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2016 ‚Äď We will open the book‚Ķ

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– Ann and Gary Ralston

Watercolor © 2015 Ann Ralston
(click on image for larger version)

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Wednesday, December 30th, 2015 Article Archive, Main Page, Photos Comments Off on 2016 ‚Äď We will open the book‚Ķ

Free Exponential Organizations Masterclass – Live Online Session Dec 10 at 12 noon EST

ExOParticipating_CompaniesBreaking news РI just received a note that The Growth Institute is opening up the first live interactive session of the 8-week Exponential Organizations Master Practitioner class at no charge and no obligation to those considering the course. The session begins at 12 noon Eastern Time tomorrow, December 10, 2015, and Ann or I would need to hear from you immediately to save you a seat. Contact Ann or Gary here, or via Linkedin.

Hope to see you there!

– Gary Ralston
© 2015 Ralston Consulting Inc.

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Wednesday, December 9th, 2015 Main Page Comments Off on Free Exponential Organizations Masterclass – Live Online Session Dec 10 at 12 noon EST

ExO Drivers of Change: Elon Musk Talks Climate Change Solutions at COP21

AtmosphericCO2-1000yr-Chart

source: Scripps Center of Oceanography

Leaders of Exponential Organizations (ExOs) must be masterful at harnessing (surfing?) exponential drivers of change. There may be none bigger than our reliance on carbon-producing fuels, as can be seen in this chart of atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the past thousand years.

Elon Musk, whose company, Tesla, is among the Top 100 ExOs, spoke to a group of college students at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, discussing climate change and his view of what policymakers participating in COP21 can do to help the world transition to a sustainable future.

His message is not new, yet I appreciate how Musk frames the issues in a clear and simple way, forwards a solution that acknowledges the needs of both business and society, and (hopefully) avoids polarizing debate. This video is worth watching and sharing.

As ExO leaders, of course make plans to adapt to this driver of change, but after watching this video, ask yourself:

  • What is my preferred future?
  • How could¬†my¬†organization’s Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) help¬†shape that future?
  • What is my¬†people strategy?¬†How do the MTP, and Values alive in my¬†company today,¬†align¬†and resonate with the A-Level talent, Community and Crowd I¬†must attract and retain to achieve that future?

In this post:

  • The video (Musk begins at 3:29)
  • A summary of Musk’s¬†key message
  • A link to a full transcript¬†(Thanks to Green Car Reports for making this available)
YouTube Preview Image

Musk’s Key Message: Tax Carbon Appropriately

Here is a summary of Elon Musk’s¬†message, in his words, edited for clarity.

A Hidden Carbon Subsidy

53TSubsidies_for_fossil_fuels“The reason that transition is delayed or is happening slowly is because there is a hidden subsidy on … all carbon-producing activity of enormous size – $5.3 trillion a year, worldwide, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) [source: Trucost.com]. … The net result is 35 gigatonnes of carbon per year released into the atmosphere.

This is analogous to not paying for garbage collection. It’s not as though we should say, in the case of garbage, have a garbage-free society. It’s very difficult to have a garbage-free society, but it’s just important that people pay for the garbage collection.

A Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax – a Non-Partiasn Issue

The solution, obviously, is to remove the subsidy. That means we need to have a carbon tax and to make it something which is neither a left nor a right issue. We should make it probably a revenue neutral carbon tax. …

Give Industry Time to React

…Moreover, in order to give industry time to react, this could be a phased-in approach so that maybe it takes five years before the carbon taxes are very high, so that means that only companies that don’t take action today will suffer in five years.

A Clear Signal from the Rulemakers

There needs to be a clear message from government in this regard because the fundamental problem is the rules today incent people to create carbon, and this is madness. Whatever you incent will happen. That’s why we’re seeing very little effect thus far.

5 to 10% of the Earth’s Land Mass Underwater = 2 billion people displaced

The net result is if we don’t take action, we could see anywhere from 5% to 10%, maybe more of the land mass absorbed by water, which maybe doesn’t sound like that much, but about a third of humanity lives right on the coastline or in low lying countries. We’d be talking about maybe 2 billion people being displaced and their homes being destroyed and their countries being gone. I think we should take action.”

