domingo, junio 19, 2011

How to Cross the Thin Line from Arrogance to Leadership

Roberto Verganti, the author of the book Design-Driven Innovation, sent me a Linkedin message that partly said: “I have posted a new blog on Harvard Business Review Online, titled "Quantity versus quality in collaborations". Hope you may find it interesting. Please feel free to contribute to the discussion and leave comments.”

Next are the first two comments that I plan to make so far:

Comment 1: Replacing Arrogance with Leadership

Hi everyone!

“Arrogance means ‘offensive display of superiority or self-importance.’” I am coming to defend the people some of you think are arrogant, when in contrast they are actually leaders, a “person that leads.” To further explain Mr. Alessi’s behavior as a leader, which by the way he has already proven to be, I am adding three examples.

The first and more general example is that of Charles Sanders Peirce, the philosopher who discovered the logic of the surprise, which he called abduction. Abduction is to be added to deduction and induction. Abduction is what enables us learning from the future, which allows leaders to make claims that are superior to past experience without necessarily being offensive.

Peirce was believed to be very arrogant in his time. But, after he was rehabilitated by the scientific community, almost a century later, he is now the leader who sets the new standard based on a paradigm shift in which he is not longer consider arrogant.

However, for a very long period of time his work lay dormant from wide practical application. By being marginalized from his society as arrogant he became very poor. When I learned about Peirce experience several years ago, I became outspoken about my claims, but so far, as Simon and Garfunkel Boxer Lyrics goes:
I am just a poor boy.
Though my story's seldom told,
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocketful of mumbles,
Such are promises
All lies and jest
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest
The second is about Mr. Steve Jobs, the leader who has raised the bar of true Design Thinking superiority. If I take only the good part of the definition of abduct, “to carry off or lead away … in secret,” Mr. Jobs is the master. But, in Roberto’s book, Design-Driven Innovation, Mr. Jobs might seem at first to be even more arrogant than Mr. Alessi.

On page vii of his book, Roberto writes that "A marketing manager for Apple described its market research as consisting of 'Steve looking in the mirror and asking himself what he wanted." Paraphrasing notmd, “My view…” of Mr. Jobs "… is that he ... know[s] best… the general public are amateurs."

This is my practical explanation of how he truly knows best. Just like Mr. Alessi, Mr. Jobs asked himself what he wanted, after having integrated and synthesized previous quality collaborations with interpreters into his newly updated mental model.

That also explains why Roberto is able to say, on page 222 of his book, that “An executive is irreplaceable when it comes to choosing the vision – the radical new meaning – that will drive a company’s future innovation.” By being irreplaceable, they can only be called leaders.

While interpreters of any particular discipline may have partial non-trivial knowledge, that others simply don’t have, let’s assume nonetheless that they might be as good as any amateur when it comes at learning from past experience. To me, what distinguish the interpreters from amateurs is their capacity to provide insightful and very valuable meaning into the emerging future and its culture.

Now, in this third example, most people would read what I am about to say as arrogant. To make it a lot worse, I am writing about myself. Enabling “radical new meaning,” but for a whole industry, is exactly what I have already done, by investing a huge amount of my time and effort, without very little external financial support.

When I made my first proposal to solve the electricity crisis of the Dominican Republic in 1996, I was already a fairly multidisciplinary designer, who knew very well how the industry operated. During this past 15 years, I have become a very broad multidisciplinary interpreter and designer.

With what has emerged through me, for the whole global electric power industry, I was able to create the socially inclusive and minimalist Electricity Without Price Controls Architecture Framework (EWPC-AF). To continue reading, please consider taking a look at my second comment, directed to Roberto, “A Personal Story about Crossing the Arrogant-Leadership Line.”

Comment 2: A Personal Story about Crossing the Arrogant-Leadership Line

Hi Roberto

Thank you for also sending me a message on Linkedin about your blog post, which has derived into a very interesting discussion. In addition to my first comment “Replacing Arrogance with Leadership,” I continue to tell a personal story related to the understanding behind Quantity vs. Quality in Collaborations.

Many people, including close friends, have at some time or another told me that I was arrogant, probably because I was not supposed to be a leader. The aim of close relatives has gone as far as to ask me to stop doing what I am doing. They want me to take a regular job. Looking myself in Peirce mirror, that’s why I am taking this as a great opportunity to reflect on the difference between arrogance and leadership.

