*A WORLD TOUR OF MANAGERIAL INNOVATION – To optimize your management practices, you sometimes need to take a step back… And get inspired by what is done elsewhere. With this exploratory approach, our expert in new forms of governance, Luc Bretones, takes you on a journey to the land of managerial innovation. A new stopover in Colombia, where a culture of discomfort, original rituals and the measurement of equity are turning the work landscape upside down.*
After my pre-Covid world tour of managerial innovation, I am repeating my journey, this time by proxy, via my young friends from the “Managerial Odyssey”, Romain and Clément Meyer. They stopped over in Colombia and this country stimulates my expert appetite by its very traditional organizational character and its extensive work practices. What could be more normal than working on weekends after a busy week?
Just as Medellin went from being the most dangerous city in the world in 1991 to “the most innovative” in 2013 according to Urban Land Magazine and five years later to “the hottest destination in South America” according to TripAdvisor, I think that work patterns are being shifted by pioneers. We went to meet them.
To change the world, you have to start with education. Camilo Bonilla runs the Quántica school and says it with vigor: “I am obsessed with action, and what I love most is to see people feel life with glowing eyes and adrenaline in their veins, when they try something that, for some reason, connects with them from within and beyond.” Quántica promotes an education adapted to the real world and gives a clear message to its students: “Yes, you can go further, I believe in you and in what you want to be”. The training of transformation leaders aims to put imagination and creativity at the service of the common good. Pedagogical spaces are full of experiments, where one is not afraid of being judged, according to Camilo. His mantra illuminates these values: “You have to learn the rules as an expert, and break them as an artist.”
The “chaordic” (chaos for discomfort zone – order for comfort zone) Model relies on learning by doing and experimenting: “I want students to jump in, not understanding what’s going to happen, feeling the fear, getting mad if someone challenges them, because that’s what happens in the real world. We teach them to get out of their comfort zone. We are never taught how to deal with chaos in school, but life is full of chaos, in the family, at work…”. According to Camilo, developing skills to stay focused in the face of chaos is beneficial. The original model was created by Dee Hock, founder of Visa International, as an organizational system, and used at the university level by the Danish school Kaospilot.
The schooling alternates teaching and emotional journeys through experiences; three concrete examples of which were presented to the Meyer brothers:
Juliana Villalba, co-founder of CreativeLab, a B Corp firm specializing in social and environmental challenges, develops a governance system that allows everyone to have the greatest possible flexibility while knowing exactly what to deliver. The organization of work is based on a sprint every 15 days and a launch and retrospective meeting facilitated by a “scrum master” (a coach) on the basis of a collaboration tool (task tracking, document sharing and exchanges). After this meeting, there is no further control on the managers’ side for the next 15 days.
Colombia is home to a pioneer in gender equity measurement and action plans in Latin America. For Maria Hernandez, Strategy and Innovation Manager at Aequales, “the goal is not to work with a single company, but to create a community where everyone can share their experience, their difficulties, and their progress”. Every month, a session brings together a hundred or so organizations around a chosen topic (harassment, fair recruitment, maternity leave, etc.).
Aequales works on 5 minimum quantitative parameters to measure in order to establish a serious action plan:
Aequales helped Telefónica Peru, through the Women in the Network program, to integrate women into the telecommunications sector. Comprehensive technical training for female participants was designed, and the company set a goal of increasing the presence of women from 0.5% to 10% by the end of 2021 in the technical professions. In addition to productivity exceeding expectations, this initiative has had a positive impact on Telefónica Peru as a whole by strengthening its organizational culture.
The Colombian context and its Latin culture are similar in many ways to those of France. The equity measure and the 5-step action plan presented by Aequales are, in my opinion, relevant in France where we observe a slow decrease in inequalities according to INSEE (22% in 2019 versus 28% in 2000). The pandemic has also put the focus back on the importance of autonomy and responsibility within the framework of clear rules and agile rituals that are gradually becoming standards in the world of work.
Finally, acclimatization to one’s discomfort zone, and learning by doing and by being in a situation, should, in my opinion, spread beyond the practical training of new institutions such as The Wagon, Lion or The Platform, into more traditional educational establishments. Like Medellin, let’s embrace transformation!
*Article edited by Ariane Picoche, photo : Thomas Decamps for WTTJ*