Coronavirus and How to Optimize Online Work

The current crisis of Covid-19 is affecting people and companies; furthermore, it will affect the way that we conduct future businesses. The business landscape is changing dramatically; it is creating new opportunities and ways of working that we should all embrace.

Some great companies, with strong balance sheets, will emerge more robust than ever. We will, for sure, experiment concentration of power across sectors. The smaller agile and lean businesses might survive just well. Face-to-face service-oriented companies are suffering, and we will see large and mid-sized companies with weak balance sheets disappear.

During times of crisis, you should not panic. I am a believer that we should prepare for the worst but expect the best. What if the current Work from Home experience works well for companies and people? It can change the way of working from now on.

I am a global ambassador and coach at OpenExO, a community with the purpose of “Transforming the World for a Better Future.” We are more than 3,600 virtual consultants and coaches around the world, working from co-working spaces, coffee shops, airports, trains, homes, etc.

In a couple of weeks, we created and launched the ExO World Conference, a completely live, online, and interactive three-day transformative conference occurring April 14 till 16, 2020.

Additionally, during the week of March 16, three hundred of us worked together in the global ExO Challenge COVID-19. We created more than 20 exponential solutions to problems originated by the current pandemic. There are several remote teams already working on implementing their ideas, and we can’t wait to see the next steps! This experiment was designed, created, and executed online in record time by people around the world working synchronously and asynchronously within a 24-hour schedule each day.

Much like Openexo, many other organizations used to online and remote work are moving forward, adjusting their plans. Others are embracing and learning about the work from home experience and will soon be able to adapt. Sadly, either not everyone around the world will have the same resources to accommodate fast to online work or will not readily accept the change; unfortunately, they will become laggards.

I spend a considerable portion of my time working from home as an entrepreneur, advisor, and coach. During my experience with global corporations, I took my first training to operate and manage remote virtual teams in 2002 and have worked many years with regional and global organizations.

This week, reflecting on what is going on with the Coronavirus, I revised my experiences from working online with digital tools and people around the world. I decided to share some simple tips that I have found useful and vital to working and collaborating effectively online.

  1.  You don’t need to know how to use every productivity application out there, but you should at least become familiar with the communication and social apps that make a good fit for the team. I am a heavy user of Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Discord, Slack, and Teamwork.
  2. When leading an online meeting, I try to be disciplined and human, demonstrating care for each of the participants is essential. I recommend starting online sessions allocating time to share feelings and things that are competing for attention. Facilitate but leave room for serendipity.
  3. Differentiate your governance meetings to manage the business of the business from your tactical meetings to move projects forward.
  4. Prepare the meeting’s agenda ahead and allocate extra time for technology mismatches and confusion, as we joke at the EXO’s community, “AI is easier than AV.”
  5. Encourage every participant to engage, call people by name and let them know that it is ok to say “pass” if they prefer not to respond. It is an excellent practice to coordinate with small groups; I find 5-6 people an ideal size for an online SWAP team.
  6. Keep your cameras on and energize the conversation by using facial expressions, hand gestures, smiles, and direct eye contact with the camera. Encourage questions and comments in the chat to keep everyone engaged.
  7. Ask people if they are ok recording the video calls so others who could not participate can watch and catch up offline. This practice allows everyone to come back to review the discussions and conclusions.
  8. Collaborate on shared files while on video, I used GDrive and OneDrive. It is useful to get the job done and to keep people engaged.
  9. Follow up with people after the sessions and gain feedback to make it better next time. In addition to the official meetings, we adopted “water-coolers”, informal voluntary meetings during the week for team members to discuss any topic.
  10. Get buy-in from everyone on decisions and make them explicit. If the team is not in agreement with the changes, the process will fail.

Humanity has a fantastic future ahead. This pandemic will increase the momentum to transform many institutions. This moment is not only about finding ways to survive in the current reality, but it is also an opportunity to build a 10x better world!

