The Thought Leader's Voice: Podcasts

Using thought leadership to evangelize your brand vision and diagnose and treat organizational diseases with Dr. Oleg Konovalov.

28 October, 2020

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This podcast was originally aired on 28 October, 2020

Dr. Oleg Konovalov

Using thought leadership to evangelize your brand vision and diagnose and treat organizational diseases with Dr. Oleg Konovalov.

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As part of our Thought Leaders Voice podcast series we are thrilled to be in a conversation with Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Global Thought Leader, Trusted Advisor, Author on ‘Using thought leadership to evangelize your brand vision and diagnose and treat organizational diseases.

These are testing times for CMO’s & leaders as they steer their organizations through to calmer waters amidst the global healthcare & economic crisis.

Join the conversation to access actionable advice shared in an incredibly insightful way.

Having been named as “the da Vinci of Visionary Leadership” by many leading authorities of our time, Oleg Konovalov is helping companies to create and execute their vision, diagnose and treat organizational diseases, maintain a strong productive corporate culture, and achieve superior business performance.

Oleg is the author of LEADEROLOGY, CORPORATE SUPERPOWER, ORGANISATIONAL ANATOMY, and HIDDEN RUSSIA. His latest book, THE VISION CODE is expected to be published in January by Wiley.

Oleg sees every organization as unique and strongly believes that most of his clients’ problems can be solved by shifting patterned paradigms and applying tailor-made solutions.

Oleg is on the Thinkers50 Radar, has been recognized as #1 Global Thought Leader on Culture by Thinkers 360, and is #1 Global Leading Coach (Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50).

Key Takeaway

  • How to evangelize your thought leadership to create and execute vision and build trust.
  • How thought leaders can improve employee satisfaction by helping them understand their importance to the overall mission.
  • Modern business demands thorough diagnostics, balanced decisions, and surgically precise actions. Your book, Organizational Anatomy, views organizational processes from a biological perspective and helps identify the optimum configuration of processes while aiding in the recognition and treatment of organizational diseases. What is your approach when diagnosing and treating these organizational diseases?
  • What hardships thought leaders will face when trying to spread the message of the company.
  • What are the key factors to help maintain a strong productive corporate culture, and achieve superior business performance?

Full Transcript of Podcast with Dr. Oleg Konovalov

Intro: [00:00-00:12].

Andrew Newby: Hello everyone, my name is Andrew newbie and I'm hosting a series of iResearch services podcasts over the coming weeks. These are intended to educate senior level marketers and thought leaders as to how to address some of the more challenging as exciting issues facing them currently. Our topic today is that of using thought leadership to evangelize your brand mission or to use a biological metaphor, how thought leadership can help diagnose and treat organizational diseases. With that I'd like to welcome today's guest expert based in Moscow, Dr. Oleg Konavalov. Oleg has been named the DaVinci visionary leadership, and I want to get back to your that later in this podcast and the whisperer vision. Dr. Konavalov new book, the vision code, demystifies vision, and presents it as a practical business tool. Dr. Konavalov, Oleg welcome, and thank you very much for sharing your insights with our listeners.

Oleg Konavalov: Andrew, thank you very much for inviting me. It's a great honor. Thank you. I really look forward to our conversation.

Andrew Newby: Yeah. I very much so, very much. So firstly, a little bit of context, Oleg. Can you briefly at length, describe how you came to this field, what your background is, what the sort of empirical and intellectual basis is for your philosophy with regards to provision?

