Blogging about networks, collaboration and leadership

Network Heroes - Zhang Ruimin

Network Heroes - Zhang Ruimin

An unlikely story of how a working class boy who came of age in Mao’s Culture Revolution is transforming management and business organizations on a global scale An essential challenge to the manner in which businesses currently organize themselves is coming from an unlikely source. It is a man who was a member of Chairman Mao’s Red Guards (a mass student-led paramilitary social movement) in his youth. Moreover, this provocation of the way businesses should operate is emerging from an unlikely industry: the white goods industry which is traditionally acknowledged as being fairly stable and undynamic. The business world is [...]

NETWORK HEROES Gordon French

NETWORK HEROES Gordon French

In a sleepy valley in California in the early 1970s, something big was stirring.  In 1971 Bill Hewlett of Hewlett Packard fame, issued a challenge to his engineers: fit all of the features of their desktop scientific calculator into a package which would be small enough for his shirt pocket. The result? The HP-35, the first hand-held calculator which was advertised as “a fast, extremely accurate electronic slide rule”. As a result of these developments, (mostly) young men were tinkering in their garages to develop diverse electronic devices. Magazines such as “Radio Electronics” featured stories on how to build these [...]

NETWORK HEROES - Dee Hock

NETWORK HEROES - Dee Hock

In order to tell thought-provoking stories about the power of networks, I would like to share notable examples of the impact which network leaders can have in their organizations. I cannot think of a better example to start this series of NETWORK HEROES than Dee Hock. Dee Hock was a manager at a local bank in Washington state (USA). This bank had been franchised by the Bank of America to issue its credit card which at the time was called the “BankAmericard”. Dee Hock convinced Bank of America to give up its ownership and control on their BankAmericard credit card [...]

Catalysers of the World Awake!

Catalysers of the World Awake!

Reeling from an unexpected end of what I thought was an on-going initiative, I found myself in bewilderment. Shortly thereafter I was fortunate enough to have not one, but numerous encounters which helped me to come to grips with my situation. I am not alone in my current dilemma. Out of my bewilderment emerged a wonderful realization: I am a Catalyst. According to the research, there are not too many of us – only about 5- 7 % in any social group. We are the people who strive to enable sustainable change. But I as I have learned firsthand, traditional [...]

How can you disrupt yourself?

How can you disrupt yourself?

This is a powerful question. It took me unawares. It’s the kind of question which you can’t let go of very easily. It was the story which was told to illustrate this question which really got me thinking. An artist friend started to look at his work and noticed that it was becoming just “more of the same”. This is not a good place for any artist to find him or herself. The artist decided to throw absolutely everything out of his studio and disrupt himself completely. He even repainted his studio white – just like a blank canvas. This [...]

Shifting from a V.U.C.A. to a W.I.S.E. world

Shifting from a V.U.C.A. to a W.I.S.E. world

V olatile U ncertain C omplex A mbiguous – these four words which make up this acronym V.U.C.A. have become a dominant description of our times. First coined by the leadership theorists Warren Bennis and Burton Nanus in 1985 in their book “Leaders. The Strategies For Taking Charge”. The term was later adopted by The U.S. Army to describe the lack of clarity they experienced as the world shifted from the Soviet Union as their one unambiguous enemy to a post-Soviet world characterized by multiple threats. V.U.C.A. has become the acronym of choice to describe the turbulent times in which [...]

Our Historical Moment As the first few days of this crisis hit and people began quarantining in their homes in an effort to "flatten the curve" in 2020, I immediately felt that this was one of those events that changes the course of human history. I wrote to some of my professional colleagues in those momentous first days that I believed that future historians would write about a pre- and post-corona world. One colleague responded to me by saying that we had gone through several crises in our lifetime - 9/11 and the financial crash of 2008/2009 - and not [...]

New leadership skills and sensibilities are essential for a rapidly complex and changing business environment.  The growing need for agility has led to the realization that leadership is a team sport which requires the co-ordination and collaboration of many leaders. Moreover, the importance of leadership lies not only at the level of a team, but increasingly at the level of the network. With information flowing at unprecedented speed, no single person can possess a complete overview of the current state of affairs in a business. Due to an environment characterized by complexity and rapidity, it is crucial for leaders to [...]

Cultivating Network Cooperation with Leadership Reconnaissance The design of most leadership development programs has traditionally been utilized to provide a space and opportunity for individuals to reflect upon their leadership strengths and weaknesses away from day-to-day business pressures. Typically the individuals who attend such leadership development sessions are pre-selected based upon their previous performance and perceived future promise to the organization. By that as it may,  the cutting-edge leadership paradigm has another focus on  the level of the network through Network Leadership . Fostering such a novel approach to leadership from the network perspective requires fundamental shifts from the long-established [...]

Entering unknown territory Currently we are all entering into unknown territory, attempting to master the continuous challenges we face today with the behaviors and processes which worked so well for us in the past.  This endeavor reminds me of the competition between Roald Amundsen of Norway and Robert Scott of Great Britain to be the first person to reach the South Pole.  Part of the reason that Amundsen was successful while Scott was not, was that Amundsen used dogs to help him traverse this hostile terrain.  In contrast, Scott used ponies. They had been extraordinarily useful in past explorations, but [...]

Culture and competitive advantage are connected

Culture and competitive advantage are connected

A unique Global Culture Survey which involved 3,200 management leaders around the globe was just released. Managers responded to questions about the influence of culture on business success. The Katzenbach Center, an institution which is part of the accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers carried out this annual Global Culture Survey. There are many key takeaways from the results of the survey. One in particular really got my attention: "66% of the C-Suite and board members surveyed said that culture is MORE important to performance than the organization's strategy or operating model." This assessment is supported by more detailed data. Respondents were [...]

A misleading myth Change requires a combination of both honesty and authenticity. There is a long-held and predominant myth that 70% of all change efforts fail. This level of failures has been recognized as the absolute truth for over 30 years. But is is it really true? Where did this frequently cited number come from? In their best-selling business book Reengineering the Corporation which was published in 1993 the authors James A. Champy und Michael Hammer state: "Our unscientific estimate is that as many as 50 percent to 70 percent of the organizations that undertake a reengineering effort do not [...]

Refreshing the design approach of an Expert Forum  Boehringer Ingelheim's Vetmedica division initially conceived the idea for a Forum over 10 years ago. The aim is to create a meeting place to exchange perspectives and practices among some of the main players in the industry. Initially the meeting was labeled the European Forum because the main emphasis was on developments occurring in Europe. However over the years, interest was peaked all across the globe and, as a result, the number of participants coming from countries worldwide has increased every year. Krakow - location of the 7th Expert Forum The original [...]

The essence of our collaboration with a family-owned business over the years has been to develop unique ways to maximize the innovative potential of their meetings. The resulting new meeting strategy captures the knowledge and experience of clients and employees as a means to further develop their business. The following case study illustrates how the power of adopting a 21st century approach for the design of participatory meetings provides concrete and usable results for businesses.  The meeting in question took place over the course of a full day.  In this instance, 60 participants representing key stakeholders in an industry took [...]

Developing leaders for your business’ future

Developing leaders for your business’ future

The greatest challenge for current leaders throughout any organization is to continuously learn and adapt to the rapidly changing business environment. Their ability to do so defines not only their capacity but also the quality of their ability to lead others. But how do leaders come up with the time to cultivate their commitment for continuous learning and motivate colleagues during their busy work schedule?  How can they be motivated to welcome curiosity and experimentation as a fundamental approach to their daily business? To date the classical paradigm of leadership development has been to host multi-day workshops off-site. Why not [...]



The 4 Enabling Disciplines

Dexterity
Dynamism
Discourse
Discovery