"Innovation is CREATIVITY that ships" (Steve Jobs). Not a PowerPoint slidedeck.

Archive for December, 2016

Reverse Offshoring through Intrapreneurship: A Strategy for Blue Collar Asset Management

Keywords: Rural Entrepreneurship, Technology Transfer, Regional Economic Growth

“CEOs are going to think harder about the consequences about moving jobs overseas.” (a response based on a trending tweet)

The quagmire facing policy makers is the question of job creation for the unemployed and underemployed in blue-collar America. While there are many answers to this question, it has been the topic du jour in many election campaigns.

I pondered about “Blue Collar Asset Management” (BCAM) over a bowl of Kellogg. In this note I will offer some rudimentary ideas for enhancing the economic security for blue-collar America.

First and foremost, taking a page from The Boys in the Boat, let’s not forget that “skilled hands [in America] can [also] do a lot more than tap at screens.”

As a nation, we need to reexamine the value chain of a business that is primarily driven by outsourcing and/or “shipping jobs overseas” [as a corporate policy] and “employ” (pun intended) tactics for systematically recovering and rebuilding the core competencies of a firm (lost due to sub-optimal decision-making, lackluster human capital management, or myopic cost cutting).

From a business perspective, with the default bias towards offshoring (selective or total), the prevailing trend is to use contingent staffing (nearshore, offshore) to get things done and, in the process, transfer technology and know-how to temporary resources. This strategy, in my view, leads to a gradual erosion of intellectual capital of the firm. Often there are other unintended consequences such as a “fox guarding the hen house.”

While profit maximization has received greater focus, preserving the core competencies or core capability management has received lesser scrutiny and has been off the radar of senior leadership, including the boardroom, in most companies.

Consequently, a firm’s ability to effectively compete for the future is at risk, which in turn impacts job creation, employment, and regional economic growth.

The recent Twitter prompts from the echelons or top of the pyramid could be viewed as a constructive nudge with a dash of positivity, if you will, to discuss the undiscussable (job creation in America) and cause a visible change in priorities in the corporate boardrooms towards the following:

  • How can we pivot to a significant shift towards Reverse Offshoring through Intrapreneurship (ROI)?
  • Can we germinate a Silicon Valley mindset across all zip codes to generate the momentum for entrepreneurial capitalism in America?

Pocock derived enormous pride from his work. He would not make more boats than he could make with perfection and beauty. “No one will ask you how long it took to build,” he said. “They will only ask who built it.”

“There remains a cultlike devotion to the wooden works of boatbuilding art. As long as it lasts, there will be a need for the Pocock type of boat-maker.”

Let us leverage the creativity of the Turnaround Management Association to turnaround distressed businesses on Main Street and coach, mentor, teach, and motivate the unemployed and underemployed to become both producers (entrepreneurs) who have a similar passion as a Pocock type of boat-maker.” These are the real-life case studies that B-schools could use for experiential learning and build community. We should also promote intrapreneurship inside the company and find ways to minimize or reduce the default dependence on offshoring.

Using an ROI lens in Main Street (not just Wall Street) and taking a page from Karma Yoga, let’s work together to “bind the wounds of division”  and practice Trauma Informed Leadership  in a Tidal world (TILT).

By working together with a renewed sense of purpose, we can increase our Tenacity quotient, Intellectual quotient, and Emotional intelligence quotient, “bind the wounds of division” (TIEd across all communities), and reduce the prevailing empathy deficit.

There is plenty of physical space in a number of strip malls where businesses have filed for Chapter 11. Why not use those spaces as incubators to engage with the community and champion entrepreneurship education by targeting the underemployed and underemployed. My sentiment is that a face-to-face encounter in a physical space can be game changer and bring people together while engaged in purposeful activities. Little things can make a big difference.

Relying on hope, my instinct tells me that with the collective wisdom, sponsorship, empathy, activism, and clout of the corporate boardroom and policy makers, we can form a coalition of the willing, operating without any quid pro quo and choosing to give more and take less, to make Reverse Offshoring through Intrapreneurship (ROI) as one of the core levers for Blue Collar Asset Management (BCAM) and enhance the security of blue-collar America.

Time is of the essence to act courageously like a leader for the American Commerce Turnaround (lights, camera, ACTion)!

The Art and (Scion)ce of Binding the Wounds of Division

As the President-elect remarked, we need to bind the wounds of division in our community. Turning a page from history, in the second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln had also issued the clarion call for binding up the nation’s wounds.”

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

The collective work to heal these wounds is past due. Are these wounds (personified) in the ER? The nation currently suffers from a significant empathy deficit.

Over a bowl of Kellogg today, I noodled about the market positioning and relevance of the Scion branded hotels while reinventing Brand America.

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I understand that Scion’s strategic intent is to leverage “convertible public spaces — transitional, multifunctional spaces that can bend to guest needs”, facilitate “connections,” and become a “place to be,” creating a “community vibe.”

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In an increasingly online world the real-estate for community spaces (that are non-retail) in the physical world seems to be ever shrinking. Dr. Nisha Sajnani, Lesley University, has identified in her groundbreaking work on Trauma Informed Leadership that “schools may be one of the only spaces we have left where we can experience a convergence of children, families, public servants, municipal leaders, and other community members.” This clearly demonstrates that there is a yearning for hospitable physical spaces for relaxed conversations and connections in a social environment, community building and healing.

In order to “bind the wounds of division” in the community, physical spaces play a paramount role. Human to human interactions that are heart to heart (high touch, low tech) in a safe space enable healing, repair broken relationships, and rebuild trust. Only in the real-world can the physicality of the connection emerge. “The action is in the interaction” for the change to emerge. Professor Joe Brockner, Columbia University, also emphasizes that the [engagement] process does matter (i.e, HOW we interact; little things we do can make a big difference) in order to create positive experiences for everyone involved in the dialogue and achieve better outcomes for everyone.

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, I believe that there is a great opportunity for the hospitality industry to fill this void and raise the bar for making a difference.

HOW can a business play a key role in “binding the wounds of division” by hosting spaces for community convergence and leading by example? This requires striking a dynamic balance between profit maximization (doing well) and social responsibility (doing good).

“You haven’t lived today until you’ve done something for someone who can never repay you.” 
John Bunyan

Hosting is at the center of humanity. Host leaders in the Scion branded community space will serve as a catalyst to usher and unleash new energy and bring people together with an open heart. They notice the possibility of what is happening and emerging and steer the group to hold the space collectively.

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Given that there is generational trauma in many parts of America, we need to practice Trauma Informed Leadership. Consistent with this narrative, Prof Sheena Iyengar, Columbia University, also observes that “we are currently in a world where each of us is searching to find our authentic self.” I imagine that community building in the Scion space will “bind the wounds of division” and promote healing.

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A Scion branded hosting space will offer room for people to tap skills, resources, contact and time (e.g., conduct training programs on entrepreneurship or converge on a turnaround plan for a distressed business or a healing circle).

As the famous architect Frank Gehry once said, “it is important to create spaces that people like to be in, that are humanistic.” Such spaces shape the context for meaning to emerge and new ideas to surface.

Serving as bridge builders, host leaders play the roles as gatekeeper, inviter and connector. They also sow the seeds of Trauma Informed Leadership in a sacred and hospitable space to build resilient communities.

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I imagine that Scion will be not only have a presence in major metropolitan areas but also in the American heartland while simultaneously enhance the signature strength of the brand.

“Binding the wounds of division” is more than just a tweet and it is essential to realize that only through the art of forgiveness, with patience and determination, can old wounds heal and replenish depleted emotional bank accounts.

Let us leverage the physical spaces around us across the zipcodes to meet eye to eye, align our perspectives, and work together to:

  • Compete for the future (“race” against time);
  • Recognize that the only “race” is the human race;
  • Decrease our CAGE (*) distances in a bias for unity; and [CAGE: Cultural, Administrative, Geographic, Economic]
  • Inch closer towards “I have a Dream” (envisioned by Martin Luther King)

“Irish poet and novelist Edna O’Brien summed it up nicely: “In a way Winter is the real Spring — the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of Nature. […] Sometimes we just need to look toward what can be, and remember, in a more hopeful twist on the popular saying from the Game of Thrones, “Spring (*) is coming.””( * : empathy and healing)
Washington State Magazine, Winter 2016

As an American citizen at the grassroots level, I am interested in contributing and being a part of the conversation vis-a-vis reinventing Brand America.