Exponential organisations #future #business #innovation

By Gaylin Jee

exponential-organisationsfuture-business-innovationIf your resources are scarce and come at a premium, you can aim to control as many stages of production as possible. You can do this through vertical integration. Vertical integration is when businesses at different stages of production merge to control more than one stage of the supply chain. Think about iron miners and steel factories, a farm and a grocery store, and a large supermarket with it’s own brands. In the last example, ownership of manufacturing, distribution and retail provide opportunities to offer products at competitive prices. There are distinct benefits associated with being able to control access to inputs, and to control the cost, quality and delivery times of those inputs.

But times are changing. According to Techcrunch, the pace of technological advancement is rendering vertically integrated organisations practically obsolete.

Whereas historically firms have vertically integrated in order to control access to scarce physical resources, modern firms are internally and externally disaggregated, participating in a variety of alliances and joint ventures and outsourcing even those activities normally regarded as core. – McKinsey and Co.

Small teams can realize the feats of what was previously the preserve of larger giants, more quickly, and effectively. They bring agility and leaness. And a fundamental shift is what Techcrunch describe as an orientation towards plenty, in pace of dearth. The governing principle of scarcity is being challenged by an abundance mindset. At 33 Emeralds we’ve been talking about an abundance mindset for some time on a personal level, and working with individuals to re-orientate from being ‘hassled by change and disruption’, and, ‘not very good with tech’ to understanding that with all this change comes opportunity like we’ve never seen or experienced it before. Getting our heads around a glass over-flowing (rather than a half empty), is a necessary choice you make for your own future.

From an organization perspective, exponential organisations are set up to leverage abundance. Their low organizational demands are inversely proportional to huge business potential. They design for rapid and effortless growth. AirBnB, for example, leverages an abundance of real estate. Watch this 7-minute clip on Exponential Organisations by Salim Ismail if you’re curious about the exponential organization.

Exponential organisations, says Ismail, are designed for the digital business economy. And they’re the ones most likely to survive longer term.

Let’s try Deep Work, hailed as a superpower of the 21st Century

By Gaylin Jee

deep-workI have discovered something new I like called absorb state, described by Gregory Ciotti as one of 7 ways to boost your creativity. Absorb state refers to a period of consuming information only, not creating or delivering any output. The concept is also referred to as ‘batching’. It replaces what Linda Stone calls ‘continuous partial attention’, where you give in to the temptations of multitasking on other aspects of your work.

‘Having a clear rule that forbids any distraction during focused work was freeing’ reported Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for focussed success in a distracted world. He experimented with hard focus for a day where you have to focus at least 30 minutes on every single task you do. All work is chunked into blocks of at least 30 minutes. So if you check emails, you have to spend at least 30 minutes on emails and other small diversions.

 

Batching is hard, concluded Newport from his experiment. It turns out you really need to plan ahead to ensure you have all the material and information needed for some focused blocks of work. You cannot leave one task to spin off an email requesting information, or to set up a meeting. Because you need to stay focused on your task for 30 minutes at least. But if you did ‘defocus’, you’d then need to spend the remainder of the 30 minutes doing more of what you’d jumped ship to do.

But on the flipside, he experienced more time in a flow state that he can remember experiencing in recent times. And the quality of his work improved. Added to that was increased efficiency around small task completion.

‘Deep work provides the sense of true fulfilment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy.’

Given these insights, and the appeal of spending quality time in absorb state, I think I’ll give it a try.

Disrupt yourself

By Gaylin Jee

disrupt-yourself

The best way to predict the future is to create it. – Peter Drucker.

Looking at what the future holds should be like looking at we want to create. As Vala Afshar notes, companies do not disrupt, people do.

One drives innovation and disruption in the organisation through driving personal disruption. And according to Whitney Johnson, a leading thinker on driving corporate innovation through personal disruption, the S curve developed in the early 60’s beautifully architects a map for personal disruption. To reach mastery, we must find ways to course along that S-curve journey.

“At first when we try something new the progress is slow, but as we hit the steep part of the curve, the fun begins…. With learning, progress doesn’t follow a straight line.”

