Monthly Archives: February 2011

Yrittäjä, riko sääntö ja ota riski

Vertti Kiven motto muistikirjani sivulla @ Pafos 2010

 

Yrittäjä ja sisutusarkkitehti Vertti Kivi pokkasi tammikuussa Vuoden Sisustusarkkitehti 2011 -palkinnon. Minulla oli ilo viettää kokonainen viikko Vertin seurassa Esa Saarisen Pafos-seminaarissa. Vertti jakoi viikon aikana monia hyviä ajatuksia ja pyysin häntä kirjoittamaan seminaarivihkooni yhden niistä, hän kirjoitti siihen seuraavat mielenpainuvat sanat:

Siellä missä sääntö huomataan – se rikotaan
Siellä missä riski havaitaan – se otetaan

Tämä ajatukset liikkeelle laittava lausepari on Vertin suunnittelutoimiston motto. Uuden suunnittelussa tarvitaan näkemystä, mutta myös uskallusta ja innostusta. En ihmettele, että mies palkittiin – mainiota ajatuksia päänsä pullollaan. Vertti on harmissaan siitä, että liian moni toimisto muistuttaa peruskoulun ruokalaa, eli ”linoa lattiaan ja loisteputket kattoon”, kuten hän Talouselämän (3/2011) jutussa lausuu. ”Epämiellyttävään tilaan meneminen vaikuttaa ajatuksiin uskomattoman paljon. Tila virittää ihmiset”.  En voisi olla enempää samaa mieltä!

En kuitenkaan kirjoita nyt sisustamisesta (enpä siitä juuri mitään tiedäkään), vaan jäin miettimään Vertin mottoa ja suunnitteluideologiaa. En voi olla vertaamatta sitä startup-yrittäjän toimintaan: Säännöt ja riskit, miten ne kohtaa ja miten niihin asennoituu.

On paljon asioita, joissa sääntöjä tarvitaan. Mutta on myös sääntöjä, jotka aivan suotta rajoittavat ajatteluamme. Nämä, usein kirjoittamattomat, säännöt ohjaavat toimintaamme. Esimerkkinä vaikkapa TEKESin, rahoittajien ja muiden yrittäjille osviittaa antavien hyvät, keskinkertaiset tai huonot neuvot sekä ’Näin-meillä-on-aina-tehty’ -koulukunnan jumiutunut gramofoni. Jälkimmäisen edustajia löytyy sekä yrittäjäpiireistä, mediasta että viranomaisista.

Olen innokkaasti tutkinut yrittäjien menestystarinoita (sain hiljattain luettua opukset Rework ja Behind the Cloud). Niitä lukiessa pidin mielessä, että osa menestystarinoista on syntynyt erilaisessa markkinatilanteessa, ja siksi eivät ole suoraan sovellettavissa. Samasta syystä olemme turhaan toistelleet mantraa “uusinokia”. Silti olen saanut kirjoista monia ajatuksia pohdittavaksi ja yrittäjäkollegoiden kanssa jaettavaksi. Selkeitä, useampia toimijoita yhdistäviä sääntöjä on vaikea löytää.

Yksi selkeä “sääntö” tai pikemminkin ominaisuus löytyy kuitenkin lähes aina: korkea riskinottokyky, uskallus sekä palava innostus ja intohimo omaa ideaa kohtaan. Kuvaavaa on määrätietoinen eteneminen visiota kohti, sinnikkyys ja vahva tahtotila. Usein halutaan muuttaa maailmaa.

Intohimoa löytyy kotimaastakin: haluan mainita esimerkkinä ystäväni Janne Ruohiston, jonka yritys haluaa muuttaa tapaa, jolla osaamista haetaan, jaetaan ja löydetään yli organisaatiorajojen. Ja tietty oma yritykseni: haluamme muuttaa tapaa, jolla yritysten välillä sovitaan. Ei ihan helppoja nakkeja kohderyhmissä, joilla on pitkät traditiot, paljon sääntöjä ja joissa muutos on iso peikko.

Startup-yrittäjyys on sellaisenaan jo melkoista riskinottoa verrattuna kuukausiliksalla pakertavaan yrityksen työntekijään, virkamiehestä puhumattakaan. Uskon kuitenkin, että työn – ja erityisesti tietotyön saralla – käynnissä oleva voimakas muutos tekee tulevaisuudessa kaikista työntekijöistä yrittäjiä. Eli yrityksen sisälläkin on jatkossa jokaisen toimittava yrittäjän lailla. Olen miettinyt tätä aihetta paljon ja bloggaan tästä lähiaikoina.

