'Great Minds Create Great Solutions' - Part One

Insight: Leaders need to work with multiple perspectives - not just from their own.

Whether they be entrepreneurs driven by their own vision in start-ups or directors holding multiple directorships in publicly-held companies through their 'old boy' networks, one of the major problems in many organizations is that many decision makers believe themselves to be exceptions to the norm. These people may, and often do, assume that their exceptionality extends to their own minds - in other words they believe they are smarter overall than those lower in any organizational hierarchy. While it may be true that some of them hold superior knowledge and expertise in some fields of endeavor, it is unlikely to be true that these same people hold a universally superior knowledge and expertise in a world that is more diverse and interconnected than at any other time in history.

If leadership is 'creating the conditions for solving problems' - one of many definitions of leadership - then the ability to see, perceive and work with multiple perspectives is a cast-iron bottom line requirement for any leader today, and will be even more so in the future.

Measuring Multiple Perspectives to Create Great Corporate Architecture

Human beings - who are also employees, partners, stakeholders, etc. - are complex and capable of focusing on multiple perspectives at the same time. Yet in business, they are almost always defined by a single focus - their job description within the mission of the organization.

Our decades-long research highlights the short-comings of this management focus and provides evidence-based insights to understand easily the values systems of individuals. The data shows how these changing values sets are identified into three different values systems (the Maslow Groups) and measured in 108 different ways.

The Contour Maps (click the visualisation links) illustrate the weight given by each of the three Maslow Groups to 108 different factors that guide their perceptions of themselves and the world around them - the basis of the mental models that drive the way they select and understand communications from others, and to select the decisions they make and the way they themselves communicate to others.

Through understanding this empirical evidence, which can be gathered within any organization, any leader or manager can grow from good to great.

In truth, the great leader, as opposed to the good leader, sets the conditions for others to become great through the creation of a values system driven corporate architecture. Corporate architecture is the structure of the formal lines for reporting and feedback that drives diversified modern organizations.

Creating or facilitating, and encouraging processes that acknowledge all three motivating forces within the corporate architecture is an over-riding necessity for leaders. Greatness is achieved by multiple minds working together to create great solutions.

The modern leader's 'real' job is to help build organizations where great ideas are turned into great innovative solutions - the key to sustainable development in competitive and turbulent environments.

The job of the leader, who may the CEO, but can equally be an inspired director or senior manager, is to move a robust idea into an innovation, within the corporate architecture, 'the way things are done here'; and eventually turn that into a value creating proposition or work product.

CDSM's research shows that new, additional human needs become active once simple human needs are satisfied within the workplace - simple needs like:

  • providing a safe place to work.
  • security in the expectancy of income.
  • a sense of being recognized by peers and authorities, etc

All organizational architecture facilitates or hinders acceptance or rejection of great ideas from great minds. Organizational architectures that do not acknowledged one or other of the Maslow Groups are unlikely likely to be able to sustainably develop new products or services.

Our experience, with multiple companies, is:

  • Pioneer skewed organizations are usually good at coming up with new ideas - but not as good at developing ideas into products or services.
  • Prospector skewed organizations are great at delivery of products and services but not particularly innovative.
  • Settler driven organizations survive in turbulent environments through a completely different dynamic - neither particularly good in creating innovations (disrupting the market) or providing superior customer service - they perform what they do in a steady and dependable manner, they say what they do and do what they say.

This means that it is possible that robust ideas, generated from multiple perspectives, can also be stymied by organizational architecture that fails to acknowledge the values of their people and consequently the real culture of the organization.

Note: Real culture is defined as the combination of values orientations of individuals involved in the organization and the degree of healthy alignment they have with the stated values and working practices within the corporate architecture.

Great leaders make sure their organizations meet the demands of the three driving forces among their staff and build on these drives to create sustainable new product development, superior client service and a bedrock of operational excellence that ensures continuity of supply - each a function of a different set of values.

The business and social environment has always been turbulent, but with emergent social values sets, like the Pioneers, new dynamics have been introduced that had far less impact at earlier times in the history of the market and the companies within it. This is commonly referred to as disruption - the established ways of delivering value to customers and clients is or has changed. We will address this more fully in other articles.

For right now, it is more important than ever to create an architecture that combines the strengths of the three Maslow Groups within any organization.

CDSM can provide evidence-based research that provides:

  • the Pioneers with a rich source of new ideas for thinking.
  • the Prospectors with a process that takes the new ideas and turns them into products and services; and a system that creates a great channel for the distribution of innovations and finally.
  • the Settlers with a system based on consistent operational goals to support the needs of their internal partners, the Pioneers and Prospectors.

In the second article of this series, we will look at a very specific and crucial part of corporate architecture that can create great ideas and then kill them off before they turn into great products or services. If the values-based architecture is functioning, the speed of the innovations will be outstanding. If it mis-aligned or misunderstood, there will not only be suboptimal development but also a source of continuous friction that can ultimately lead to a dysfunctional corporate culture and chronic economic underperformance.

Cultural Dynamics Strategy & Marketing Ltd.          email: mail@cultdyn.co.uk          tel: +44 (0)208 744 2546