Which Capital: Human, Social or Both?

hr social capital

I think, it is time to answer this question not only for all kinds of organizations, but also for whole nations. We have tried to answer it by conducting a research and writing an academic article. Believing in the importance of human and social capital, I have decided to share some ideas in this post. I also think that social media, and especially LinkedIn is a platform for developing social capital. I hope, sharing this post with you will create some added value to your professional knowledge and experience. Moreover, I hope that these ideas may be a source of inspiration for you, and they may trigger your creative potential.

Innovation as the Imperative for Sustainability

Today, growing global competition, volatile markets and higher customer expectations force the world of business to be in an everlasting state of change where continuous innovation is the one and only strategy for survival of individuals and organizations (Peters, 1997). As a result, innovation is essential. Suranyi-Unger (1994) has stated that organizational innovation is the introduction of any new product, process or system, and academicians such as Avermaete, Viaene, Morgan & Crawford (2003) have written that product, process, organizational and market innovation are the four types of innovation. These four different kinds of innovation are needed for the survival and also for the successful sustainability of people and businesses.

Integrated HRM Systems Instead of Isolated HR Practices

Stone (2009) has defined Human Resource Management as the use of people for attaining strategic business objectives. According to Mondy (2010), some of the HRM practices implemented by organizations are staffing, training and compensation. Huselid (1995) and Boselie, Dietz & Boon (2005) have stated that traditional human resource management research has taken a systematic approach to comprehend the bundle of high performance HRM practices in affecting business performance. To understand the relationship between HRM and organizational performance, Becker & Huselid (2006) have suggested the introduction of different HRM systems which target different organizational capabilities. Instead of single and isolated types of HR practices, researchers like Guesta & Conway (2011) have linked certain types of “bundles” or “systems” of HRM practices that have been named as high-performance work systems.

According to Laursen (2002), HR practices enhance each other, so HR practices are more effective in influencing innovation if they are applied in a form of integrated systems. As Gupta & Singhal (1993) have stated, HRM is an originator of innovation, and effective HRM can make an organization become innovative, but small amount of research has been conducted to capture the effects of particular HRM systems in forecasting innovation, so too much is still unknown about how HRM systems will add to organizational innovation. Although Schuler & MacMillan (1984), Van de Ven (1986), Schuler & Jackson (1987) have agreed on the significance of human resources for innovation, the synergy between HRM practices and organizational innovation has received little attention until recently (Shane & Ulrich, 2004). Moreover, the empirical research focusing on innovative HRM systems has just started (Laursen & Foss, 2003; Shipton, West, Dawson, Birdi & Patterson, 2006; Jimenez-Jimenez &Sanz-Valle, 2008).

Innovation and Intellectual Capital

Academics such as Wright, McMahan & McWilliams, (1994) and Becker & Gerhart, (1996) have stated that human resources play an important role in increasing organization’s competitive advantage since employees’ knowledge and skills can be the sources of competitive advantage, and Van de Ven (1986) has stressed that the grounds of innovation are ideas, and it is people who generate and develop ideas. The simple supposition in the relationship between them is that the innovation capacity of an organization is inherent in its employees’ competences and motivation. Stated differently, innovation is the serious enabler for organizational value creation and sustainable competitive advantage, and it is driven by organization’s capacity to manage its intellectual capital (Chen & Huang, 2009). Subramaniam & Youndt (2005) also have emphasized that the innovation capability of an organization is thoroughly interrelated to its intellectual capital.

Swart & Kinnie (2010) have stated that managers ought to develop HRM initiatives which aim to generate and refine intellectual capital composed of human, social and organizational capital, because they help an organization to improve its innovation capacity. As Youndt, Subramaniam & Snell (2004) have indicated, intellectual capital refers to the summation of all types of knowledge which organizations exploit for competitive advantage. The significance of intellectual capital for innovation has attracted researchers’ interest in defining its components and the process by which it augments the innovation capabilities of organizations. Human capital is defined as intellectual capital in the form of individual knowledge and skills of employees. Social capital is the collective knowledge which is rooted in the social relationships amongst employees.

HRM Systems, Human and Social Capital

Research has emphasized the role of HRM as a tool for managing human and social capital, and Youndt, Subramaniam & Snell (2004) have demonstrated that HRM investment has a noteworthy role in creating human and social capital. Subramaniam & Youndt (2005) have concluded that an organization’s efforts in hiring, training and implementing other HRM practices need to focus not only on maintaining their employees’ skills and expertise, but also on developing their abilities to collaborate and share information and knowledge. Consequently, Donate, Pena & Sanches de Pablo (2016) have researched high-profile HR practices and collaborative HR practices that are crucial for human and social capital development.

Managerial Implications

As it is stated in the literature, human capital development and social capital development are critical strategic factors for enhancing organizational innovation capabilities. In other words, it should be emphasized that all managers and specifically HR managers should not ignore human capital development and social capital development. This study offers some advice to help all managers but especially HR managers to understand how to integrate some HR practices into high-profile personal and collaborative HRM systems, and how to implement these for developing human and social capital so that they can influence innovation capabilities. As a result, the findings of this research have several managerial implications.

The research reveals the importance of combining HRM practices for enhancing human capital. It recommends that organizations have to promote high-profile personal HRM system, and HR and all other managers should engage in supporting human capital development since it affects innovation. Moreover, HRM practices in a collaborative HRM system should be implemented for enriching social capital that can also lead to innovation. HRM systems play a fundamental role in aiding employees, teams and organizations to apply their individual and collective knowledge and creativity so as to form the core organizational competences required for product, service and process innovations. This research also shows that the critical factors for innovation are actually intangible, so all managers including HR managers should be aware and skillful in managing intangible variables such as human and social capital.

Finally, the research findings reflect that HRM systems indirectly influence innovation capability through the mediating effects of human and social capital development. Thus, human and social capital developments play a mediating role to link HRM systems and innovation capabilities. As a result, it should be underlined that if managers overlook the human and social capital development, they cannot directly boost innovation. In order to increase innovation, managers have to use the HRM systems and apply them for developing human and social capital. To sum up, the present study helps managers to better understand how to implement HRM systems so as to increase innovation through the mediating effect of human and social capital development.

If you want to read the whole article, you can reach it via this link.

(Posted also on LinkedIn Pulse)

Transformational Leadership and Innovation: Direct and Indirect Effects


L.I.F.E. Learning Is Fun Every day. All of us learn every day, and most of the time learning is fun experience. That is why, I have named my blog L.I.F.E. I have also published my posts about creativity, talent, creative potential, innovation and creative culture here on LinkedIn. Recently, I have been studying and researching about transformational leadership and innovation. This post is actually a “Thank You Note” to my LinkedIn connections who have been very kind to answer the survey questionnaire which I have sent to them. By using the collected data, we have written an empirical article which has been published in the International Journal of Business and Management by the Canadian Center of Science and Education. The three parts that I would like to share with you are abstract, discussion and implications for management.

This study aims to examine the influence of transformational leadership on organizational through the mediating effect of organizational learning and knowledge management in Turkish HR consulting companies. Sample is selected from small, medium size and large HR consulting companies located in Istanbul. Structural equation modeling and bootstrapping is used for data analysis. The research findings indicated that transformational leadership did not directly affect organizational innovation; transformational leadership directly affected organizational learning and knowledge management, and organizational learning directly impacted knowledge management. Besides, knowledge management directly affected organizational innovation, yet organizational learning indirectly influenced organizational innovation. Finally, transformational leadership indirectly influenced organizational innovation through the intervening effect of organizational learning and knowledge management.

The major contribution of this research was the empirical examination of the proposed research model on HR consulting companies in Turkey. The key finding of this research is that the transformational leadership does not directly influence organizational innovation. In other words, leaders who practice the transformational leadership style will not be able to make their organizations innovative only by being transformational leaders. In addition, it was proposed that the transformational leadership was significantly correlated to organizational learning, so it was confirmed that transformational leadership supports to the improvement of organizational learning. The study provided an opportunity to expose a comprehensive depiction of leaders’ role in aiding organizational learning. As argued in the literature, transformational leaders are strategic in creating environment that stimulates the organizational learning.

As discussed in the literature, our research also showed that transformational leadership and knowledge management were related. Consequently, it can be concluded that transformational leaders converse a shared vision and build a favorable social environment which can advise followers to involve in a greater amount of knowledge management activities. In other words, leaders who practice transformational leadership style offer information, stimulus and skills for followers in obtaining, sharing, keeping and applying knowledge. However, organizational learning did not lead to organizational innovation. Stated differently, the organizational learning which is an outcome of transformational leadership is not enough for organizational innovation. This finding is not consistent with the findings in the literature. Actually, organizational learning turned into organizational knowledge is useful for organizational innovation, so it might be useful to investigate knowledge management as the moderating effect in the connection between organizational learning and innovation.

The empirical model demonstrated that knowledge management has a link with organizational innovation. This finding is in accordance with some of the results discussed in the literature, so it should be seriously considered that knowledge management is a vital antecedent of organizational innovation. Hence, by spreading over knowledge management strategies it might be possible to enable the formation of innovative organizational outcomes. Another important contribution of this research is the finding that organizational learning influences knowledge management. Turkish HR consulting companies which are successful in organizational learning are more likely to succeed in allocating, implementing and managing knowledge.

The last major contribution of this study is the finding shows that transformational leadership indirectly impacts organizational innovation through learning and knowledge management in HR consulting companies. Thus, organizational learning and knowledge management are like a channel that connects transformational leadership and innovation, so leaders should be aware that knowledge management and organizational learning are critical strategic aspects of organizational innovation. In other words, it should be emphasized that transformational leaders should not overlook the knowledge management and learning; otherwise they will not be able to directly advance organizational innovation.
Implications for Management

This study offered some advice to help leaders to comprehend how to manage knowledge management and learning to influence innovation within their organizations. Thus, the findings of this research have quite a few management implications. First of all, the research reveals the significance of transformational leadership in cultivating knowledge management. It recommends that companies have to promote transformational leadership style, and leaders should practice the transformational leadership style since it affects organizational knowledge management. Transformational leadership that supports knowledge management can lead to organizational innovation. Shortly, transformational leadership empowers employees and companies to use knowledge so as to build the crucial capabilities essential for innovation.