Feel free to add any tips that have helped you work and collaborate effectively online!

Unlocking Business Potential in the Digital Era

Similarly, the most significant problems of our time are global and require globally coordinated solutions. All these partnerships need more trust and transparency to succeed.

Businesses have always changed with the times, but the confluence of technological innovations such as mobile, cloud, social, and Big Data analytics are accelerating the pace and generating new business models, allowing disrupters better serve their customer and drive growth.

Cloud computing and data technology significantly reduce CapEx as well as operating and maintenance costs while allowing access to computing power to process an ever-increasing volume of data. For example, car-sharing services enable private cars to temporarily become taxis, monitoring drivers and riders, adjusting prices and routes throughout the day.

Distributed systems enable redundant and resilient networks that protect the integrity of the systems. If data is distributed between multiple servers, there may not be any data loss even if a storage device ceases to work.

Data security is of particular importance in distributed systems, and advanced cryptography secures both network and transactions to their integrity.

Together, these technologies enable the potential for blockchain to allow for new collaborative and trusted behaviors that are unlocking new business models.

Fluid Chains’ process leverages the concepts of Exponential Organizations by @salimismail, and it has helped us to simplify the complexity of new interconnected prosperous opportunities. The Exponential Attributes had facilitated to our customer the development of accelerated global coordinated solutions. The application of attributes varies by project and by industry, below a short explanation on how the attributes have been helping our Distributed Ledger projects.

Leveraging External Communities via project incentives is vital to creating value for any blockchain project, it allows to turn community members into engaged advocates participating of securing the network and making the difference between success and failure for the new distributed organizations created around these decentralized projects. Cryptographic Algorithms and hashing, a cryptographic method of converting any data into a string of characters, keep the blockchain secure.

APIs had allowed developers to leverage open source software and build marketplaces with next-generation applications and projects; Interfaces are key in blockchain projects to enable the community to connect with systems. Blockchain technology is in an early stage, the best time to find the right use case for your business problem across your industry, get into space, set a small group in a design thinking process, experiment, learn, measure and pivot.

Autonomy of contributors and stakeholders is a crucial concept for how people related and interact with blockchain projects and each other. It creates efficiencies within individual actors direct their efforts, circumventing inefficiencies of top-down control

At Fluid Chains we integrate the transformational power of blockchain into your organization to create ventures with exponential scaling potential and sustainable business models.

Plataformas Exponenciales

Emprendedores y ejecutivos con la misión de crear nuevas oportunidades y/o unidades de negocio están buscando como establecer negocios de plataforma, el modelo de moda en la era del internet. Un negocio de plataforma es aquel que facilita la interacción entre consumidores y productores. Es importante diferenciarlo de las plataformas tecnológicas, las cuales son herramientas de hardware y software que hacen funcionar e integran cadenas de valor desagregadas, por ejemplo, entre participantes de una industria específica.

Así un negocio de plataforma no es sólo software, redes sociales y conectividad. Es un modelo de negocio holístico que crea valor al reunir a consumidores y productores. La verdad es que construir un negocio de plataforma no es fácil. Sin embargo, cuando tienen éxito, pueden convertirse en lo que se ha denominado ‘los monopolios modernos’ del internet, descritos como Amazon, Apple, Facebook y Google por Scott Galloway en su libro ‘the four’.

Los negocios de plataforma exitosos generan círculos virtuosos, por los cuales, a más usuarios, más oferta, y a más oferta, más usuarios. Esta característica, también conocida como ‘efectos de red‘, ha permitido a compañías, inicialmente en la industria de las telecomunicaciones y más recientemente a empresas en el sector de tecnologías de información, multiplicarse exponencialmente.

Las plataformas logran generar disrupción en las industrias porque consiguen crear lo que Jeremy Rifkin llama en su libro, “La sociedad de coste marginal cero.” Por ejemplo, para AirBnB los gastos de ofrecer cien habitaciones son prácticamente los mismos que los de ofrecer un millón. Para Uber, ofrecer uno o diez millones de transportes tiene un costo muy parecido.