Oleg Konavalov: Well, that's quite interesting because I was always curious, what is there, you know, what is there where I can't see, in the terrain, which I can't see is once you know what I'm saying? We all know and as we grow and mature, we all know that there's always something which is great than us, much greater and I was always keen to explore. My findings about vision didn't came overnight. It's actually more than 20 years of research of talking with different payable, learning, reflecting and had a great chat and other day was Martin Lindstrom. He is number one in the world in branding and he said to me, look, can you define yourself in one word? And it took me just like 20 seconds to explore. So, I'm always about the Explore, something which never been touched before by anyone or, you know, deeply touched. So, vision is something that we always talk but we hardly understand what is all about, oh yeah, we need vision. Sure, we need vision. You don't have a vision so you wouldn't succeed. Yeah. The greatness of your success depends on the greatness of your vision, but what vision is. And I took a bit of a risk and great that I didn't did it. I managed to demystify what vision is, how it comes, what starts behind this aha moment and what came as resolved is a practical business tool. So, whatever we could talk about, something that we don't understand is meaningless. We need to have practical business tools. From another hand, I have a fishing industry background and you can't even imagine passengers on the board of a deep-sea troller. I don't think so. So, everything should have value for people and everything must be practical. If we talk about leadership, it's not about talking, it's about creating value. So, my aim is to explore a new area, to create a value for people. That's about simple.

Andrew Newby: And you've interviewed visionaries from across the globe sort of self-described visionaries. One thing that's infer from what I've read about you, that you think that control is an illusion that leadership is not a function. It's a system and that leaders just simply try to control too much.

Oleg Konavalov: People talk over emphasizing the role of control because control is an illusion because if people don't know what they about to do in the long run, it's just a jerky management. It's a micromanagement because I'm trying to control something that is not relevant because if it is important the people know about its importance, they are taking a control and they taking responsibility over things they do. It's not about, you've been late in the office for five minutes. No, it's about what a result I will gain, or I will achieve by the end of the day and that result should be firmly aligned with our goals and revision and strategy. It's not you know, control, it's not about understanding, Oh, we have so much units in the stock. It's about establishing a sorority organization all over the company. You know, because a sorority is about imprisoning people. It's about giving them a clear direction where to go and what they need to do. And that gives them a sense of control of what they do. This is more important [inaudible 06:15]. So, you must be at three o'clock at our daily meeting for another three hours to be wasted. You know, it's not about it.

Andrew Newby: In other words, why bother employing people when you don't trust them? Let them solve problems rather than leaders to solving a problem right in front of them. Its what leaders do for others is the most important thing.

Oleg Konavalov: I strongly believe. For instance, if we're talking about sought leadership, it's not about critical content, no it's about finding solutions and share those solutions with people and the higher you are in the rank as a SOC leader the more grand of a problem you could solve or find a solution for it. You know, so the leaders are the same in all organizations. If you're leading a company, you are helping people to find those solutions. But what the problem is, problem is a distance when we're talking about, we have problems. But what problem is, problem is a distance between a leader and his people or a distance between organization and its customers. You know, everything that pulls us apart from one human from another, put it in a simple sense, because then we must shout at the each other to get rich, you know, our minds, Oh, put our minds together. So, the aim is to put those things together, to close this gap, and then it, no problem.

Oleg Konavalov: We can get into examples later or like let's sort of try and get into the nuts... Let's try and get into the grass a bit here. So, so how in your view does a business leader, any leader indeed really evangelize their thought leadership? If we calling it that to create a vision and mission and how do they build trust that can help people in their organization make that vision a reality? What are the sort of practical steps we're talking about here? You must be really good at your clarity of creation, why your vision exists, right? Because vision counts when you're conscious of what answer for problem you want to solve which is as big. So, it's not about, I want to do something. No, no, no. It must be really sharp. I'm creating something that would solve people's problem or would fulfill their demand. Got it. You must be able to manage something as huge as a vision because it's bigger than the company itself. You know, vision is very practical. It's very pragmatic. So, it must be functionable. So, in terms of scale, stimulus, simplicity, excitement it's something that you could really check against. You know, like a forum. Okay, I have everything and that works. So, it's not a statement because the problem with those mission statements, people hardly remembers them. For instance, if they have never been to the head office, they never seen that statement, they've just about it. So, they hardly remember .it Now again, when we're talking about mission statement, mission a is I wouldn't say it's a side effect, but it's what kind of a social impact of what I do makes to the society. Yeah. It does make a whole lot sense because I'm taking resources from a society. So, I should give them something back to a society but it's very, very different from the vision itself because vision it's not for about tomorrow. It's not for a year. It's many years ahead. For instance, if we're talking about different strategy and vision, we're all about creating strategic plans for 25 years and again, people coming in, living in the company. So finally, it comes to the point when no one is responsible those strategic plans adapt, but vision is what kind of impact will it have on the next generation was in the same 25 years. It's very different. So, it's not a statement which is crafted in half an hour during the board meeting. No, no, no.

