What´s up with water: Pouring water in your corporate strategy (XXVI). How to foster strategic agility at the corporate level
Dear adorable audience, today´s publication is lengthy, so let´s begin.
The meaning of fostering. To foster means to bring up, or to nurture. It means to cultivate or promote the development of something. Therefore, in order to become strategically dexterous, or strategically agile, this slow process requires a lengthy rehearsal of life that helps us to become mentally agile and skillful to decide properly, particularly under pressing conditions.
Reaching strategic agility is a long process. It takes a while. Strategic Agility is grounded in slowness and reflection. It requires daily activities that help us to be “on point” in each of our own personal mindset situations. We have equipped the following list of suggestions to become mentally agile when it comes to making good decisions. So here we go.
Recommendations to foster strategic agility at the corporate level.
- Learn to understand the headquarters of your thoughts. Understand how your mind works. Each member of the board of directors (BoD) has his or her unique set of acquired or trained ways to think. Each of us has to review the unique ways in which the brainstem, the pons, the reticular formation, the thalamus, the cerebellum, the limbic system, the hippocampus, the amygdalas, the hypothalamus, the cerebrum, and the cerebral hemispheres are connecting and relating to each other. All parts of our brain are organized uniquely in such a way that each of us has a unique mental house inside the head. Each human being has a different pathway in his or her mental house. Each part of his or her own brain interacts for cognition to happen over time. If we ask you how your old brain governs your most primitive human behavior, how the midbrain controls your human drives and emotions, and how your newer cerebral cortex guides the most complex thinking and feelings, and you don´t know; then we are in danger. If we ask each decision maker, how he makes sense of the reality, in terms of the left or right brain; and don´t have an answer; then we are in trouble. For example: for decades we thought that the left brain is more involved in language and logic (1). And the right brain is involved in visual patterns and spatial relationships. For example, in my personal case, that means if I paint well, then I am a right-brained person. If I write well, then I am left-brained. If I do both at the same time, then I am trying to find a balance.
- Hire a psychologist or specialist to help with how our brain is learning. At the sports level, coaches that train competitive athletes, require the help of psychologists to assist the sporty younger stars to make sense of how to discipline their minds for high performance under the pressure of competition. The athletes who win are instructed not just technically but are trained psychologically to use both sides of the brain in each situation to visualize how to become agile and concentrated on winning. The same applies to all the violinist virtuosos that we have discovered in this saga. All of them are notably good in their techniques, but what makes the difference is how they handle the graciousness of their spirit when they play in the middle of the emotion of the concert. Humans are emotionally beautiful, and learning how to put that sentiment of love into our practices comes from preparation and rehearsal, or learning about how our own brain works in the middle of our drills. Now, let´s go to our Board of Directors or business owners who decide in the middle of uncertainty. Each member of the Board of Directors (BoD) team or the decision maker at the corporate level is required to understand how his or her brain works. The framework of left/right brain distinction is overly simplistic, it only helps as a general guideline; but any psychologist of good reputation will be able to help each BoD member to identify how our cerebral lobes are functioning and absorbing the whole picture and the details, which permits very much to become strategically agile (dexterous) in situations where we are required to think with nimble and ingenious views.
- Learn the value of patience and being slow. This is so crucial for any person that belongs to a BoD or decision makers (as managers or directors) group. The capacity to stop and restrain ourselves to take the immediate trends coming from Silicon Valley or from any erudite paper is something that has been forgotten. When new technologies or new quasi-theories from paper management reviews arise, be patient. If those concepts are in the stage of the academic Babylon Tower confusion, it is advised to wait until the whole DBR testing loops are attainable in each and all the industries of our business endeavors. For example, Bitcoin should have never been released in any country, because it was not even a financial digital instrument that was regulated in the jurisdiction of the place where it operates. Look at slide number 4 above. Anything that is not regulated is something that you have to avoid or close the door immediately.
- Open your minds to surprising discovery again. At the BoD level, or in managerial-director teams, each of us has to be open to sharing how each brain is working and learning. Once all the members of the teams know the brains of each other, with the help of a psychologist; be open to being surprised. No one likes to be known at that level of resourceful transparency, but be sure that only by comprehending each other at that level, strategic agility will begin to unfold as a capability of the team. People tend to guard their personal views, and only share what is convenient, or for the approval of “yes-men or yes-woman” support of the company leader. It is not easy for us to open in a group that might use our own brain profile to be damaged or be offended in the context of competition. Particularly for employees at the top level who are constantly searching to gain the endorsement of the business owner for the bonus at the end of the year. Therefore, it is up to the real shareholders to promote an amazing respectful environment to value the variety of each of the brain structures gathered in the team.
