Unleashing the Crazy Ones: Building Agile, People-Centered Companies

Steve Jobs famously said, “Here’s to the crazy ones . . . while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Michael Lurie, VP of Enterprise Solutions at The Ken Blanchard Companies, likes this quote because it speaks to the essence of what made Apple and many others into great companies. Rather than the traditional, top-down approach, Lurie says that in today’s open-market environment we need agile, people-centered companies, able to unleash their full human passion and potential.

“The leadership style that most people were trained in years ago—certainly leaders over 40—was designed to avoid and prevent disruption. What we have today is an environment where leaders need to embrace disruption, see the opportunities it presents, and step forward boldly to shape the future.”

Lurie explains that, today, most companies are operating in an open global market that is changing continuously.

“Over the past twenty years, foundational changes—most importantly the globalization of digital technologies, the market system, and education—have been sweeping away the pillars supporting protected markets and traditional company command systems, transforming the industrial economy into today’s information economy. New pillars are emerging that are far more powerful, flexible, and sustainable, based on enabling and unleashing the full individual and collective ingenuity and energy of billions of people around the world.”

As a result, companies are now serving many diverse, demanding, and empowered stakeholder groups—including employees, partners, and communities—who have far more choices and are far better informed about those choices than ever before.

In this type of environment, companies must evolve continually if they want to survive and thrive. And with a growing reliance on intangible human resources—like innovation, relationships, and culture—at the core of their economic engines, a new company model must be designed to maximize individual contributions and optimize collective efforts in order to maximize the value created for all.

New Leadership Capabilities

According to Lurie, this new agile, people-centered company model requires leaders to develop and practice a fundamentally different set of capabilities. In the industrial economy’s traditional, capital-centered company model, “management” was largely about planning, directing, and controlling. To build today’s agile, people-centered companies rapidly and successfully, leaders now need new mindsets and skill sets to become catalysts, architects, and coaches.

  • Catalysts: The traditional approach to leadership was based on a mindset of scarcity, competition, and preservation. This was founded on a capital-centric view of the world—that scarce capital is the most valuable resource, and earning a return on that capital is the most important goal. Lurie explains that today leaders need to recognize that capital is neither scarce nor is it the most valuable resource. In fact, today the company’s most valuable resources are its human resources, and human resources—like human needs—are infinite: there is no end to the ingenuity, hard work, passion, love, and commitment that have always been, and will always be, responsible for every human creation.

    As Lurie shares, “Rather than the value-capturing, capital-centered mindset of scarcity, competition, and collaboration, we need the exact opposite: a value-creating, people-centered mindset of abundance, collaboration, and evolution. This mindset is at the heart of transforming our traditional, capital-centered companies into agile, people-centered companies—and leaders today must catalyze that transformation through personally modeling, and engendering in everyone else, this value-creating mindset.”
  • Architects: Additionally, leaders need new approaches to the “hard” business skill sets of strategy, operations, and organization. They need to become architects skilled at designing companies that are collaborative and continuously evolving networks that create increasing value for all stakeholders.

    “Rather than focusing strategy on competitive advantage, leaders today need to focus on innovating new business models. They need to learn to execute strategy not as traditional operational planning and control but as a process of continuous evolution. And rather than sustaining siloed hierarchies, leaders need to learn how to design and operate a network organization, able to harness network effects and act as a value-creation multiplier.”
  • Coaches: Finally, leaders also need new approaches to the “soft” people-skill sets, whether at the level of individuals, teams, or the organization as a whole. They must become coaches, unleashing the full passion and potential of people throughout the organization by deeply understanding people, by recognizing and appreciating their talents, and by helping them work together effectively and collaboratively to create value for all.

    As Lurie explains, “This begins with leaders developing a deep understanding of themselves and others, what each can contribute, and what each needs to succeed. Leaders need to develop enhanced capabilities in building diverse and inclusive teams, coaching and developing each member and the team as a whole, and facilitating individual and team performance. Leaders also need to develop capabilities in collaborating and influencing across the organization, leading change, and shaping culture.”

Developing a New Set of Capabilities

The business environment is rapidly changing and the mindsets, skill sets, and behaviors that many leaders have spent years learning and refining are rapidly becoming irrelevant.

These capabilities were developed for a world that soon will no longer exist. Today’s leaders need a new set of capabilities designed for the world as it is rapidly becoming. For companies looking to generate exceptional short-term performance and sustainable, high-value long-term growth, their leaders urgently need to develop the capabilities to build agile, people-centered companies. The leaders who build these capabilities will unleash the crazy ones—to create great, enduring enterprises that will thrive in twenty-first-century open markets.

Would you like to learn more about developing agile, people-centered leadership capabilities in your organization?
Then join us for a free webinar!

Building the Capabilities to Lead Agile, People-Centered Companies
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
9:00 a.m. Pacific Time / 12:00 Noon Eastern Time / 5:00 p.m. UK Time / 4:00 p.m. GMT

With today’s rapidly increasing challenges and complexity, the gap between the capabilities leaders need and the ones that they have is growing quickly. This gap is showing up both as short-term underperformance and an inability to evolve and adapt over the medium- to long-term. Companies urgently need their leaders to build the capabilities to succeed and thrive in today’s open markets.

In this webinar, Michael Lurie, VP of Enterprise Solutions for The Ken Blanchard Companies, will introduce the Blanchard Leadership Development Framework, a strategic and powerful approach to building the capabilities leaders need to succeed and thrive in today’s complex and constantly changing environment. Participants will explore

  • Crafting a Leadership Development Strategy and Architecture: Learn how to create a comprehensive system of building leadership capabilities at all levels across the company.
  • Creating Integrated Learning Journeys: Learn how to successfully address three key questions: What are the competencies to be developed? What content will best build those competencies? And what learning experiences will do so most effectively and efficiently?
  • Designing for Continual Evolution: Learn how to design a dynamic leadership capability-building system that is always adapting and evolving to meet changing needs and circumstances.

Who Should Attend:

  • HR and OD professionals focused on the design, management, and strategy of learning and development in their organizations.
  • Senior leaders looking to solve complex business issues, achieve measurable results, and develop leadership capacity to improve productivity and performance.
  • L&D decision makers evaluating learning systems and leadership models that build values, skills, and competencies that help people and organizations lead at a higher level.

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