Andrew Newby: It's not something you can letter head that doesn't create organization memory. So...

Oleg Konavalov: In this sense, if we go just back to your question, if we're talking about past, at the same time, vision is where people who are involved in that vision will be there was in 5, 10, 20 years. So, you're clearly showing people, they are place in that future and they that place and they will fight for it. So, it's trust becomes a norm is becomes very organic because they're trusting themselves for wanting to be there.

Andrew Newby: Can you give examples from your book? I would like of sort of organizations where you've seen this happen to you know, beyond the obvious oligopolies that run the planet at the moment. And so...

Oleg Konavalov: One of the rests of the government is WD40 company. We all know this famous spray, right. Which is used in every garbage, in every kitchen, actually formula one, are using it every hour. Right? And I had a great chat and actually conversation with Gary Ridge, who is a chairman in [inaudible 12:27] is phenomenal company. And they're brilliant and I love his saying is that my vision doesn't have a period event. So, they're always evolving. They're always growing. And it really drives WD40 forward. They have the highest engagement rate probably means a Walt, it's about 96% employee engagement. You know, I don't know many companies with such a high rate, Plastic Bunk. It's a phenomenal company founded by David Guards in Vancouver in Canada, getting people. He was looking for a problem, how to clean an ocean from the plastic waste. And it took him quite a year to find a solution but solution came in a brilliant way. Now he turned plastic waste into a currency. More or less people live on a coast of the oceans. They collecting this plastic waste giving it to David, to the plastic bunk company. He pays him in electronic money for food shelter, medical service, schooling, Wi-Fi for everything. Right? And he recycles it and sells it to big guys like Johnson and Johnson. IBM. So, he calculated it simply. It's about $9 trillion are floating in the ocean now in the form of plastic waste. So, it's a heck of awork to do, but he fights poverty. He cleans the ocean; he makes a profit and has a huge social impact. It's a brilliant example know, and those people are around us and it's helps heck of a lot of deal to learn from them.

Andrew Newby: Yeah. So, you just try to condense what you're saying it. So, I guess you're saying it's about no matter how camera's the product, it's about realizing who you are as a person and as a company and creating value in the sense of how we see relationships with others, with the broader world around us, in the very broadest sense,

Oleg Konavalov: Actually, if we're not creating value in our life that means we are stealing from our life. We must fulfill the life with some kind of a value we create. Otherwise we just one bias of this life, no point, no, no, it's still risky.

Andrew Newby: I can see how that message might not resonate well with a lot of people. So, we can come onto this sort of resistance to the change that so we're discussing it. How can thought leaders improve employee satisfaction and in particular, we referenced helping them understand their importance to the overall mission. You've mentioned sort of clarity as sort of factor already. But if you could just expand on that for our listeners?

Oleg Konavalov: Vision is about being realized, right, but acting co-executing vision stance on a strong leadership where the, one of the core elements of it is strong, productive culture. And we could look at a culture as a positive, productive, productive interaction of people wrapped into a region. Sorry, I must be really a strong leader, not a pleaser, right? Not a personal ambition driven person. I must be a really strong leader who shows people a direction and creating that really strong environment, really strong culture where the people succeed and grow. And that is a really critical competence because the problem is in fact, not many companies have a strong culture. Many companies talk about having a strong culture, but not many companies have a strong culture. So, it's a very important competence which must be achieved because you are managing critical metaphysical resources, such as trust teamwork in a region professionalism, accountability. And it's all about how you care for people. If you care, if you know how to care for people, they will do their best. They will be loyal. They will be creative; they will be satisfied and they will do their best to achieve those goals. So, it's about goal and a certain level of performance to achieve that goal and people committing to it.