I mentioned the EWPC-AF, in my first comment, as I have been interacting with the design discourse of the power industry for almost all my professional life. That is, since I got a scholarship in 1965, from my country’s vertically integrated electric power company that was restructured in 1999 rejecting my advice. The results up to this day have been huge value destruction.

Now, the closer relation of my story to your blog post is in the recent experience on the highly massive IEEE Spectrum Smart Grid game, that was run for 24 hours on the Foresight Engine of the Institute For The Future (IFTF). While it seemed that the Engine was all about quantity, I knew from my experience as a player on the IEEE Spectrum Energy-H2O game of the year before and my proactive research of the IFTF main site, that it had an even higher potential on quality.

After the Smart Grid game ended, with my understanding that the status quo scenario (Goliath) had lost to the EWPC-AF scenario (David), an uncertain period had already emerged. Having the mentioned experience of the Energy-H2O game, I thought I was going to be able to see the whole information display about the Smart Grid game.

But, my first surprise was that the display was not available. Getting ahead of me, for a moment, in several occasions I have checked since and the whole site has been down. Using your terminology of collaborative networks, I suspect that the Innovation Community network headed by the IEEE Spectrum was taken over by the Elite Circle network of the status quo that seems to control the IEEE Spectrum.

Trying to draw the attention of the IEEE Spectrum and IFTF, using repeatedly several social network communication channels, a week after game ended, I wrote and sent the blog post Was the EWPC-AF_Creator the All Around Winner of the Smart Grid 2025 Game? Relative to Quantity vs. Quality in Collaborations, in that post I stated that:

“It is important to understand that the experiments conducted in the Foresight Engine collaborative community are generally known for its capacity to exploit the “Wisdom of Crowds,” by building up ideas that engage players to gain momentum as an analytic feasible winning scenario. But, according to the IFTF it is also very powerful and useful device to facilitate collaborative testing by players in the community, of what they call “outlier” ideas, like that of the original EWPC-AF idea, that I claim are synthesized by one person or a very small team.” That's exactly what Peirce was against when he developed his scientific architecture.

It is because of those outlier ideas that the late Charles Sanders Pierce, Mr. Alessi, Mr. Jobs, and myself seem to be arrogant. Unlike Alessi and Jobs, however, that are industry leaders of companies in the open market, but similar to Peirce, on the scientific establishment, I have set up myself to change the structure for the good of a whole industry. Like Peirce, I am up against a very powerful status quo establishment that wants to extend the obsolete, fragmented, and socially exclusive, Investor Owned Utilities Architecture Framework and its highly complex incremental extensions. Even with a paradigm shift of the EWPC-AF, I have yet been unable to make a dent on the status quo.

Having made a lot of post game effort, I was able to show my leadership, as I was declared to be the game’s winner playing as the EWPC-AF_Creator. To see how I shifted from arrogance to leadership, please take a look at the IEEE Spectrum web site podcast Examining the Results of the Smart Grid 2025 Game, of an interview of Jake Dunagan, IFTF’s team leader, by Steven Cherry. Please also look into my comments after the podcast transcript. From said transcript, I take the following:

Steven Cherry: So in the end Smart Grid 2025 was a game. Who won?

Jake Dunagan: Well, this also gets complex. So a player named Raoul Villar won by the bulk points we had, which tend to reward longer conversations, so if you have a card that’s played and other people have that conversation, then that player is rewarded. But sometimes—I think this happened in our game—some of these threads got to be so long that the points were so high, that some players zoomed ahead of others. So I found on our blog one of the players actually came up with an alternative system of scoring and a proposal to declare different winners for the Smart Grid game. Now in this person’s model, the player EWPC-AF CREATOR won, with SECRET ENGINEER second, MATHPUNK third, and Raoul Villar came in fourth, and LEAKFOOT came in fifth. So we had players sort of reimagining our scoring system to find something more fair in their eyes.

Since the above paragraph might still leave a bit of space to reject my leadership, a Devils’ Advocate may say it is not 100 percent conclusive. But, to cast away any doubt, player Raul V.R. (translated as Raoul Villar) kindly confirmed in writing that I was the winner.

No hay comentarios: