Mar 4, 2011

The Business “Consilium”

In ancient times, “Philosphia” refered to the "love of Wisdom”.

OK, don’t panic! I won’t slide into an etymological discussion. This post is not really about philosophy nor is it about consilium (the Latin word for wisdom). This is rather some “food for thought” on how each organization sets its path of growth with a “nurturing wisdom”: The business “wisdom”.

Let us start by drawing a line of distinction between the philosophy of business and business “wisdom”. More often than not, business “consilium” carries several dimensions: Vision, Values, Processes and Principles. Any business “wisdom” resides in the relation between those dimensions and the organization’s very existence.

Now, for a little storytelling diversion with Thales, a Greek philosopher who while star-gazing, fell into a ditch. When he cried for help, an old woman commented: "How can you expect to learn all about the heavens, when you can’t see what is under your feet?" The links to business logic are crystal clear; some organizations, gaining perspective through their philosophy, make the whole greater than the sum of its details. Conceptually, that makes sense.

Socrates, on the other hand, called philosophy down from the heavens and placed it in homes. He did it by talking to people, about the things that concerned them: from life and love, to growing crops. The business cliché here is that an organization’s “wisdom” would be based on taking the path of step-by-step success to achieve growth and prosperity. To be fair, that makes sense too.

Pragmatically speaking, Thales and Socrates were speaking of a “Wisdom” and “Philosphia” that we curiously continue to adopt or to doubt. Stepping away from that for a moment, another perspective of “wisdom” can be mirrored in a great example from Alexander the Great, who marched towards India with his armies. As he approached the city, he looked up towards the King of India who stood firm upon the stone wall and shouted: "My name is Alexander the Great, and I demand you surrender immediately!" Laughing, the King asked, "Why should we surrender to you and our army outnumber your troops?" In response, Alexander turned to his troops and commanded them to march towards the edge of the cliff and jump one after the other. The soldiers obeyed their leader and jumped to their death. After the 11th soldier, Alexander gazed back at the King of India who was completely astonished and surrendered immediately.

This King of India surrendered because of the power of Alexander’s “wisdom”, that which his soldiers believed in and for which they defied death. Does this sound out of context? Well any business “wisdom” should have solid grounds in terms of defining the commitment to the organization’s “Philosphia”; otherwise, it would remain suspended in air.

Back to the present, business today touches nearly every aspect of our lives. The arguments laid out here would imply that in today’s competitive market, the guiding “wisdom” in any organization would mirror its whole “Thales” path or “Socrates” step-by-step growth. Creative, transparent, efficient and sensible "Business Wisdom” is one that moves beyond fancy statements to purpose, process, and people, allowing forward business philosophers to run winning avant-grade organizations in their business playing field.

Business “Wisdom” has come a long way since ancient times, and the face of the business has changed. The point I'm selling here is that, recognizing the lessons we learn and tackling the challenges we face, will drive businesses forward by simply setting ubiquitous customer-centric “philosophia”.

With customer-centric “Wisdom” in mind, organizations should engage every customer with a partnership-based approach using: Effective Communication, Innovative Thinking, Transparent Processes, Out-of-the-box solutions, Passionate Efficiency… Lots of boring buzz words? Not only are these the backbone of any business, but for companies selling product X or providing service Y what makes them meet customers’ expectations through tangible value, is a differentiated “wisdom” to help them excel in a competitive market. A winning combination would be to couple that with a potential-over-experience team of professionals, who are driven by a clear “wisdom” and creative intuition to overtake challenges and build on opportunities, “Alexander the Great” style.

The End, in fact, would only be the beginning as we continue to grow and advance, our “wisdom” stamps every aspect of our life, holding us to it, in a promise to provide successful experiences and to exceed expectations.

Jan 20, 2011

Discipline is great, Creativity is GRAND!

This post could be an easy way to write boring texts about our interesting and exciting brain, but it won’t go down that route. There won’t be any stuff about cerebral hemispheres or the way the nerves in our body work.

Putting that aside, the strange thing is how the traits and characteristics we possess depend on the dominant part of our brain. Simple English: the human brain has two very different ways of thinking associated with the most dominant part - Left or Right!

But how is all this relevant?

On the storytelling side, if you are a left brained person, this means that your personality has an urge towards being more logical and less emotional. In other words, when faced with a problem a left-brained person would bring logic to analyze the situation and give a more analytical approach to solution, whereas a right-brained person would have a more imaginative influence and a less logical approach. So if you rely on the right part of the brain this would make you more intuitive and emotional.

In a simple explanation of right / left brain theory and its relevance to painters, Marion Boddy-Evans explains how “When you start a painting, you need to be able to visualize the final painting in your mind (right brain, working from the whole), then develop the painting and choosing the elements”, “but at the same time be able to look critically at what you're doing (left brain, being analytical).” (1)

In brief, our left brain is logical, fact-finding and analytical (things are either white or black); while our right brain is all about being creative, inventive and artistic (things can be colorful). Not surprisingly we’re born with both creativity and logic.