Johnson’s 7 variables to reach mastery along the S curve resonate powerfully. Here they are:

  1. Take the right risks: starting something new is risky. Position yourself to play where no one else is playing (Read more on Blue Ocean Strategy if you are not familiar with the thinking).
  2. Play to your distinctive strengths: disruptors look for unmet needs, and match those with their strengths. (Take a look at the GC Index with it’s key 5 roles for Game Changing outputs. This Index measures proclivity, or how we like to contribute in role and at work, is strengths-based, and develops influence and impact).
  3. Embrace constant constraints: see things differently. ‘Constraints aren’t a check on our freedom, but rather a valuable tool of creation.’ (Read Why Breakout Growth Requires Us To Break Good Habits by A Beautiful Constraint)
  4. Battle entitlement: ‘entitlement will stifle innovation at all levels’, says Johnson. If you believe the world owes you, your S curve journey will be slow and even stunted. Give more than you take. No one really likes people who feel they are entitled to things.
  5. Step back to grow: be adaptable and curious. Sometimes that means recalibrating your metrics, and moving what feels like sideways, back or down. To disrupt you may need to redefine success.
  6. Give failure its due: get on your own S curve. Expect to fail. It is not a referendum on you. Learn. Make original mistakes. To disrupt you must walk into the unknown, and that is risky. Winners quit all the time, they quit the right stuff at the right time. – Seth Godin
  7. Be discovery driven: you can’t see the top of the curve from the bottom. Explore. Be curious. Search yet-to-be-defined places.

Think differently – do differently #FutureWork

By Gaylin Jee

think-differently-do-differentlyI have taken to including a short Think Differently session in my workshops with clients. It consists of riddles and brainteasers designed to engage, amuse and challenge. There are small prizes for those who can solve the riddles and teasers, and more prizes for those who are creative with their answers. Some come away bristling with satisfaction, others are annoyed. They are all entertained and stretched. And that’s the point of the session – to leave for a moment our groomed intention to find and offer a right answer, and instead to follow our own curiosity and find a different answer, our own answer. I want to inject an appetite for that, because it’s going to become more essential that we can think, and do, differently.

Think differently, see things differently, get to a place where you can actually do things differently, and you’re more likely to end up in the Blue Ocean.

“Creating blue oceans builds brands. So powerful is blue ocean strategy, in fact, that a blue ocean strategic move can create brand equity that lasts for decades.” – W. Chan Kim, Professor of Strategy and Management at INSEAD and Co-director of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute.

Here is a summary of Blue Ocean Strategy if you are not familiar with the thinking, Blue Ocean Strategy: Creating your own market, and an early Harvard Business Review write-up about it: Blue Ocean Strategy.

But here is the challenge. We’re not set up to think differently, and it is risky to do so. People who think and do differently can get hurt in organisations. In one large FS organisation it was simply understood that no items got a ‘red’ on the traffic light reporting system for a large project. That meant failing. And then everyone else could see you/your team/your unit were failing. The reporting didn’t reflect real progress, and surface real risks that could be mitigated for, it was about ensuring that you were not seen to be failing. How would sticking your neck out in this environment work, when time and budgets are the prize winners?

Take a look at the Millennial Disruption Index, a US study, but insights worth heeding globally: banks – your future customers would rather visit the dentist than listen to what you have to say. 73% would be more excited about a new offering in financial services from Google, Amazon, Apple, PayPal or Square than from their own nationwide bank. Nearly half the respondents in this study are counting on tech start-ups to overhaul the way banks work. They believe innovation will come from outside the industry. Given some of my own banking experiences, from the inside and as customer, I have to agree.

Establishing satellite innovation labs, or hubs, or hobnobbing with fintech start-ups seems like a very small piece of the puzzle you need to think differently about. I’d be inclined to shine the lens a little more on the motherships, the large institutions lumbering on with unwritten but carefully obeyed rules about status reports. I’d have a very frank conversation about “the way things get done around here”. That statement is another way of describing the real organisation values. On the end of that statement you could put “To Succeed”, or even “To Survive”.

The right-answer approach, and right-first-time, has been the bedrock of the ideally operationally efficient and nimble organisations we have been ruling over for years. This one-right-answer, time-and-budgets approach, often seeded in what worked in the past, seems to be a chain tightening around the necks of corporates who continue to mildly heed the imperative of establishing environments at work where it is safe to look for and experiment with different answers that might work. Or might not.

