ideas are now practical and actionable, but the details are a bitch. Empowered looks at the world of the 2010, complete with Twitter, Sharepoint, and Google App Engine, and tells you what to do. It’s a management manual for the age of the empowered customer.

 

What does it mean to be a Thought Leader?

 

Coimbatore Krishnarao (C.K.) Prahalad would have celebrated his 69th birthday on August 8, 2010. He was one of the most influential and original strategic and management thinkers of the last 50 years. He was also a friend to strategy+business and, most significantly, a friend and mentor to management thinkers and practitioners all around the world — particularly in India, where he was born and educated, and in the United States, where he lived for most of his career until he passed away from a sudden lung illness on April 16.

Starting in 1977, Prahalad held a post as professor (the Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor of Strategy) at the University of Michigan’s Ross Business School, while building a body of groundbreaking work on the most significant themes in business today: strategy, emerging markets, innovation, and organizational structure. His book Competing for the Future (Harvard Business School Press, 1994), coauthored with Gary Hamel, established core competencies as a strategic enabler, and strategic intent as a managerial purpose; The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid (Wharton School Publishing, 2005) anticipated the remarkable growth of emerging markets; and The New Age of Innovation: Driving Co-created Value through Global Networks (McGraw-Hill, 2008), coauthored with M.S. Krishnan, proposed that the most value-added corporate activity would occur across hierarchical boundaries. Along the way, C.K. wrote three of s+b’s most prescient articles: “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” (First Quarter 2002, coauthored with Stuart Hart), “The Innovation Sandbox” (Autumn 2006), and “Twenty Hubs and No HQ” (Spring 2008, coauthored with Hrishi Bhattacharyya).

C.K. and I conducted two conversations in 2009 — face-to-face in New York on January 26 and by phone on June 19 — about the nature of thought leadership and the evolution of his own ideas. During these discussions, he spoke intimately about the ancient ideas that inspired his management and strategic beliefs, described the process by which his thinking evolved, and offered a clearheaded vision of his greatest hopes for the future. We recorded these conversations without quite knowing how s+b might publish them; we knew only that it would be good to have a record of C.K. Prahalad’s perspective on thought leadership. Now, we are very gratified to be able to offer an edited version.

Big Ideas from Simple Questions

S+B: Which of your ideas have had the most impact — and how did you develop them?
PRAHALAD:
One would be the idea of core competencies in a corporation. That has had a long life. For example, it reappears as capabilities-driven strategy. Others included the bottom of the pyramid [the profitability in targeting the 2.5 billion people who make less than US$2.50 per day], co-creation [companies and customers innovating together], constrained innovation [typically used to develop very low-cost but functionally sophisticated products, like the Tata Nano], and dominant logic [the idea that companies are held back by their prevailing view of how to conduct business]. Everybody now talks about shifting mind-sets, which is essentially a dominant logic argument.

In developing all of these ideas, I learned not to start with the methodology, but with the problem. A lot of times, research tends to start with the methodology. I prefer to start with a problem that’s of interest and apply whatever methodology is appropriate.

S+B: For example?
PRAHALAD:
To me, the problems of greatest interest are things that you cannot explain with the current prevailing theory. Core competencies was like that. Gary Hamel and I were doing work in the mid-1980s at ICL [International Computers Ltd., a computer hardware and services company that was later acquired by Fujitsu]. The company had enormous technical capabilities, but it was tiny compared to IBM. We asked a simple question: How does a small company take on the dominant competitor in an industry? Management theory at the time said this was not possible. Honda could not take on GM. CNN could not compete successfully with NBC, Walmart with Sears, or Dell with IBM. The theory said that size matters. The underlying logic of unequal balance — relative market share and barriers to entry — would prevent smaller companies from succeeding.

Annalie’s note: Vale CK- you have left a legacy and shoes that we humbly try to fill. Thanks to Art Kleiner of Srategy+Business for again being on the money with the subjects that matter and the people who make the world a better place. Hat tip to Jenny Ambrozek for posting this story on LinkedIn where I first saw it.