Andrew Newby: Yeah, we are by nature sort of cooperative animals. And its actually quite surprising how organizations managed to distort or thwart, the sort of quite primeval instincts we have to sort of cooperate and sort of interact with those around us. You mentioned sort of, you know, the dark side of, in a way, a lot of companies just simply aren't adding value, in the broader sense, or even in the narrow sense of making a sort of truly adding profits and creating value for customers. So, what challenges given the thought leaders as leaders sort of just do what they have to do and don't crowd please don't tick boxes. What challenges do thought leaders typically face in your experience from trying to spread the message of the company both internally and trying to evangelize and be an advocate sort of externally, it could start with internal issues and politics first.

Oleg Konavalov: Oh, there are quite a few things, but I would focus on four most important. Leader must be quite courageous enough to lead people to new choice. Right? To new reality. So, he should be an example or a model of courage thinking, right? It's about not just overcoming resistance. It's about eradicating office silence because silence grow from the top of the company. It's stimulated from there all it's about listening people and giving them a clear direction where to go. And that is very, very, and pretty critical is to be positive. It is very, very important because if you look at the corporate correspondence, the correspondence more or less looks like a verdict. It's not much positive. It's about, it's almost like a book of condolence. We are so sad that we missed a good go. No, no, no, no. Which would be a bit more positive because it sets a mental frame for people where they go and how they creating it. At least for but there are much more

Andrew Newby: Sure. And a willingness to learn.

Oleg Konavalov: I guess there's one of the challenges well. And willingness to learn It's not about reading books or articles is actually about reflection. Many people read books, different books, many people just spent hours and hours in Facebook or on LinkedIn, you know, but what they learn, they will hardly take even a single line note over the day. Well, good learning case. I think about if you're watching some kind of a documentary an hour-long documentary is a good one. You could easily take out about five, 600 words of notes and that isn't okay learning. But again, learning in my view is about meeting new people and listening to them because people have old answers and even better answers than you could find in any book, you know, and those experiences they're sharing because it's really condensed, proofed and well tested through the life of these people. So, it's really important in this sense I would say, you know, every leader must be streetwise in terms of how quickly he thinks book-wise. Being really educated and know a lot. It's about really great broad outlook. It must be nature wise to understand what's going on around him or her, how this world evolves, how environment works. You must be really attuned to the nature. We are live creatures. We only, the parts of this world evolved. So, we must be really attuned to it.

Andrew Newby: That's actually very demanding. Isn't it? That sounds...

Oleg Konavalov: It's really interesting because human knows...

Andrew Newby: You could just do that naturally but the rest of us have to be taught that Alexander, the great didn't need to be taught this but he embodies it.

Oleg Konavalov: It's funny you mentioned Alexander the great, but it's probably came because of his great teacher [inaudible 23:48], you know taught him how to look at those things differently. And so, in this sense, Alexandra the great, is a great product of great sought leadership.

Andrew Newby: Yeah, so it sounds like a lot of organizational models are platonic rather than Aristotelian. One of your, sorry going off classical tangent. One of your other books, or like organizational autonomy anatomy of views, organizational processes from a biological perspective. What's your approach when diagnosing and treating organizational diseases? If diseases is the correct term maladies or this function?

Oleg Konavalov: Well, I even expanded this approach in my latest book literology because we can't create anything more clearer than us to know ourselves. So, we're copying the world around us and being biological creatures, we create similar biological creatures or into some form. And so, I decided that look, what are the differences between the organizations, for instance. And so, I came up with five archetypes, it's producer’s knowledge dependent organizations, donor dependent organization, location dependent, and state affiliated organizations. Okay, they are different because they create value differently for customers. They need different core resources. They're ever so different. You know, for instance, you don't expect a dog to climb a three, you know, they are different. Okay. That ask me to look at their optimal configurations. And so, if those configure, you know, if something was set initially from the foundation or very beginning of that company from the date of establishment, at least the pathology, because most often, for instance more advance, they're trying to get properties from location dependent companies, but they're not their markets they're are not hotels. They depend on knowledge for instance, you know, so more or less your grasp grabbing a pathology, which is difficult to eradicate and it costs a lot to organization. On the way they go they're picking up a certain disease, which are internal more like neurological diseases, for instance, cross syndrome. When one department is not fulfilling own duties and blaming another department so the border for organization become quite bended. And so, when you have that typology, you could clearly articulate and diagnosed this thing. And vast majority of those diseases comes from negative culture or weak culture, right? A lot of problems, for instance, resource blindness is similar to colorblindness because the problem was modern leaders, they have difficulty identifying what core resources are needed for the companies. So at least are very serious problems in fact, so they're more or less spending money time and never consumption, which doesn't create a value for that company. So more or less fancy cars are not making organization stronger. I mean, just like example from a surface but the problems are there and that can be treated more or less if organization is well diagnosed and treated. It improves its performance by about a hundred, 120%.

