05 Sep What’s the point?

While others are pointing fingers, we are thinking about the underlying motivations of the protests and how leaders may respond.

Malcolm Gladwell writes about the “Tipping Point,” when little things make a big difference. What are the seemingly unrelated but connected things that bring these diverse protesters together?

We have an hypothesis that there is grief – mourning the loss of all the human qualities which we gave up for a system that failed to predict and protect us – creativity, originality, diversity.

In “Only the Paranoid Survive” Andy Grove defines the “inflection point” as when maintaining the status quo will fail. (Hat Tip to Rita Gunther McGrath, “Seeing Around Corners, How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before they Happen” ) How may leaders change the status quo to preempt failure and restore resilience?

We are thinking about tools to help leaders accelerate the orchestration of the diverse assets of an organization’s stakeholders, internally and externally, and balance their interests – for shared growth and resilience.

Todays protests bring to mind scenes of Julie Taymor’s “Across the Universe,” a film inspired by Beatles music which coincides with the creative, civil rights, and anti-war movement in the 1960’s.

I particularly remember 1970, the year when innocent students were shot by the National Guard during protests at Kent State. That was the year Harry Nilsson’s whimsically satirical Musical Fable “The Point” was released.

The story is about a round-headed boy, Oblio, who lives in the Land of Point where everyone has a point, literally, on top of their head. Oblio creatively wins the national past time, Triangle Toss, with his dog Arrow on his shoulders. But competitors protested his win based on a law that required everyone to have a point. Oblio, with his conspirator Arrow, is banned to the Pointless Forest.

The moral of the story is that resilience is adaptability – being open-minded to creative alternatives to the status quo.

The status quo is organizations which reward being the same because it is efficient, predictable, and productive.

These organizations enjoy stakeholder dependence on them – habitual customers who will tolerate, leaders who are handcuffed by the same incentives as shareholders so they will put shareholder value first, independent contractors and suppliers who will lower prices and accept delayed payments, over-qualified employees who will take a lower salary to get affordable healthcare, marketing and sales 3rd parties who will over-promise to defy declining response rates and meet “KPI’s.”

Our thesis is that exploiting these relationships has weakened the resilience of stakeholder sentiments towards the organization. Customers, leaders, partners, and employees who feel exploited, avoid risking more time and money. Some organizations may be cursed to go out of business. What goes around comes around, for worse . . . or for the better?

Is our thesis accurate? Help us measure ecosystem resilience, by sharing your sentiments of organizations you’ve worked with, anonymously, in our short Ecosystem Resilience Survey

If you are a leader who, like Andy Grove, is paranoid and sees this as an inflection point to act upon, but needs metrics and tools to accelerate progress, contact us and join a conversation that starts with these questions –

How do we define success?

How do we forecast the resilience of the organization’s stakeholder ecosystem?

How do we collaborate with diverse stakeholders productively?