A couple of weeks ago, I was attending #BIF8 conference, organized by Saul Kaplan and his team. I was there 2 years ago, when Keith Yamashita from SY Partners did his fabulous talk on “Should I Dare to be Great?”
With hindsight, I found that that 2010 edition of BIF was better curated and had a more consistent level of high quality of speakers or “story tellers” as they are called at BIF.
Whereas 2010 was great, 2012 was good. This year, I was missing that consistency in quality. But there was clearly a theme emerging from the different talks. Initially it was a bit blurry for me what the theme was: companies are communities, creators of serendipity, human community movements, platforms for movements,… ?
In any case, it was clear that something deep is changing about what a company is all about. It made me think about the 1997 (yes, 1997!) book “The Living Company: Growth, Learning and Longevity in Business” by Arie De Geus (Amazon Affiliate Link).
The foreword by Peter Senge highlighted the big shift that is described in this wonderful book:
“The contrast between these two views – thinking about a company as a machine for making money versus a living being – illuminates a host of core assumptions about management and our organizations”
“Seeing a company as a living being leads to seeing its members as human work communities”
Most decision makers in our organizations have and still are trained in the model of the organization as a money making machine. Because this model almost completely ignores the fact that organizations are made out of people, human beings of flesh and blood and emotions and not “human resources” that you can just move around on the check board like physical resources, this has created in many companies an almost toxic environment with little room for happiness.
“Corporate health is experienced as work stress, endless struggles for power and control, and the cynicism and resignation that results from a work environment that stifles rather than releases human imagination, energy and commitment. The day-to-day climate of most organizations is probably more toxic than we care to admit, whether or not these companies are in the midst of obvious decline”
In addition, most of our marketing and strategy managers have been trained in fundamentals like the 4 P’s, the 5 C’s, etc by management gurus like Drucker and Kottler.
Andrew Stein recently posted a blog in defense of Kottler and Drucker, in essence claiming that the marketing fundamentals have not changed.
I tend to disagree, and here is why.
An important piece of the why argumentation came my way during the #BIF8 conference, by two storytellers:
- The first was Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, the shoe company acquired my Amazon last year (one of my other heroes companies)
- The second was Susan Shuman, CEO of SY Partners, yes the same company that Keith Yamashita from “should I dare to be great?” is working for
I was really blown away by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos (Shoes) acquired last year by Amazon.
The story kicks off when Zappos was considering building a new HQ Campus like Google, Apple, Nike, Microsoft etc,
Instead of venturing in yet another megalomaniac luxury campus with everything on-site from shops, restaurants, doctors, and central central incubator garages, he decided to become deep integral part of the city fabric and to create collisions and serendipities. He is investing about 350 million USD in local start-ups, local small businesses, education, arts, culture, and residential & real estate.
It is an amazing story circling and hovering over what are probably the five or ten or whatever number of C’s of the hyper-connected and learning organizations of this new era:
- Curated content
- Community (Culture of openness, Collaboration, Creativity, and optimism)
- Co-Learning, Co-Working, Co-Creation
- Collisions (Colliding communities, serendipity, etc)
As in a real roller-coaster, Tony Hsieh took us from one sensation to another:
- “We are creating a space where innovators, dreamers, doers, and though leaders from around the world can come to share ideas to enrich the community, to inspire us all. Call it a residency program”
- “We want to make you/us smarter”
- “Culture is to a company what Community is to a City See”
- “Vibrant, interesting and community focused”
- “Short term ROI vs long term ROC Return on Community”
- “A learning community” aka “A learning organization” aka “An agile community”
And then it suddenly crystalized for me:
“Companies are Movements”
The sort of movements to change the world.
I reached out to one of the books in my library; very recent one about change management.
Or should I say transformation management?
The book is by Jurgen Appelo and is titled How to Change the World: Change Management 3.0 where he proposed four dimensions for change:
- Dance with the system: Plan, do, check, act
- Mind the people: Ability, Knowledge, Desire, Awareness, Reinforcement
- Stimulate the network (instigators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards)
- Change/Transform the environment: Information, Identity, incentives, infrastructure, institutions
It’s all about being part of the system you are trying to change. But change or incremental innovation is not good enough anymore in this fast moving world. The keyword is “transformation”: bringing into a new state where there is no option back, a risk to fall back into the old toxic habits. It is about a humanization of our organizations; a transformation at deep people level.
She did not talk about the executives and the middle managers.
She talked about
the people who actually do the work in companies.
Some participants to the conference found she was too much in pitching mode, pitching her company. That may be true, but the story of what her company does is a very strong one.
I love the tagline “we help companies design their future”. This is a transformation story of Seeing, Believing, Thinking and Acting in meaningful and impactful new ways:
- See = Fore-sighting, seeing the options vs constraining the options
- Believe = deep sense of what is possible
- Think = new solutions, prototyping, fail fast and wisely
- Act = liberated in pursuing value driven opportunities
It’s about transformation management (not “change” management). It’s about a new way for creating strategy, grounded in complexity thinking and opening the options versus closing them, seeing through the lens of possibility not the lens of constraints, making visible and enabling options for collaboration.
The sort of collaboration and learning experiences that enable greatness, viral change from the top and from deep in the company fabric. It enables a modern way to look at strategy, an emergent strategy, where we not only look at short term revenue streams, but also for new capabilities and strengths. A different way of content curation, facilitation and design, leading to new collisions of expertise, and long lasting transformations.
The sort of collaboration that exists in great team where “duo’s” or “triads” of highly complementary people create greatness. Teams don’t just happen.
Teams are designed
You have to design for team magic
That’s also why moving around “human resources” from one team to another does not move around the greatness with it.
It’s about a new set of tools to let teams perform at their very best, a network of individuals dedicated to each other’s success, a tribe of humans that envision, believe in, and fight for greatness. It’s about a new practice for value creation.
It is not a coincidence that Innotribe’s updated mission statement includes a couple of these key components for the modern organization: “To enable collaborative innovation for the financial industry and create new value for the people it serves”
Companies are movements
Movements for greatness
Innotribe enables those movements and transformations.