Por otra parte, las Organizaciones Exponenciales (ExOs), son un nuevo tipo de organización que aprovecha la abundancia de información y las cuales están transformando industrias. Un ExO debe contar con un Propósito Transformador Masivo, utilizar por lo menos cuatro atributos exponenciales, y no menos importante debe ser en esencia un modelo de negocio basado en una plataforma, en un ecosistema, y/o en productos como servicio basados en datos e información.

Un negocio moderno de plataforma es una de las formas correctas de establecer y escalar estas oportunidades. Para obtener éxito, es esencial basar el funcionamiento holístico del negocio en atributos exponenciales tales como comunidad, compromiso, activación de los datos via algoritmos, apalancamiento de activos, interfaces, experimentación, validación de hipótesis y creación de prototipos. Asimismo, para una empresa ya constituida, es importante gerenciar independientemente su nuevo negocio de plataforma, esto evita las fricciones con el “sistema inmune” de la organización actual, comprobado como la principal razón para el fracaso de la innovación disruptiva.

La cuarta revolución industrial está marcada por la convergencia de tecnologías digitales, físicas y biológicas, y está cambiando la forma en que vivimos, trabajamos y nos relacionamos. Las ExOs y sus atributos están alineadas con la nueva jerarquía que la convergencia tecnológica está implantando. Esta jerarquía de la cuarta revolución industrial es una pirámide invertida, la cual está siendo liderada por compañías con productos de solo información, serán las más exitosas y el mayor número.  Le seguirán compañías con productos físicos con flujos de ingresos basados en información, como Apple o Amazon en sus orígenes.  El tercer grupo, el cual será el más pequeño, está constituido por compañías tradicionales que logren extender su modelo de negocio de productos físicos habilitándolos con información y datos.

En resumen, proponemos seis atributos exponenciales claves para los equipos buscando encontrar el Product-Market-Fit y generar ‘efectos de red’ en su Plataforma Exponencial:

  1. Definir un Propósito Transformacional Masivo.
  2. Fomentar el intercambio de servicios, mediante el análisis y activación de DATOS.
  3. Apalancar en los activos de los socios de negocio y de la comunidad en procura de alcanzar coste marginal cero.
  4. Atraer y comprometer los participantes (distintos tipos de productores y consumidores).
  5. Facilitar interfaces y conexión con la plataforma para compartir y realizar transacciones. Por ejemplo, en relación con la infraestructura de producción y el canal de distribución.
  6. Co-crear valor via experimentación con el ecosistema

Es importante resaltar que estamos navegando la incertidumbre de la cuarta revolución industrial y reconocemos que crear un negocio de plataforma no es sencillo. Nos gustaría recibir sus comentarios, aprender de las experiencias de aquellos que han fallado en sus intentos iniciales y de quienes han conseguido encontrar product-market-fit para sus negocios de plataforma.

How to take an established mid-market company and supercharge it to exponential growth?

The combined effect of new exponential technologies is changing the world faster than before. Peter Diamandis’s 6Ds (Digitization, Deception, Disruption, Demonetization, Dematerialization, and Democratization) provide the best ideas on the “how” this is happening.

There is a clear need for transformation and re-inventing our organizations. As coined by David Rose “Any company designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to failure on the 21st”

Mid-market companies’ leaders should constantly ask two questions that can help them win in today’s competitive and disruptive world: 1) How do I always create new customer value? Also, 2) How do I always optimize and speed up the processes of my organization?

However, that’s not enough to keep up with today’s Fourth Industrial Revolution. The ExO attributes from Exponential Organizations by @SalimIsmail, are essential to connect not only Corporates and Unicorns but also mid-market companies to the abundance of opportunities in the new digital world and to help these organizations to manage that abundance.

The Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) is the base of any Exponential Organization, and it serves as a guiding principle when critical decisions need to be made.

From our experience working with founders, CEOs and leadership teams in the mid-market segment, the MTP helps to identify priorities. Depending on the industry, geography and those priorities, the ExO attributes to implement varies for each organization, we have found the following as core attributes for several mid-market companies:

–         Developing a Community that interacts with the core team of the organization via social media and mobile apps to for example get product feedback and find contractors and experts.

–         Engagement to connect customers and their ecosystem to create network effects and feedback loops with extraordinary reach and a positive impact on the business and the participants.

–         Real-time Dashboards to track and monitor data from critical processes, teams OKRs (Objective and Key Results) as well as from for example of a proprietary mobile app.

–         Establish a culture of Experimentation, growth hacking and constant iteration through their teams. A culture where people is willing to fail, and pivot as needed with constant product iteration and LEAN approach.

Our involvement within the ExO ecosystem has shown that transforming an existing mid-market company into an Exponential Organization is doable but requires three things:

1.      A company culture that can quickly adapt to rapid and often radical change.

2.      A visionary leader who has the full support of the board and senior management.

3.      A group of ambitious and motivated people ready to transform and scale the organization.

We have seen lots of companies passively being disrupted; people don’t see this coming. At Escalate Group, we embed ExO principles into pre-existing mid-market organizations—to help them to explode their performance.

Reflections on How to Create Exponential Mindset

By Cesar Castro – Managing Partner at Escalate Group

Interesting article from HBR on How to Create Exponential Mindset and very valuable information to anyone driving digital business. It validates my 2 years’ journey developing exponential mindset and supporting others to create and generate exponential value.

In October 2014, I attended Singularity University-YPO’s executive program at NASA facility in Mountain View. We studied several accelerating technologies that have grown exponentially for several years and how those technologies help to address humanity’s grand challenges.

The amount of information received from successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, the amazing SingularityU team and very structured and senior classmates was extremely interested and surprised. More importantly, after the executive program was completed, I faced the challenge of summarizing my take-home value. I concluded that it is not about the cool technologies per se, but about how much exponential value those bring to the people, the organizations and the business and how to rally and manage resources in this new exponential mindset.

After digesting my week and getting back to my normal life, I tried to explain the concepts I learned to my family, friends and colleagues – People looked at me as I was speaking another language. They seem not to understand what I was talking about, as they were all tied to the traditional linear mindset. 

At that same time, Salim Ismail, our program director, and a few of his colleagues had just launched their book Exponential Organization. Very soon after, it became a business best-seller. The book is a must read for anyone interested in learning about the new organizational mechanisms and business practices that create value from exponential technologies.

In November 2014, I realized that developing my exponential mindset and helping others to do the same would be an important journey and my take-home value was confirmed. I proactively joined the ExO community, which has keep me on track with my exponential mindset journey and now days become a ExO Global Movement, see latest here. I have further developed my abundance mindset and my bold ambitions both on the personal and business fronts, to better manage the uncertainty of modern times.

As Certified ExO Consultant at ExO Works, I have been implementing innovation and pursuing the transformation of businesses, teaching and helping people how to connect with the new world of abundance and how to manage it. More recently, as Advisor in the areas of the application of exponential technologies, start-up innovation, Business Model Canvas and Exponential Organizations to Fastrack Institute a non-for-profit organization we are accelerating technology into society.

 My exponential mindset journey continues and this mainstream HBR article validates it and provides energy to keep it up.

Five Leadership Lessons from last year

By Cesar Castro, Managing Partner at Escalate Group

“A fixed mindset is when people believe their basic qualities, their intelligence, their talents, their abilities, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount, and that’s that. But other people have a growth mindset. They believe that even basic talents and abilities can be developed over time through experience, mentorship and so on. And these are the people who go for it. They’re not always worried about how smart they are, how they’ll look, what a mistake will mean. They challenge themselves and grow.” Carol Dweck, at Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

 The things and relationships that I mostly enjoy in life and where I had the most challenging and rewarding experiences are: 1- The love for my family, 2- My passion for endurance sports, 3- My commitment to work, and 4- Being lured into the history of civilization. 

