I wish you many sparkles of transformation for 2017!

Looking back, it has been an extra-ordinary year. I have lived a lot of interesting experiences with customers, colleagues and friends; and this enabled me to look at life and work with fresh eyes. Also in 2016, I finally managed to publish my book on value creation. This book comes straight from the heart, from what I have experienced, from what I have learned and am still learning every day; from what I found fulfilling and from what I believe can be of value to other people and other companies.

I am so happy to see more and more people adopt new approaches to value creation, and this motivates me even more to continue the journey of transformation.

In this blog I want to share the sparkles of transformation that struck me in 2016. I hope they can inspire you to start off 2017 with some new perspectives!

Developing shared purpose

A lot of people are starting to understand that we are reaching the limits of the money-making model of traditional economics. The lack of purpose knocks on the door of individuals and corporations. People are looking for jobs that fit their purpose in life. Corporations understand that they need to pursue a broader ecosystem purpose that goes far beyond generating profit for the own organization only.

It has been very inspiring to see companies developing a shared purpose that inspires customers, partners and employees to engage on new ways of value creation from a broader ecosystem perspective.

Reinventing value creation

To fulfill their shared purpose, companies realize that they need to reinvent the way they create value. Instead of pushing products and services invented internally, we need to really care about the customer. We need to look for better ways to connect the outside context of the customer with the inside capabilities of the company. We need to find innovative ways to create value both for the customer as for the company itself.

It has been very interesting to experience more agile and co-creative ways for creating or improving products and services. Instead of running through rigid and linear value chains, we are working with companies to setup more iterative and cyclic approaches to value creation. We are integrating sales, marketing, product management, product design, agile software development and lean startup practices into modern product development approaches.

A working model of true collaboration

To deliver high value products and services, a lot of organizations understand that they need to change their current working models. They understand that they cannot create outstanding value for their customers in today’s dynamic and complex markets, if they stay stuck in their internal functional silo’s. They bring together value creation teams that operate close to the market and integrate all of the competences needed to deliver outstanding value to the market.

I am very lucky to participate in a transformation program that brings together multi-disciplinary product teams to co-create and co-deliver high value products in close collaboration with major customers. We are certainly not there yet, but I believe we are on the right track to organize for agile value creation.

The awakening of eco-system awareness

But to enable these new ways of developing purpose, creating value and true collaboration, I also believe we will have to change the level of awareness from which we operate. As described by Otto Scharmer in his book on leading from the emerging future:

Our society must move from ego-system to eco-system economics. This requires that we shift from ego-system silos to eco-system awareness that considers others and includes the whole.

To become better change makers for value creation, I believe we need to further develop our capacity to see and act from the whole to enable us to connect better to emerging possibilities.

I wish you all the best for 2017 and invite you to share your sparkles of transformation via this blog.

Enjoy the last days of 2016 and make 2017 a grand cru!


The Return of Human Mastery

Last week I met the companions of the personal development program I followed in 2011 (‘ontdek je eigen frequentie’ at www.claridad.be).

What a pleasure to meet Isabelle, Frank, Iwein, Herman and Frederik again. I don't know how to thank them enough for their honest feedback and their true life stories. They inspire me every day to live my life from my deepest self and they also inspired me very much when writing my book on value creation.

During my studies at university, I was taught most of the challenges in life can be solved by taking a rational approach. I was convinced I would solve any problem if only I would spend enough thought on it. Just by engineering a bit more, a better solution would always come up.

Also, throughout my career, I was subjected to an extended curriculum of management trainings mostly based on reductionist reasoning approaches and scientific management practices.

By the end of my thirties, I started to look for something else and I was lucky to participate in this personal development program that taught me to restore contact with my deeper self. I was able to throw out some obsolete views, to eliminate some of my existing filters, and let my energy flow again. I was so happy to re-experience some of life’s most wonderful aspects such as human contact, intuition and spontaneity; and realize how they could play an invaluable role in my job.

Today I realize more than ever that we need to bring together all of our human talents to solve the challenges of our times. Because organizations cannot be run as machines, because enterprises operate in dynamic and complex ecosystems, because challenges need to be conidered from an holistic perspective, we need to bring everything of who we are to work: our emotions, our ratio, our thoughts and our intuitions.

When we strive for wholeness, we bring together the ego and the deeper parts of the self. We integrate mind, body and soul. We show and develop both our masculine and feminine parts. And we integrate rational, emotional, intuitive and spiritual dimensions in our work. Frederic Laloux

I am well aware that the current context of many companies does not always allow you to show up as a whole. But I notice things are starting to change. Many companies are starting to think of ways to create better environments for people to show up more authentically.

Personally, I think this is very good news. Although our world is certainly influenced a lot by digital technology, I believe that we need to bring human mastery back at the forefront if we want to handle the complex challenges of our times. What an opportunity for organizations and individuals to show up as a whole, and bring everything of who they are to the table!

I hope my new book on value creation can contribute a little to organizations and people showing up more as a whole.


Ecosystems Thinking for Business

Last week I presented a session on ecosystems thinking at SAI. Ecosystems thinking is also a central theme in my new book on value creation for the digital world.

I strongly believe that we need to rethink our enterprises profoundly if we want to create sustainable value for the dynamic environments that we live in today. And ecosystems thinking provides a powerful thinking framework that we can use as a source of inspiration.

It is remarkable to notice that the words economy, ecology and ecosystems all originate from the Greek word 'oikos', and that the meaning of 'oikos' refers to 'the household', 'the place to live' or 'the whole house'. I believe we need to consider 'the whole house' again when we think about our enterprises, and not limit ourselves to the sometimes narrow focus of making money solely.

Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing the whole rather than the parts, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots, and for understanding the subtle interconnectedness that gives living systems their unique character. - Peter Senge

Systems thinking can be seen as an alternative way of thinking to the reductionist paradigm. While the reductionist way of thinking tries to tackle problems by solving the individual parts, the system thinking discipline focusses much more on the whole and all of the dynamics involved.

Instead of looking at our organizations as machines, we can better start to look at them more as living systems. Living systems have the fantastic ability of being resilient when things go wrong and have the capacity to adapt themselves to their changing environments (or die, should they not transform fast enough). To survive and flourish in a VUCA world, resilience and adaptability are becoming critical requirements for the design of our enterprise models too.

In my book I describe how ecosystems thinking can have a deep impact on the way we design products and services, on the way we design technology architectures and on the way we design organizational structures.

In real-life I notice increasing enthusiasm among customers and colleagues to pursue new ways of value creation that are inspired by ecosystems thinking. I invite all of you to join me on the journey of transformation, each of you in your own unique way. I am curious to know about your 'sparkles of transformation'.