Banking Software Service Provider: Living Labs

Banking Software Service Provider with Annabel Membrillo

The Banking Software Service Provider project is a four-year initiative that took place in Mexico, from 2010 to 2014, within a large service provider (over 1,000 employees) within a global financial institution.  The initiative included hundreds of employees within the service provider and across other service providers, guided by dozens of consultants and facilitators.

Initial Project Description

In this 22-minute exploration, Annabel provides an overview of the project, the 4-year process, key insights, key experiences or shifts in the participants, and documented financial and social impacts.

Video (or audio-only version)

ISC Live Lab Co-investment and Return on Co-investment

Context.  In 2010, we were developing processes for leading long-term, multi-phase strategic systems change processes with hundreds of individuals engaged, as well as developing processes and tools for ecosynomics.

Co-investment.  In this multi-year relationship, we co-invested our intellectual property of strategic systems thinking, ecosynomic agreements, and our social capital of relationships with leaders engaged in similar processes.

Return on Co-investment.  The return on this co-investment was to develop a long-term, multi-phase and multi-stream process for engaging increasing circles of embrace of abundance-based agreements.

Further References

ISC Innovations in Practice Series — Assessing Leverage Points Years Later

As part of the ISC Innovations in Practice series, Annabel Membrillo Jimenez shared an innovation from her recent work with the EAN VT efforts.  Annabel shared how she compared what the leverage-point teams had done against what they had initially set out to do.  She developed a simple graphic to show the difference in focus of the two.

You can watch a 68-minute video of the exploration of Annabel’s innovations in practice here.

SAPAL — Water Management System for Leon (Mexico) Metropolitan Area: Living Labs

SAPAL — Water Management System for the Leon (Mexico) Metropolitan Area with Annabel Membrillo Jimenez and Conrado Garcia Madrid

The SAPAL project is a 5-year initiative that took place in Mexico, from 2000 to 2005, with the leadership of a large governmental agency chartered with managing the water system of the metropolitan area of Leon (population 1.5 million) in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.

Initial Project Description

In this 19-minute exploration, Annabel provides an overview of the project, the 5-year process, key insights, key experiences or shifts in the participants, and documented impacts.

Video (or audio-only version)

ISC Live Lab Co-investment and Return on Co-investment

Context.  In 2000, we were writing the book Managing from Clarity, and strategic measurement into our strategic systems process.

Co-investment.  In this long-term project with the water authority of Leon (Mexico), we co-invested our intellectual property of strategic systems thinking and practical strategic  measurement systems.

Return on Co-investment.  The return on this co-investment was the use of strategic systems mapping within a strategic measurement system to lead change with multiple stakeholders.

Further References

Something Greatly Determines What You Do, Your Values: Recommended Reading

Bertini, M. and O. Koenigsberg (2020). The Ends Game: How Smart Companies Stop Selling Products and Start Delivering Value. Cambridge, MA, The MIT Press. [more about the authors]

Carney, M. (2021). Value(s): Building a Better World For All. New York, PublicAffairs. [excerpt]

Guillén, M. (2021). Motivation in Organisations: Searching for a Meaningful Work-life Balance. New York, Routledge. [open-access version]

Polman, P. and A. S. Winston (2021). Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take. Boston, MA, Harvard Business Review Press. [booksite]

Most everything we do, if not everything, is guided by some principle. Whether we know what that guiding principle is or not, doesn’t stop it from guiding our actions. On a street, we have guardrails to help us stay on the road or lines to stay in our lane. We have incentives at work to guide us toward specific activities. We say nice things to someone because it is part of our culture. These are all values.

The task of identifying your values is an ever-present task, in all cultures, at all times. Because they can be different for each of us, and they can change. I recommend a few recent books exploring this topic.

Professor Manuel Guillén develops a robust map for motivations, providing a matrix of extrinsic, intrinsic, transcendent, and religious motivations, each with forms that address the useful, pleasant, moral, and spiritual good. This roadmap guides how you can explore your set of values, in different contexts. For example, which values most influence thinking about a meaningful job versus a meaningful career or a meaningful calling? Motivations in Organizations connects each of these values to a history of where people have developed their understanding of that specific value, as well as exercises for applying this to your life today.

Economist Mark Carney explores different ways of looking at values, from the political to the economic, from finance to philosophy, disentangling what we mean when we say something has value or our values. “Values represent the principles or standards of behaviour; they are judgements of what is important in lfe…Value is the regard that something is held to deserve–the importance, worth or usefulness of something. Both value and values are judgements. And therein lies the rub” (p4). He applies his exploration of value(s) to three major, current crises: credit; COVID; and climate, seeing them as crises of values. How people respond to these crises “could begin to recast the relationship between values and value.” Having served as the governor of the Bank of England, Carney brings depth and precision to his assessment of the values driving the value(s) crises.