Secondly, this research shows that transformational leadership is a critical element for learning and innovation within an organization. Therefore, managers should be skillful in engaging in transformational leadership behaviors so that they can enhance organizational learning and organizational innovation. Managers have to concentrate on creating a learning context that is fruitful for collective learning and innovation because innovation can only occur when resources are devoted to innovation and when innovative ideas and behaviors are supported. Finally, research findings reveal that transformational leadership indirectly impacts organizational innovation through organizational learning and knowledge management that are mediating the link between transformational leadership and innovation in an organization.

As a result, it should be underlined that if leaders who practice the transformational style of leading overlook knowledge management and learning, these leaders cannot directly enhance innovation. In order to increase organizational innovation, leaders have to use the transformational leadership and apply the intervening effect of knowledge management and organizational learning. All in all, this research helps managers to better comprehend how to implement transformational leadership to increase organizational innovation through organizational learning and knowledge management and their mediating effect.

If you want to read the whole article, you can reach it via this link.

(Posted also on LinkedIn Pulse)

Building Sustainable Creative Culture II


“To keep a creative culture vibrant, we must not be afraid of constant uncertainty.”


Those of you who read my posts most probably remember Building Sustainable Creative Culture I, in which I have written about Ed Catmull’s leadership lessons. In the same post, I also expressed my opinion that I very much liked his words about creativity. They are like real creativity lessons, so I promised to write about them in one of my future posts. Spending some time studying and researching about strategic HRM, human and social capital development, foresight and organizational transformation, it is time to write the post which I promised to write more than a year ago. In this post, I would like to discuss Catmull’s lessons about creativity, yet this time I kindly request your ideas as a valuable input. How? We can implement the crafting experience approach widely used in design thinking. Why? Because co-writing will be more creative.

“Creativity is more like a marathon than a sprint.”


“Creativity involves missteps and imperfections.”


“The fear of judgement was hindering creativity.”


Crafting Customer Experience

In the past, the focus was on the output or on making new products that were useful or aesthetically attractive. This process usually ignored the users, or overlooked the human element in the design process. On the contrary, today’s innovations have shifted towards a more human-centered design methodology. Stated differently, the so called design thinking methodology is actually a successful human-centered design. Companies focus on exploring external users’ stories and experiences at a level that creates focused approaches to realizing the best customer experiences possible. As a result, there is a new term that is customer experience. When defined, customer experience is considering the needs of customers and the importance of unique and engaging experiences as a key to providing successful ground for continuous innovation.

“The unpredictable is the ground on which creativity occurs.”


“To have a “not know mind” is a goal of creative people.”


“The most creative people are willing to work in the shadow of uncertainty.”


Crafting Employee Experience

As we all know, employees are the internal customers, so engaging them by crafting their experience is a new and essential practice in HR or people management and development. If interested, you can read Design Thinking and Talent Management. Design thinking is a tool that helps HR to achieve a paradigm shift from focusing on building separate processes to a new and different approach. This approach is designing an engaging and productive employee experience through solutions that are humane, integrative and innovative. Design thinking provides a means to focus on employees’ experience and to create processes centered upon employees. The reason for this is the final outcome that is new HR, talent and leadership development systems which directly contribute to employees’ engagement, satisfaction, productivity and enjoyment.

“Think of a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly – it only survives because it is encased in a cocoon.”


“The impetus for innovation came from the inside rather than the outside.”


 “Limits force us to rethink how we are working and push us to new heights of creativity.”


Crafting Culture for Innovation

Our world today is characterized with multiple, multilevel and multidimensional paradigm shifts in every walk of life. This sounds too complex and demanding if we want to change, adapt and survive. Another variable to be added is the sustainability of our world, its natural resources, environment, societies and businesses. The third variable to be included in these complex equations or systems in the variable called innovation since innovation is needed to cope with change, competition and sustainability. Managing all of these is so inspiring and challenging, and it even looks impossible. Consequently, leaders nowadays have a very demanding agenda.

Let us consider only on one of the many paradigm shifts, or in other words, let us concentrate on leading for innovation. Ed Catmull is an example of an extraordinary leader who leads for innovation. He leads for innovation by building the sustainable creative culture at Pixar. Catmull’s leadership style is completely different from the other familiar leadership styles, so it has been discussed a lot. Harvard University professor Linda A. Hill and her colleagues have analyzed Pixar case in the first part of their book Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation. I have just started rereading this book which I have bought couple of years ago when I also bought Catmull’s book.

I think it is useful to include some ideas from this book when discussing Ed Catmull, his creativity lessons and leading for innovation. Indeed leading for innovation is actually crafting culture for innovation. It is building sustainable creative culture as Ed Catmull has already achieved. Linda A. Hill and her colleagues summarize this under three subheadings that are:

  • Collaborating
  • Engaging in discovery-driven learning
  • Making integrative decisions

These are also so obvious in Catmull’s quotations which we are going to use for crafting your experience as readers.

“Individual creativity is magnified by the people around you.”


“We have to learn, over and over again, that the perceptions and experiences of others are vastly different than our own. In a creative environment, those differences can be assets.”


“And without trust, creative collaboration is not possible.”


Crafting Reader Experience

As I have already stated, by using the crafting experience approach the writing process of this post is completely focused on you, the readers. Why do not you think of and share your ideas and experience related with the stated quotations in this post? They are Ed Catmull’s words about creativity. Each quotation is a valuable lesson about creativity. I am sure each one of you has some ideas and experience related with creativity, so dropping a line or two will not be so difficult. Stated differently, I would like to invite you to craft this experience together, and the final outcome is going to be your contribution and satisfaction in reading, actively engaging and co-writing this post.

 “In creative endeavors, we must face the unknown. If we make room for it instead of shunning it, the unknown can bring inspiration and originality.”


“But how do we go about creating the unmade future? I believe that all we can do is foster the optimal conditions in which it – whatever “it” is – can emerge and flourish.”


“Leave the door open for the unexpected.”


Let us leave the door for the unexpected because we should trust in our collective creativity. Crafting your experience as readers, and asking your comments, and you writing some comments are going to be helpful to create this post. Even if you are reluctant to share your ideas and experience, it is still useful just to think and reflect for a while. However, if you have the courage to add some comments, your added value will be enormously enriching. Thanks in advance for your co-writing. Finally, do you agree that unleashing individual creative ideas and harnessing them in the collective genius of our human race can lift us all up to higher and higher levels of consciousness, more rapid progress and much better and happy lives?

(Posted also on LinkedIn Pulse)

Innovation: From Linear to Cyclic with the Human Factor in its Center


LinkedIn is a social media platform where we can connect with professionals all around the world and share ideas and experience. Personally, I can find added value while reading, sharing and engaging in this platform. At the same time, I also aim to and try to create some added value for others. That is why, I have been writing LinkedIn posts which I also publish in my blog L.I.F.E. Recently, my intrinsic motivation to write has been positively affected by two of my readers who were very kind to get in touch. The first one shared that one of her students, a PhD candidate, was inspired by W.O.M.E.N. and decided to write a doctoral dissertation about women in management. The second one asked for a permission to include Why and How should Leaders practice Systems Thinking? in her lecture notes as a reading material for the MBA course which she has been currently designing.

I am so happy that I am able to create some added value to others by writing here on LinkedIn. It is really great to add value. However, it is very pitty that I have not been supported in my career aspirations, and now I am not given the opportunity to create added value in real life by working for an organization which can benefit from my competencies. Despite the fact that my competencies have been adequate and appropriate for positions and companies which I have been very passionate and knowledgable about, I have not been recruited.

Because of my persevering and learning and because of the two examples above, my intrinsic motivation to write has been ignited again, so I am writing this post. It is about my favorite topics that are people, innovation, systems and strategic thinking. As we all know, the business world today is characterised with constant changes and the need for continuous innovation. This post discusses the innovation concept as a framework for strategic analysis that should be used to assisst the strategy formulation process. It briefly considers different Linear Innovation Models, the Circle of Innovation and a more advanced innovation model called The Cycle of Innovation Model which can be implemented for strategy development since it has a number of advantages leading to more effective strategy formulation, implementation and strategic performance. It is also an essential part of a Leadership Circle which is a new business model that should be used by companies. By writing this post, I also want to emphasize the cenral role of the human factor in innovation with a hope that people will be finally given the chances to be creative and innovative.

The Linear Models and the Interactive Model of Innovation

interactive innovationCompanies engage in innovation activities because of two forces that are technology push and market pull. As a result, there are two types of Linear  Models of Innovation. Both of them are used as strategic tools for strategic analyses in order to develop strategies, yet they are insufficient because of the very short and limited linear thinking. That is why innovation is not possible in many companies. Moreover nowadays, there are more interactions, so the combination of these two models leads to the Interactive Model of Innovation which is a much better strategic tool. By using it companies make better strategic decissions by taking into cosideration the linear process from idea to commercial product. However, its disadvantage as strategic tool is that it also do not depict the complexities of our modern world today.

linear innovation

The Innovation Circle Model

The Innovation Circle is a model that helps companies to manage the development, implementation an ongoing use of innovation. It is a step-by-step model which defines the major steps during the creation and deployment of a successful innovation that can be a new product, service, process, paradigm, business or company. As such, it also serves as a reminder of some of the things that should be done along the way to make sure the intended innovation leads to success. This indeed is the most useful feature of the Innovation Circle because it acts as a checklist to make sure that companies do not overlook an important part of the innovation process. The model also helps companies to ensure that their innovation adds value to customers.

There are several models that use the title “Innovation Circle”. The model that is being discussed now has been originally developed by Joost Krebbekx, Marcel van Assen and Wilma Schreiber. It is represented as a circle because this shows that innovation should be a continuous process, and should not stop once the innovation has been introduced. The outer part of the Innovation Circle identifies the three main phases that companies need to go through to manage an innovation effectively. These three main phases are Creation, Implementation and Capitalization. The inner part of the circle then identifies the steps that make up each of the main phases.

innovation circle

The Creation phase has three steps that are Incentive Identification, Idea Generation and Function Creation. In Incentive Identification step, companies identify the problems that they need to solve, and explore the reasons why they need to innovate. For example, they can ask the following questions. Have we identified a problem that we could solve for our customers? Why is our company losing market share? Are customers dissatisfied with our services? Step 2 is Idea Generation. In step 1, companies identified why they need an innovation. Now, they need to generate ideas to solve the problems that they have identified. Here, it is important to remember to focus on the people whom this innovation will serve. What will give them the most value? Also, it is essential to identify the resources that are available to make sure the generated ideas are feasible. In step 3, companies need to identify which of the ideas they will develop further, and think about how they will run the projects needed to deliver them.