Andrew Newby: Following that analogy Oleg and the anatomical analogy. Is it possible that companies just cannot or should not be doing certain things from an organic point of view that the leaders should be identifying, given the resources we have, we cannot do this but we can't do that.

Oleg Konavalov: Absolutely. And you could see it straight away. For instance, at present, many healthcare organizations are facing a huge difficulty because initially they are established though or created to develop a complete and utilize knowledge of doctors of medical consultants. But quite often they're presented as a service, which is location, dependent. So more or less they're placing hospitals everywhere and they're not most, what kind of expertise is really a committed as these hospitals. And so, patients, I cast them us in this sense, they're starting to recognize hospitals is some kind of a service organizations, but doctor is not a cobbler is very, very different and that's caused a huge disbalance in those relationships. Look at HR agencies. They have been about not being statisticians, but they have been about too adding value based on knowledge, but it seems to me most of HR agencies are far not fulfilling this expertise. They're more about ticket box. Do you know which falls into no category because it becoming more of a scavenger of the people demand. And so, it's not surprises at that moment about, I've been looking at a recent research of one of the British companies that have fantastic research. About 90% of clients don't trust HR agencies. So, if only 10% of clients trust to some extent to these HR agencies, why this industry exists, or it really shows that they're on a brink of a big problem,

Andrew Newby: It's a shocking statistic if that's true across companies in general. Okay. So, just to sort of draw this podcast to a closer. Like what for you are the key factors the irreducible minimum in maintaining a strong, productive corporate culture, and then just achieving superior business performance, whatever that means or organizational performance. So, what are the key takeaways you sort of implore us to bear in mind?

Oleg Konavalov: Culture is an inner energy of every organization where everyone adding to that energy own contribution, and people will start adding their contribution to that energy only after leaders adding their portion. So fully a leader should clearly understand that culture that reflects leadership. If it's a bad culture means its bad leadership. If it's a good culture, that means leadership is good. So, it's not about you or me. It's about what we do for others. Quite simple.

Andrew Newby: That is as you put it. Yes. Thank you. So, I promise that the start of this podcast that I'd asked you about being called the DaVinci of visionary leadership. Who described you as that just because I used it in the introduction, I feel it has to be put in context?

Oleg Konavalov: Okay.

Andrew Newby: So just to sort of the finals sort of line for our listeners. What's that all about Oleg?

Oleg Konavalov: Vision is an art of sinking, right? So, it must be really well balanced. It has its own golden ratio, right as the [inaudible 33:18]. So, it's not something ugly. It's really beautiful and strong. You know, even if it's created today, still will be fascinating people within 20 years because it was brilliant as in DaVinci. So, I'm always of a simple position. Leadership must be artful. So, the vision as well, if you're making that but it can be taught. The brilliance of vision it's can be taught. It's not a gift. It's a hard work and it's clear algorithm. So, I've been coaching this occurring on a certification course for visionary leaders and that is about creating that beauty. If it’s not beautiful if it's not simple, it wouldn't attract people.

Andrew Newby: Oleg, Dr. Konavalov thank you so much for your time and insights today. It's been an absolute pleasure to talk you.

Oleg Konavalov: Thank you so much. I'm honored. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Andrew Newby: Thank you so much.

Oleg Konavalov: Thank you.

Outro: [34:44-34:46].

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