Here comes the twist!

Based on this, the premise of this post is based on the argument that Right-brained (CREATIVE) people will rule the knowledge age, with a side note that our world was previously dominated by Left-brained people. (That doesn’t necessary mean that Left-brained people are now old school.)

Speaking of schools, Thomas Edison is quoted as saying "Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety- nine per cent perspiration" sometime around 1902. With this in mind, one perspective would be that the next generation would require a new set of skills and tools to lead in the 21st century; skills and tools that integrate knowledge, out of the box thinking and innovation.

More pragmatically, old school “left-brained” people among us may be falling behind in the knowledge- based world. BUT, the good news is that it is never too late as creativity may be learned through exercise.

A possible scenario would be that “left-brained” people are ousted as leaders in the new century. Then our argument would be based on the idea that “Right-brained” people hold the key to success in the 21st century.

You don’t agree?

What do you think about Facebook, a website-pardon my word- a business worth BILLIONS, or Twitter and other profound Internet innovations that are redefining the way we socialize and communicate?

In his book "A Whole New Mind," Daniel Pink explains that one of the trademarks of the Conceptual Age is the outsourcing of traditional white-collar jobs such as law, accounting, and engineering to less-expensive overseas workers, particularly in Asia. But as he points out, you can't outsource creativity.(2)

Allow me to “philosophize” things up:

Be it economically, politically or even militarily speaking- you name it- if we think that the Third World War is to happen, it will most probably be about economies and resources. Accordingly, in order to compete in the knowledge age, states need to empower the next generation with “right-brain” tools.

On the global level, whether at the G20 summit, in the EU countries and elsewhere the buzz now is to review how to better integrate a sense of innovation and creativity into the aged discipline-based policies as well as the social and economic strategies.

As the information age is changing the way we learn and advance, the bottom line is that we need a provocative new approach about the new century that is “déjà” here. For the new generations becoming the traditional accountants, bankers, lawyers, or engineers- or any type of traditional thinking careers (with lots to discipline) that our parents had infused into our generation’s ambition a long time ago- is not sufficient anymore to keep pace, win competition, or be innovative, as the future belongs to people with the right brain tendencies - inventors and creative thinkers.

In today’s business world and everyday life, creativity is not only about legendary creative geniuses Picasso, Michelangelo, Mozart or modern-day artists, writers and musicians, but rather about all the aspects of our knowledge age life in order to avoid falling behind.

On the right-brain side, creativity and courage is all about clear thinking and clear understanding, at heart. Saying the obvious in pretty words would be that the knowledge age is creating the world’s right-brained elite, which leads us to the final question: which part of your brain is dominant?

 To test which side of your brain is dominant, check out the below link:


Apr 20, 2010

Building relationships Vs Making Transactions

Experience, whether spiritual, physical, mental or emotional refers to a know-how or knowledge respectively. We all know it and recognize it, especially if you are a human resources specialist, where “experience” wins it all…
Let us reside outside our personal and professional resume to reach out to a different perspective: Consumer Experience!

Introduced in 1998 by Pine and Gilmore in their 1998 Harvard Business Review art, Consumer experience is when successful businesses influence people through engaging, authentic experiences that render personal value (Pine and Gilmore 1998). From businesses end, engaging with consumers’ personal values builds relationships and as a result upgrading them from satisfied to loyal ones-customers satisfaction is essential to do business; whereas loyalty is essential to sustain profitability and growth. But what about the other end, like seriously how many times you were kept on hold or stood in the queue that led to dead ends as simple as that. But to be fair, let’s think of the times we felt like premium customers or enjoyed a 1st class engagement with organizations, therefore, meeting our expectations.

The reality is that consumer experience equals expectations, whether it is online or offline. Being a business or a consumer means that you are either creating a sustainable competitive edge or making informed choices regarding the services or brands you are consuming. Both ends strive to meet the expectations, one as a provider the other as a consumer.

Online consumer experience

As companies are increasingly engaging with consumers online, professionals are more and more thinking about how to build successful online consumer experiences through social media marketing campaigns.

In a more interactive and dynamic digital world, the equation would be as follows: organizations and their need to embrace the “Web 2.0” dynamic tools and adapt to the powerful impact of the social media landscape to generate sales or to build successful consumer experiences.

More and more, marketing managers need to shepherd Web 2.0 strategies and techniques as part of their marketing plans, simply because consumers are going online so needless to say that businesses need to get out there utilize those powerful tools and create the “Buzz”.

When we discuss online consumer experience provided by businesses through social networking, it is of importance to keep in mind that it helps striving organizations increase their sales opportunities, build successful relationships with their networks’ followers and members AKA consumers.

