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What´s up with water: Pouring water in your corporate strategy (XXIX). Research Agenda for the next 15 years.

Have a beautiful mid-week of August. Here we are again, in the last week of our Summer Saga of the year. Our subject for today is about drafting a first approximation about how we can continue connecting the dots between the water cycle and our corporate strategy. It has been outlined in a list of 12 aspects to consider in corporate strategic decision-making. The first 6 research aspects are of immediate application to companies or practitioners. The second 6 aspects are for scholars (academics) and particularly for strategic management researchers. Alors, let´s begin.

We are almost done.

Research agenda for the next 15 years. For practitioners:

  1. Acknowledging water. It is important to focus the attention on the study of water resources on the surface, ground, air, and oceans. Not as separate entities of management and business. Until now, it seems that the study of water is demarcated to the experts of water, and it only comes up as an agenda item when a corporation is planning to build a facility (infrastructure building or manufacturing plant, agriculture-fishery, or urban housing project). Water only comes to our timetable as another requirement when designing infrastructure. And that´s it.  At the corporate strategy level, the members of the Board of Directors (BoD), do not talk about water, maybe only when they approve the annual budget expenses of bottled water for their employees. So, to continue getting information about the water from different perspectives is a matter of constant education in our companies. We can explore topics about: water and our health, water-related disasters, changes in supply and demand of water and its consequences in the freshwater ecosystems, the ocean and climate change, the relationships between land use and the effects on the water cycle, challenges of our water cycle for the next decades, etc.
  2. Loving water. The Board of directors’ representatives is demanded to begin to love water. But for loving her, we need to know the water cycle first.  We as humans are water, so how could we dare to disrespect water if it is one of the main elements of our own life? The water cycle (and the rest of the biogeochemical planet cycles) requires to be seen as a matter of conversation at the BoDs. For example, as a kick-off initiative,  isn´t it nice to reserve 15 minutes in each Board of Directors meeting to speak about recent articles related to water, not just as an informative prelude, but also as a mini-lesson prepared by one member of the Board? Human water needs are imperative, and learning to love water from a perspective of our unity to her, demonstrates gratitude to the Creator of our Universe too.  
  3. Establishing water is a crucial matter inside the company. It is up to each Board of Directors team to procure innovation when it comes to water themes. Of course, the temptation to disembark into the inner discussions of the BoD in relation to the urgent decision-making of the company will always be privileged. But we advise appointing a “water adept” in each BoD,  a position that can rotate every certain amount of months; and make him or her accountable and responsible to find particular projects in which water could be the restoration protagonist. This “water adept” researcher, would organize activities among the BoD and employees to keep the education about water discovery topics alive during the whole year. These activities may vary from preparing a happy hour with water-related drinks, each representing a characteristic of the water cycle; reading about a specific topic of water (for example sending a URL link article for the employees to read during the week); inviting a water expert to a lecture about recent scientific advancement in relation to the water or the oceans; igniting the researcher spirit using water as a subject of investigation within the employees; planning a swimming day at a beautiful natural set-up (cascade, lake, beach, or a thermal water experience); etc.
  4. Connecting water with corporate strategy as a thinking process. For example, let´s concede that we are speaking about a top manufacturing economy that is having trouble with the pollution and depletion of water. This country has water problems because the usage of its land has been governed to become the “factory” of the world This country is suffering from dramatic troubles in its surface and groundwater reservoirs. The Board of Directors of the main manufacturing enterprises in that country, decide to include the water cycle in their decision-making as soon as possible. They decide to do it, not as a choice resort; but as a relevant topic to find solutions to pollution and depletion of their water sources, coming from the same employees of the corporations. The whole undertaking is to identify which initiatives can be done, and which further capital investments may solve the problems of water pollution and depletion through pilot projects (applying a DBR methodology). The same employees are innovators, which are allowed to use some hours per week on this water project. In teams, they invest time and resources in these projects. A methodology to select the best ones is deployed, and the one with better performing indicators is the winner. This project could then be elevated to a policy or law by the local governments (municipalities) and be replicated in other towns. The winner’s better initiative receives a prize or award that will be arranged either in terms of some percentage of taxes exemptions, subsidies, or even an economic reward for the company; meanwhile, employees are directly rewarded and involved in the entire process.   These types of initiatives are what we call “water habitat redeemers”.  
  5. Generating water habitat redeemers. As you are already well-informed, let´s try to use the term “strategic agility” for generating “water habitat redeemers”. The “water habitat redeemers” can be innovated from innumerable perspectives: from the land use of the enterprises, and also from the water-reservoirs outlooks. People (employees with the blessing of the Board of Directors and managers’ guidance) will be able to come together with multiple types of initiatives that are situated under the genre of “social-sustainable intrapreneurship with a purpose”. The “Water habitat redeemers” are infinite in number and approaches, because water is all around us, in every industry, economic sector, etc. It could happen that one of these teams may come up with an idea that will solve how to remove CO2 from the atmosphere beyond what exists now in our theoretical frameworks. Finally, a “water habitat redeemer” project can become the basis for a new company in which employees can become owners too.
  6. Supporting the mentality of Detective Poirot: The only way in which societies will be able to solve the issue of pollution and depletion of our water sources (including the whole water cycle), will come up by democratic means, not only from the scientists, or UN organizations but also from the community: from a variety of people (at the Board of Directors) and at the employee levels. Nevertheless, the corporations must be ready at the corporate top level, not only provoke the curiosity for problem-solving of water issues but also offer a certain part of their annual budget to support the employees’ investigations. All the expenses of the research, development of testing pilot schemes, and demonstration of the results of these investigations must be covered by the companies. In addition, there are certain features of academic research that employees have to study first. Be sure that the mentality of Detective Poirot (from Agatha Christie´s´books) will pay off. After some years, employees who engage in these types of initiatives will be better off in the industry, than those who decide not to do it. These people may impact not only their company but the whole industry and beyond.  

