Adversity reveals our best humanity. Time to unite that power in biz & government? 

By: Bill Van Eron Monday April 13, 2020 0 comments Tags: Bill Van Eron

Van_Eron_header By Bill Van Eron

Conscious Stakeholder Relevance

Headwaters Marketing and Innovation

Van-Eron-inside-graphic.4.13.20 Adversity continually brings out our most conscious humanity as the biggest impact to relevance -- fueled success. Why not apply this in business, education & government who all struggle here?

Under past & current resistant management, most businesses struggle to innovate, earn trust & create inclusion. So as reputations fuel or prevent success, it’s time to reshape how we apply our best proven source -- enabled humanity -- to shape the value that makes all orgs relevant, especially through change.

Cutting people from new light is what happens as most cultures become closed, controlled & boring. No wonder innovation is low & relevance is expected versus earned -- now vital across all stakeholders.

Open cultures that inspire challenges to the status quo, earn trust, purposeful inclusion are like 1,000 points of light gaining and feeding insights back, as the real power of humanity united.

As one who grew up in constant adversity and embraced it & diversity as part of conscious enlightenment, doing so fueled my design career. I am not surprised at all that our moral majority earns the highest acknowledgement as the greatest force to inspire doing the right thing. That has always been the case in my observation. Fortunately, I see the power of a human system thanks to a major investment I made in systems thinking & advanced to apply to humanity. I made a rare sacrifice to immerse myself in the customer facing stakeholder ecosystem for a large company I cared about, People inside and out all responded with high enthusiasm, outcomes and the highest regard.

Here are a few questions that helped me to see or shape true humanity enabling solutions:

1. Why does management fail to enable these great people to rise up and shine in business or government or elsewhere? There is much that has escaped attention of all or most business, government, education and more for too long. As management increases its inability to inspire employees, the need for shared leadership, greater attention to humanity, trust, and inclusion are key to success as it only happens when more care to earn true significance. 

2. Why has it taken so long for management to realize & commit to the fact that true leadership requires a major, overdue shift to greater attention to values & what matters to stakeholders? They hold on to most, or just some ineffective approaches as well as a mindset entrapped for decades in control, greed, short-sighted expectations, short-termism and more. When innovation remained as the highest CEO Top 10 priority for decades now, attempts to isolate it, broker it out, or buy entrepreneurial startups -- then cripple its more open culture -- are all contributory to why innovation is so low in mid to large corporations. Everything human is connected. Empowered, it is the greatest force for relevance.

3. How do right-brainers make a huge difference most leaders have yet to apply? As a longtime conscious designer invested in others as a source core to innovation relevance, and appreciative of what it takes to inspire them to care to do their best, I know everything human is interconnected. Today & into the future, all orgs are transparently viewed per their worthiness or absence of it. I never imagined or cared to measure up to the traditional leadership model while respecting those that did. Ironically now, the requirements of leadership to shape a higher value, even through adversity & high disruption, require more of the skills essential to great design and humanity. One has to have been entrenched in these values and mindset for a long time to apply its full power. I no sooner expect conventional leaders to master that than I expect to lead quantum physics. This why most now say leadership is a new mindset.

Name a few factors inspiring better answers following questions rooted in value creation.   

1. The all-knowing leader idolized in the past, is both rare and now compromised, necessitating a more shared leadership model that already shows a capacity to rise above obstacles & adapt to thrive

2. Technology, finance, science & medical have a propensity for left-brain dominance. That was falsely connected to success, so we now see that domination almost everywhere we look. The absence of right-brain champions for innovation & attention to stakeholder humanity leaves a huge gap in culture, stakeholder effectiveness, relevance, purpose and social footprint. Adding various levels of each to the C-Suite, B.O.D., inside & outside orgs. will prove out the advantages. Catalyzing ongoing relevance, stakeholder regard, functional effectiveness (especially sales, marketing, HR and innovation, vision, brand) as revenues growth & innovation follow a pattern of human insight to what really matters. Technology begs for more conscious guidance so entire infrastructures are not destroyed. AI helps to support findings, yet it fails to catch humanity undercurrents as right-brainers with empathy invested to do so will, as I did consistently over decades, also in a very agile manner.