Our organisations are set up for traditional high potentials who are typically good at strategy and implementation, and understanding of incremental innovation or what we call polishing. We lay out ladders for these traditional leaders to climb, if they prove they have the right answers and the top-down, sealed-up script to implement them.

But how the world is changing – it is networked, participatory, choice-laden and unpredictable. Here today, disrupted tomorrow. How refreshing. Think Uber, AirBnB and all the other over-used examples. We need a wider range of roles, and appetites, to refresh our future.

Peter Druckers’ words seemed so outlandish at first, but feel perhaps less so now:

“Every organisation must prepare for the abandonment of everything it does”.  

Playing in a nimble and efficient space may be risker, it seems, than actually sticking your neck out. Because over time you will be out-disrupted. But what courage it takes to think and do differently in the environments we create and reinforce at work.

Grow and support appetites for thinking and doing differently. Get your head around new roles, like Game Changers, Play Makers and Polishers. If not for your organisation, then at least for your longer-term self.

 

The wisdom to engage the group, and other new rules of work

By Gaylin Jee

There are 22 applicants for a role you are filling. So let us imagine that you invite them over at the same time for an open house over pizza. They all need jobs, so you tell them, “If you want me to hire you then just get everyone else a job.” Within 13 days, one candidate lands jobs for 3 other people. Having discovered a new skill, this candidate pulls out to go and pursue a career in recruitment.

This is part of a story from Brooke Allen, reported on by Adam Grant (author of Give and Take) in The Atlantic. Allen had the wisdom to engage the group in helping, not only with his decision, but also with helping each other to find work.

These are new rules of work.

Allen’s ad originally asked for someone “with a good heart and a giving personality.” That’s so unlike what we have been conditioned to ask for. Not formal enough, assessable, measurable, barely tangible. Is this fitting for serious business?

Write the new rules of work (1)

Over pizza candidates get to see the actual place of work, they meet the people they’ll work with, and they learn about the work itself. But at the open house pizza gathering Allen sets up, he also lays out these rules:

  • I’d rather everyone help each other find work than try to convince me they are better than the rest. I’ll help you find work, too.
  • If someone is “overqualified” for the position, I will try to find them a better job elsewhere rather than pay less than I should.
  • I have to care enough about you that I will tell you reasons the job I am offering might not be best for you, and you need to care enough about me to tell me why you might not be my best choice. Once we get all the objections on the table, we can address them, and only then will we both be capable of making a good decision.
  • I won’t get between you and your dreams. If you have a dream, I need to know what it is so we can figure out if this job gets you closer. If you don’t have a dream then that’s fine, as long as you really want one and you’re not addicted to wishing and complaining. I’ll consider hiring you if you can make my dreams yours too.
  • If you don’t have a requisite skill right now, I won’t hold it against you as long as you get up to speed before I make a hiring decision. People should help each other learn things, and I’ll help too.

We can write the new rules of work.

Do these really work in practice? Decide for yourself. There are a few more examples or stories in the Quartz article How to hire good people instead of nice people.

Some parting words (rules) from Allen which I like. Aim to treat others the best way you can imagine treating them, be honest and they cannot help being honest back, be authentic and they cannot help being authentic back. Strive to be a better person than you are, and you’ll figure out the rest. 

What is your remarkable? Are you selling it?

In 1991, Douglas Edwards became Google’s first brand manager. The company was barely a year old and Edwards was employee number 59. For his interview, Google co-founder Sergey Brin turned up wearing a T-shirt, gym shorts and in-line skates. He asked Edwards to answer his famous challenge.    After five minutes to think, I want you to explain something complicated to me that I do not already know.   If the candidate wasn’t the right fit, at least it could be an hour of insight gained, airing, absorbing and debating new opinions. Edwards passed the challenge. He was invited for sushi with the team after the interview.

A few weeks after joining, Brin suggested:

“Why don’t we take the marketing budget and use it to inoculate Chechen refugees against cholera. It will help our brand awareness, and we’ll get more new people to use Google.”

At the time Edwards thought this to be a bold and revolutionary approach (a little crazy perhaps?) to growing market share. But as he explains in this excerpt from his book I’m feeling lucky – the confessions of Google employee number 59, a little while later he agreed that saving lives was probably a better use of budget than running ads, which just annoyed people to no effect.