Research agenda for the next 15 years. For academics.

  1. Bringing water closer. For decades the water experts have been doing their own, publishing papers, and gathering some initiatives that have been embraced by United Nations and so on. There have been some of these endeavors which have impacted more than others. We can name at least three: the 2030 Water Resource Group, the United Nations’ multiple projects and reports; and the diligence through the WHO (World Health Organization). Of course, some water-related enterprises (particularly brewers, juice producers, and sellers of bottled water) are leading the funding of these research initiatives as donors, because they are interested in the subject. Nevertheless, as we studied in this saga, the issue of water has multiple views, and even the water specialists paid for by the beverage corporations are biased because they see the problem from their own claims. To bring water closer to other private sector entities of multiple industries is a duty of the water scholars. The same applies to bringing water closer to other faculty professors and researchers. We recommend finding recurrent events of learning in which the “water experts” can interact with strategic management professors, economists, and the rest of the teachers who need to be aware of these subjects as much as the “water experts”.
  2. Reviewing the supply chain theories to add water. Management and economics faculty professors are required to help to fix the issues of all the pieces of the value chain in all the existing industries, by providing at least theoretical alternatives or notions in which water can be repaired or saved. Meanwhile, the Porter Value Chain theory is one that has been implemented during the last 30 years, particularly in China; the way to transform the current issues that all corporations are doing to water is from the inside out. The review of each company value chain is not a game, it will require support from water scholars to identify the causes of the issues, and it will also require that faculty professors of management, begin to pour water into their course’s syllabus content.
  3. Funding the research for scholars. Each scholar or faculty professor that wishes to pour water into their models of research will require funds. Probably, most of the universities don´t have all the budget available. In consequence, we request those private or NGO donors, including those who traditionally have seen academics as a “side-dish”, to please consider opportunities to finance research in this line. The whole “competitive advantage” theories that have been implemented for decades require a transformation from the inside out; and scholars also need to get those funds, that can permit them a certain degree of autonomy and independence. These projects tend to be expensive, long, and sometimes take more than 10 to 15 years, because the restoration of our water cycle components, is not renewed automatically. Many of these projects start with the glacier that is 5 countries far from the country of our attention, and it ends in the delta of the river through the ocean, 4 countries ahead. Ocean projects will require massive demanding funds because the ocean can´t be seen as a sum of tiny pieces but in the context of the ocean currents, climate change, solar radiation, weather patterns, glaciers devastation, etc.
  4. Creating multidisciplinary international teams for water research. As much as water is constantly flowing, researchers require to team up with multidisciplinary experts of several levels of subjects. More and more, for example, one educator teaching about business models in Sri Lanka will require the input of several other professionals which will affect his class content. Water experts are one of these professionals. But we foresee historians, archaeologists, biologists, engineers, supply chain manufacturing specialists, energy scientists, etc. Gradually our courses of management won´t be any more as these have been taught.
  5. Shaking the corporate strategy models of agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas, manufacturing, transportation, real estate, construction, plastics, and any water-intensive industry. Each and all the industries that you can imagine are connected to water. But the sectors that have more impact on depletion and pollution of water are named above. These are the first industries that will require to move ahead with the transformation of their corporate strategies, with the help of multidisciplinary educators, researchers, employees, and their communities.
  6. Stopping to blame demographics “only”. For years we have heard that the planet’s resources are a demographic problem. That is not true. We all have a span of life that may last 80 years on average, and it can extend more if you live in the Blue Zones of longevity  (Icaria-Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Loma-Linda, California). Overpopulation is not the issue, it is the wrong assignation of the resources (particularly the land distribution, work-education epicenter locations, and food supplies) per amount of people that are causing a huge imbalance on the planet. There are solitary regions in which no one lives or works, which are full of water. Meanwhile, there are high-dense polluted inhabitants’ regions in which water is not available or is scarce.
Water is all around us. In everything we do. Illustrative and non-commercial image. Photo Source: Microsoft Office Library

These are some of our recommendations for a tentative research agenda for the next 15 years. We encourage consultants, on a personal basis, to read some articles about water. There are thousands of views and sub-topics related to water. Those bankers who are grouped under its industries will benefit to read about water in their respective scopes of action. Leaders whose works are guiding where this planet is going are also urged to pay attention to finding connections between their domains and the water cycle, especially those related to information technologies and media, who believe they have nothing to do with water… That is not true. We animate you to pick up one or more of these last 12 selections of ideas and focus on deploying them using all your potential imagination and innovation that you can.  

Our next subject: Summary and Conclusions.

Strategic Music Section:

Why did we choose Jascha Heifetz? What can I say about a master like Jascha Heifetz? I can´t add anything to his performance that you have already observed in both videos that we shared last week. All my admiration for his artwork makes me speechless. I encourage you to read his extensive biography here: . Heifetz started to play the violin at the age of 2 years old, and he remained playing and teaching until his death. Of Lithuanian origin, Heifetz’s legacy as a teacher is measured by his degree of a strict quest for perfection. I will share a popular story from the appreciation of Sherry Kloss (1), who was his student and Master Class Assistant at the University of Southern California. In one of Heifetz’s classes, he requested Sherry to play the violin with the question “Who is ready?”. After her musical interpretation, Heifetz told her “Not bad”. But then Sherry blurted: “It’s just that I don’t know when something is ready.” Heifetz was irritated. According to her own storyline: Mr. Heifetz looked at her with his large, probing eyes and responded in a tone of voice that let the whole class know he was perturbed. He said: “Well, Sherry, if you don’t know, then perhaps you had better take up another profession. Class dismissed”. Then when all the classmates left the room, master Heifetz said to her in private: “I don’t like what I saw today. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, how do you expect others to have confidence in you? I want to see improvement in this area. Good-bye, Sherry”.

This situation between the Master and his pupil indicates to us how important is to have confidence in ourselves. Building confidence in our own talent is a process. It takes certain years, in which several positive outcomes help the students to build it. It is not easy, but positive reinforcement or little progressive triumphs help any work-in-progress trainee to think before speaking, and to restrain to show doubtful emotions when we are building our own self-reliance in ourselves. Moreover, in the case of us, women, we coincide with the emotions of our reproduction menstruation cycles. Sometimes we feel not certain enough, and that has nothing to do with our artwork, but it is simply our biological period. So please, men of the world, don´t be so harsh on us. We must handle all our biological triggered emotions with coolness and timidity, particularly during our youth growth years.

Songs of today are interpreted by Himari Yoshimura. It was hard for me to realize that we have no more episodes for violinists after this coming Friday. There are many lovely virtuosos that I couldn’t bring to this literary table, but we will do it in the future. Today, we have selected a lovely little girl. As a rising youngest prodigy, Himari Yoshimura will delight us today. The first piece is a segment of Paganini Cantabile that we already shared with you in the past.    And the second is a segment of a Tchaikovsky concert: Violin Concerto In D Major, Op. 35. I. Allegro. With the conductor Taizo Takemoto and the Japan Century Symphony Orchestra. Enjoy Himari´s gift!

See you next Friday 27th with our last episode. “What´s up with water: Pouring water in your corporate strategy” is closing this week. Again, we expect that you would have learned a lot about the water cycle, its importance, and how we can begin using strategic agility notions and management theories to include it.  After Friday, we will unplug for 15 days, only to return back with our Autumn-Winter 2022 (AW-2022) saga of the year, which will begin on September 9th. “Loving to read as a strategist” promises to explore the intrinsic (non-discovered) aspects of reading in pages (white paper with black printed letters) and we will undoubtedly provide new additional insights from our research.

A new saga is coming as of September 9th: “Loving to read as a strategist” Stay tuned!

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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