– Elon Musk


– Gary Ralston
© 2015 Ralston Consulting Inc.

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Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 Article Archive, Business Insights, Corporate Social Responsibility, Exponential Organizations, Main Page, Sustainability Comments Off on ExO Drivers of Change: Elon Musk Talks Climate Change Solutions at COP21

New Video and Course: Understanding the Impact of Exponential Organizations

ExOWebinarHeader

Watch Yuri van Geest’s mind-blowing webinar from December 4 2015

We are excited to introduce you to Yuri van Geest, member of Singularity University and the co-author of the ground-breaking book, Exponential Organizations, published in the fall of 2014. (The book is now required reading for all practitioners at the prestigious consulting firm, McKinsey and Company.)

Yuri hosted a webinar focused on the real cases and experiences he has seen over the past year and the challenges companies have overcome.¬†Ann and I¬†just¬†completed the webinar, and we were BLOWN AWAY at the rate of innovation reported, worldwide, especially in China!¬†Yuri, who tracks¬†emerging technological breakthroughs for a living, reports,¬†(11:01) “In the last six to twelve¬†months since the launch of the book, the pace of change of technology is accelerating more than ever before.”

Recent innovations include:

  • Solutions for¬†Cancer, Alzheimers Disease (your lost memories come back!!) and Type 2 Diabetes.
  • A quantum computer of mind-boggling processing power to be released December 8, 2015 that will disrupt existing solutions.
  • Artificial Intelligence more advanced than Deep Mind and IBM Watson that can ask and answer its own questions.

On the rate and number and variety of technological breakthroughs in the last 12 months, Yuri¬†says:¬†“These quantum¬†leaps I have never seen in the last 10 years – this is a new phenomenon…” “…and all these technologies are converging for the first time.” (Self-teaching AI + powerful quantum computer = Skynet??)

Watch Yuri’s presentation¬†now.

Yuri van Geest ExO Webinar 2015-12-04

Register for the Exponential Organizations Master Practitioner course, starting December 10, 2015

Ann and I are registered for (and anticipating) the Exponential Organizations (ExO) Master Practitioner course starting next week. The 10-week hybrid program includes video, workbook, live group sessions with Yuri and his co-author, Salim Ismail, and discussion forums for participants. We will be exploring and applying new ways to help our clients in both business and social sectors accelerate growth where it matters to them, be that in profits, social impact or both.

This course is really important to us Рtruly a framework for ventures and social causes in the 21st century. We think the Exponential Organizations work is a match for many of you in our extended community of changemakers. We hope you will join us!

Want to learn more? Get in touch with Ann or Gary, or sign up now through this link to gain prompt access to the course materials and videos!

Enough said. We have a world to change…

– Ann and Gary Ralston

© 2015 Ralston Consulting Inc.

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Monday, November 30th, 2015 Article Archive, Business Models, Exponential Organizations, Main Page Comments Off on New Video and Course: Understanding the Impact of Exponential Organizations

2015 – Full of things…

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Wind over fresh snowfall yields¬†a field full of ¬†‘snow logs’.

photo: Ann Ralston
(click image for larger version)

 

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Thursday, January 1st, 2015 Article Archive, Main Page, Photos Comments Off on 2015 – Full of things…

Thawing to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Ann Ralston taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, 2014-08-20Until last night, I watched the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (#alsicebucketchallenge)¬†with mild¬†interest and curiosity. What would inspire people to dump a bucket of¬†ice water on themselves, or stand still while others dumped it on them? Wouldn’t the normal response to be to RUN AWAY?

I watched a few YouTube videos and Facebook postings of people dousing themselves with ice-water, and sat up a little more when top tennis players, including¬†Novak Djokovic¬†and Roger Federer, were challenged.¬†I thought it was great that athletes, business moguls and past presidents, and even my awesome nephew, Alex, were making a positive statement about ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

I was interested in the implications for the disease and research, given this massive infusion of funding, and how the organization could continue to be successful with this radical change. I wondered how we could create something so simple and so viral for causes and organizations that we support.  I was interested in all this in an intellectual kind of way.

Two things happened to changed my involvement.

It became emotional.

Then it became personal.

First, I heard an interview on NPR, which aired August 20, 2014. They of course mentioned the funds raised Р$31.5 million from July 29-August 20, 2014. They contrasted that with about $2 million raised during the same period in 2013, an impressive increase by any standard. 

Now¬†wrap your head around this – by the time I posted this entry,¬†one day later, donations had increased by $10.3 million to $41.8 million. That’s a 33% increase in 24 hours.¬†That’s¬†viral. [Update: $53.3 million as of 2014-08-22; $88.5 million as of 2014-08-26 ]

But what¬†really¬†struck me was the description of the illness that “essentially traps someone in a glass coffin. You can think, but you can’t move. You can’t speak. And that happens so rapidly, over the course of a couple of years.‚ÄĚ ¬†I reflected how much of¬†my¬†life is movement. From working on my computer, to my recent participation in a triathlon, I¬†move!

The second thing that happened was a challenge thrown down by MaryAnne, a longtime friend and former colleague from Riverside Methodist Hosptial.  Her challenge was in memory of a mutual friend and former Riverside colleague, Elliot, who died of ALS.

Elliot was a role model for me as I travelled through a divorce. He demonstrated the possibility of taking apart a relationship in a way that served the kids long-term, and preserved the dignity of the parents. He modeled that people could co-parent, stay civil, and in fact, be friends. That kind of post-divorce relationship, healthy and healing, was what I hoped for (and that we subsequently created!)

I was struck by the thought of Elliot, a bright, caring and vital person, in that glass coffin.

So I picked up a bucket of ice water…

YouTube Preview Image

My hope is that through my actions, and through this post, I’ve added my voice and contribution to increase awareness of and funding for research for ways to treat, and ultimately cure, ALS.

If you are inspired to donate, or want more information on ALS or the #IceBucketChallenge, go to www.alsa.org.

‚Äď Ann¬†Ralston
© 2014 Ralston Consulting Inc.
http://bit.ly/RCI-alsicebucketchallenge

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Thursday, August 21st, 2014 Article Archive, Corporate Social Responsibility, Main Page, Marketing, Values Comments Off on Thawing to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Did Weird “Al” write YOUR Mission Statement?

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FAST FACTS: biggest-selling comedy recording artist in history – over 12 million albums. Estimated net worth – $16 million

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Is this new music video a comedy¬†or a tragic cautionary tale to corporate leaders, strategists and consultants?

Music parody master, Weird “Al” Yankovic, has loosed¬†his incisive wit on¬†corporate-buzz-speak, in a video from his just-released¬†album, Mandatory Fun.

Mission Statement, is composed in the style of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, playing against an RSA-like whiteboard animation (which apparently took 10 months to produce!). The production quality is brilliant, and I found myself smiling and wincing in equal parts.

WARNING: This video is NOT recommended for anyone who has written a mission statement in the past decade. Showing this to your CEO or board chair may shorten your career.



But seriously, Ann and I¬†are not¬†fans of mission and purpose statements, even though we’ve had a hand in creating more than one in our day.

Our friend, colleague and mentor, Robert Fritz, writes:

“Which would we rather work for, a company that had a purpose statement but didn‚Äôt have a purpose, or a company that had a purpose but didn‚Äôt have a purpose statement?

Of course we would all choose the real thing over the propaganda. But even an organization that has a true purpose can rob that purpose of its power by reducing it to a slogan.” *

So please, enjoy the video, and then commit yourselves to eradicating corporate-buzz-speak wherever you can – we promise to do the same!

‚Äď Gary Ralston
© 2014 Ralston Consulting Inc.
http://bit.ly/RCI-MissionStatement


 A special thanks to Jerry Marselle at our client, SMBH, for turning us on to this gem!

* Fritz, Robert (2011-01-04). The Path of Least Resistance for Managers. Newfane Press. Kindle Edition.

More Weird “Al”:

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Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 Article Archive, Business Advisors, Business Insights, Humor, Main Page Comments Off on Did Weird “Al” write YOUR Mission Statement?

Leadership Lessons from the Craft Beer World!

‘Brewing Up a Business‘ by Sam Calagione, the owner of DogFish Head Brewery, was recommended by one of my sons, so I downloaded the audiobook. He¬†brews his own¬†beer as a hobby, and I thought – at best – I was getting into a book about craft beer¬†counter-culture¬†and start ups.

Brewing up a BusinessWhat I found was a fun, fast listen chock-full of lessons on the leadership required to build and run a successful business:

  • about dedication and belief in what you are creating,
  • of commitment to your people,
  • of how the personality of an individual can shape a culture of¬†innovation.

The company was built on creating innovative (and sometimes bizarre) products – which with craft beer means a combination of distinctive taste and ingredients, an evocative name, and a great story. (Liquid Breadfruit Ale, anyone?).

They maintain a constant awareness (and openness to) ideas that may be the germ of a new offering Рand in some cases, rescue offerings in trouble.  Sales for the then-failing DFH Beer Shampoo Bar only turned around after they discovered that professional dog groomers loved it, and so repositioned it as a pet care product!

I think the thing that most struck me was their connection to and understanding of their customers. We all talk about knowing our customer, but how does that translate to action throughout a company? Calagione sets a great example, and I could see and feel his commitment to this principle, woven through every story he tells.

If you are looking for a down-to-earth¬†and delightfully “off-centered” point of view on leadership, you are in for a great¬†read (or listen!)!

Cheers!

– Ann Ralston

© 2014 Ralston Consulting Inc.

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Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 Article Archive, Book Reviews, Business Insights, Leadership, Main Page Comments Off on Leadership Lessons from the Craft Beer World!

TED Talks: Michael Porter – Why business can be good at solving social problems

Why do we turn to nonprofits, NGOs and governments to solve society’s biggest problems? Michael E. Porter¬†wrote the book on modern competitive strategy for business. Now he is thinking deeply about the intersection between society and corporate interests. While he admits he’s biased, as a business school professor, he has started four not-for-profits, himself. He¬†wants you to hear his case for letting business try to solve massive problems like climate change and access to water.

Why? Because when business solves a problem, it makes a profit — which lets that solution grow.

Can’t view the video? Want to access the interactive transcript? ¬†Click here.

Getting the discussion rolling…

There is much to like in this presentation, and it does a very good job of bridging the terrain that divides social and corporate ventures.

That said, as we reviewed this video, (and in the tradition of Muppet Show hecklers, Statler and Waldorf), Ann and I had a few thoughts:

Would business take on reform of global monetary and financial systems?

Does Porter’s premise that business will resource the solving of¬†society’s biggest problems, out of a profit motive / enlightened self-interest, ¬†scale to all of¬†society’s biggest problems? For instance, why and how would businesses around the world resource a fundamental restructuring of the current global monetary and investment systems?

Many think these systems are fundamentally broken, and at the very least, the systems are reinforcing the wealth divide. So how would that work? Business, by virtue of being able to generate wealth would voluntarily fund a global overhaul of the broken mechanisms of wealth creation and distribution, in cooperation with the worlds’ governments? The same mechanisms that capitalize business growth and fund governments, through taxation? The same governments who rarely agree about matters relating to the global commons – atmosphere, oceans, global warming, nuclear proliferation, etc.?

(I’m picturing the world described in Neal Stephenson’s intense and dark science fiction novel, Snow Crash, in which governments had¬†ceded most of their power to private corporations, organizations, and entrepreneurs operating as nation-states. brrr!)

Will public companies be allowed to move to a longer view of profitability?

On the bright side, Porter gives examples of businesses that are taking a longer view of profitability:

‚ÄúThe deeper work, the new work, the new thinking on the interface between business and social problems is actually showing that there’s a fundamental, deep synergy, particularly if you’re not thinking in the very short run. In the very short run, you can sometimes fool yourself into thinking that there’s fundamentally opposing goals, but in the long run, ultimately, we’re learning in field after field that this is simply not true.‚ÄĚ

Glad to hear it, because the last couple of public multinational corporations we worked with had a VERY difficult time making socially-conscious, longer-term investments. The pressure to meet quarterly projections coming from Wall Street, alone, was devastating, forcing them to give up their long-term aspirations or be punished in the short-term as their stock prices fell. It is ironic that the multinational companies that could do the most good may be least able within the existing system.

What do you think?

Ann and I would be fascinated to hear your thoughts on Porter’s video. If you feel moved to contribute to our community’s discussion, we welcome your input on the commentary thread, below.

Thanks for watching!

 

– Ann and Gary Ralston

© 2014 Ralston Consulting Inc.

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Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 Article Archive, Business Insights, Corporate Social Responsibility, Main Page, Social Enterprise, Sustainability, Values Comments Off on TED Talks: Michael Porter – Why business can be good at solving social problems

HBR: The Big Lie of Strategic Planning

‚ÄúAll executives know that strategy is important. But almost all also find it scary, because it forces them to confront a future they can only guess at. Worse, actually choosing a strategy entails making decisions that explicitly cut off possibilities and options.‚ÄĚ

‚Äď Roger L. Martin

For those of you in the business of shaping and steering your ventures, but haven’t come across Roger Martin and his work on strategy, you may be well-served to check it out.¬†Martin is the former dean of the prestigious University of Toronto‚Äôs Rotman School of Management and an adviser to CEOs on strategy, design, innovation, and integrative thinking. He is a coauthor (with A.G. Lafley, CEO of Procter and Gamble) of Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013). We’ll have a post on the book, itself, coming up.

This month, Roger Martin’s article,¬†The Big Lie of Strategic Planning, is posted free on HBR’s blog. It touches on common traps leadership fall into as they attempt to develop effective strategy for their organizations, and what to do, instead.

One of the key distinctions Martin makes is that creating a strategy is different – messier, and far less reassuring – than detailed strategic¬†planning. The detailed plan provides the executive with the illusion of control over multiple unknown futures. The downside, as Martin sees it, is that¬†‚Äúplanning typically isn’t explicit about what the organization chooses not to do, and why. It does not question assumptions.‚ÄĚ He continues: ‚ÄúYou need to be uncomfortable and apprehensive: True strategy is about placing bets and making hard choices. The objective is not to eliminate risk but to increase the odds of success.‚ÄĚ

I would qualify that while some of the symptoms described are specific to middle-market and large organizations (smaller ventures rarely have the resources to over-plan to the degree described), the essence of his advice cuts across all sectors and scale of business.


Idea in Brief

THE PROBLEM

HBR-Cover-Jan-Feb-2014-2In an effort to get a handle on strategy, managers spend thousands of hours drawing up detailed plans that project revenue far into the future. These plans may make managers feel good, but all too often they matter very little to performance.

WHY IT HAPPENS

Strategy making is uncomfortable; it’s about taking risks and facing the unknown. Unsurprisingly, managers try to turn it into a comfortable set of activities. But reassurance won’t deliver performance.

THE SOLUTION

Reconcile yourself to feeling uncomfortable, and follow three rules:

Keep it simple. Capture your strategy in a one-pager that addresses where you will play and how you will win.

Don’t look for perfection. Strategy isn’t about finding answers. It’s about placing bets and shortening odds.

Make the logic explicit. Be clear about what must change for you to achieve your strategic goal.


Source: published both in the January-February 2014 edition of Harvard Business Review pp 78-84, and on the HBR blog, here.


– Gary Ralston

© 2014 Ralston Consulting Inc.

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Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 Main Page Comments Off on HBR: The Big Lie of Strategic Planning

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ANN RALSTON

T 614-761-1841 ext 2

Call me! - Ann Ralston


GARY RALSTON

T 614-761-1841 ext 3

Call me! - Gary Ralston


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