Archive for October, 2010

The Vision Thing

October 20th

Leading Change

Harvard Business School Professor John Kotter wrote about the principles of leading change in 1996. In this modest book, Kotter outlines eight problems that inhibit change. “By any measure the amount of significant, often traumatic change in organizations has grown tremendously in recent year ,” he begins. Kotter studied dozens of change programs and defined eight problems that he uses as the basis for identifying eight principles that underlie successful transformations:

Getting Started

➢ Establishing A Sense Of Urgency – The Question Is Not Just Whether Action Should Be Taken But What Action Must Be Taken Now.
➢ Creating A Guiding Coalition – Perhaps The Single Most Powerful Lesson Of The New Media Has Been The Demonstration That Coalitions Must Be Broader.

Setting Direction

➢ Developing A Vision And Strategy – Kotter’s Special Gift Is To Take These Concepts And To Reduce Them To Simple Compelling Ideas.
➢ Communicating The Change Vision
➢ Empowering Employees For Broad Based Action – Ultimately This Is The Test Of The Belief In The Urgency Of The Problem and The Quality Of The Vision

Implementing Change

➢ Generating Shorter Term Wins – Tapping The Generating Power Of Success.
➢ Consolidating Gains And Producing More Change.
➢ Anchoring New Approaches In The Culture

In his powerful book, Kotter offers an elegant solution to a vexing challenge. Particularly in the public sector environment where there are multiple variables and defining causality is often problematic, Kotter contrasts the authoritarian command and control style with the micromanagement style and then offers a simple concept for what a vision must achieve: offering a sense of urgency, a concrete, timely sense of direction and a value proposition.

“It’s going to rain in a few minutes. Why don’t we go over there and sit under that huge apple tree. We’ll stay dry and we can have fresh apples for lunch.”

It’s when leaders will not, or cannot offer a statement that conveys direction the there will be no framework within which to define effective strategy.

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“Small Government Big Society”

October 18th

The headline that China is testing a new political model in Shenzhen is an attention grabber when it appears in the same newspaper as an article that finds that its reassuring that China is continuing to be the largest purchaser (ahead of Japan) of U.S. Treasuries. In the same month that China was demonstrating that it was only rebalancing its portfolio and not actually reducing its $868 billion in net holdings. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was giving a speech in Shenzhen (near Hong Kong.)

SHENZHEN, China—An experiment with political reform in Shenzhen, the city where China pioneered its economic opening, sheds light on an ideological debate playing out within the Communist Party as it holds an annual meeting in Beijing that will help to chart China’s political future.

Jeremy Page reports for the Wall Street Journal that

After more than six decades of stifling dissent—sometimes by force—the party is also using Shenzhen to test ways of strengthening public oversight of local government to root out corruption that the party itself admits has become the greatest threat to its grip on power.

It is a far cry from Western-style multiparty democracy, but this experiment—branded “small government, big society”—is seen by some leaders as a way to forge a new political model that maintains authoritarian rule while responding to the needs of an increasingly complex society.

The experiment involves free market reforms and government contracting with non-governmental entities to provide social services.  In an era in which China’s emerging economy is also reaffirming its role as our largest creditor new experiments in democracy are worthy topics for following closely.

The Power of Co-Creation

October 17th

After shutting down communications to take the time to focus on writing Democratizing Transformation: New Rules for 21st Century Leaders, I knew that it was time to go live again and to share what I have learned.  But where to draw the line? When do you stop reading and writing and start sharing?  Then I spent the morning with Francis-Gouillart and his sponsors from PRTM, a consulting firm that has specialized in operational consulting.  PRTM is well known to those who specialize in subjects like supply chain management and strategic sourcing.

Francis Gouillart and his co-author Venkat Ramaswamy of the Michigan Business School have written an interesting book on the Power of Co-creation. The co-creation of value is a concept that has been given increasing attention since it became clear that Web 2.0 was one of the products of the Internet revolution.  Just as some media were declaring an end to the Internet bubble, it became clear that eBay and uTube and Google maps were something new.  Platforms were being created where the users were creating the value through their contributions to the collective good.

So the early spotters of new trends such as Charles Firestone at the Aspin Institute organized conferences.  But of course, as well-informed professionals gathered to consider the new value of co-creation, some of its problems became apparent.  Motivation is not often symmetrical.  Intellectual property is ambiguous when two parties are creating it.  The list of problems with co-creation goes on.

In the pendulum swing of ideas, co-creation of value had come and receded before many people had the opportunity to think about what it might mean for them.

What Francis Gouillart and PRTM have seen however is that co-creation offers the opportunity to open the value chain to new partnerships an alliances.  So motivation is asymmetrical.  Buyers and sellers may not have balanced motivation.  There may be other opportunities in a world in which handoffs don’t go from hand to hand.  A time for right brain thinkers if there ever was one!  Time to come back on-line.