Ei ole uutinen, että riskit kuuluvat yritystoimintaan. Käynnissä oleva yritysympäristön muutos tuo kuitenkin aivan uudenlaisia tilanteita ja niihin liittyviä riskejä. Sopivasti riskejä ottamalla jokaisella startup-yrittäjäkollegallani on mahdollisuus löytää jotakin, johon muut eivät ole huomanneet tarttua ja luoda uutta. Lisäboostia tähän tulee uudenlaisesta yrittäjäyhteistyöstä sosiaalisen median mahdollistama.

Toisinaan tulee stipluja, mutta useimmiten niistä selvää ehjin nahoin, ja voi jatkaa uutta oppineena – ja ennen kaikkea jostakin poisoppineena!

Taidanpa laittaa Vertin moton itselleni johonkin sopivaan paikkaan näkyville, muistuttamaan ja innostamaan.

PS. Omistan tämän kirjoituksen syntymäpäiväsankarille, rakkaalle ystäväyrittäjälle Eero Leppäselle!

Advertisements

Social Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, ready for the Social Business?

Supertramp album from 1975 - Photo by me

I recently found my old thesis, and yes, some of its topics and content are (still) relevant, as this one: the evolution of organization and work structures. The very same topic Esko Kilpi is researching. The discussion in my old thesis and Esko’s blog posts inspire me to learn more about this topic.

One chapter in my thesis starts with a quote by Michael Porter:

“Industries are profitable not because they are sexy or high tech; they are profitable only if their structures are attractive.”

Well put. Many industries and organizations are trying to score right under the constant change requiring new type of more adaptable structures. The development has been very rapid and raises increased demand for choice, chance, change and flexibility.

A number of concepts have been proposed and developed over the years. Earlier we spoke about Virtual Organizations, and now about Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business.

The evolution of organization and the work structures has been fascinating. More and more of our core business processes are cross-functional; and cutting company borders. And we all have seen that it can open up for aggressiveness and resistance to change.

If you put fences around people you get sheep

This quote above by William L. McKnight suits well for many organizations. Are we social wolfs in sheep’s clothing? The silo-like organization cannot act any better than a flock of sheep, and the genuine value creation requires a larger ecosystem. Esko Kilpi writes beautifully about this in his post “From systems to ecosystems”:

“Minimal hierarchy, organizational diversity and responsiveness characterize ecosystems. Ecosystems are a response to the increasing complexity of strategic horizons and short half-life of designs. To cope with the uncertainties firms see themselves and the world around them as ecosystems, where every unit, every node in the network, should engage with learning. Instead of centralized design and planning, the activities of exploration are the responsibility of the whole network. Because of greater complexity, coordination and communication cannot be planned in advance, controlled or managed hierarchically.

Authority needs to be distributed; it is no longer delegated vertically but emerges horizontally in the networked ecosystem. Under distributed authority work teams and knowledge workers need to be accountable to other work teams and other knowledge workers instead of a single boss. You need to have many “bosses”. Success at ecosystems depends on learning by mutual accountability and responsiveness. This is much more than matrix organizations or internal markets.”

He ends his post with wise words:  “Value creation cannot be understood as industrial systems any more, but as continuously developing, complex, responsive ecosystems of connected people.” I warmly recommend you read the entire post.

This discussion also reminds me of old article of Normann and Ramírez (From Value Chain to Value Constellation: Designing Interactive Strategy, Harvard Business Review, 1993). They stated that organizations that are going to survive in the changing environment are:

“[…] those looking beyond their immediate boundaries to the social and business systems in which they are enmeshed and discover new ways to reconfigure those systems in order to reinvent value for their customers.”

And this article is 18 years old.

Crisis? What Crisis?

Yes, it is a name of an excellent album by progressive rock band Supertramp, but also a question Larry E. Greiner raises up. Related to the issues described above I’ll find Greiner’s model of organizational growth and development very interesting. The model describes the way organizations change over time and how these changes can shape not only organizational structures but also management practices.

His model consists of five development phases, which are made of two stages; evolution and revolution. What he means is that each evolution stage causes its own revolution (crisis). The original phases and the following crisis are:

  1. Phase of evolutionary creativity followed by leadership crisis;
  2. Phase of directed evolutionary growth followed by an autonomy crisis;
  3. Phase of evolutionary growth through delegation followed by a control crisis;
  4. Phase of evolutionary growth through coordination followed by a crisis in bureaucracy; and
  5. Phase of evolutionary growth through collaboration followed by another crisis of unknown origin.

In 1998 Greiner added a 6th phase into his model: growth through extra-organizational solutions. It suggests that outsourcing, mergers, networks and other solutions involving other companies come into the picture.

However, the Greiner model emphasizes the age and size of the organization and the growth rate of the industry – but now we have a special addition to that, the paradigm change in the way we communicate.

Do you have the personality structure for the social business?

Associated with the fifth phase of collaboration Greiner speculated that the following crisis could be around the psychological saturation of the employees. He says:

“Intensive teamwork can dissipate employee efforts on the other hand, while on the other some may find the new behavioral concepts and techniques incompatible with their personality structure”.

What an interesting point of view! Think about the development and the challenges many Enterprise 2.0/Social Business initiatives are facing. Indeed, evolution and revolution on-going: on the system, ecosystem, and the personal level. Could we apply Greiner’s phases to the adoption of the Enterprise 2.0/Social Business?

Ha, I think my personality structure is made for social business. How about yours?

PS. For my Finnish readers, another natural association from Greiner’s model & Supertramp is, of course, Ismo Alanko’s song “Kriisistä kriisiin” (a Finnish song called From crisis to crisis).



I am a Knowledge Worker and a Serendipity Hippie

My Serendipity Hippie T-shirt! | Copyright Serendipiteettihipit 2010

 

Last weekend I attended Professor Esa Saarinen’s seminar, and as always I was touched and inspired by his thinking. Few days earlier futurist Jarno M. Koponen wrote a beautiful blog post about creative future thinking. Both of these gentlemen touched on a question I’ve been thinking lately:

How to be creative in a hectic entrepreneur/knowledge worker life?

I’ve earlier blogged about Esa Saarinen’s theory of Systems Intelligence and the two thinking systems that we all have: the automatic, associative, and intuitive, and rational, systematical one. This theory of Saarinen’s emphasizes how we often have a surprisingly narrow sense of ourselves – meaning that we seldom utilize our associative, intuitive System 1 in our work life, instead we are blocking it by System 2 kind of rational thinking.

Futurist and designer Jarno M. Koponen brought up an interesting topic in his Futureful blog: the role of reading and writing in a creative process and future thinking. For him, written words lead to constructive reflection and reflection leads to action. Further he describes how everyone’s creativity is different, how we all have our own ways of nourishing our creative thinking.

Touché! These two gentlemen made me look closer at my mental habits: how do I approach challenges and act in various business situations.

I recognize the need to mix the associative and intuitive with the Rational Riitta. As a knowledge worker I need to be more open and creative in order to find solutions that are not the obvious ones. One of my methods is to imagine the present situation couple of years ahead from now. Often this opens up a couple of new doors for thoughts.

Other means I often turn to are writing (not always publicly as now), reading (The Power of Pull is waiting for me), mindmapping, enjoying visual beauty in form of photographs and movies from different decades, and listening to the music. I am letting System 1 to have a proper leg room during the flight. There’s one more thing empowering me: positivity.

The Power of Positivity

Esa Saarinen discusses positivity in a wonderfully inspiring way. Most of us easily understand the value of the positive emotions; still we systematically understate the long term effect of positivity. This is what Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, Saarinen’s research partner, claims. Similarly to Saarinen’s thoughts, Fredrickson says: we can expand our awareness, by taking in from all of our senses. Fredrickson’s urges us to invest in things that bring us positive emotions; music, dance, books, walk in the woods, a hobby you love.

Fredrickson also speaks about 3-to-1 tipping point ratio meaning that we need three positive emotions to lift us up for every negative emotion that drags us down. Further she states “in the long term, our positive emotions broaden and build, and therefore result in more resilience and life satisfaction.” If you became curious, read more about Fredrickson’s thoughts in her research paper “The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotion” (pdf).

I found this lovely video (6 min) by Barbara Fredrickson, warmly recommended:

My favorite part of the video is her recommendation: create the mindset of positivity by being open, appreciative, curious, kind, and most of all, real. Very beautiful and doable!

A Serendipity Hippie

Inspired by these ideas I recently named a group of my friends, including myself, as ‘Serendipity Hippies’. I think the name describes quite well the attitude and spirit I wish to nurture.  As a startup entrepreneur and a knowledge worker I need to be a Serendipity Hippie too – I need to keep my both ‘systems’ active, let intuition, interaction and positive emotions affect my actions and decisions, which in turn hopefully nourishes my creativity, and also help me to develop ‘Hagelian’ trust-based relationships.

Via all these means and with help of my social (media) interactions I wish to give creativity and serendipity a chance, every day.

Finally, I would like to share a story Barbara Fredrickson told her audience during one of her lectures:

“One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Negativity. It’s anger, sadness, stress, contempt, disgust, fear, embarrassment, guilt, shame, and hate. The other is Positivity. It’s joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and above all, love.’ The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’ The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed’.”

We can become better versions of ourselves.


%d bloggers like this: