Friday, January 7, 2011

Vancouver 2.0 Initiative

I am also very excited to tell you about my latest project that I am rolling out this year, the "Vancouver 2.0 Initiative"!
My purpose with this initiative is to do for the Vancouver region what I want to do for people and organizations, which in itself will create a lot of cross-purpose and value. I have created a blog to introduce people and organizations to the concept, and create understanding how to be involved and what they can get out of it. Here is what I put on the blog header:
An Initiative to Harness the Skills and Creativity of the People and Organizations of the Vancouver Region to Maintain Vancouver as a Leader in Establishing The Future of Healthy World Class Cities-- Collaboration Create Challenge Change Opportunity

What Vancouver 2.0 will become is a "creation platform" that will exist both in the online world and physical world where the people and organizations of Vancouver can co-mingle and create the collaborative culture to seed and develop innovative projects that insure Vancouver can and will be the leader in evolving the kind of city region that we will want it to be in a rapidly changing 21st century world.
We will create an online community where we can both develop deep understanding of the challenges the world, regions, peoples and organizations will face in the coming years, and also constantly create innovative solutions, projects and transformational change to address the challenges and thrive in the opportunities.

Join me at Vancouver 2.0 Initiative!!
Anybody can participate, if you have a passion for our city and region, and love the idea of learning and being part of something new and challenging. We'll grow a deep and very rich network of amazing people and organizations in the process!!! It's win-win for all of us!

Getting to Know The Unconventional Consultant

For the last six months, I've immersed this blog in a lot of theory and reference points that support my ideas for creating value and purpose within organizations.
It's exciting stuff to me, but also obscures who I am, what I am about,  why I am passionate about what it is I want to do, and where I am currently at in doing what I want to do.
Today, as part of a shift in how I am developing my consulting practice, I'm going to tell you more about myself, what it is I want to do, why I am doing it!

My long term mission is to play as large a role as I possibly can to create the world we are heading towards. Transforming you, transforming people, transforming organizations, transforming the world is what I have on my business card. It's a large, long audacious journey and that is part of what I love about it!

While I have spent the better part of fifteen years developing, learning, and putting together what I call my 'three pillars' (systems thinking, organizational learning, deep social media) approach to creative adaptive change in people and organizations, I also continued to support myself as a carpenter in the exciting and competitive world of custom home building. As of this day, I still continue to support myself as a carpenter (working for G Wilson Construction one of Vancouver's premier custom home builders).

Developing a consulting practice while building custom homes brings with it a wealth of real world experience that I take with me.
For starters, I know first hand just how difficult it is to create meaningful change. Going from a career as carpenter/home builder to that of a change consultant is a huge step! What keeps me motivated to do so is a very deep seated belief in what I am doing.
When I talk about employee motivation, I understand it from my own real world experiences. Building homes under often difficult climate conditions, with challenging designs and structural issues, with schedules and budgets always in the forefront, for clients and architects that expect the best requires a range of ways to keep the crew on track and in the game. The same challenges most companies and organizations face, on larger scales. 
The roles I have played over the years, gives me deep insight to the nature of challenges for all the different interests involved. Building a home is an orchestration of the efforts and incentives of the general contractor, the carpentry crew, the home owners/clients, architects, engineers, designers, dozens of trades people and sub-trades, thousands of parts and materials, suppliers and even neighbours! While the ultimate goal is the home the clients dream about, keeping all the varying players and interests aligned is much more challenging than many realize.
It's a challenging--and very rewarding--work environment that has provided and proven an invaluable field lab for me to develop my own thinking and philosophies that would become the backbone of my consulting practice ideas.

None the less, taking the steps from the world of home building to that of consulting and creating the kind of transformational change I want to develop in people and organizations have also proven to be far more challenging than I already thought they'd be! It's a constant reminder of the challenges the people and organizations will have that I hope to transform! This creates a beautiful dynamic tension between daunting and exciting challenge!

What Is The Pay Off?

There are few greater joys than standing back with the home owners as you all admire the home you've just completed for them.
While the pay-offs for change consulting might not be as concrete (literally, that is!), with the establishment of clear metrics, we should be able to capture the joys of transformation.
With the astonishing change society and business has gone through and witnessed since the advent of the internet, the disruptions it and other macro trends have brought have created a staggering amount of challenges and opportunity. Just knowing I have positioned myself to help society, organizations and people manage and create the changes they need to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities is a powerful motivator!

What can the outcomes look like? What does the world we want to create look like?
We live in a world where we understand what motivates us, and keeps us interested and productive in the means in which we earn a living. We have meaningful and trusted relationships between the organizations, corporations and governments and the people--your customers and constituents--on which you depend and serve. We live in a world where value is constantly created by the interwoven feedback loops that exist between the consumer and constituents, and that of business and government. We live in a world where people are the greatest assets. We live in a world where we have a deeper and broader understanding of the kind of society and environment we need to maintain the sustainability where business, people, all living things and our governance can thrive. We live in a world where win-win relationships triumph over that of zero-sum strategies and the waste of personal greed.
It's a world where we still crown and admire champions in life, business and sport, and we all win in the process. 

When you fully embrace and engage in the philosophy and practice of systems thinking, the above is not starry eyed ideology, it is common sense. It taps into the intrinsic desires almost all peoples have, while maintaining the competitive and cooperative nature of humans. It is a respect and admiration for all living things, both biological and cultural. It embraces the power of individuality and the cohesiveness of collective endeavors. It weeds out the waste of collective ways, while harnessing the creativity and innovation we all possess.

In creating my own transformation one needs to make decisions. One of mine is to only work and associate with people that want to play their role--no matter how big or small--in creating that world.

My name is Gregory Esau, The Unconventional Consultant, and I want you to join me on that journey.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Order and Chaos--Trust is the Only Commodity with Value

One of the biggest differences between the land of today (our current operating environment) and that, say, of 1980, is the pace of change. Pace of change can be said to be the time and space between order and chaos. If order is predominant, there is relatively little change, at a relatively slow pace. Adjustment or adaptation is relatively easy.
If chaos is predominant, change is dramatic, pace can be instantaneous.

Today's world is more marked by chaos than it is by order. The music and media industries are two arenas of business where this is most noticeable. The avenues of disruption are fragmenting audiences (which affects advertising rates), radical shifts in distribution chains and models (the slow death of the CD as a music vehicle), the rise of consumer as content (barrier to entry of content creation and distribution is continually lowering), and what maybe can be best described as a general lack of trust between the consumer and the producer (producers seeing the rise of empowered consumer as the threat to their business models, which is correct, but seeing and treating them as the 'enemy' is no way to salvage your business).
This is of course by no means an exhaustive missive of the woes of the media world, but it touches broadly on the modes of disruption.

The broader point is this chaos is not going away--that's obvious enough I would hope--perhaps less obvious is where there is chaos there is opportunity. But the attitude to find those opportunities is to create and manage your own chaos, rather than letting it manage you. Being reactive can be effective in times of order, it is all but a fatal strategy in times of high chaos.

The question becomes two-fold:
1)--how much is your business (model) being or going to be affected by the space between order and chaos?
2)--how then do you and your company/organization create and manage our own 'chaos'?

Risk analysis of your own business, it's model, and it's general operating environment is not easy. Especially if times are good (or, for that matter, times are bad). The default assumption here should be that odds are pretty good that your business and model are at risk. Odds are you are leaving opportunity on the table that you cannot see because you are too comfortable in your current model and assumptions you have about it.

The challenge in creating, managing and finding opportunity in chaos is that it is by it's very nature Not Easy! This, I am here to tell you, is The Good News. If it was easy--as I am found of saying in the home building world--everybody would be doing it, and the arbitrage of opportunity would be diluted to the point of meaningless.

What is the take away here? That the power is increasingly going to reside in the consumer. What You Need To Understand is that the chaos is also increasing for the consumer. Be the organization that makes their life easier, and develop the real relationships with them so they will trust you.

When there is chaos, trust is scare. Scarcity creates value.