A recent article on one of the major management magazines struck my attention “How to make a better business case for diversity. Diversity is good for business, but our supportive arguments need to better reflect the complexities of the benefits”
United we stand divided we don’t
In my opinion we continue ‘to ponder and debate’ over a business case for diversity because we are rooted into the false certainties of our own business realities. If we just embrace complexity and uncertainty (embrace them in order to progress and grow as individuals and – next step – in our business ventures) we realise that diversity is simply an opportunity of competitive advantage to speed-up the entire process. First of all we need to become aware of what diversity really means in its many forms; and this requires a tough skill: listening & observing with empathy…
Digital technologies are multiplying the pace of change and the so called progress. Increasingly we talk about market disruptions, business models that have produced margins and sustainability for years now they keep getting replaced by new ones at a faster and faster pace. A key role that technology has within these dynamics is to boost the speed of the entire process influencing directly the way business models (from producer to user) are set. Interestingly within all of this people’s original ideas and visions still represent the essential sparks and foundations of it all: this is why arguably much before technology open visionary mindsets are relevant to progressive changes. We will debate about these topics from several perspectives during a debate held as part to the 2016 edition (the 7th one) of the University of Pisa International MBA.
This is an interesting article just published (March 2016) on McKinsey Quarterly “The essentials of digital strategy” , it points out in a clear way several new possibilities and opportunities shaped up by all of this.
The companies involved in the debate will introduce projects that are underway and that are leveraging upon both fresh mindsets with a global projection and the latest digital technologies enabling it all.
A recent relevant research by the Work Foundation predicted that by 2017 more than half of the employers in the UK will adopt flexible working practices by 2017 .
Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has been an advocate of this practice for years. He has recently pointed-out the research within his blog , underlining also that in some major companies people have shown that they would be happy to give trade part of their salary with more flexible hours (see for example a study within Samsung cited by Branson) .
In many ways Virgin Group cannot be considered a key reference to the trend because of its uniquely rooted culture: since the very beginning it has always featured a flair for aggressive business development and a zest for letting people express their personalities and interests “work hard, play hard” is no-doubt one of the Group’s mantra.
In 2013 some direct statements by Branson made headlines on many newspapers across the globe “Give the people the freedom of where to work” . Now it seems like this is set to become mainstream also within more traditional organisational cultures; the reason for that is that increasingly companies need to focus on actual effective and efficient results and those often do not have many rational links to the routine of ‘showing-up on the job’.
While this concept begins to make headways (if not for an actual focus on work – life balance, because of a pragmatic one on business development) the issue here is about the need for a suitable mindset and training to develop this novel way to work (even if, to many of us, entrepreneurs and professionals alike, this has not been novel at all for decades…) .
In fact, flexible working requires two essential factors: a) people need to become aware of their skills to work with little task supervision yet meet stringent quantitative and qualitative targets (awareness need to focused continuos improvement action); b) companies need to have clear ideas of what needs to be assigned to whom depending on the people level of know-how, talent and what is actually needed to reach a well identified target.
To me both issues can be quite troubling at least at the beginning of this trend. In particular it’s the organisational ‘homework’ that mostly concerns me: today how many organisations (large or small) are not only willing but also ready to organise work concrete targets that individuals (because of their talents and actual know-how) can handle swiftly and effectively working by themselves or in groups? Let’s talk about it…
Richard Branson, with his story and strong visionary projection towards the future, can be easily perceived as one-off sort of person and entrepreneur. Many of his projects have been and are so outlandish that truly seem an ongoing PR stunt as the ones so many times he was involved directly into. The project Virgin Galactic is one of them, with the actual SpaceShip Two recently present within a big Celebration even ‘Virgin Style’ (see article “Celebrating Unity” ).
Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two
Yet, we need to realize that among successes and failures (that he openly admits and almost refreshingly seeks) there is one constant factor: truly empowering people (within his companies and outside of them) to aspire, inspire and give the very best while having FUN in the process. Fun is driven by a sense of unity, challenge, meaning and daring; characteristics that represent the essence of the Virgin Galactic project. The same kind of FUN can be built in any entrepreneurial project (relatively small or big) in any organisation. Its benefits will be manyfold as Virgin Group keeps on demonstrating. Are we up to dare enough for the challenge?
Increasingly we focus on why organisations fail to develop creativity and this article shows an interesting summary on the topic “How We Kill Creativity (And How We Can Rebuild It)” also represented by the image below:
There are two key aspects that emerge from the article and that need to be addressed.
1) Creativity regarding organisational processes and outcomes is never developed in a vacuum: it does’t happen because one single ‘genius’. It is rather a factor of many elements that come to integrate: people, technology, context, internal and external direct or indirect inputs;
2) Creativity turns into innovation only when concretely solves problems and/or creates value recognised by the market.
Because of this, in order to maximise their potential to create and mostly to innovate (that is what really counts for enterprises), organisations cannot afford vacuums dedicated to creativity and innovation has to be the target. This requires an overall aware and skilled cultural approach to develop creativity and concretely innovate. It is a cultural approach, involving the overall organisation considering its processes and people, that requires a central focus to develop innovation, a focus that is one of the key principles articulated in FAST TRACK INNOVATION fasttrackinnovation.it by pointing out and elaborating over actual examples of Motorsport and automotive organisations.