Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes, but leading for innovation is all about being a social architect. This video provides some great examples from innovative companies and its leaders. Warren Bennis’ book ‘Organising Genious’ is also a great source of insight into the dynamics between leaders, teams and talent.
@Tom_Peters espouses the notion that we are all brands and if we think of ourselves in this way, then we become our own CEO and Marketing Manager, and CFO. Well, it occurred to me to put a balance sheet together putting my CFO hat on. It came out something like this. Now I have to find investors in my brand.
In a previous article I had explored the notions of personal development and learning at work. A process by which the individual’s personal knowledge (tacit) can be transformed into organisational knowledge (explicit) that is able to bring value to the company as a whole. A continuous learning cycle whereby individuals are able to internalise new insights to expand their own tacit knowledge base.
This video highlights the shift in thinking about childhood learning, which I feel is also vital for adult learning. With todays communications technologies, continuous learning is within easy reach of all adults. Organisations can benefit greatly if a learning culture is encouraged. And in the words of Nonaka;
“…because tacit knowledge includes mental models and beliefs in addition to know-how,moving from the tacit to the explicit is really a process of articulating ones vision of the world –what it is and what it ought to be.When employees invent new knowledge,they are also reinventing themselves,the company and even the world.”
This talk by Boyd Varty about the concept of ‘ubuntu’ is simply uplifting and reinforces my pantheistic beliefs. A sense of peace, belonging, and wonder in the midst of nature. Ubuntu means ‘I am because of you’. A concept which recognises the interconnectedness of all that we do. Whether in personal relationships, in business transactions or corporate change initiatives, I am because of you. The very foundations of empathy.
In an article I had put together almost a decade ago, I said: Current literature suggests that there is nothing to be gained from resisting change or going into denial mode… Just as the butterfly is not an improved caterpillar but a different creature,so too should companies reinvent themselves with the idea that they need to metamorphosise.
In ‘Leading the Revolution‘, Gary Hamel (@profhamel) argues that…
“strategies of managing the bottom line and cost cutting that have characterised the 90′s are now defunct. In effect,‘corporate aneroxia’has set in. Today,there is a need for dramatically different business concepts or dramatically new ways of differentiating existing business concepts. It is through ‘business concept innovation’that strategic variety can be introduced into an industry. It is a time of revolution where there are industry ‘incumbents’and ‘insurgents’.”
At that time digital business was the driver of revolution. Today it’s social business.
Brian Solis ( @briansolis) today talks of Digital Darwinism where consumer behavior, society and technology evolve faster than a businesses ability to adapt. He points to the social economy giving rise to a new consumer revolution. So after a decade of revolutionary digital change, today we have social media revolutionising how people connect, learn and communicate, the effects of which cannot be undone.
In summary: Companies continue to be in the midst of continuous and abrupt change. A ‘Corporate Spring’ is in the making and it needs revolutionaries.
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When I left Sydney for Istanbul in my mid-twenties, the people I met in that age group were so much more sophisticated in their musical tastes than that I encountered growing up in Sydney. I was soon introduced to jazz in all its forms. Every year there would be the Istanbul Jazz Festival where you would get the masters of jazz performing.
It was during this phase of my life that I fell in love with the music of Miles Davis. Although I missed his Istanbul tour as I was working in London at the time, I did manage to see him perform in London from the first row at the Southbank Centre. He died not long after.
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I have always been one to just let things happen and go with the flow when it comes to exploring new lands and holiday destinations. When I packed my backpack one time in Istanbul during a 10 day public holiday and got on a coach I ended up sipping ouzo and feasting on seafood on the Greek island of Patmos in the Aegean somewhere. I could easily have been heading to the Black Sea coast of Turkey but the next available coach was heading south and that’s where I went.
Fast forward 15 years, a wife and a 13 year old, things are a little different. These days random improvisation is something that happens when we decide to hire a car whilst on our pre-booked holiday which we have spent 6 months preparing for. Some people just like certainty.
We all have maps
My young son likes the fact that he knows exactly what’s going to be there when he arrives. This is understandable for a youngster and mostly we all seek certainty and continuity. The alternative is chaotic and uncomfortable. What if, though, our map is dated and it doesn’t show all these alternative destinations and new roads to discovery? Similarly, if we have entrenched beliefs which conflict with a changing environment, then we risk missing out on something magical and life changing.