- Avoid groupthink at the corporate level. Groupthink is the act or practice of reasoning and decision-making by a group with blind conformity to avoid critical thinking. According to the staff of Psychology Today magazine(2), “Groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs when a group of well-intentioned people makes irrational or non-optimal decisions spurred by the urge to conform or the belief that dissent is impossible. The problematic or premature consensus that is characteristic of groupthink may be fueled by a particular agenda—or it may be due to group members valuing harmony and coherence above critical thought”. The real sin of many consulting representatives that help for decision making, or by the companies´ decision makers is that they prefer to gather people around them who are similar in between, or aligned to their leader mind thought-fool cognitive processes. They avoid getting and pampering “un-fit” professionals or unsuitable external advisors for their BoD meetings. Somehow even human-resources squads are miserably forced to hire people with specific schemes or characteristics that are common to each brain appointed for the company´s interests. That is a completely wrong path to go. That is the recipe for groupthink, which most of the time creates an imbalance in decision-making, not just inside the company but in societies. The biggest corporations that are leading the world, should promote a miscellany of people with different brain structures at the top, otherwise, the type of decisions of those huge powerful authorities will affect and imbalance the whole planet. An example of this crisis is the powerful tech companies’ groupthink under GAFAM: Google (Alphabet), Apple, Facebook (Meta), Amazon, and Microsoft.
- Find, foster, and respect people that can help with a different, sometimes opposite view, before taking decisions. Eleonora Escalante Strategy has been evangelizing the importance of considering a different type of brain expert (and its respective specialization) for decision making. On a planet that has pampered technocratic brains, that are like the robots and algorithms of nowadays; it is extremely important to begin to consider other types of brains that can add some divergence: historians, psychologists, anthropologists, archeologists, sociologists, philosophers, scientists or specialists that probably are not from your business industry, academics, writers, authors of futurist fiction books, visual artists, even a prodigy director or specific musicians from a Symphonic Orchestra, neurologists, nutritionists, recycling whizzes or even a modest grand-mother or unpretentious mom. Of course, there is a risk of enlarging the team, but we consider it adequate and robust to begin to open the decisions to those who can teach us a new paroxysm that is beyond our imagination.
- If we wish to develop leadership capabilities for strategic agility, we need to be humble enough to realize that it will take time to learn them. As I have described before, one thing is to be an athlete, in which your useful reasonable life as a sports person is restrained by the physical capacity of your muscles for high-speed performance. A sports contestant knows by heart that by the age of 35, he or she must think about retirement. On the other hand, careers that depend on brain capacity development just begin at the age of 35. That means that from the Naissance up to 35 years old, our brains are in a “work-out” learning phase and under full-development and training mood. From that age (35) up to the 50s, strategic agility just begins to be incorporated because of experiences at the corporate level, and it starts to be exercised with the guidance of the elders. Maybe, i guess strategic agility starts to be observed at 55 years old on average, which explains why is so challenging to foster the minds of those who will be set up on the “spot-light to decide”.
- Include playing in your Board of Director’s activities. Talent Consultants from the main relevant houses in the world must offer accompaniment to help BoD members to re-gain likewise and enjoy the beauty of playing. Play means physically having fun with amusement outdoor games that not only build leadership capabilities but also discovery. Many leadership programs only focus on performance, team competition, and collaboration in outdoor games; but they have forgotten to include the Montessorian games of discovery and investigation. And these games are extremely relevant to keep your capacity for problem-solving and critical thinking. These games can be as straightforward as “escondelero” or “juego de escondidas” about finding something in the company or a group of companies, up to building cases to solve mysteries, and much more complex demanding findings that imply knowing about the art of management and economics.
- Turn off your Smartphone and try to use your mind instead. We invite you to turn off your Smartphone and try to remember the phone of your significant other, your kid, or your main assistant. Try to go from A to B locations without using a GPS or Google maps, or try to remember the ingredients of the recipe that you watch on YouTube. I am sure you don´t have that capacity anymore. All the information that we kept by heart in our mindsets before, we have given that power to the mobile. Begin with little tasks and shut your mobile for some hours a day, so you can start to stretch and give work to your brain again.
- Engage in activities that foster strategic agility. As a routine. At the corporate level is advisable not just to team up for learning how to be strategically sensible, how to nurture the capability for resource fluidity (in times of abundance and famine), and how to become a leader of unity. These three meta-capabilities are developed at the individual and team levels. There are several activities (out of the digital world) that keep us on-point for strategic agility: For example: organize at least a biweekly visit to walk (and gather for a picnic) at the nearest park with all the members of your team. To keep a puzzle of 3500 pieces, in which all individuals on the Board can play for at least 20 minutes every time they can. To play chess. To practice team sports. To hire a painter artist or an art-craft producer that can teach you how to paint or do artisan crafts at the corporate BoD one time per month, enjoy it in a group and then individually do your art homework at your place. There are hundreds of crafts, sculpture, and painting mediums that you can conceive, etc. Finally, we advise you to engage in a book club at your company, which means building up a reading program of at least 26 books per year (the goal is to finish a paper book of 200 pages on average in 15 days) and meet weekly to learn to dialogue in teams about the analysis of the reading. The optimum is to read one book per week. These used paper books can then be shared with another organization, and in return too; so the companies are teaching how to re-use books several times. Our next Autumn/Winter Saga of 2022 will be about how to love to read, and we are so enthusiastic about it. Stay tuned.
- Attend classical music concerts. Go to visual art exhibitions. Every time that you can and have the opportunity buy a ticket to show up in real events of classical music ensembles, orchestras, or concerts in your village or city. Try to go. Please. Don´t stay watching musical videos at home. Go to the theater or the auditorium or any venue where the musicians will play. And learn to hear them. Pick or choose an instrument at your discretion, and contemplate the art from the general to the particular, and from the detail to the big picture; trying to distinguish what is that selected instrument doing during the whole presentation. The same applies to paintings. Go and watch the artworks of any type of medium (watercolors, oils, acrylics, drawings, graphite, mixed media). Ask yourself how the painter created that final result. Analyze what is the artist trying to say to you. Enjoy the presence of the art with your eyes in galleries, museums, or any art occasion that you can. Teach your kids the importance to respect hand-made art from the infant years, you have no idea of the lovely contribution that you are coining in the brain of your kids forever.
- Pray God for wisdom and guidance. This is the most relevant of our advisory recommendations. It is imperative that you connect with the supreme love of our creation and take at least 30 minutes per day to pray, reflect or meditate. Reading the Bible is not only fundamental but also praying with your significant other and kids. Ask God about how he can open your mind for his purpose in your work, so he can show you the way to understand and tame your brain and capabilities. These are things that only God can really settle and refine.
Is strategic agility a notion that might be utilized to solve the issues of the water cycle in corporate strategy? Strategic agility means learning to foster the following brain capabilities: anticipate, experiment, distance to gain perspective, abstract, reframe, dialogue, reveal, integrate, align, care, dissent, decouple, disassemble, dissociate, switch, graft, and dissent. These capabilities are the foundation of our mindsets that can only be acquired through training during our lifetimes. Let me ask you another question: do you think this notion of strategic agility already exists in your Board of Directors team? If not do you think it will help us to solve the water cycle problems? Do we have all the facts in place to decide if strategic agility is a notion that promises to help us decide correctly when it comes to saving the water cycle?
Our next subject: Is strategic agility the right way to fix our environment? This chapter is the one in which we will connect the first 17 episodes and the conceptual notion of strategic agility.
Strategic Music Section:
Why did we choose Isabelle Faust? As any of the other virtuoso violinists we have exposed in this saga, Isabelle is also a faithful representative of “good work” with her violin. Read her biography here: http://www.nordicartistsmanagement.com/artists/isabelle-faust-violin . She plays the “Sleeping Beauty” Stradivari from 1704, which has been kindly lent to her by the L-Bank Baden-Württemberg. We chose her because of the respectful consideration that she expresses towards the source of origin of Mendelssohn’s concerto. In addition, for her grandiose respect for the director of the orchestra (Pablo Heras Casado). If you are attentive enough to the second video that we explored, the piece of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto – Symphony No. 5 & The Hebrides under the direction of Pablo Heras-Casado (June 2017). Please go back to our past episode and re-listen it again.
Isabelle comments about the importance of being humble (even as a virtuoso with more than 40 years of experience) are golden. She shows us a clever light about going back in time to the direct roots of the interpretation. She mentions to search, to explore letters, documents, and notes from violinists that worked with the composer, not just to understand the old techniques, but to recreate or at least try, and find what was the intention of the original master. Such a beautiful example for all of us who believe that the old doesn´t mean anything. On the contrary, when doing corporate strategy, all members of the BoD, managers, and decision-makers, are required many times to be meek, stop assuming modern inventions and go back to understand the source, the origin, the place, and people that caused the blessings or the troubles, otherwise, it is almost impossible to begin to develop apply strategic agility in our problem solving and critical thinking capabilities, at home, at school, in our jobs, in our arts.
Songs of today are interpreted by Leonidas Kavakos. We have chosen two versions of the same piece (a mini piece of a big Bach Concerto). This oeuvre extract is Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006: III. Gavotte en Rondeau. The first interpretation is in a “real” solo played at the Verbier Festival in 2018. The second one is a record from Sony Studio. Can you feel the difference? Enjoy!.
See you next Tuesday 16th, with the 27th episode of “What´s up with water: Pouring water into corporate strategy: Is strategic agility the right way to fix our environment?”. If everything goes well, we are scheduled to finish this current saga on Friday, 26th August 2022. Then we will enter into resting/maintenance mode for two weeks. Our Autumn-Winter saga of the year will begin on September 9th. The next saga´s name is “Loving to read as a strategist”.
Sources of Reference utilized to prepare the slides and the material above:
Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY. Nevertheless, most of the pictures, images, or videos shown on this blog are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.
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