Implementation is the second phase. Here, companies develop their innovation and introduce it to customers. There are two steps in this phase which are Product Creation and Market Introduction. In the Product Creation step, companies use the specifications they have developed in the Function Creation to move forward on development. A good way of doing this is to create a prototype or sample, and test and refine it repeatedly or iteratively. Step 2 is Market Introduction. Now, companies need to think about how they will introduce their innovations to the people who are going to use them. If a project or process for internal use has been created, identifing who will use it and who will be affected by it is essential. If the innovation is for external use, this is where companies need to think about how to market it.

Next is the Capitalization Phase. In this last phase, companies begin to create value with their innovation, and ensure that it continues to deliver value. There are three steps to Capitalization. These are Order Realization, Service Realization and Utilization. Order Realization Process is Step 1. Here, companies focus on the logistics of bringing the innovation to its target market, and it works to ensure that it delivers a good quality product in a reliable way while minimizing cost. Step 2 is Service Realization. In this step, companies develop any additional services needed to make their product rollout successful. Utilization is the last step, and it covers the value that the innovation creates. This is where companies must work to increase the revenues that the innovation generates, reduce costs and enhance the innovation’s competitiveness.

The Innovation Circle is a better strategic management tool than the linear models or the interactive one because it integrates more innovation processes, but it is still not sufficient because it does not contain the constant changes in technology, scientific research and societies. The lack of systems thinking results in ignoring the most central element which is the so called human factor. This is the strongest evidence that human intelligence and creativity have been always overlooked as the most essential elements for innovation. Although entrepreneurship, human resources, training and development and talent and leadership development are hot topics and their implementations are widely discussed, innovation and the human factor are not connected and managed well, so innovation is not the natural byproduct of companies and businesses. What might be a helpful solution?

The Cyclic Innovation Model

There are hard and soft aspects in science. Moreover, product development has both technical and social aspects. In innovation it is necessary that all of these aspects are integrated early in the process. This is exactly what Prof. Dr. A. J. Berkhout has proposed in his Cyclic Innovation Model (CIM), which provides a cross-disciplinary view of change processes and their interactions as they take place in an open innovation arena. According to Guus Berkhout, behavioral sciences and engineering as well as natural sciences and markets are brought together in a coherent system of synergetic processes with four principal nodes that are technological change, product development, market transitions and scientific research. Here, entrepreneurship plays an important role that is making use of those opportunities, and Berkhout’s clear message is that without the drive of entrepreneurs there is no innovation. Unfortunately, modern companies today do not support, on the contrary, they even block the creative potential of their employees. Professor Berkhout also underlines that the most important feature of the CIM architecture is not a chain but a circle: innovations build on innovations. Ideas create new concepts, successes create new challenges, and failures create new insights. All these mean that only people with ideas and insights can create and innovate.


Berkhout’s Cyclic Innovation Model portrays a system of dynamic processes and presents the processes in innovation by a circle of change with four “nodes of change”. Changes in science and industry, and changes in technology and markets are cyclically connected. Nodes function as roundabouts, and entrepreneurs generate the driving forces only if they are given the opportunity, and if they are supported. More importantly, between these nodes there are “cycles of change” by which the dynamic processes in the nodes influence each other. In other words, they inspire, correct and supplement each other. This produces a system of linked cycles, which in turn also influence each other and in the beauty of the systems thinking innovation can be designed and generated.

As Berkhout emphases, the result is a more or less synchronized regime of highly non-linear dynamic processes that spark a creative interaction between changes in science and industry, and between changes in technology and market. Innovation resides in the world of self-organized chaos, steered by the ambitions of the entrepreneurs. At a lower level, CIM reveals that each cycle consists of a network with a high degree of self-organisation. Autonomous societal transitions manifest themselves in markets as changes in the need for products and services. On the other hand, autonomous technological changes generate new products and services. Stated shortly, it is the cyclic interaction of both autonomous innovation drivers, social and technical, that will create new business with a high value for society. Berkhout predicts that for the coming decades, quality of life will become one of the biggest drivers in innovation worldwide. This means that the transition node in the cyclic process model should be focused on the changing values in society at large or the so called “societal transitions”.

The left-hand side of the innovation circle is directed to research activities of the science community while the right-hand side addresses the innovation activities of the business community. In a productive innovation system, science and business will challenge each other continuously on technology-related and market-related issues. Sustainability is a critical topic, and the transformation to a sustainable society may be the biggest challenge mankind is facing nowadays. It requires changes in technology as well as in behavior, so the hard and soft sciences should work together with industry leaders to make this transformation happen. In terms of Berkhout’s CIM, moving to a sustainable society requires synergy of activities around the entire innovation circle.

Consequently, it should be stated that the Cyclic Innovation Model is a much more advanced strategic tool that should be implemented for strategy analysis, formulation and evaluation not only because it contains the synergy of all change processes around the innovation circle, but also it is a strategic tool for managing sustainability. What about leading sustainability?

The Leadership Circle

In 2008, Berkhout and Ridder developed the Leadership Circle. In their opinion, every innovation process needs to have a clear view of the future, and it must be shared by all companies in the network. The Leadership Circle combines an inspirational vision of the future with a differentiation strategy and sufficient social skills to realize the ambition. Images for the future that are connected with transition paths and process models are key components in generating successful innovation projects. As a result, the Leadership Circle shows that innovation processes should be embedded in a new business model.

leadership circle

Actually today, all companies around the world are in search of new business models, so the Leadership Circle might be very helpful. On one hand, it involves the Cyclic Innovation Model that is crucial for innovation. On the other hand, it puts the moral leadership in its center. Moral leadership is so important for corporate governance, business ethics, corporate social responsibility and the social, economic and technological sustainability, all of which are interesting topics to be discussed in my future posts.

In conclusion, the innovation models are beneficial strategic management tools, yet experience with the CIM shows that the key to innovation is the use of a shared mental framework, that would allow more creative and intense interaction between a large number of rather diverse players. The CIM can be instrumental in rethinking the innovation process within a company, industry or society, so in this respect, the CIM is a very advanced and multi-scale strategic management tool. From this perspective, it acts as an interdisciplinary communication and strategic model, connecting diverse people with diverse roles within and across different networks such as scientists and market specialists, and engineers and social experts. The CIM enables clear guidelines on how the innovation process should be designed and implemented. Moreover, it should be a considered as a part of the Leadership Circle which might be a strategic tool for designing new business models. Like CIM where entrepreneurship is in its center, once again and this time leadership is in the center of the Leadership Circle. In other words, the human factor should always be placed at the center of innovation. Don’t you agree that this is worth considering very seriously while designing and implementing people management and people development solutions?

(Posted also on LinkedIn Pulse)



Happy Women’s Day to all women around the world! However, is it happy? Unfortunately, the situation of women is not acceptable at all because many crimes against women are commited. Besides, women face serious social and work life barriers, and two of them are gender inequality and exclusion of women. Because of these women have not been given equal opportunities to be active perticipants in social and worklife. Recently, this has been changing, and more women professionals are in the workforce. Moreover, despite their limited number, there are some famous and powerful women academicians, CEOs and entrepreneurs. It is time to comprehend that women are equal to men, and they have the potential to positively contribute to the development of our world.

Why are women so important? Because they are half of the worlds’ population. The current female population is 49,6 %. If women – who account for half the world’s working-age population – do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer. According to McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report “The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth”, the economic implications of lack of equality between men and women will result in loses not only for women but all people.

Obviously, women are important for the economic sustainability of our world. Taking into consideration this fact many women should be given the opportunity to work and hold professional, managerial and top level leadership positions. The discussion of women in business and management should be started by giving tribute to three outstanding women who envisioned and wrote about some important present day managerial and leadership practices.

Lillian Gilbreth is known as “The First Lady of Management” because of her great achievements in the field of management. Considering the time period when Lillian Gilbreth lived, she was one of the very few women to be so well educated. She had obtained her PhD, and she was made a professor of management, the first woman to hold such an appointment. She taught at many American Universities and lectured throughout the world. Lillian Gilbreth was very active in the application of management practices, and she was very influential in issuing some legislations. Her impact on the field of management is immense. Lillian Gilbreth brought the human factor into scientific management through her training, insight and understanding. She characterized three historical styles of management which are traditional, transitory and scientific, and she compared and contrasted these three styles according to how they affected individuality, functionalization, measurement, analysis, synthesis, teaching, incentives and welfare. She made contributions in several areas, such as the application of management and motion study techniques to the home, rehabilitation of the handicapped, elimination of fatigue, and the use of leisure time to create ‘‘happiness minutes’’. I am so proud that Lillian Gilbreth, a woman, pioneered in the field of Human Resources Management which I am very passionate about. She was interested in the scientific selection, placement and training of workers. More than 50 years ago, she publicly urged an end to discrimination in both hiring and retention of workers over 40. Convinced that programs to hire and train ‘‘older’’ workers were simply ‘‘good business,’’ she called for research to measure comparative job performance by age. I do not know if such researches have been conducted, but I know that there is an urgent need because of the demographical changes around the world, and the increase in the number of employees over 40.