Professors Bertini and Koenigsberg look at value and values from the business perspective, exploring the importance of understanding another’s values to know how to generate value for them, which ultimately generates value for the business. Instead of focusing mainly on the outputs of the activities you do in an organization–the means–they argue for also focusing on the actual outcomes generated for the customer–the ends. Customers want nutrition, not groceries. They want better health, not more medical care. This book highlights advances in technology that let you know how and where your customers are using your products and services, and how well they are performing. With this information, you can turn your “means” products into “ends” services. The key added element here is actively getting the other’s feedback, to understand what they actually value, and not just what you think they should value. For many groups, this is a radically different approach. The books shows how some organizations have implemented structures and processes that allow them to make this shift.

Paul Polman and Andrew Winston ask a broader question. How would one need to understand their ecosystem to be able to inquire into the values of many different stakeholders? Is it possible to develop a strategy that creates value for multiple stakeholders at the same time? Leaving them better off than they started? They argue that “five core principles that center on responsibility will take company performance to a new level…(which when) fully embraced separate the net positive companies from the merely well-run and well-meaning businesses. (1) Ownership of all impacts and consequences, intended or not. (2) Operating for the long-term benefit of business and society. (3) Creating positive returns for all stakeholders. (4) Driving shareholder value as a result, not a goal. (5) Partnering to drive systemic change. Five guiding principles, with plenty of examples of how Polman tried to implement them while CEO of Unilever.

Four recent books on values that generate value, for individuals and for organizations today. Well written, clear, and relevant today.

JFK The American School of Queretaro: Living Labs

JFK The American School of Queretaro with Annabel Membrillo Jimenez and Conrado Garcia Madrid

The JFK project is a 15-year initiative that took place in Mexico, from early 2004 to now in 2018, with the leadership of a large K-12 private school in Queretaro, Mexico.  This school has to comply with the standards of the Mexican Secretariat of Public Education, as well as meet the standards of the International Baccalaureate program, and the accreditation standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Initial Project Description

In this 21-minute exploration, Annabel provides an overview of the project, the 15-year process, key insights, key experiences or shifts in the participants, and documented impacts.

Video (or audio-only version)

ISC Live Lab Co-investment and Return on Co-investment

Context.  In 2004, we were developing processes for engaging large groups of diverse stakeholders in strategic systemic change.

Co-investment.  In this long-term relationship with JFK, we have co-invested our intellectual capital of strategic systems thinking and processes for large-scale systems change, and our social capital of relationships with Mexican leaders engaged in similar processes.

Return on Co-investment.  The return on this co-investment was the development of many specific tools and processes for engaging an ever-evolving community, while leadership and engagement shifted to incoming members of the community over the years.

Further References

What Is the “Interesting Index” of Humanity?: Recommended Reading

Henrich, J. (2020). The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous. New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. [wikipedia, author Q&A, excerpt]

Graeber, D. and D. Wengrow (2021). The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. [wikipedia, excerpt]

What gets your attention? What do you find interesting? The “Interesting Index” ranges from low (no interest) to high (lots of interest). In wondering what was interesting, sociologist Murray Davis suggested that people give their attention to that which surprises them. The unexpected gets our attention: we seem to be wired that way. We rarely notice everything else.

And, we tend to assume that everyone else’s world looks just like ours. You think the same things, feel the same things, have the same intentions, values. Physics and biology have shown us that we are all made out of the same physical components, and that our biological elements are very similar. Psychology and sociology have shown us that we each, in fact, are completely unique. We each grow up in a unique context–no other being can stand in the exact same spot at the exact same time as another, so they receive different inputs through their organs. Always. So, we are each in our own unique context. And, from the first instant we are created, we start with different genetics, mature in different wombs, as different bodies, in different settings. We are uniquely constituted. This means, as individuals, we are each uniquely contextualized and constituted. Everything we perceive, process, and do is from a uniquely constituted context and a uniquely contextualized constitution. If this is true for individuals, what happens when we interact with other people?

We tend to think that other people, individuals and groups, think, value, and act like us. Yet, if we are all individually unique, when we interact, our interactions must also be quite unique. Maybe in subtle ways or maybe in not-so-subtle ways. Many current stories about what humanity holds to be important and, therefore, how we should organize assume a common context and a common evolution for everyone. This is what is important and real now, and this is how we all got here. Simple. And, possibly very wrong. Two recent books detail what we actually know now about (1) how people perceive, process, and engage in the world, and (2) how we got here.

Professor Joseph Henrich describes, in The WEIRDest People in the World, what most Western, Educated people in Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) groups think everybody else does. They all look WEIRD–some are better or worse at being WEIRD. Henirch dives deep into the ample evidence of actual belief systems and the institutions we build to support those beliefs. He starts by looking at what might have happened along the way to being WEIRD today, pointing many particular choice points and events that might have led to this particular form of WEIRDness today. He then looks at how differently contextualized and differently constituted people, over time, developed different beliefs and different institutions, based on those different beliefs. In terms of my initial question about the “Interesting Index” of humanity today, Henrich suggests that most people assume the world is WEIRD in similar ways, and thus not that surprising or interesting–people assume a low Interesting Index for humanity. And, Henrich shows the ample evidence for very different and surprising forms everywhere, a high Interesting Index for humanity. To quote Professor Murray Davis, “That’s interesting!”