 

The idea of ads annoying people to no effect is one Seth Godin speaks widely to. The end of the TV-Industrial Complex has not resulted in the end of Television Thinking. Television thinking is trying to reach everyone by any means any time with your message. It was based on the principle of interruption, interrupt your audience and grab their attention, bombard them with a message.

The alternative to this thinking is permission marketing, defined as the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want them. And to get this right we must create and sell things that are remarkable, not only because the other options are boring but because they will be unsuccessful, no matter what anyone tells you.

Seth Godin issues an energetic plea for originality, passion, guts and daring.What is your remarkable-

‘Today, the one sure way to fail is to be boring (or annoying)…make a difference at your company by helping create products and services that are worth marketing in the first place…’

I agree.

Edwards says he quit the advertising agencies he worked for before Google because he didn’t like the idea that he might have to sell something he didn’t believe in. At Google there was a headlong rush to reshape the world in a generation, accompanied by impatience with those not quick enough to grasp the obvious truth of Google’s vision.

Remarkable.

What’s your remarkable? Are you selling it?

Make it Work

I’ve been working with some coaching clients this week and I find myself saying this quite a bit:

“Make it work”

This simple phrase can say two things. Firstly, whatever it is, the block, the challenge, the issue, resolve it. Get to a better point or place, refuel or restore the relationship, find a better way to do things, catch a new idea. Make it work.

The second way of understanding this I only realised after I had said it out loud myself, on leaving, head halfway out the door. Make it Work. Focus on what inspires you, what you enjoy doing and make it what you do, full-time in place of part-time or out of work hours. Find a larger significance and purpose for it. Make it your work.

Can you?

Make it work

 

Seek inspiration beyond the oversimplfied

As guru Brian Solis recommends, I like to seek inspiration beyond the oversimplified.

At our fingertips online is a generous sharing of insights and opinions, thought-provoking, present, creative, curious and clever. Whatever you are looking for you can find. It’s up to you to pick, pocket and personalise your sources.

I’m sharing a few of my secret sources here. They inspire me, shuffle my thinking and give me ideas to connect to each other.

idea-1289871_960_720

Ideas

https://www.brainpickings.org/ described as ‘An inventory of the meaningful life’ and ‘cross-disciplinary interestingness, spanning art, science, design, history, philosophy, and more.’

https://aeon.co/ ‘Ideas and culture.’ Aeon is a digital magazine of ideas and culture, publishing an original essay every weekday.

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/ ‘What studies say about human behaviour and productivity.

And then there is http://www.getpocket.com. Pocket is actually bookmarking tool. But it also curates content and delivers it to me in a newsletter. It looks for articles based on the articles I have previously bookmarked or saved to Pocket. What they feed me is spot on. Quite ingenious really. Almost every headline fascinates me.

Rather than bemoan our world that is so information-laden, I celebrate the rich access to all this clever insight and opinion. As said above – it’s up to you to pick, pocket and personalise your sources.

Where do you find your inspiration?

People want power because they want autonomy

A new study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin presented two different conceptions of power to us, power as influence and power as autonomy.

“Power as influence is expressed in having control over others, which could involve responsibility for others. In contrast, power as autonomy is a form of power that allows one person to ignore and resist the influence of others and thus to shape one’s own destiny.”

The authors were interested in which of these two conceptions satisfies people’s desire for power. Do we want power to control others through our influence, or is it more about increasing our own autonomy?

Power ImageThe studies across three different continents, Europe, US and India, offer evidence that:

“… people desire power not to be the master over others, but to be the master of their own domain, to control their own fate”.

We want power over people because we want to be free. This absence of constraint, of plans not being thwarted, of ambitions not being frustrated, in essence an increase in power as autonomy, seems to quench our thirst for more power. But an increase in power as influence does not seem to have the same result, it does not quench that thirst.

The freedom to make your own decisions, and the sense of well-being that comes from doing what you want, is important.

As Julie Beck notes in her article in The Atlantic:

“All told, this research indicates that the desire for power may be somewhat misplaced: Generally, when people say they want power, what they really want is autonomy. And when they get that autonomy, they tend to stop wanting power.”