According to Sir Peter Parker, Mary Follett is the “Mother of Modern Management”. Although not a PhD graduate, she was very well educated. She was intersted in a wide variety of subjects such as philosophy, history, Gestalt psychology, law, political sciences and government. Firstly, she established her reputation as a political philosopher. In observing and working with different service organizations, she gained an understanding of group dynamics and the importance of teamwork, and she realized that there was a need to rethink prevailing views on authority, organization, leadership and conflict resolution. Later, Follett made the transition from being a political scientist to being a business philosopher. She suggested that in the past an artificial line had been drawn between managers and workers. In reality, there was no line, and all members of an organization who accepted responsibility for work at any level contributed. Follett’s ‘‘principle of integrative unity’’ involved finding solutions that satisfied all parties, without domination, surrender or compromise. Beyond viewing a business as a working unit, Follett felt that both labor and management should recognize their interrelationships with creditors, stockholders, customers, competitors, suppliers, and society in general. In other words, she voiced the ideas of stakeholder management and social responsibility. She extended her thinking on ‘‘constructive conflict’’ and achieving unity of effort. Follett held that integration, as a means for confronting contrasting interests, should be paramount in all business affairs. For Follett, conflict, to be constructive, required respect, understanding, talking it through, and creating win – win solutions. She believed that management should not exercise power over workers, nor should workers, through unions, exercise power over management. Jointly exercised power was ‘‘co-active’’, not coercive. Follett maintained that constructive conflict through integration could not be achieved when one or both sides to a conflict were attempting to dominate the other. In her view, in all human interactions, from interpersonal conflicts to international disputes, power-over had to be reduced, and obedience had to be shifted to the law of the situation. Follett proposed depersonalizing orders and shifting obedience to the ‘‘law of the situation, referring to the necessity of acting in accord with the unique requirements inherent in any situation’’. She observed, ‘‘different situations require different kinds of knowledge, and the man possessing the knowledge demanded by a certain situation tends to be in the best managed business, and other things being equal, to become the leader of the moment’’. In my opinion, she was pointing the contingency theory of management and situational leadership that were going to evolve later. Follett held that leadership should not be based on power, but instead on the reciprocal influence of leader on follower and follower on leader in the context of the prevailing situation. A leader’s primary task was defining the purpose of an organization; the leader ‘‘should make his co-workers see that it is not his purpose which is to be achieved, but a common purpose, born of the desires and the activities of the group”. In other words, the leader is responsible for the collective construction of a shared vision. This is pre-eminently the leadership quality – the ability to organize all the forces there are in an enterprise and make them serve a common purpose. Stated differently, she was underlying the importance of teamwork and participative management.

Similarly to Gilbreth and Follet, Edith Penrose was also very well educated and succesful. Dr. Penrose observed, ‘‘It is the heterogeneity, and not the homogeneity, of the productive services available or potentially available from its resources that give each firm its unique character’’. The key words were heterogeneity and resources, and Penrose was pushing economic thinking out of its ‘‘black box’’ by reintroducing the role of management: “A firm is more than an administrative unit; it is also a collection of productive resources the disposal of which between uses and over time is determined by administrative decision . . . management tries to make the best use of the resources available . . . and a firm is essentially a pool of resources the utilization of which is organized in an administrative framework”. Penrose noted that a firm’s resources were ‘‘inherited,’’ that is, left over from prior decisions about location, special-purpose equipment, the pool of managerial talent, and ‘‘indivisible’’ resources, all of which posed potential limits to decisions about the future direction of the firm. ‘‘Knowledge’’ was also inherited, as it resided in the experience, education, and intuition of the firm’s human resource. I think, Penrose was talking about tacit knowledge that was going to be defined in the future. She used the word entrepreneurs to describe persons within the firm who could provide changes in knowledge about products, markets, technology, administrative processes and opportunities. In other words, she was describing the internal entrepreneurs, or the so called intrapreneurs, who are so vital for organizational change and product and service development. Rather than being closed to change, the firm could grow by ‘‘changes in the knowledge possessed.’’ Penrose also stated: “There is no reason to assume that the new knowledge and services will be useful only in the firm’s existing products: on the contrary… they may provide a foundation which will give the firm an advantage in entirely new area”. In my opinion, she was predicting the possibilities for innovation that is very important today.

More women are participating in every facet of life, especially worklife. There are many professional women today. Also, there are many successful women academicians, women CEOs and women entrepreneures, and their number will be increasing in the very near future.

In the list of World’s Best Business School Professors, 12 of the 50 best professors are women. Their names are: Jennifer Aaker (Stanford Graduate School of Business), Candida Brush (Babson College), Jennifer Chapman (Haas School of Business), Lynda Gratton (London Business School), Barbara Kahn (The Wharton School), Nancy F. Koehn (Harvard Business School), Sheena Iyengar (Columbia Business School), Reene Mauborgne (INSEAD), Christine Moorman (Fuqua School of Business), Dana Muir (Ross School of Management), Sharon Oster (Yale School of Management), and Laurie Weingart (Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business).

Here is the List of Women CEOs of the Fortune 500. Women currently hold only 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEO roles. There are 23 Women CEOs: Mary Barra (GM), Meg Whitman (HP), Virginia Rometty (IBM), Indira K. Nooyi (PepsiCo, Inc.), Marillyn Hewson (Lockheed Martin), Safra A. Catz (Oracle), Ellen J. Kullman (DuPont), Irene B. Rosenfeld (Mondelez International), Phebe Novakovic (General Dynamics), Carol Meypowitz (The TJX Companies, Inc.), Lynn Good (Duke Energy), Ursula M. Burns (Xerox Corporation), Deanna M. Mulligan (Guardian Life Insurance Company of America), Barbara Rentler (Ross Stores), Debra L. Reed (Sempra Energy), Kimberly Lubel (CST Brands), Sheri S. McCoy (Avon Products Inc.), Susan M. Cameron (Reynolds American), Denise M. Morrison (Campbell Soup), Kathleen Mazzarella (Graybar Electric), Ilene Gordon (Ingredion), Lisa Su (Advanced Micro Devices) and Jacqueline C. Hinman (CH2M Hill).

In Forbes’ 12th annual The World’d 100 Most Powerful Women, there are women who impact business, media, philanthropy, politics and more. The first three names in this list are: Angela Merkel (Chancellor, Germany), Hillary Clinton (Politics, USA) and Melinda Gates (Philanthropy/NGO, USA). All 100 women have the power to shape the world, but 18 stand out last year as entrepreneurs. Some of them are: Beth Comstock (CEO of GE Business Innovations who oversaw the founding of Hulu), Elizabeth Holmes (founder of blood testing company Theranos), Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Films production company), Beyoncé’s (19 North American shows), Lucy Peng (One of the founders of Alibaba, Laurene Powell Jobs (founder of Emerson Collective), Sofia Vergara (cofounder of Latin World Entertainment) and Adrianna Huffington (founder of Huffington Post).

Especially important are female characteristics in leadership. Various research and books during the past 15 to 20 years have begun looking at the distinct behaviors and skills that women bring to the workplace as a different kind of leadership. Books like Sally Helgesen’s The Female Advantage (1990) and The Web of Inclusion (1995) started describing a different yet still successful style of leadership that women use. The way women are perceived in society influences how we view a female leader’s behaviors. Perceived traits of a female manager include being thoughtful, people focused, relationship focused, considerate, quiet, nice, helpful, pleasant, understanding, intuitive, emotional, creative, caring, empathetic, knowledgeable, cheerful, warm, empowering, patient, collaborative and participative. Female leaders tend to go for a win – win, have a sense of humor, want consensus and share the power. There are also negative perceptions, such as that women leaders are poor problem solvers, are not willing to move or relocate, are too family focused, and will periodically opt out of the system due to pregnancy, child or elder care. For a female leader’s communication skills, descriptors often include the following: acts spontaneous, asks questions, coaches, teaches and is assertive. All in all, the feminine leadership style is interpersonal, nurturing, flexible, and interconnected, meaning that it networks in all directions with others to achieve company’s goals.

The main reason for this is the emotional intelligence of women. In a very recent study: New Research Shows Women Are Better at Using Soft Skills Crucial for Effective Leadership and Superior Business Performance, dated March 4, 2016 and conducted by Korn Ferry Hay Group, it is concluded that “Women Outperform Men in 11 of 12 Key Emotional Intelligence Competencies”. The study aslo found that “women more effectively employ the emotional and social competencies correlated with effective leadership and management”.

Nevertheless, future trends are unthinkable without women because they are half of the world’s population, they are equal to men and they possess diverse managerial and leadership competencies. More than ever before in human history, companies should focus on the women side of their businesses without excluding or ignoring women employees because the rapid changes in political, economic and social systems around the world requre women professionals and leaders who can deal with complex change, learn, unlearn, relearn, adapt and develop. The field of HRM pioneered by Lillian Gilbreth is going to undertake dramatic changes by dealing with gender equality, inclusion of women and guaranteeing more gender diversity.

Economist Edith Penrose used the word entrepreneurs to describe employees within the company who could provide changes in knowledge about products, markets, technology, administrative processes and oportunities. These intrapreneurs who can be women as well have a great amount of knowledge that has to be transformed into individual creativity which should be implemented for innovation. Nowadays, only the individual creativity of employees is not enough. There is a need for the collective crativity of the two genders. That is why Mary Follett’s ideas about group dynamics and the importance of teamwork are crucial. Leadership and conflict resolution within teams and organizations should be studied by using Follett’s principles, and all of these are so important for harnesing, nurturing and supporting the collective creativity of men and women within teams.

Governments and NGOs are not capable of solving the plenty of political, economis and social crises around the world, so there is the imperative for companies, business leaders, managers and employees to assist in solving these problems. Stated differently, companies should have the social responsibility to engage in philanthropic endeavors that will result in benefits for the whole humanity. As Follett stated, companies should recognize their interrelationships with the society in general and win – win solutions should be found. That is why feminine leadership style that is interpersonal, nurturing, flexible and interconnected, meaning that it networks in all directions must be adopted. I believe that women are going to make the economic and social transformations in the following 80 years of the 21st century.



Wren, Daniel A., Bedeian Arthur G. (2009). The Evolution of Management Thought. USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


(Posted also on LinkedIn Pulse)

Design Thinking and Talent Management


“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
(Coco Chanel)

“… fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening … “. Ideas come from people, and ideas determine how people live and what is happening. Because of their thinking ability, only people can generate ideas, and people have the endless creative potential to generate millions of ideas. Moreover, since people are social beings, they naturally share their ideas with others. The best ways for ideas to be shared and build upon are meetings, summits, congresses and other social and professional events where people gather and talk with each other.