The Most Important Leadership Quality for CEOs? Creativity

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Hooray- finally Creativity gets its dues….thanks for reporting this Fast Company. Based on the ranking of qualities, how many CEOs do you know that fit this pattern? OK, now name them! That’s right- hit the comment button below! 

For CEOs, creativity is now the most important leadership quality for success in business, outweighing even integrity and global thinking, according to a new study by IBM. The study is the largest known sample of one-on-one CEO interviews, with over 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders across 60 nations and 33 industries polled on what drives them in managing their companies in today’s world.
Fast Company’s annual list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business just took on a whole new depth. And this year’s list will be revealed later this month.
Steven Tomasco, a manager at IBM Global Business Services, expressed surprise at this key finding, saying that it is “very interesting that coming off the worst economic conditions they’d ever seen, [CEOs] didn’t fall back on management discipline, existing best practices, rigor, or operations. In fact, they [did] just the opposite.”
About 60% of CEOs polled cited creativity as the most important leadership quality, compared with 52% for integrity and 35% for global thinking. Creative leaders are also more prepared to break with the status quo of industry, enterprise and revenue models, and they are 81% more likely to rate innovation as a “crucial capability.”

When the counter-trend emerges…..

I always love to predict when a countertrend will emerge to challenge the mainstream thinking – guess an economic crisis is guaranteed to severely test organisational values and few organisations can withstand a true test of integrity because it’s not one person. Here is a fascinating read on what I’m calling the emergence of the Engagement backlash. I thought you will be very interested to read it- some very interesting folks participating in the debate. See http://authenticorganizations.com/harquail/2010/05/10/3-reasons-why-employee-…

And it comes right alongside the emergence of new trends….eg
>> The Democratic Workplace
http://www.worldblu.com/organizational-democracy
>> The Authentic Organisation
http://AuthenticOrganizations.com/about/
>> The emotional brand (scan the blog entries)> http://theengagingbrand.typepad.com/

Coincidence that a lot of these correlate to a rise on female power and leadership? Who knows…I don’t…but as a trend-watcher, I am calling it…..What do you think? Food for pause?

Being helpful is the new black

Some months ago, I read this great line on the “Conversation Agent”blog of Valeria Matoni, and I loved it- it instantly conveyed to me the essence of social capital that is circulating so freely through the new digital and networked economy. Later that same morning, I had a meeting with Paul Dumble, CEO of the Australian Institute of Training and Development, who had heard about my work at the AMPLIFY Innovation Festival. Paul then asked if I might be available to speak about the practices that we lead at AMP around nurturing a collaborative culture at the AITD National Conference – and I was very honoured and so I agreed. 

That conference was today and it was a great deal of fun- and a lot of late nights because there never is time during the working day to do these sorts of things- to sort through and structure one’s thoughts- and then- to do a slide deck, or not. In the end, I decided to do it…..because I wanted to make visible the “online” manifestations of our thriving social media world behind the firewall of AMP.  But, in mid-presentation….the deck just died! All these beautiful slides just went blank…..

Speaker’s nightmare, but luckily, I had a print out of my pack, and it helps to know your subject really well!  (I have a suspicion that the Macbook Pro that I borrowed didnt have sufficient memory….even though I tested it all before the time and it was all good and well then!) 

Seeing a lot of what I talked about was self-leadership, experimentation, emergence, living in ambiguity and letting go of control….it was a perfect test ….and, I passed with flying colours- some even saying that my talk was even better without the slides! Thanks guys…very kind of you!

I promised I would share them online via SlideShare, so here it is:

<div style=”width:477px” id=”__ss_3816081″><strong style=”display:block;margin:12px 0 4px”>Being Helpful is the New Black: Building a collaborative culture and accelerating organisational learning and strategic renewal</strong><div style=”padding:5px 0 12px”>View more documents from maverickwoman.</div></div>

 

 

 

 

 

Employee morale: When da numbas r bad, da people respond!

