Some days ago, I was lucky enough to take part in the “M.E.D. – Management Evolution Days” hosted by InterlogicaHUB and Sirolli Associates and, well, it made me feel like a superhero. Why? How is that even possible?
Ernesto Sirolli, our new Marco Polo
It is always very stimulating to meet people who have visited most of our Planet and who can tell you so many amazing things.
There is always this eternal and fascinating duality between ancient and modern in someone who had the chance of learning about so many cultures.
For me, Ernesto Sirolli really is a modern Marco Polo, someone who gets back – ironically to Venice – from all his trips with endless numbers of experiences to share and charm us with.
I don’t want to spend too much time talking about this managerial approach as books need to be read, movies need to be watched, plays need to be enjoyed and workshops need to be experimented live.
Instead, I would like to write about what I managed to take away with me after these three days, what is still burning my skin, about all the things I can think about and, more importantly about the seeds that have been planted in my brain that I will look after and hopefully, one day, I will see blooming.
Who will you accept on your bus?
Ernesto immediately suggests us to read an extract from the book Good to Great by Jim Collins.
The author examines a research on different companies which have been in good shape for at least 20 years. These companies, for many different reasons, managed to evolve rapidly and became not just good companies but great ones.
The chapter we analyzed uses the metaphor of a bus to depict a company and quotes one of the Managing Directors saying: “Look, I have no idea where we can take this bus. I am really confident about one thing: if the right people are on board (the right people on the right seats) and we let the wrong people off the bus, only then we will be able to understand how we’ve managed to reach such an amazing place”.
This is not really a new thought: people have always been right in the middle of every single transformation – either social or cultural. It is the Right People the ones who can truly make a difference. This was actually the topic of our last Agile Business Day last September.
Let’s try to imagine that we ask another MD or to an entrepreneur, to a manager or to a team lead: “How do you choose who to let on the bus? Who are the right people for you? How subjective can “right” be? How would you feel and why would you fire someone?”
Throughout my career, I have had both the pleasure and responsibility of being a manager, giving up in some ways to that definition that I was stubbornly trying to escape from.
I had my chances to let some colleagues on my bus but also to make others get off.
What made me say “C’mon, get on!”?
Well, I have my personal theory: on my bus, I welcome people who are sincere and honest, the very same qualities that make us good women and men before being managing directors/entrepreneurs/managers.
Michele Ferrero used to say “Be human, always”. He was the loved owner of Ferrero group and he wrote this in his employee handbook more than 40 years ago.
Humanity and professionalism are fundamental requirements in our journey, even when we think there is no more space for some colleagues and that the time has come to choose different paths.
Trust: a pact of joint participation
When we trust ourselves, we need to start trusting others: it is not a gift, it is not mandatory but it is a pact of joint participation.
Without trust, we will remain static, paralyzed and alone, at the mercy of control manias and presumptuously thinking we are essential.
Dear entrepreneur and dear manager, when you will be driving your bus, surrounded by the people who saw you risking, failing and fighting for your values, you have a very important task: you will need to try very hard to maintain this agreement, but even more importantly you need to keep the good fights and the disagreements alive.
Your team will give you time, energy, cleverness and common sense, and you will be able to go anywhere you want.
Keep and maintain diversity at all costs as it brings innovation, prosperity and imagination.
Make yourself aware of who no longer needs to be on such journey and reward those who will do anything to keep their seats as these will be the people who can steer the wheel or set the ship to sail.
What is “family” in business?
This image of a shared journey made me ponder on the word “family”.
These days, anyone can give a definition of such a delicate and valuable word whilst I don’t want to use It wrongly. I asked Treccani (the best Italian encyclopaedia) some advice and this is what I gathered:
Family, kinship: a group of persons, categorised in different historical and geographical situations, made by persons related by kinship, marriage, affinity which constitute the fundamental element for every society
In the working world, we are tied to each other by cohabitation relationships – in an open space or in a production environment – for more than 8 hours every day, desperately looking for affinity, harmony and the same goal.
Quite recently the expression “familiar archetypes” in a professional environment was discussed. These are dynamics where your boss can be seen as a father, your colleague becomes a brother and once someone defined me as his “working twin soul” (because he had already married his real other half).
I haven’t still figured out yet if all this can be a danger but Ernesto Sirolli teaches us that the biggest entrepreneurs became who they are because of groups of friends or family who shared trust and respect: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sam Walton, Thomas Edison, Enzo Ferrari and many more.
The best entrepreneurs in the world are the ones who like doing just one thing and they are clever enough to surround themselves with people who can do best what they hate doing.
What is your superpower?
Ernesto surprised me again when he asked: “If you could do what you love the most, what will it be? What is your gift? If you were a superhero what will your superpower be?”
The room was immediately filled by Captain Organisation, Relations King, Empathy Man, Solutions Queen, The Alchemist, The Incredible Numbers Man.
At that stage, it was easy to imagine the business world as an Avengers adventure, and it was really empowering to realize our potential and what we can achieve.
Whilst talking about him, Ernest told us his superpower is to “see beauty”, to see potential in every situation. He thinks this historical period as a “transitional period”, like many others in the past. The world is full of opportunities to improve and shine in what is our natural gift and this is for everyone, from a shoemaker in Australia to a chick farmer in Africa to a developer in Europe.
I don’t know how but today, as a superhero, I choose to trust him.