Project Management Institute      

Istanbul Summit 2015

A month ago, on the 2nd and 3rd of October 2015, there was PMI Summit in Istanbul. Its heading was New Trends in Project Management, and it was organized by PMI Turkey Chapter. In his opening speech Metin Ornek, the President of PMI Turkey Chapter, talked about the different achievements of the Professional Association he has been a dedicated founder and people centered leader. One of the most interesting topics that caught my attention was the career path available for all volunteers. Metin Ornek explained that each volunteer is given the chance to follow this career path. As a result, all volunteers have the opportunity to work voluntarily and develop their leadership competencies, and one day become top level leaders in PMI Turkey Chapter. Metin Ornek thanked, honored and applauded more than 120 PMI Turkey Chapter volunteers who worked very hard in organizing the two day Project Management Summit that took place at Bogazici University.

Later, when I had the chance to meet and talk to Metin Ornek, I shared my feelings and ideas that I was very much impressed by his leadership approach for engaging volunteers and motivating them to keep their passion for voluntary work. In my opinion, his approach should be the new trend in leading NGOs, Nonprofit Organizations and Not-for-profit Professional Membership Associations because it will result in spreading social entrepreneurship for solving social problems. Hopefully, more Nonprofit Organizations will implement this new trend and give the opportunity to their volunteers to become social entrepreneurs and leaders. PMI Istanbul Summit 2015 was a great success because of its positive, friendly and cozy atmosphere, and for two days, the Summit speakers and participants felt welcomed and motivated to share ideas. Many project managers, other professionals, practitioners, academicians and students enjoyed the two days of the Summit. This diversity of participants and the diversity of the topics discussed and ideas expressed were like a melting point for new ideas and new trends to form and emerge.

I was very honored and happy to take part in this successful event. Once more, I would like to express my gratitude to Metin Ornek, Asena Dirican, Dilek Dogan and Aygen Yolcu for their hospitality and for giving me the opportunity to express my ideas about some new trends in Project Management which I shared in my presentation titled Design Thinking and Talent Management.

Design Thinking

When we hear the word “design”, most of us associate it with fashion. When we say fashion, we immediately think of many famous fashion designers, and Coco Chanel is one of the most famous. Her fashion changed the way women used to dress, gave them a new and more comfortable style to dress, and also liberated women to participate in social and professional life. While writing about Design Thinking and Talent Management, Coco Chanel is going to be the metaphor in this post because she is not only the best known fashion designer and the first and most successful woman entrepreneur of the 20th century, but also she was a design thinker and icon leader who led change and innovation. Yes, the roots of design thinking are in design professions. However recently, it has been used by other professionals.

What is design thinking? This concept has been developed and adapted for business purposes by David Kelley who is an American businessman, entrepreneur, engineer and designer. He is the founder, chairman and managing partner of IDEO, which is a well-known design and consultancy firm located in Palo Alto, California. David Kelley is also a professor at Stanford University, and he is the founder of d. school. He has made great contributions to design and design education, and as a result of these, David Kelley has received several honors. Design Thinking has been implemented at IDEO so as to design many products some of which are very widely used and known. IDEO has also applied Design Thinking for designing services.

Basically, Design Thinking is defined as design-specific cognitive activities that designers apply during the process of designing. However broadly, Design Thinking refers to a formal method for practical resolution of problems and creation of solutions, with the intent of an improved future result. It is implemented by professionals to solve complex problems and find desirable solutions. Since Design Thinking is not problem focused, it is different from conventional problem solving or the analytical scientific method, which begins with thoroughly defining all the parameters of the problem in order to find a solution. On the contrary, it is solution focused and action oriented that is starting with a clear goal, a better future situation instead of solving a specific problem. In other words, by considering both present and future conditions and parameters of the problem, alternative solutions may be explored simultaneously because Design Thinking investigates both known and ambiguous aspects of the current problem or situation in order to discover hidden parameters and open alternative paths which may lead to the goal. Since Design Thinking is iterative, intermediate “solutions” are also potential starting points of alternative paths, including redefining of the initial problem. Finally, it draws upon empathy, research, imagination and systemic reasoning so as to create desired outcomes that benefit customers and clients.

After defining Design Thinking, it is useful to describe it as well. Shortly summarized, the Design Thinking method has four elements and five phases. The four elements or the basic features which characterize Design Thinking are:

• Human-centered
• Collaborative
• Optimistic
• Experimental

Besides, the Design Thinking method is actually a long but creative and innovative process that has five phases:

1. Discovery
2. Interpretation
3. Ideation
4. Experimentation
5. Evolution

What are the reasons for Design Thinking to be a new trend in Project Management? There are numerous reasons but the main ones that I discussed in my presentation can be listed as follow:

• Managing change
• Managing innovation
• Managing and developing talent
Improving the problem solving capacity of teams
Supporting the creative potential of employees
Developing leadership competency

Talent Management

Coco Chanel designed outfits for women. As depicted in the photograph, she is designing the dress to perfectly fit the model. In other words, she applied her gifts to design for her customers.

Similarly, HR professionals and especially Talent Managers should tailor made their people solutions to fit and satisfy the needs of all employees. As known and implemented, the traditional Talent Management is the science of using Strategic Human Resource Planning to add business value by helping organizations to achieve their business objectives. Everything done to recruit, retain, train and develop, reward and make employees perform forms a part of Talent Management. Talent Management means that organizations are strategic and deliberate in sourcing, attracting, selecting, training, developing, retaining, promoting and moving employees through the organization. The most critical is that the Talent Management strategy needs to align to the business strategy so as to result in reaching business goals and celebrating business success.

Traditional Talent Management is based on determining specific criteria to be used to select an individual employee as a potential talent. Consequently, these individuals are grouped and the group is named as High Potentials. Later, High Potentials are trained and developed and from them future leaders are selected. Well, this process of managing talent is widely implemented by many companies and it is acceptable and successful, yet I feel it is time to question, modify and improve it.

As many consultancy companies state nowadays, there is an obvious and pressing need for making some changes in Talent Management or People Management in general. HR professionals face great changes in the world of work and in the diversity of the workforce, and they try to manage these changes. One way to manage change is through projects. Stated differently, this can be possible with engaging HR in project management, so HR professionals have to be able to develop and manage projects.

As discussed above Design Thinking is a New Trend in Project Management, and it can be also implemented in designing HR projects. What if managing talent is performed by applying Design Thinking? What might be the possible advantages? Being a Talent Strategies Leader, I think that these advantages are:

• Guaranteeing innovation by supporting employees to unleash their creative potential
• Giving priority to talent diversity within teams
• Team based Talent Management
• Spontaneous emergence of distributed leadership
• Natural talent development along the Design Thinking process

New Competencies

As a Capabilities Development Consultant, my opinion is that the future competencies for which HR professionals are going to look for are the competencies related with Design Thinking. Since many organizations and companies are going to implement Design Thinking approach for innovation, they will need employees with these 8 core competencies:

1. Empathy
2. Team work and collaboration
3. Problem solving
4. Making research
5. Brainstorming
6. Making prototypes
7. Getting feedback
8. Convergent and divergent thinking

As a result, HR recruiters are going to search for employees who have these competencies. In addition, HR training and development professionals are going to organize training programs that will train employees to learn these competencies. Moreover, they are going to be included in the performance management system that is based not on measuring performance for the sake of evaluation but on developing performance for unleashing creativity and engaging in innovation, so it is time for many companies to include these competencies in their competency models.

Design Thinking and Talent Management are two topics that I am very passionate about because I believe that every human being has a unique talent that has to be nurtured and expressed for the good of all. Teachers and educators are responsible for discovering the talent buds and starting the process of talent cultivation, and HR professionals and especially Talent Managers have to make it possible for all talents or the collective talent as a sum total to come into blossom like a fruit tree during the spring season. Deep in my heart, I know that Design Thinking has to be broadly applied in education and business because there is need for innovation in every facet of life and human civilization has to innovate in order to progress and get to the next level. Talent Mangers have to help people to believe in their creativity. I would like to conclude by quoting one idea from the second page of my favorite book Creative Confidence:

“Belief in your creative capacity lies at the heart of innovation.”
(David Kelley and Tom Kelley)

(Posted also on LinkedIn Pulse)

Which Letter-shaped will Future Employees and Leaders be?


Let’s have fun while discussing an interesting and important topic. Biologically, people are very similar, and at the same time they are very different because of their personalities. Psychology classifies people in different personality types. Similarly, employees are divided into groups. The two basic groups that you are most probably familiar with are Specialists and Generalists. Apart from these, there are other groups of employees who are classified in letter-shaped groups. For example, there are A-shaped employees. They are people who are very ambitious and hardworking. No. I am joking 🙂 There is no such group, but there are some letter-shaped groups that have been recently discussed.


I shape

The first group, the so called I-shaped group, is actually the group of Specialists. Specialists are employees who have knowledge and experience in one single field. They do not know much about different disciplines, and they prefer to work in one single job type. It sounds familiar. Actually, all Generations before Generation X were Specialists. Nowadays, there are Specialists who are experts in one area, and they can have excellent performance. However, they have not built basic competence across disciplines. That is why they are depicted with the letter “I” which represents their deep knowledge and experience in one area. It is accepted that I-shaped employees are risk averse. They prefer to stick to their expertise because they do not want to take the risk of failure. They also might have the difficulty to add value in a team environment. Many company problems stem from the fact that employees are Specialists or masters only of their own domain. Stated differently, there are teams composed of I-shaped employees, so each business unit is an isolated silo and there is the serious problem of lack of communication, empathy and collaboration. University graduates with no or little work experience are a very good example for I-shaped employees.

shape t

On the other hand, there is this second group named as Generalists. They are employees with broad knowledge across different disciplines and fields of experience, but they do not possess a deep level of knowledge or expertise in one area. As shown in the picture on the left, Generalists are T’s without legs to stand on. Since they do not possess deep competence in one area, they are not respected by Specialists or other people. As a result, they are not supported. For instance in Human Resources, HR Generalists are in high demand. They are also named as HR Business Partners. Another example that can be given is employees in their mid-careers who after changing jobs or careers may have become generalists who have some experience and knowledge about several disciplines.



The third group is the T-shaped employees. They are a new trend in Human Resources, management and organizational strategy. Actually, it is not a very new trend because it was discussed back in 1991 by David Guest. The term “T-Shaped” refers to an employee who has a thorough knowledge and strong skill-set in one area, but can also work beyond it and can collaborate in numerous other disciplines or fields. Recently, “T-Shaped” has been popularized by Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO when describing the type of employees he prefers to employ for his company. Basically, T-shaped people are employees with broad experience in different disciplines that is illustrated by the horizontal bar of “T”, and they have a deep expertise in their field or discipline which is represented by the “T’s” vertical bar. In more detail, the vertical bar is the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field. According to Tim Brown, this allows them to contribute to the creative process. The single expertise can be from any of the different fields such as industrial design, architecture, social sciences, business or engineering. Tim Brown adds that the horizontal bar of the “T” is the disposition for collaboration across disciplines. It is composed of two things. Firstly, empathy is important because it allows people to imagine the problem from another perspective, so they can “stand in somebody else’s shoes”. Secondly, they tend to get very enthusiastic about other people’s disciplines, so they may actually start to practice them. For team effectiveness, it is strongly advised that teams should be composed of T-shaped employees. The positive outcomes will be greater interconnectivity among departments, open and better communication, strong shared vision of business goals, collaboration and creative innovation. Despite the fact the above stated is known and it is advisable, in reality in the competitive job market when most of the job ads are scrutinized there is no real search for T-shaped employees, but there is still a clear demand of Specialists or the so called I-shaped employees. Do you wonder why?


harf M

There is also the M-shaped group. The letter “M” depicts the following. The two vertical bars represent the same concept as “T”. In other words, these employees have deep knowledge in many different skillsets. When compared with the T-shaped employees, M-shaped are equal or more knowledgeable in the skills expected of a T-shaped. M-shaped employees are actually members of high performance cross-functional teams. In short, it looks like M-shaped employees have more and better skills and competencies than the T-shaped.



Pi shaped employees are employees with broad base with two expertise areas which gives the shape of Pi. Ashley Friedlein, the CEO of Econsultancy, defined Pi-shaped employees as “marketers with a broad base of knowledge in all areas, but capabilities in both ‘left brains’ and ‘right brain’ disciplines. They are both analytical and data-driven, yet understand brands, storytelling, and experiential marketing.” Clearly, there is a shift from T-shaped to Pi-shaped employees in different sectors like design, retail etc.  Despite the fact that Pi-shaped employees are better than I-shaped T-shaped and M-shaped, and they have the broad knowledge across disciplines, something is still missing. In my opinion, future leaders and employees are not going to be Pi-shaped.



The next group of employees is the Comb-shaped. Comb-shaped skills are broad base with multiple expertise areas which gives the shape of a comb. There are many specific domains of expertise as well as some breadth. However, these multiple expertise areas are never deep enough as the knowledge of a deep specialist in only one area. Is this a disadvantage? Certainly, this is not a disadvantage. On the contrary, this is an advantage because nowadays the world is interconnected and interdependent, so there is a need for employees who can collaborate by having some sufficient depth in several areas. Stated differently, Comb-shaped employees might be evaluated as more valuable than the I-shaped. Employees can develop from being I-shaped to Comb-shaped by committing to self-awareness and the courage to become agile lifelong learners who can change continuously and develop. What about comparing Comb-shaped with T-shaped, Pi-shaped and M-shaped? I think Comb-shaped emloyees and leaders are going to be in high demand, yet there is still one group to discuss.


bukva E

E-shaped is the last group, and it is my favorite. E-shaped is a concept similar to T-shaped where employees have depth and breadth and even more. E-shaped employees have a combination of 4 E’s that are Experience, Expertise, Exploration and Execution. Exploration and Execution are really essential in the current business world, yet I have serious doubts that E-shaped employees are of any demand because only 2 of the 4 E’s are considered. HR Search and Selection Professionals and Recruiters only evalute Experience and Expertise. They do not consider and evaluate the most crucial two that are Exploration and Execution. Besides, most of the organizations still function as the ones in the Industrial Age. Another reason is that the leadership and management practices do not create room for Exploration and Execution. However, there is a small amount of companies whose culture and leaders support E-shaped employees. In my opinion, there is no doubt that in the very near future most probably E-shaped employees will be in the highest demand since innovation requires more E-shaped leaders, employees and teams who are willing to explore in order to satisfy their curiosity, and who will be taking the risks to execute new ideas and innovate.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is a visionary, entrepreneur, game changer and billionaire. He is the founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SollarCity. Apart from these facts about Elon Musk, there are other facts which are really interesting. At the age of 10, Elon Musk was tested by IBM. The result was that he had one of the highest aptitudes for computer programming. 12 years old Elon Musk, sold his first software program, and he became an entrepreneur. When he was 17, he immigrated to Canada, attended Queen’s University, and later transferred to University of Pennsylvania. He worked, studied and lived in financially difficult conditions. At the age of 24, Elon Musk started his graduate studies at Stanford, but he dropped out to start his first company Zip2. He was a multi-millionaire when he was 28 years old. Then, his story continues with the foundation of the other companies. Elon Musk works 80-100 hours a week. Here are Elon Musk’s Top 10 Rules for Success. Remember all of them 🙂

I have one final questions for you to think and discuss: Which letter-shaped is Elon Musk? According to me one thing is for sure: Similarly to Elon Musk, future leaders and employees will be the ones who will solve our planet’s and humanity’s complex problems in a very collaborative manner, and the results will be very beneficial for all of us.

(Posted also on LinkedIn Pulse)

Building Sustainable Creative Culture

creative cultureEvery company has unique corporate culture which is a powerful factor that influences the style in which employees work and company functions. As a result, culture affects the success and failure of employees and the company itself. We all have experience in working in different companies and cultures. In my professional life, I have worked in different cultures, and I had the chance to observe how leaders and employees create the culture, and how this culture later influences their behaviors and decisions. I also had the chance to study and research the culture in Learning Organizations (LOs). In Learning Organizations, culture is a very important Organizational System that fosters learning.

Learning Culture

Culture in LOs is one that is based on learning, so it is defined as learning culture. It always creates opportunities for learning and supports learning. Learning culture or culture in LOs has many features. The first one is that learning is embedded in the vision and mission statement, so employees in LOs internalize the idea of learning and develop commitment to learning. Consequently, learning is encoded in the beliefs and values of all employees, which is the second feature. Publicly talking about learning or language that utters learning and learning related expressions in everyday life of a company is another feature. Dedication to learning is the next characteristic of learning culture, and employees in LOs are responsible for their own learning and development, so they are involved in their own personal mastery. As a result, in their daily activities while doing their jobs employees try to engage in learning. The other feature is that they learn from the external environment that is to say customers, competitors, shareholders or every source which can be useful for learning, improvement and business success. In LOs, there are three levels of learning that are individual, team and organizational learning. Their presence is a crucial feature of learning culture. Employees learn individually from their past experiences. They learn through their successes and failures. The second one is more important since learning from mistakes is very natural and useful. Stated differently, culture that allows and tolerates mistakes and failures is learning culture. Employees also learn among themselves, so mutual learning and team learning are another feature of learning culture. Learning criterion is included in the performance appraisal of employees, and consequently in the culture of LOs. As a result, symbols of learning are created. These are acknowledging and rewarding employees and teams that learn. Investment in learning is also another characteristic of learning culture. It means investment in learning in forms of incentives and bonuses. Besides, investment in learning is done by allocating money in technology and human resources training and development. Another feature is systems thinking. Employees in LOs have to possess the perception that the company is a whole. It is a system where everything is related, dependent and influenced. Open communication, communication in many directions, namely horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and cross-functional types of communication are needed in learning culture. Free transfer of data, information and especially knowledge is essential for learning. Successful companies are managed through values. Intuition, empathy, caring and support are very basic features of learning culture. Risk taking is the next one. Employees in LOs should be encouraged to take risks. Without taking risks and trying to function and do their jobs in a new and better way employees cannot learn and make improvements. Being proactive, or the ability of employees to foresee and solve problems even before they occur is also characteristic of learning culture. The last feature is the belief and action of constructing reality. Employees in LOs know that they can change their current reality, and they can create their own future. Shortly, culture that requires learning, creates opportunity for learning, values learning and rewards learning is actually learning culture.

In the 21st Century, being a LO is not enough because learning should be transformed in solving complex problems, finding creative solutions and engaging in innovation. However, being a LO is the starting point and the solid base for being a Creative Organization (CO). How many organizations are creative? What about yours? Is it a CO? Unfortunately, not many organizations are COs. Why? Simply because being a CO or building creative culture is not an easy task. One well known leader whose name is Ed Catmull has succeeded in building sustainable creative culture. He is a computer scientist and the current president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. How has Ed Catmull built this sustainable creative culture present in Pixar and Walt Disney? He has been consciously asking this question to himself, and he has devoted himself to build such culture. Based on his experience, he has written the book titled CREATIVITY, INC. OVERCOMING THE UNSEEN FORCES THAT STAND IN THE WAY OF TRUE INSPIRATION. It is a great guide full of leadership lessons that every leader willing to build sustainable creative culture should learn and apply.

Building Sustainable Creative Culture

I am not going to write book review, but I would like to discuss only the lessons that have made the greatest impact on me and the lessons that I have learned. I am going to remember these lessons because Ed Catmull wrote the book for anyone who wants to work in an environment that fosters creativity and problem solving.

1. Continuous Learning

The first lesson is about continuous learning. I have found an important analogy between the characteristics of learning culture and sustainable creative culture. That is why, I have started writing this article by discussing the features of learning culture. Ed Catmull is a leader with the highest degree of learning agility. He has been learning and building the sustainable creative culture at Pixar and later at Walt Disney Studios. Only a leader dedicated to learning and development can build a company that is dedicated to learning and development. At Pixar, failure is a manifestation of learning and exploration. As Ed Catmull states: “To be truly creative company, you must start things that might fail.” Pixar University is serious investment that supports continuous learning. Its unexpected benefit is the social interactions during the classes. Finally, it is useful for pushing people to learn and try things that they have not tried before.

2. Asking Questions

Ed Catmull is a leader who has been constantly asking questions to himself. He had the mental model provided by his teachers. The model was “how to lead and inspire other creative thinkers”. Ed Catmull’s life goal was to make the first computer animated film. He accomplished this by asking questions, and the first one was how to build an environment that is similar to the model provided by his teachers. For forty years he has been asking himself another question that is: “What does it mean to manage well?”. As a result, he has become a great leader. Ed Catmull asked questions not only to himself but also to Pixar’s employees. He went to people’s offices and asked their opinion on how Pixar was working and was not working. Actually, Ed Catmull writes: “We realized that our purpose was not merely to build a studio that made hit films but to foster a creative culture that would continually ask questions.”