I loved this example of the video of how employees choose to respond to tough challenges, and through creative expression, engage with the difficult subjects of economic downturn, rally the collective energy and focus on targets that have meaning for them.

Make da numba: 39

Got no time for sleep,
Got no time for slumba,
We all got to be a part
And make the numba.

Make the numba,
Do what you can do
A part of it, too

Help us make the numba.
39, six more zeroes
That’s our numba
39, six more zeroes
That’s our numba.

In our own company, my team is running our end-of-year review as an employee film festival. We have had some critique about this from the penny-pinchers seeing its tough times and we should not be spending any money on employee morale or “frivolous” activities while some people are losing their jobs due to the global economic crisis. 

I wonder how the nay-sayers measure the cost of employees who feel powerless, depressed and fearful? Our employees face all those same issues, and to boot, they are working harder than ever with teams dramatically reduced in numbers to deliver critically important IT releases for the business.  AND STILL- they MADE the time to get together, write scripts, hire costumes and film a movie for the end-of-year film festival.  Before work and after work and in lunch hours, the Sydney Harbour foreshore was teeming with geeks dressed in Village People outfits and amateur camera crews.  Its proven to be a great stress-buster and the lesson we need to learn from all this, the creative and expressive urge is as strong as the urge for food.  It’s what keeps us sane and functioning and whole. 

Leaders and managers who don’t value or nurture this miss the whole point of employing human beings as opposed to machines, and will always have trouble motivating people.

When things aren’t going marvellously

Today, I spoke to a large team at work about Innovation.  I had only 10 minutes.  They are smart, long-term IT folks (developers and programmers) with many years of service and have seen their fair share of corporate programmes come and go. While they don’t work at the sexiest end of the technology spectrum, their passion to continuously improve code as they maintain and enhance the core applications they maintain, is unquestionable. 

In the tougher economic climate we have been experiencing since the sub-prime mortgage crisis started contaminating the world, I have seen the number of innovation ideas diminish in direct proportion to the availability of fat in the system to absorb and fund a bit of experimentation,

and more importantly, the PERCEPTION that there is no point to try and innovate because we are in cost-focus mode.  How fragile and shallow our innovation culture still is….after 5 years, and how frighteningly powerful perception and leadership signals are if cost focus is not balanced with what else remains important while we keep an eye on the bottom line.

I was quite conscious as I entered that meeting that a rah-rah-rah pep talk about how hunky-dory and jolly great innovation was and please can we see more of it, would be simply stupid. 

So, instead, I set about to create and provoke a conversation.  

It was a dicey strategy because I don’t know this team well and in the past I have found them quite passive and uncommunicative. And, in addition to their team leaders and direct managers, their IT Director was also present and I wasn’t sure how comfortable they’d be to speak out in a large group.

But, the gamble paid off.  A few courageously started speaking out about how they feel when their innovation efforts and ideas go unheeded, what they saw as obstacles (much were perceptions, but as they say in advertising, PERCEPTION IS REALITY), and a few of the usual examples ( like Google gives people 20% of their time to work on innovation and where is ours), and so on. (We are not an advertising company like Google, we operate in a  conservative and highly-regulated industry where we look after other people’s money ) 

But here is the celebration!  

These questions were openly asked, passionately yet constructively, and leaders were challenged, work practices questioned, policies picked on and with equal openness and courage, the leaders engaged in the conversation, clarified positions without defensiveness but with fact and reality, took on board feedback, and helped explore a third way where all both leaders and employees can collaborate more effectively to find answers. 

It was a beautiful thing to behold.  A few years ago, I don’t believe we could have had those confrontational debates and robust conversations and ended with everyone feeling really good about it and staying well after business hours on a Friday night to carry on talking!  

So often, people just want to be acknowledged for how they are feeling, they dont expect leaders to be able to solve all of the world’s issues and problems.  Listening and paying attention and not ignoring suggestions and ideas is really not hard and it makes all the difference between how engaged and disengaged employees regard their leaders. 

Thats all I wanted to share today. Along with this great Slideshare presentation above full of practical advice!