I can quote a million quotes and cite umpteen gurus to reinforce this message, but you don’t want to read ad nauseam about some abstract concept. One usually makes sense of things by living through them. Perhaps with time my son will see that allowing emergence into our lives can lead to gratification and a richer life, but he will only do that when he is ready. Similarly, in the workplace, we can’t expect everyone to suddenly change their whole life’s philosophy simply because some consultant is telling to do so.
What if they don’t want to change?
If I force my family to change, I risk alienating them and possibly ending up on a dating site posting touched up photos of myself. I’d probably also take 10 years off my actual age, and not mentioning my crook knee and travel sickness I am prone to all the while claiming to love travel and adventure. No brainer really, I think I’ll continue to accept my son’s structured ways and continue to love him and my wife and try to be a safety beacon so he can navigate without a map sometimes.
But what if my employer was changing and I wanted to continue along my well worn path? If I stay, I am going to risk being alienated and also be uncomfortable in a new corporate environment thats changing before my eyes. So here, I either have to throw out my old map and start exploring the new corporate map, or take myself to another company where they have the same map that I have. This is comfort zone stuff but the magic doesn’t happen in comfort zones – nor does corporate longevity. More on that here…
Play is seen as a radical and creative process involving the human imagination. It is a pleasurable activity producing a sense of freedom and spontaneity. It is for this reason that a focus on play, rather than work, can perhaps help companies strike better balances. I have been using LEGO bricks to facilitate group communication utilisng the LEGO language of metaphor, storymaking and constructionism.
Tayfun @ LEGO HQ, Billund - Denmark
Play With a Purpose
In their study, ‘Play in Organizations’, Linder, Roos, and Victor identify four different modes of play by members of organizations;
Here, play is about feeling whole, masking individual differences, renewing communal identity, and detecting patterns of interaction that can provide the basis of later social interactions.
Emotions like love, anger, or fear, motivate and shape the different forms of play the player engages in, as well as the symbolic representations he produces. Therefore, through the capacity to pretend, and shift attention and roles, play is a natural setting for a voluntary or perhaps non-conscious release of internal tensions leading to a therapeutic process.
Play requires learning the necessary rules. So, at the most basic level it is a learning activity. The process of play requires a degree of self control as well as the need to act against immediate self impulse, it requires a voluntary submission to rules, and involves important cognitive efforts. The psychological literature points to progress particularly in the domain of problem solving, but also to the improvement of certain skills like language, symbolic thought, focused attention, flexibility (learning to shift perspectives) and de-centration.
Competing is an important purpose because it permits us to measure our own skills comparatively to those of our opponents, or our co-players. It includes considerations of play and power such as hegemony, conflict, competition, manliness, and contest, where the involvement of the player is for the glory of winning, for the rivalry with competitors, for personal prestige and recognition, to develop “manly” skills, or to impose hegemony.
Unlike children, adults play with a specific intention. Ours is more ‘serious play’. We can get so caught up in our play that it may lead us to change who we are: this is referred to as transformation. This potential for transformation can be in terms of ones relation to the socio cultural world as well as the relation to the individual self.
Play is naturally conducive to flow (optimal experience)because it comprises most of these characteristics: the optimization of challenge, strongly focused attention, having clear and realistic goals, providing clear feedback as to whether one is reaching the goals, having a feeling of control, being so involved in the activity that self consciousness disappears, that worries and frustrations temporarily disappear, that time is transformed during the activity.
This transformation is mostly only transitory – the increased awareness felt in flow ends with the play situation, and the experience gained through the transformation does not last unless a conscious effort is undertaken to reinforce it.
“The kind of adult play that is important, purposeful, and potentially transformative we call “serious play”. Because we involve our identity, serious play requires careful consideration and devotion. Having a meaningful purpose gives direction and coherence to the forms of play that we engage in. The serious player wishes to develop new skills, learn new rules, or improve strategies. Moreover, under certain conditions (i.e. attaining an altered state of awareness) serious play is potentially transformative; we are able to learn new skills as well as discover more about who we are and where we stand.
We believe that serious play allows to shed new light, or open different perspectives on existing problematics, and issues concerning identity, people, culture, rules, and structure of an organization. ” ‘Play in Organizations’, Linder, Roos, and Victor