Well it all comes down to this: Living in the information age and having the skill and knowledge to interact with “others” through means of "digital" tools, means that to target digital citizens living in a cyber world businesses need to use online communities such as social networking sites, blogs and any other online user generated media for marketing and building successful experiences for their “followers” .

This hinders social media marketing as a tool to build relations ships with prospects. In other words, social media marketing is all about having conversations regarding consumers’ expectations, adding more value to the brand, announcing new offers, ultimately generating leads and building relationships.

BUT, is this entire “buzz” about the social media marketing worth companies efforts?
For companies it might be about answering the following:

1- Are your targeted customers online? If yes, do their online experiences have anything to do with what you’re promoting?

2- Building relationships with you “Followers & Members” is great, but what does really influence them to do the transactions?

From a marketing perspective, companies should provide successful customers experiences whether online or offline. Needless to say that building relationships with online customers can be of great benefit to businesses, giving them an insight into their customers’ trends and expectations.
Simply speaking, any business jumping into the social media marketing channels need to have a clear vision and strategy on how to engage is their “Followers & Members”. Because leveraging communication channels is something and making the transactions is another.

BUT, how efficient would all this be, in terms of generating revenues and direct business value?

Oct 13, 2009

“Sustain - ability”

"Sustainability” perhaps the most abused word over various time periods (Latin Sustineo), that can be applied to almost every facet of life from economy, environment to society.

In society, sustainable development is to utilize resources to answer human needs sufficient not only for present generations but also for future ones.
In environment, sustainability is when natural resources are used up slower than it can be replenished.

In economy, more precise in business, sustainability focuses on the proactive approach that ensures the continuity of the organization by optimizing its resources while not compromising profitability.

“All philosophy lies in two words, sustain and abstain” Epictetus, a Greek Stoic philosopher

Furtherance of the above definitions, sustainability is a quite fascinating concept that touches every aspect of our human nature, our ambition, our beliefs and principles, emotions and our very existence.

As a matter of fact, we instill “sustainability” into our life planning as we grow. Indeed, almost all human beings are driven by the philosophy of “sustainability” to sustain their well being, progress, relationships and success.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning” Benjamin Franklin

To be able to succeed in business/ work one should be driven by vision, values and even a fundamental shift in thinking. In other words: Change and forward thinking!

But isn’t it the same values and thinking that sustain our human-unity as individuals and groups. Seriously, how many “inflexible” individuals ended up with frustration and cynicism?

As people take the journey towards sustainability in their personal, social or work life and as the ability to sustain what really matters to us in the various fields grows, the question poses:

What are you sustaining?

Aug 16, 2009

The Human Algorithm

Algorithm an interesting concept indeed!

By definition, algorithm is a sequence of step-by-step procedures that would lead to an end-state.
Algorithm was derived from that Latin word algoritmi which surprisingly was the translation of the famous astronomer and mathematician Al Kharizmi.

Nowadays, an algorithm is basically an instance of logic in software coding written by developers to reach the intended "target".

But in human behavior it is far beyond than just a step-by-step procedure, but rather a clear perspective on how everything is connected to everything. Therefore, Can we really speak of people with algorithm input in their lives?

Demographically speaking scientists tried to analyze the human movements in terms of immigration through a mathematical approach. If we were to talk about the global Diaspora we would always predict that at any given time human movements were the result of our ancestors will to unearth the “ new world”, well being, survival in addition to socio-cultural, political, economic and health reasons.

Human algorithm

We are all familiar with predications, assumptions and expectations- from expecting love, justice and respect- which most of the times lead more and more people to disappointments, frustration, insecurity and doubt in terms of human relations. Seriously, how many times have you expected, assumed and predicted and then failed because simply that’s the beauty of human mind, will and courage. In my experience, it is not out of disappointment but rather for the sake of privacy, right, space, diversity and selfishness.

Will scientist discover one day that humans have some type of algorithm in their DNA that would help future generations do more predicting, assuming and expecting through a synchronized sequence of logic that would lead to the “human end-state”

Can you “algorithm” humans?

Jul 23, 2009

The End Or The Beginning?

Iwo Jima 1945------------------------Berlin 1945-----------------------

What captures your eye the most: the soldiers, the ruins, the flag or the History?

Fact: July 21, 1969 Vision: Sep 12, 1962

Fact: 40 years ago, on July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong placed his foot on the surface of the moon. He then said "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."

A moment of glory that we already know.

Before we realize the "factum" (latin fact) that can, at least in theory, be checked and either confirmed or denied, there was the vision or the desired end-point ... a vision to remind us why did we hold on in the 1st place...a vision of victory or failure... it reminds us of the need to carry on...

Sharing some of JFK's Rice Moon speech Sep. 12, 1962:
"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too"

What will your fact be?