The Davids, in their book The Dawn of Everything, take on a similar question, from the perspectives of archaeology and anthropology. They tackle the assumption that “everyone on earth shared the same idyllic form of social organization” (p8), where we assume that “no one..experimented with alternative forms of social organization” (p8). They invite the reader to assume that “We are projects of collective self-creation…What if we treat people, from the beginning, as imaginative, intelligent, playful creatures, who deserve to be understood as such?” (p9). What if their uniquely constituted and contextualized responses to life led to different forms? Lots of different experiments. That would be interesting. They proceed to share what is known and what is not known from the archaeological evidence, around the world, to show vast experimentation, in parallel pathways, for thousands of years. That’s interesting.

If the Interesting Index of humanity is high, maybe very high, then there very well might be lots of people already figuring out how to organize our interactions together to achieve what we want. Maybe they are everywhere, now. The issue might not be that there is no answer to our challenges, rather that we haven’t looked. We can find them and learn with them.

EAN Vermont–The Next Generation: Living Labs

Energy Action Network (EAN) Vermont–The Next Generation with Annabel Membrillo Jimenez

The EAN Vermont project is in its ninth year, from its initial inception through its strategic systems collaborative process, described elsewhere in the knowledgeable.  The new generation of leadership, recently engaged in 2017, reached out to engage Vibrancy in exploring how to re-embrace the systemic understanding and to re-invigorate the leverage point teams.

Initial Project Description

In this 10-minute exploration, Annabel provides an overview of the early stages of this revisiting of the strategic systems collaborative work, the due-diligence process, key insights for network governance, sustained work with the strategic systems understanding, and realignment of leverage point teams, key experiences or shifts in the participants, and documented impacts.

Video (or audio-only version)

ISC Live Lab Co-investment and Return on Co-investment

Context.  In 2017, we were exploring the many ways in which large-scale systems change requires on-going strategic systems support, as the system evolves over many years.

Co-investment.  In this on-going relationship with the EAN effort in Vermont, we co-invested our intellectual property of strategic systems thinking and sustained support of systemic change, and our social capital of connections to other initiatives and foundations working with us on similar issues.

Return on Co-investment.  The return on this co-investment was developing new capacities for supporting long-term systems-change initiatives, as leaders come and go.

Further References

Bleak or Promising? Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace Findings

“Do employees find their work meaningful and rewarding? Do they think their lives are going well? Do they feel hopeful about the future? The short answer is that most employees around the world would answer “no” to all three questions.” [Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace Report].

Whether this is bleak news or promising news depends on that one key word, “MOST.” From the positive-deviant perspective, that not all of the people have this experience means that some ARE engaged, and feel that their work is meaningful and rewarding. They feel their lives are going well, and they are hopeful about the future. This aligns with my current research where we have found thousands of groups living this way, every day, all over the world.

While this is not good news for the 79% of the workers not engaged at work, we now have a way of (1) finding people who are engaged at work, and (2) we can begin to learn with them about what drives their engagement. These engaged people work in the same geographies, in the same industries, and often in the same large companies as the disengaged people. We can study what makes them different, within the same or very similar circumstances. Our research suggests a key difference is in how they agree, consciously and unconsciously, to interact, which we can measure with the field of their agreements.

I see this as inspiring news. We have found a way to identify people who are figuring out how to live the way more of us want to live, in the same circumstances we live in, and we have found a way to learn with them. Two weeks ago I shared recent studies highlighting some of these initial findings.

Mexican Financial System: Living Labs

Mexican Financial System with Luz Maria Puente Kawashima

The Mexican Financial System project, in 2012-2013, used strategic systems mapping to engage institutions across the Mexican financial system, including 42 stakeholder interviews from banks, non-banking banks, think tanks, academics, regulators, and insurers, from micro-financing to large financial institutions.  The intention, supported by co-investors UNIFIM, PWC, and the Institute for Strategic Clarity, was to see if it was possible to create a financial system that was healthier for all.

Initial Project Description

In this 19-minute exploration, Luz Maria provides an overview of the project, the 1-year process, key insights, key experiences or shifts in the participants, and potential and documented impacts.

Video (audio-only) version

ISC Live Lab Co-investment and Return on Co-investment

Context.  In 2012, we were developing the ecosynomic approach to strategic systems issues involving diverse stakeholders.

Co-investment.  In this fieldwork in the Mexican financial system, we co-invested our intellectual property of strategic systems thinking and system dynamics simulation, and our social capital within the Mexican financial system.

Return on Co-investment.  The return on this co-investment was seeing how to engage a large, resource-rich system in shifting a whole system towards a deeper shared purpose that many leaders of the financial industry were able to understand and embrace.

Further References

Insights on Human Flourishing Are Flourishing

Lots of insights on human flourishing. While people everywhere, for a very long time, have explored what it is to be human and what it is to live successfully as a human, lots of recent work is exploring what it means for us around today, all over the planet.

Here is a small sample of recent work that I know of from my own networks. You can share in the comments where you see flourishing insights coming up as well.