3. How do Millennials and younger gens offer insights to the future of business, gov. & more? Gallup does a nice job assessing effectiveness breakdowns. They show that only 15% of high-level leaders actually inspire employees. In turn, 70% of employees feel emotionally detached from work. Most expressed concerns come from too many layers of management, long approvals, risk aversion, and complexity that dulls the same human spirit that has proven itself to rise in adversity time and time again. In turn, Millennials largely prefer to be entrepreneurs or work in that type of culture. I see opportunities for Millennials to do what I did for HP as champions for values, actionable insights above corporate norms. 300 companies that a visionary HR startup -- I help -- shared that eliminated lower & some mid-levels of management, immediately experienced teams defining & realizing greater outcomes, attributes, support and a more open culture than when these leaders blocked such actions, even if inadvertently. Innovation flows like small streams into a river of consciousness to what really matters. That shapes value up and downstream – 20 years my mantra at HP & Headwaters Marketing & Innovation.

4. Likewise, how can we as Boomers still play a valued role? I took the time to examine both the positive enablers as well as what curtails innovation, I was respectfully disappointed to read “experts” are rarely associated with innovation. One can assess that after investing many years or more to acquire a skill, there is a strong desire to milk that to its last drop. The problem is the absence of continuous learning and honest self-reflection as well as to what matters to others. In being a Boomer myself, my design rooting’s kept me open-minded, wanting to help others across all diversity, ages and even self-imposed status quo. I was drawn to HP because I internalized how to keep founders Bill & Dave's vision alive and increasingly relevant. In working with left-brain-dominated engineers, I respected what they brought to product innovation, while I applied innovation to achieve greater relevance. When Bill & Dave retired, I was shocked how little of their virtues and leadership transferred to new leaders. I was less surprised that after I proved out the value of advanced right-brain infusion as crucial to greater outcomes, when I left, no one took my place and other valuable creatives were released. I saw the full impact of risk aversion as it shuts down even leaders who interpret changes they agree with, yet as making waves and a threat to upcoming retirement. In general, where we have insights to pass on, we should do so to enable others as well as learning from them, too. We can connect learning to doing and recognition. We help transition modelling as a blend of what is still relevant, with what younger employees feel offers timely improvements.

I invite all inquiries where real experience is the rarest & highest value. These points summarize:

  1. Most understand innovation as associated to new product development. Process innovation and system innovation & alliance innovation tend to be overlooked. Stakeholder values inspire compassion.  
  2. Likewise, too little attention is given to how innovation is also the outcome of how well you invest in others to innovate better approaches to trust & relevance, value connections or experience creation as also vital.
  3. My efforts over my last 13 years at HP, rarely produced less than $100M each time, many times per year and more often $300M to $600M on up to $24B, all by putting myself in stakeholder shoes to shape greater trust and relevance. Many leaders have stated they see today's high change rate and transformation solutions as chaotic, disruptive to current priorities, slow, expensive, thus highly risky. Decades of greater outcomes others shared in creating, clearly shows when you earn stakeholder regard, with that foundation, you are better equipped to face all kinds of adversity as humanity has within itself the ability to rise above obstacles. Also, stakeholders have full transparency to who is genuine to promise made internally & externally, so innovation and positive accountability will soon rise as an enabler and a huge growth market given high mistrust in government & business leadership; all on my short list too now.  

So as we look at the breadth of innovation insights, application, culture & inclusion, we see much attention to new product and incremental innovation. We see modest attention to human insight beyond buyer patterns, process, service, biz model, disruptive, breakthrough, organization, outcome drivers, and especially stakeholder insights. I hope this inspires more of us to fill a growing leadership gap that may shape as a catalyst for high-demand innovations ahead.

Bill Van Eron

About the Author: Bill Van Eron

For Bill Van Eron, life & work are all about conscious observation and earning our needed humanity high bar. Whether Bill was an art director or lead designer in NYC, the most demanding marketing environment, or shaping a more relevant brand for soon to be major companies in Denver, or across his 25-year career in HP, as its champion for progressive enlightenment, diversity, inclusion and the highest relevance, which followed every project, Bill stays inspired to help others shape a better world, lives & work as connected to greater attention to our humanity, creativity and value-creation. All as vital to any organization's greater success. Bill now is championing the first and most conscious innovations that resolve challenges to our planets environment, as well as business and government realizing each’s greater purpose and brand value. Tired of conventional approaches and willful ignorance, Bill was recruited as one who can champion each solutions authentic relevance. Bill hopes Colorado and Fort Collins can open up and get in flow, as a community Bill & his wife only wish the best for as also enabled with a view all others benefit by, whether they see it initially or not.