Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Last week I attended a webinar with Gary Hamel. He mentioned the following challenges, which trigger the need for management innovation:

  1. Accelerating change
  2. Intensifying competition
  3. Diminishing differentiation
  4. Growing mistrust

I would like to add these observations:

  1. Increasing globalization
  2. Standardizing social media
  3. Integrating technology
  4. Collaboration between generations

Let’s have a quick look into each of them.

Ad 1. You could say that this is an open door. However we still have not learned to cope with change in an effective and efficient way. Many researches indicate that most change efforts do not bring the required results. Especially when it concerns personal change. Leaders and managers still do think that they are doing fine and that only the employees need to change.

Ad 2. The marketplace is becoming more and more crowded. And it will even become more crowded as many unemployed cannot find jobs and start their own business. Also the demographic growth means that there are more players , playing the same game. Blue ocean strategies are still an exception and this relates to the first point; we really are not good at structurally changing ourselves.

Ad 3. In the recent book Different by Youngme Moon she clearly shows that the practice of adding extra features to your product, will only have a very short (if any) lifetime. There is just too much choice and no real differences between most products.

Ad 4. Trust is one of the key factors for having an innovative culture. So, the increasing level of mistrust means that employees will not stick out their necks and they will keep radical ideas for themselves. I do think that the huge gap between pay (and bonus) levels is only stimulating this mistrust.

Ad 5. Through the air transport system as well as the communication system, the world has become one big village, with only a few hours time difference. This means that customers, competitors, employees and suppliers can and will be located just about anywhere in the world. Out of the traditional marketing P’s, the P of Place has a total different meaning now. At the same time we have to be aware of cultural and linguistic differences. Most of the time they are underestimated.

Ad 6. (Social) Media has fundamentally changed the communication landscape. This is no longer a fad, but a fact. Peer to peer communications has replaced the influence of top down communications. The customer has finally the means to be a king. Information has become instantly available to everyone. The dependence on old media has gone.

Ad 7. Convergence of data, voice, internet and video is now the reality with the availability of smart phones. Also look at the integration of computer technology in cars and other devices. Finally ICT has become the means to support work rather than the goal itself. We now should start to think how we want to work and how ICT can support that, rather than the other way around. E.g. ERP systems have dominated our way of working, but now we should turn that upside down: how do we want to work and how do systems support this.

Ad 7. In a short time there will be more Millenials in the workforce than Baby Boomers. Also there will be more than three generations working at the same time. Their wants and needs differ substantially, so we need to cater for that and no longer apply a ‘one size fits all ‘ flavor to it. Gary Hamel said that in the past obedience, diligence and intellect were important. But now there is a need for passion, creativity and initiative. The 2010 CEO study by IBM also highlights this urgent need for creativity. It is one thing to identify the need, but how to deal with it is another. It means that we structurally have to redesign our education and training systems.

If you have carefully digested (and please take the time to do this) these challenges, you can only come to the conclusion that you have to radically reconsider and redesign your business. And this is not something that can wait, NO the urgency is now. Also this is not only a task for you marketing or strategy guys, it should encompass all functions and all levels ( see the AQAL model from Ken Wilber). So, it is good that you are refreshed from your holidays and that you can start with this eminent task with an open mind.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


 It looks like there is a dichotomy growing at many different levels (communities; business; society).
A dichotomy between:
·      Supporters of the old/current system  and supporters of a new system
·      Old generations and young people
·      Guardians of the establishment and radicals
·      Specialists and generalists
·      Hierarchies and networks
·      Bosses and employees
·      Governments and the masses

I can continue with this list, but the point is that it looks like the divide is broadening, rather that that we are busy building bridges to connect these ‘two worlds’. The more we try to convince the establishment that they have to change the more they will resists and the more it will frustrate the revolutionaries.

This is not a healthy trend. What is needed is an open attitude on both sides with the intention of creating solutions. And solutions are needed badly for many of today’s’ challenges, like the environment (see the gulf oil spill and the role BP plays), the financial system (trust is lacking in  banks),  unemployment, global warming (also experiencing a heat wave lately?) etc.
An ‘either –or’ approach is not working, so we need to focus on an ‘and-and approach. We have to come up with radical new solutions which are at the same time providing a migration path for the current way of doing business/governance.

Both worlds really do need each other. The establishment urgently needs new ideas (and implementations) and the radicals need support to roll out these solutions.

Recently a lot of research has confirmed this need for connections, for building bridges instead of focusing on a widening gap.

In the book Iconoclast, Gregory Burns emphasizes the need for social intelligence. The iconoclast needs someone to connect him or her to the ‘old’ world. Otherwise he will remain on a small island, whereas he needs scale to be successful. Iconoclasts need connectors. Without them, he stands no chance of achieving success.
Clay Shirky describes in Cognitive Surplus two main motivations of every human being:
1.intrinsic motivations for autonomy and competence
2. social motivations for connectedness/membership and sharing/generosity.
Again, here you see the fundamental need to be connected.
In Fast Company there was an interview with Paul Zak (dr. Love) who explains that social networking triggers the generosity-trust chemical in our brain. Tweeting for just ten minutes decreases stress with more than 10%!

This all means that we should be focusing on building connections and not focus on the differences. Both sides really need each other to solve the current and (future) challenges.



Featured in Alltop

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


In many professions (doctors, dentists, lawyers, judges, coaches) you need to follow, at least yearly, a refresher course. Otherwise you will loose your license or certificate. The goals of these refresher courses is to train on the new developments in the their respective field. These can be new methodologies, new laws, new procedures, and new ways of working. There is benefit for both the participants (they keep up to date with their knowledge) as well as the customers (they receive the latest, proven treatment).

So, wouldn’t it be a good idea to institutionalize this also for managers and leaders in business? Businesses have a huge influence in our society, often more than even governments. Leaders are co-responsible for the wellbeing of their people and their respective families. And I would say that the most changes happen in this area. There is ongoing newness in technology, regulations, standards, communications, employee relations, stakeholders, personal motivation, sustainability and many other area’s.

Most managers and leaders are very busy; their agenda’s are fully booked with meetings. When the meetings are finished they are supposed to handle many emails. Then they will travel home which takes more and more time due to the traffic jams. And then they have some time with their families. In essence there is no time available for acquiring new knowledge and experiences. You could argue that they then have set the wrong priorities, but the daily operational pressure is so high that they will and cannot change these priorities. The result is that when you (as an outsider) talk wit them about for instance social media they hardly know what it is – “oh, this is what my daughter uses, isn’t it”- or they are not aware what the latest mobile technologies, like geo-location services,  can do for their business.

The only way out of this is to have one, mandatory week each year where they will have these business refresher courses. These courses will take place in outside locations and business people from different industries will attend. In this way they can also learn from each other.


Featured in Alltop