From these areas of my life I have learned many leadership lessons; the key ones from last year were the following:

1- Leadership lesson from my family

There’s an old saying that inspires me and many others to do better: “do things right and do the right things”. When you lead by example, you create a picture of what’s possible. Currently I am sharing my life with my pre-adolescent daughters and my wife; I have been re-educated in a very important concept that makes a huge difference in our life:

       –  Always look closely at your own behavior first and reflect on how everyone else is feeling in your presence

Parenting is a journey that many of us have embraced; it provide joy and the amazing opportunity to learn and be better persons, better parents and better leaders. Our kids learn by example. They notice our behaviors, actions, emotions and our words. They tend to observe us and copy us so our leadership consists in preaching not just words but by example.

 2- Leadership lessons from an Olympian

During many years as executive leader and active endurance sports practitioner, I have learned about discipline and the importance of setting small milestones, enjoying and celebrating performance peaks – even if they hurt – and making sure to take time to recover before and after big efforts. In mid-June I learned directly from Mary Whipple, a 3-time Olympic medalist, two important principles that stick in my mind when watching #Rio2016 and reflecting about exponential mindsets and digital transformations:  

    –       “There is not one way to row, there are many… you need to pick one, the fastest way!”

    –      “In order to perform, you can’t be afraid of how fast you can go”

 To gain the flexibility and adaptability capabilities needed in today’s fast-paced times, we need to take time to experiment, move fast, provide more autonomy to our teams and not be afraid of the exponential growth ahead of us.

 4-Leadership lessons from Work

I joined Microsoft once the Nokia acquisition was completed in April 2014; in the past two years I have seen Satya Nadella driving important changes not just in direction, but also in the culture and mindset of the company. At Microsoft, we fundamentally believe that we need a culture founded in a growth mindset. It starts with a belief that everyone can grow and develop, that potential is nurtured, not predetermined, and that anyone can change their mindset.

    –      “Leadership is about bringing out the best in people, where everyone brings their A-game and finds deep meaning in their work”.

We need to be willing to lean into uncertainty, take risks and move quickly when we make mistakes, recognizing that failure happens along the way to mastery, that we need to be open to the ideas of others and that the success of others does not diminish our own. 

 5- Leadership lessons from the Ancient Romans

The Romans were prodigious builders and their civilization produced advances in technology, culture, and architecture that can still be seen today. In early December I was thrilled to learn that I had to prepare a case about the Romans for my Harvard Executive program. My energy level crashed when reading the assigned chapters from two ancient texts – it was really hard. During my special January week in Boston, the Roman teachings led by Professor Frances Frei happened to provide a very high note and a unique lesson.

    –      Justice is a trade-on, not a trade-off, between severity and fidelity

A leader’s role is to make people better through our presence, commitment & support. Practicing deep devotion to our people (meaning our family, our friends, our colleagues, etc.) is very important, and to do so, we don’t have to lower our standards.

In the past, business models were created based on scarcity; now we live in a world of abundance where every business is a digital business and we are digitizing, dematerializing and democratizing the physical world. This implies a huge change on how we have to approach businesses, societies, etc., and requires us to re-align our leadership concepts. Leaders have to act as catalysts of change, find better ways to reach and manage the unique opportunities ahead, create clarity, learn how to engage with audiences and communities, empower people to make a difference and ultimately deliver success.

 Learning is a mindset, more specifically, a growth mindset. It’s vital for our children but also for our personal and professional lives. “Changing the way I think generates a change of how I behave”.  

I would like to learn from your leadership lessons and from your transformational leadership challenges.