3. Solving Problems

The third lesson is related to problem solving. Ed Catmull is a proactive leader who also makes his followers to be proactive in dealing with problems. He writes: “…we acknowledge we will always have problems, many of them hidden from our view; that we work hard to uncover these problems, even if doing so means making ourselves uncomfortable; and that, when we come across a problem, we marshal all our energies to solve it.” The important expectation at Pixar is that people can take steps to solve problems without asking permission, and indeed they solve problems while doing their jobs. If a leader does not try to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, or in other words deal with hiden problems, this leader will be not be able to lead successfully. Leaders can solve problems better if they are self-aware or aware of their blind spots.

4. Talent Centered

In order to succeed, Ed Catmull needed to attract the sharpest minds. He actually made a policy of trying to hire people who are smarter than he is. Why? The answer is simple because “the payoffs of exceptional people are that they innovate, excel and generally make the company, and also make you look good”. Employees who work for Pixar are free to decorate their work spaces as they wish because self-expression is valued. Ed Catmull has been asking the question: “How could we enable the talents of these people, keep them happy, and not let the inevitable complexities that come with any collaborative environment undo us along the way?” At Pixar, the most important is that ideas come from people, so people are more important than ideas. Shortly, finding, developing and supporting good people is crucial because they in turn will find, develop and own good ideas.

5. Communication

Similarly to learning culture, free communication is very important for creative culture. Every employee no matter their job title is free to speak, and as a result there is free flow of ideas. Unhindered communication is fundamental Pixar belief. At Pixar, there is healthy feedback system in which the focus is on the problem not the person. This feedback system is additive not competitive. In other words, each participant contributes something. Besides, frank talks and spirited debates are part of Pixar’s communication style.

6. Community and Collaboration

Pixar’s building is about community because Steve Jobs wanted this building to support the work by fostering collaboration. Ed Catmull sates: “We start from the presumption that our people are talented and want to contribute”. He spent nearly forty years thinking about how to help smart, ambitious people work effectively with one another, so he writes: “If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.” The important thing is to concentrate on team performance not on the individual talents that form this team because successful team is made up of team members who complement each other. Like the systems thinking in learning culture, in a healthy creative culture all constituents recognize the importance of balancing competitive desires. Achieving balance is the central goal of the company, so every creative company is like an ecosystem.

7. Quality and Excellence

Ed Catmull’s aim has always been to enable people to do their best work. He learned that Japanese had found a way of making production a creative endeavor that engaged its workers. Ed Catmull writes that the essence of just-in-time management and total quality control was: “The responsibility for finding and fixing problems should be assigned to every employee, from the most senior manager to the lowest person on the production line.” Pixar’s identity was finally cemented when Pixar employees only wanted to make films of the highest quality, and when they committed to that ideal. The communication style and the candid feedback system at Pixar lead to supporting and helping each other in the process of making better movies, or stated differently they ensure high quality. Constructive criticism is an art form which inspires the recipient. “Telling the truth is difficult, but inside a creative company it is the only way to ensure excellence.”

8. Constructing the reality

Ed Catmull’s belief is that the future is unmade and people at Pixar must create it. Besides, he believes that “the goal of creative people is to build their own mountain from scratch”. Many people think that driving the train is the way to shape company’s future. However, according to Ed Catmull “the real job is laying the track”. Moreover, Pixar’s leaders instead of doing this real job by themselves, they actually engaged all employees and spend the effort to keep Pixar on the right track. Actually, employees tell the leaders how to make Pixar better.

9. Human Values

I think this is the last and the most important lesson, so this is the reason I want to discuss it at the end. The ground for building sustainable creative culture is human values. According to me, sustainable creative culture can only be build on solid human values. For Ed Catmull, the most basic human value is the value of human talent. He writes: “I believe, to my core, that everybody has the potential to be creative – whatever form that creativity takes – and that to encourage such development is a noble thing”. Equality and respect are the other two values. Everyone at Pixar has a voice and every job and every employee is treated with respect. The other two values are candor and trust. Without candor, there can be no trust. Consequently, without trust creative collaboration is not possible. Integrity of the leader is a human value that is critical for the success of the company. Ed Catmull has been a leader with very high degree of integrity. He has always tried to do his best to walk the talk. In short, Catmull thinks that they should trust in people not in processes.

I hope Ed Catmull’s leadership lessons for building sustainable creative culture will be implemented in many companies so that employees will be more creative, more productive and happier. As a result, innovation will thrive. It will be even better if not only companies but societies as well apply these lessons and become societies that are based on human values and give great importance to creativity and innovation. I have been deeply impressed by Ed Catmull’s personality, his book and his leadership lessons. Also, I very much liked his lessons about creativity, so in one of my next posts, I am planning to write about them.

(Posted also on LinkedIn Pulse)

Empower Yourself with the Great Forces of Your Creative Potential

creative potential

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” (Ella Fitzgerald)

Do you agree? I do. Any activity in life done with inspiration and passion leads to positive results. I am sure you have your own experience and examples to give. For me like learning, writing is a process which flows naturally and passionately. I have been enjoying writing during all the stages of my formal education and later in my professional life. However, writing and publishing on Social Media Platforms is different. It requires willingness to share your ideas with broader audience and the courage to express yourself freely, correctly and passionately. Writing my blog and publishing here on LinkedIn makes me happy because my aim to write is to add value. Recently, some of my readers have been very kind to give me very sincere and positive feedback that they have found some value in reading my posts. Once more, I want to thank all of them because their constructive feedback has helped me to develop my writing style. Looking for inspiration, finding interesting topics to write, choosing from them, researching and reading, thinking and engaging in the creative process of writing is real joy. For this post, I had couple of topics in my mind, but I have been inspired by Yo-Yo Ma’s words, and the creative process of writing started evolving. Here in this post, you are going to find some tips that you can use to empower yourself with the great forces of your creative potential.

“Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while one is working.” (Henri Matisse)

What is inspiration? Inspiration is a sudden and strong feeling that you can use to unleash your creative potential.  The word inspiration comes from the Latin word “inspirare” which means “to breathe into”. In other words, finding inspiration or being inspired is as natural and easy as breathing, so every human being has the capacity to find inspiration, but the only condition is to be willing to find it. What about the meaning of inspiration? It refers to an unconscious burst of creativity in a literary, musical or any other artistic endeavor. Similarly to the meaning of the word creativity, here the meaning of inspiration has connotation closely related with arts and artists. That is why the definition of artistic inspiration is sudden creativity in artistic production such as a poem, song, painting etc. However, creativity is not only limited to arts. Actually, it has much broader meaning. Creative inspiration is the sudden creativity when a new invention like a unique or novel product, service, device, method or process is created. Stated differently, all people and you in particular can experience creative inspiration while working and doing your professional job. If you want to experience it more and be always inspired to create something new and original, you should follow the below stated steps.

1. Always look for inspiration
2. Engage in activities that inspire you
3. Go to unknown places
4. Meet new people
5. Spend time in nature
6. Meditate

Never doubt your creative potential. It is always there within you. Just use the magical forces. Especially, use the second one that you can easily find deep in your heart. It is your passion.

“Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you are passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.” (Yo-Yo Ma)

It is clear that Yo-Yo Ma is very passionate about what he does. Shall we watch and listen to him playing Bach Cello Suite N.1 – Prelude?

I do not think that there is a need to introduce the world renowned cellist. It is such a pleasure to listen to Yo-Yo Ma performing because he is playing the cello with great passion. Passion is defined as a very strong feeling of love about a person or thing, or it can also be defined as an intense emotion or compelling enthusiasm. George Bernard Shaw states that “there are passions far more exciting than the physical ones”, and he writes “intellectual passion, mathematical passion, passion for discovery and exploration are the mightiest of all passions”. Yes, this is the passion of great scientists, mathematicians and artists. However, there are ordinary people who have real passion about their profession or what they do. When people are passionate, they tend to be more enthusiastic, hardworking, happy, productive, creative and satisfied. Do you want to be more enthusiastic, creative and satisfied? You can, just by enforcing your passion.

1. Discover your passion
2. Trust in it
3. Nurture it
4. Cooperate with people who have similar passion
5. Never give up

 “Playing acoustic and line drawings are the two things I’m most competent at.” (Robyn Hitchcock)

Your competencies are your unique ingredients which you can harness as a powerful force to manifest your creativity. I think that this mixture of different competencies should be used to support your inspiration and passion. In other words, you can express your inspiration and passion through your competencies. Practice the following activities, and you can benefit from the creative potential hidden behind them.

1. Develop your current competencies
2. Enrich them by adding new ones
3. Apply all of them in new areas and different situations

“All experience is an arch, to build upon.” (Henry Adams)

Experience is accumulated throughout life. As a result, it is a powerful source for your creative potential. Especially if you have long years of experience in one and even better in several areas. You can dive freely in your diverse experience and ignite your creativity. How? Simply by performing the following:

1. Learn from your past experience
2. Apply it in different situations
3. Take risks for new experience
4. Mix your past and new experience
5. Diversify your experience

“To know what you know and what you do not know, that is true knowledge.”(Confucius)

Knowledge, similarly to your competencies and experience, is a powerful leverage for expressing your creativity. Deep knowledge in one field is like a well that can continuously nourish your creative potential. At the same time, you are luckier if you have very good amount of knowledge in several fields because connecting your knowledge in different fields can result in more creative outputs. Use your knowledge to your best.

1. Deepen your knowledge
2. Broaden it
3. Connect your knowledge from different fields
4. Continuously learn

Actually, these separate forces of inspiration, passion, competencies, experience and knowledge should be united or mushed so that your creative potential can flourish. Despite all the obstacles I had to overcome, and the fact that I have not been supported, I am glad because I have been always trying to use these forces and to be creative in Teaching, HR, LO, Talent and Leadership Development, and now in Writing. What about your forces? Do you harness them to your best? Do they help you to discover your creative potential and unleash your creativity?

Let’s conclude with a quote from Paulo Coelho whose passion for writing was enormous. For those of you who might not know his life story, I want to shortly summarize and share it because his life is a very exceptional example of living and working with passion and inspiration. When Paulo Coelho was a teenager he had a passionate interest in becoming a writer, and his passion for writing could not be stopped by what his parents did to him. They wanted Paulo Coelho to become a lawyer. However, he never gave up even when his parent put him in an asylum, and they had done this not only once but three times. Paulo Coelho had been institutionalized because of his passion to write. However, nothing stopped him, and he followed his passion to become the best-selling Portuguese-language writer in human history. Paulo Coelho found inspiration for all his books which have been translated into more than sixty languages. More than forty million copies of his novel The Alchemist, that you most probably have read, have been sold all around the world.

 “When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” (Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist)

As Paulo Coelho said, this is the gist for the progress of human civilization. We sould not waste human talents because the creative potential in you and in all of us will lead to positive developments in all areas of life, and this for sure is worth empowering ourselves with the great forces of our creative potential.

(Posted also on LinkedIn Pulse)

The Century of the DEO


Are leaders born or made? This is a question that has been so frequently asked. However, the answer is not clear yet. When leadership literature is studied, it is obvious that the leadership concept has been evolving. In the past, it was accepted that leaders were born. That is why the personal characteristics of leaders were underlined in the traits approach of leadership. Then, the leadership was discussed as a process of interaction between the leader and his followers. These two views of leadership should be considered, and the conclusion is that leaders are born with some leadership traits and leaders are made by developing their leadership knowledge, skills and competencies.

When the same question is being asked now, the stronger answer is that leaders are made. Why? Because the 21st Century is such a dynamically changing period that requires leaders to learn, unlearn, relearn and develop continuously. Nowadays, it is broadly discussed that leadership development is the top HR issue and the first HR priority. In Korn Ferry Global Study: Succession Matters – Impactful Leadership Development and Accelareted Learning, it is written there simply aren’t enough individuals who are “ready now” to step into senior leadership roles. This is the main reason for the leadership development activities in many companies. Leaders attend different leadership development programs in order to learn and develop. Along with the formal in-house leadership development, there is a need for additional development methods. One of the most effective methods is self-development. Self-development requires reflection, self-assessment and self-awareness. All of these can be mastered by reading and thinking. One excellent book that I have recently read, and I would like to suggest is RISE of the DEO. In this post, I am aiming to review the book and shortly highlight the characteristics of the DEO.


Before reviewing the book, it is a good idea to understand what the DEO stands for and its definition. DEO stands for Design Executive Officer, and here is its definition.


RISE of the DEO

Rise of the DEO

RISE of the DEO written by Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland is a great book for leaders who want to read, reflect and self-develop. Maria Giudice is a Director of Product Design at Facebook. Cristopher Ireland is a Cofounder of Mix and Stir Studio. They discuss the DEO in more than 200 pages, but my review is going to be short enough to give you a general picture of the book itself.



In this first part, the DEO is depicted as a Change AgentRisk Taker, Systems Thinker, Intuitive, Socially Intelligent and GSD. The DEO is not afraid of change. On the contrary, she boldly promotes change. That is why, the DEO is a change agent. Change is accelerating, and doing nothing or not taking risks results in failures. Risk taking is so essential for survival, true originality and innovation. For the DEO, risk taking is the key ingredient of creativity, so developing the risk taking skill is vitally important for her. Actually, the DEO turns the risk into experimentation and collaboration. This means that the DEO starts with a well-articulated framework that guides the risk taking process. The DEO is a systems thinker because he has to deal with the fast speed of increasing complexity. As defined in the book systems thinking is the ability to understand connections, and it’s the recognition that much of what occurs around us is the result of linked systems that influence one another in subtle ways. The DEO sees his company as an ecosystem, and he tries to understand its interlocking connections. As a result, he masters the systems thinking skill and applies it habitually. (If you are interested, you may read more about this skill in Why and How should Leaders practice Systems Thinking?To be intuitive is to feel something without necessarily being able to explain how and why you know it. The DEO is highly intuitive since she uses her intense perceptual and observation skills or her deep expertise. For example, she can analyze market opportunities, and then use intuition to discern elusive but critical specifics. Besides, the DEO appreciates the intuitive ability in others. Social intelligence is another feature of the DEO. He prefers spending time with employees and customers rather than equipment or spreadsheets. He connects with people because he knows that every interaction is a potential goldmine for information. The DEO connects with others and integrates them into well-defined and accessed networks. GSD is the innocent looking acronym that is short for Get Shit Done. In fact, stated politely it means that the DEO makes things happen. She balances dreaming, planning and doing, and by implementing the 80-20 rule, she also directs the most efforts where it is likely to do the most good.


In the second part of the book, the two writers discuss Co-creation, Networks and Communities, Mentoring vs. Managing, Crafting Culture, Care and Feedingand Place Matters. Employees can be more insightful and intelligent collectively then they can individually. Since the DEO is aware of this, she recognizes the benefits of “we”, so she encourages and promotes collaboration, cooperation and teamwork. Knowing the positive benefits of co-creation, the DEO finds ways to make it flourish in her company. She integrates more stakeholders which results in increasing everyone’s feelings of inclusion and commitment. Joining networks and communities, is not only an indicator of the DEO’s social competence, but also a strategy by which he creates value. He tries to construct two types of networks that are deep and wide. The deep networks are composed of experts and specialists, whereas the wide ones unite a broad range of people who may have little in common. Mentoring is a very important topic today, and many companies have mentoring programs. The DEO does not manage, she mentors. Mentoring is focused on the employees, and it is about guiding them to grow and become more proficient and successful. As it is known, managing is about control and conformity.Company culture is the unique collection of beliefs and practices that communicates company values. Well-designed culture unites all stakeholders in a shared understanding of the right things to do and the wrong things to avoid. The DEO purposefully and effectively designs and builds authentic and meaningful company culture because he recognizes its power. A strong company culture reflects the DEO’s own values, beliefs and behaviors. Care and feeding are essential for employees’ happiness, and the DEO knows this very well. Different employees want different working conditions and benefits. Consequently, the DEO tries to add flexible schedules, mobile working, daycare or care for aging parents and other benefits. Keeping and attracting talented employees is only possible by caring and recognizing them. The DEO is aware that place matters. The traditional working environments were designed to separate departments and discourage spontaneous collaboration because their primary goal was to reinforce hierarchy, linear problem solving and controlled communications. On the other hand, the DEO redesigns the working place to support her company’s distinct processes and people, increase communication and collaboration and enhance creativity and innovation.


Positive Passion, Expertise, Problem Solving, Permission to Fail, Playful Workand Iterate and Evolve are the subtopics in part 3. The DEO knows instinctively that he can only be successful if he pursues his passion. The DEO is careful to express his positive passion in a manner that is engaging and collaborative because he is dependent on the skills and supports of others. Besides, the DEO motivates the employees to follow their hearts resiliently and optimistically. The DEO continues to practice his expertise as part of running the business, rather than rise above his expertise as he gains power and authority. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg’s ability to code adds to his credibility with his engineers and positively affects to the growth and development of Facebook. Moreover, the DEO’s expertise is a power that helps him to look ahead, and he also urges his company to constantly better itself or even reinvent if needed. Traditional managers and leaders see problems as negatives to be minimized. On the contrary, the DEO chooses problems carefully and uses them to explore and expand her creativity. Problem solving starts with framing the problem that means identifying what is wrong and what are the causes. DEO’s close observation and deep understanding help her to frame problems correctly, and as a result she can solve them easily. She can also solve problems creatively since she is skilled in divergent thinking which is defined as the ability to conceive of many options or alternatives. She has also mastered the acceptance of ambiguity in problem solving, so she helps the team to shift focus from the solution to process. The DEO does not fear failure. She actually givespermission to fail because she knows that sometimes it is inevitable and sometimes it is needed for success. Woody Allen says if you are not failing every now and again, it is a sign you are not doing anything very innovative. Academics and developmental scientists have studied play and its worth in every aspect of life including at work. The DEO permits play at work because it helps employees to be less judgmental and more receptive and creative. He integrates play into the company’s environment by welcoming toys and playrooms in the office. He also integrates it into the company’s processes by scheduling a planning meeting on the ski slopes or a strategy session at the zoo. The DEO feels that to iterate and evolve is natural and healthy. She also knows the benefits of an iterative approach to innovation, so she encourages employees to iterate and evolve.


The DEO has the following characteristics which are Integrity, Humility, Generosity and Originality. Integrity is very important, and the DEO who has integrity aligns his personal and business values in a way that is honest, reasonable and authentic. He is a role model of integrity, and he expects and encourages others to live and work with integrity. According to Oprah Winfrey real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody is going to know whether you did it or not. Arrogance is an exaggerated sense of superiority and dominance, whereas humility is an acknowledgement of limitations and connectedness. As a result, the DEO recognizes and values humility in himself and his colleagues. His humility helps him to generously praise others. Generositycreates value, so the DEO shares informantion because it is infinitely extendable, and sharing it does not decrease his store of it. Moreover, sharing information prompts diverse opinions and improves the overall level of discourse. He also shares connections by introducing friends and colleagues, and this is another example of win-win generosity. The DEO knows that originality does not mean adopting an eccentric stance or rebelling against everything. The DEO’s originality comes from integrating her full range of interests and talents and even including those that seem contradictory. It also comes from embracing her passions and preferences regardless of how the rest of the world reacts. DEO’s originality emerges naturally, and it demands mastery, adaptability and curiosity. Consequently, the DEO’s unique personality is easy to admire but difficult to imitate.

The two writers of the book Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland support their ideas by writing some DEO Profiles. In every profile, they give real life examples by interviewing real DEOs such as Carl Bass (President and CEO of Autodesk), Jesse Ziff Cool (Entrepreneur and Author) and Chris Anderson (Curator for TED Conferences) just to name a few.

RISE of the DEO is an excellent book about leadership by design, and it provides guidance and workouts for leaders who want to develop themselves and become the DEOs of this century. Our world needs many passionate DEOs because there are global problems such as climate change, poverty, inequality and etc. DEOs with big hearts and humane visions should cooperate to make the world a much better place to live. I really enjoyed reading the book, and now writing about it, and I think it is worth reading. Enjoy the reading and your self-reflection process.

(Posted also on LinkedIn Pulse)