Back to Blog
Provocation, as I heard from a Rotary Club member after my presentation, was something very negative to him. He was fed up by the polarization in our politics and culture, those that always demanding something and always looking for ways to tell someone should reform or else global destruction is at hand, instead of just aiming for common good.
While I recognize the current woke and cancel culture climate which we operate, I digress that positive provocation is more about not pushing, but encouraging, not forcing someone to change their views even with the word Provocateur or Provocation. Provocation means you're not settled with the status quo, however long it has served your purpose. It's always for positive growth, more relevance for the upliftment of all. It's about challenging norms that are no longer useful, thus, we can take some lessons learned from others, and adapt accordingly.
The woke culture of today denigrates everyone who is not in conformity, kills dissension and creative expression, and polices everyone's thoughts and feelings, making one feel ashamed and guilty of one's roots and privileges. Hitler's campaign was successful because it tackled the identity of German culture and ascribed a higher sense of importance over other races, ethnicities, and identities and loyalties of the German people.
Positive provocation is an antidote to the complacency in many organized systems around the world. Innovation, as Schumpeter defined is about 'creative destruction.' Taken in extreme literal way robs it of its substance. Innovation is doing and making things differently, whether it's a product, service, system, network, or process.
Positive provocation in the world of charity, development, humanitarian, and philanthropy requires a healthy dose of passion, purpose, provision, practice, and the right paradigm (5Ps). That to me is the philosophy of being a provocateur or a positive instigator.
Back to Blog
I have always tried to champion taking a closer look at many definitions we find our ourselves and our organizations in constant encounter. As a rule, as a leader, define this very well internally, because the danger lies in the unexamined, ill-suited paradigms like oversized coats that do not fit well with perceived reality.
Disruption- what does disruption mean to your social business, on-purpose organization, or cause-based advocacy?
Innovation- what does innovation look like, feel like at your level of operation?
Effectiveness- what drives effectiveness? is this a long-term purposive aim or an operational value?
Impact- whose impact are we talking about here? do they know that you're contributing to that pie? is this measured across the organization?
Sustainability- what sustainability lens do you subscribe to? are your actions guided by global, local, and community goals?
Success- what success brings about? is this a desirable path or a mini-breakthroughs would be enough?
Seek out clarity and intentional discussion on these issues on a regular basis. Meanings change as people change and institutions grow. Your past reviews may not hold more weight now than 5 years ago. It could look very different as you move forward with your short-term plans.
Back to Blog
Today, I harvested 3 tomatoes from my pots. With lots of sunshine, lots of rain for August, and constant watering in-between, the plants are growing like a weed. Two weeks ago, we raided the Saskatoon berry bush in our yard. We can easily fill 5 gallons of bucket in one go. I have nothing to complain.
Anything that you focus on, magnifies in importance.
If you give attention to items that are irrelevant, your effort and the time you put in diminish in value.
If these are your priorities, the outcomes will be highly satisfying.
If you focus on the negative aspect, you will easily get discouraged and frustrated.
But if you focus on things that are working well, the protective factors, know that it will generate more positive things in return.
In business, in organizations, and in life, this principle holds true. You are perfectly capable of focusing on the good, the virtuous, admirable, in others and thing around you.
Make it habit.
Back to Blog
We all know that success doesn't come from improving your weakness but by working on your strengths.
Your organization should know exactly where you're good at, where you're mediocre at, and where you are failing miserably.
As mission-based, mandate-driven organizations, your whole DNA is predisposed towards your mission, supported by your values systems. This should be immune to the latest fads, trends, dogmas, and presentism.
I have known an organization who started working on many areas in their programming apart from their core service: climate mitigation, disaster risks reduction, violence against women, microfinance, sustainable livelihoods, forestry, fair trade ventures, among other things. They found out that none of these make sense if their core service needs are not fully met. In the end, they focused on what they're good at and their main reason for being: poverty reduction and education for women and girls.
Do not allow other people to tell you what to do, simply because the rest of your peers started doing it. Simply put, if knitting is your thing, stay knitting happy!
Back to Blog
To continue on the "big idea" discussion....
Big ideas generated from design schools and labs are great. They're ideas.
Everything we have right now, these tangibles were products of someone's imagination.
Some are dreamers, some are designers, some are investors of dreams, some are implementors. Some are borrowers, refiners, and even auditors of dreams and ideas.
From conceiving to implementing, many processes and actors will be needed.
Which one are you? What position will you take in this continuum? Where is your default position?
Back to Blog
I have been receiving requests for partnership and as always, I ask: "Where's the beef?"
Collaboration for on-purpose organizations takes more than you and the other party. Because you're in the business of purpose, your metrics are totally different. You can enlarge the pie for the sector if it becomes a system-generating activity than just for mere propagation of your programs, projects, or products. In a systems- approach to collaboration, 1+5 is not 6 but 60. To leverage the vast benefits of collaboration with the eye to a larger social good is really about:
1) Showing others (your peers, your stakeholders, your audience/customers, and policy-makers) the way towards better practices, mindsets, and tools for success;
2) Benefiting the ecosystem where you operate, the collaboration has public value and could be supported at scale;
3) Creating innovation at a smaller scale than can be replicated with enough infrastructure and technology and leveraged outcomes;
4) Doing the 'impossible' in the sector by having the 'no-regrets policy.'
