Leadership.



You can't be a leader without being an innovator.
You can't be an innovator without being a leader.






Leadership and innovation are converging.


On one side, in a world that keeps changing, leadership is practiced through change. You can't be a leader without being an innovator.


On the other side, innovation is increasingly a matter of people, more than methods and investments. You can't be an innovator without the art and practice of leadership. 

 


How can we create a better world through leadership?


Leadership through Meaning


A leader is ultimately a person who, together with other people, is in a journey to create a better world. The challenge nowadays is that, in this fluid scenario, directions are not given. We are constantly asked to redefine which direction is more meaningful. And to move with others.


How to practice leadership today? How to envision a direction that is meaningful for us and for the others in a confused world that keeps changing?


I address this question in "Overcrowded", where I illustrate how to nurture new meaningful visions by moving from the inside-out, i.e. by starting from ourselves.


Leadership, ultimately, is like making gifts. The gift is for the others. The making of the gift is for ourselves.

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How do we grow?


The art of criticism


How do we change? How do we grow? Through developmental criticism.


Although the word “criticism” often carries a sense of negativity, in reality it has no particular negative or positive disposition. It rather indicates the practice of going deeper when interpreting things, together with others.


Criticism is crucial in the life of a leader. First: is the way to challenge our own cognitive frame; it’s the way to question how we make sense of the environment. It helps us to shake us off and get rid of a past that might not be meaningful anymore. 

Second, criticism enables us to create the new. When we propose a new vision, we simply start from the inkling of a hypothesis. Our initial proposal is blurred, vague. Just a sense of direction, whose value and implications are unclear. Not only to others; even more to ourselves. Criticism enables us to dig deeper, confront our hypothesis with the hypotheses of others, clash them, fuse them, and find the new, more powerful direction that lies underneath.


Whereas in recent years many studies have explored how to practice the art of creativity, very little is known on how to practice the art of developmental criticism. This is why we are studying it. 


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How can you radically transform a business?


Radical Circles

 

How to successfully transform a business?

I've been intrigued by many stories of breakthrough change in organizations. Take for example Microsoft's creation of the Xbox in 2000. How was it possible that a giant like Microsoft, totally focused on software, with a strong hold on business clients and productivity applications, decided to dive into a journey made of hardware, young consumers, and entertainment, with a platform whose operative system was even incompatible with Windows, its core technology? In my studies I have discovered that the story of the Xbox, and many cases of radical business transformation resembles the typical dynamics of breakthrough movements in art and science, such as the impressionism or the Viennese school of psychology: the key role is played by a small circle of radical thinkers, i.e. a Radical Circle.


A Radical Circle is a small group of peers, not formally related in the organization, who feel a malaise with the current business direction and voluntary start a new journey. Rather than approaching top executives to propose their idea (their pitch would hardly succeed since their initial blurred vision would have few chances to be recognized and supported), these radicals engage in a voluntary quest (under the radar) for a while. They act as sparring partners, and most often they challenge each other, in the search for a strong proposition. Once they emerge, their vision is so robust and powerful to stand the harsher opponents, and it is more easily grasped by others.


My studies unlock how Radical Circles succeed in business transformation, and how you can create your own.


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How to engage others in your journey?


Leadership and collaborative innovation

 

Collaborating with others is nowadays easier than it used to.


The good news is that potential partners and ways to collaborate with them have both expanded enormously in number.


The bad news is that greater choice has made selecting the best way to collaborate much more difficult. Should you open up and share your ideas with large communities? Or should you nurture collaborative relationships with a few carefully selected partners?


There is no best approach. Rather there are four possible modes. Together with Gary Pisano of Harvard Business School, we have developed a framework that describes those modes and help you to pick the collaborative strategy that best fits you.


Read more →