I AM A (suffering) NOKIA FAN!!! Increasingly felt like “the last of the Mohicans” when our 11 years old, Thaïs, told me: “Pai, I bought an I-Phone, as one of their applets emits a powerful sound based repellent against mosquitoes…”
Against that, I see in Friday’s Financial Times that my favourite brand seems to have chosen defensive strategies (sue Apple for patents infringement and another regorganization). What could be an alternative?
In 1998, Martin Seligman, President of the American Psychological Association, threw the challenge to his fellow psychologists: to seek to understand what made some people happy and blossoming in life. Positive Psychology has been “booming” since. The first interesting conclusions of their research showed that those who are successful and happy on a sustainable basis have two things in common: A strong sense of Purpose and a feeling that they can influence their environment.
So what for our businesses? Anyone who knows for example the rich Finnish culture has heard about “Sisu”, a word meaning something like resilience and perseverance. Finnish people have consistently demonstrated “Sisu” during their history when their independence was at stake (a very strong Purpose) and won their freedom, each time against all odds, the last when they twice pushed the soviets out of their territory during WWII.
When crisis pops-up (or victory as well by the way), the temptation is high for us, leaders to go and micro-manage. Roles, rules & procedures take over from entrepreneurship and creativity to become… the purpose. This alienates the energy and passion our people need to win their battle against the circumstances. For example, Apple has excelled at understanding the new “Open Source Economy”, working around an amazing business model where thousands of geeks work for free (until hopefully cashing on commissions) to propose amazing applets which are far more important than the relatively inferior hardware… Apple has managed to create a strong sense of purpose, followership and loyalty amongst the “Geeks & Other Nerds Community” who bring it their best, creative energy, particularly during week-ends…
Feeling that one can influence their environment: When a company grows big, here as well the risk is that it becomes sclerosed in hierarchy, in “seniority is superiority”. People feel that the destiny of their company is not in their hands anymore and that “those at the top should do something” as they feel totally helpless and disempowered. Let us take a look at the many signals in our own organizations which could indicate that our people are in the “doom circle” rather than feeling truly in charge of their destiny. The strength of a Jørgen Vig Knudstorp in his “salvation of LEGO” has been to make people feel that LEGO’s survival was in their hands: his messages were simple and clear, people were given time and space to “own” the new strategy, rules and procedures were kept to a bare minimum, energy was unleashed to a maximum…
I am inviting you all to explore how you create a strong sense of Purpose in your organization and how you ensure that your people feel that they can influence its destiny. At the moment of closing, the wise words of G.B. Shaw strongly resonate: “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them”… and sometimes our people need our help for that!!!
On my way to a marathon week between São-Paulo and Lyon… Have a great week all!