Do you see collaboration as a means to pursue your strategic ends as an organization? Or there is more to it than what gets approved in the annual cycle of budgets and operational plans? If yes, to collaboration, when the benefits outweigh the risks and challenges, why not get the biggest sectoral obstacle and induce solutions through a collaborative arrangement where all the actors can be involved.
The question then on 'where's the beef?' becomes moot and academic.
Back to Blog
Are you a bricoleur or a planner?
Do you look at your fridge and make do with what you have or do you list down what you don't have and have a trip to the grocery?
Do you look at what's already working in your organization and build from your bench strength or you're always looking for some best practice out there and apply it across the board?
Do you have a tendency to conform to the standards of 'doing things right' or your organization create your own good practice consciously?
In resource-scarce and start-from-scratch organizations, bricolage is not just pragmatic but it helps managers and leaders get on with their agenda. They shun the demand to be 'follow the dream' with more inputs, but understand that their paths can lead them to second-best options.
In a perfect environment, the best planners win. In a non-perfect world, the bricoleurs and improvisers get things done and accumulate rapid success with less. Talent, creativity, and improvisation are great combinations in times of crisis and ambiguities.
Know yourself and the connections, networks, knowledge, and resources that you have at your disposal.
Dig in deep and marvel at what you can achieve, now.
Back to Blog
The Gloomy Facts in Canada:
1M job losses in March.
2M job losses in April.
More facts to come as we learn more about the state of the economy in the new few months. This the new volatile world.
With these sordid facts, we can hypothesize the following scenarios:
Some businesses and organizations will not survive. This is a fact. Take the case of the Army & Navy.
Some businesses and organizations are still on stabilization and will do a 'wait-and-see" until this is completely over. This is a sad fact when they can start looking up. They are missing a lot of opportunities.
Some businesses and organizations in certain industries are making a killing. They are immune or some are more in demand in this time. What does it say about that-there are inequalities of impacts and unexpected opportunities for some! That is a fact too.
Some businesses and organizations are hell-bent on maximizing this new environment and are up re-rigging continuously until they find the right balance between what works now and what will work in the new future. This is the new fact.
Where are you in this spectrum?
Are you in the first, second, third, or fourth group?
Your current responses dictate your future. Your past successes do not translate to your future success.
Talk to me if you want to be in the fourth group.
Back to Blog
We live in an age where there is an oversupply of choices and options.
I remembered, I was two or three, when we only had 2 channels in our black and white television set which was given away by a generous relative. Those days when only a few people in the community can afford to own a set, the whole community will gather to watch whatever show it had on. It was fun, having all your neighbors in one room, all glued to the tube. Those were the days.
Now, we have hundreds of channels to choose from cable and over the video streaming, there are hundreds of shows to watch. There are also pay-per-view channels to choose from and of course, the extinct DVD/CD watching, which became a staple in 90s and early 2000s.
How is this oversupply of choices make for decision-making?
We become paralyzed, unable to make the right choice.
We have to conduct research to suit our 'unique' situation and preferences, and most of the time, postpone making a decision.
When the need to become more informed is a prerequisite, it has become too much of a burden to even do it.
Most of the time, we listen and rely on the most popular feedback or comment about the product or service from friends and people we trust.
This has not changed although, there are more creative and insidious ways than ever before to promote and spread buzz around. There is a store in our area that says 'closing sale' for few consecutive years now. They haven't closed ever.
This paralysis analysis over products and services will continue because we will have more choices for some things and less for some things in the future. That distinction is something that we need to grapple on.
At the microcosm of the decision-making, here are some ways to stamp out the paralysis analysis:
1. Know the 'musts' and be open to 'preferences.'
There are certain things you can't live without and there are certain things your spouse/children or relatives or friends would prefer more than you do. You can live with the latter.
2. Know the real need it is trying to resolve.
The seller will sell you all kinds of features but is it actually resolving the need, replacing the old, and giving you a new framework to live with?
3. Investigate but keep an open mind.
There are tons of fake news and comments about products and services. 1/2 of the people will say it is good and half will say don't even go there. But it is up to you to you know what you don't know and try it before you can make an honest judgement.
How are you dealing with too many choices and considerations? Share your thoughts here.
Back to Blog
There are many approaches and methods that one can use to deal with a management issue. Not all of them, though can get you directly to the solution.
Some are too cumbersome, you don't even want to embark on the program. Even for the personal empowerment solutions, you wonder if the nine steps towards debt-free lifestyle can make you even broke!
That nine steps or twelve stages will not get you closer to your destination unless you break it down and only use what is pragmatic for your situation.
Blindly following the prescribed actions without considering if it is appropriate, value-adding, and practically easy to execute is wasting precious time and effort.
Do the needful-get a big cauldron and mix them all.
1. What gets traction, has long-term promise & viability, and resonates well with the culture and direction of your organization?
2. Aside from costs, what time commitment and effort are involved?
3. Who is championing this and will ensure that things get done properly?
If you find it difficult answering these questions, then you have yet to learn about the proposed solution and get your head down to work.
Look for evergreen principles and eschew the fads and newer models.
In five years, these will fade and you will be surprised Drucker's ideas are as relevant as fifty years ago!