Here at The Center for Higher Ambition Leadership we have long been fans of the barn raising as a metaphor. It speaks to community, inclusiveness, and valuing the contribution of each individual. It is a dramatic example of how significant can be achieved in remarkable short order when people work together bound by common purpose and values. It’s how we’ve built the Higher Ambition Leadership movement: one company after another forming a learning community where members share, encourage, and inspire each other to accelerate our understanding and best practices.
Watch the video to see how it all happens (in just three-and-a-half minutes) And so we read the recent Harvard Business Review article by John Geraci and Christopher Chavez, “To Innovate, Think Like a 19th Century Barn Raiser,” with great interest. We enjoyed their practical guidance on how to adapt the spirit and magic of barn raising to the work of a modern organization:
Barn-raising can serve as a model for successful new value creation in today’s hyper-connected world. Begin by reaching out to diverse members of your ecosystem, include them in a co-creation process from the outset, and prioritize the growth of that ecosystem as you cultivate the growth of the initiative itself…
They use Kickstarter as an example: Users often cite the community they build through the process as more important than the money they raise. Kickstarter, like a barn raising, provides a platform for building connections and tapping into a vast network of knowledge and ideas. It helps people overcome common obstacles such as an overly inward focus. The authors draw on an earlier article in which they articulated the value of an “ecosystem mindset”:
“an understanding that the keys to new value and growth likely do not reside within one’s current boundaries but beyond them, and that success involves forging new connections to solve problems and create new value as a team. It’s a mindset that very few big companies and individuals have, but need.”
Perhaps we are biased but we see the ecosystem mindset as central to the Higher Ambition approach to leadership and strategy: Seeking to create value for all stakeholders pushes executives and their organizations to look at challenges in ways that reveal new opportunities. It stretches their thinking. They engage with people and organizations they might not otherwise have considered. The relationships and commitment built with customers, employees, suppliers, and communities through this process can result in competitive advantage that is tough to replicate or counter. In the end, you deliver superior financial returns that fuel future growth, allow you to recruit top talent, and move adroitly to seize opportunities.
So get out there and build a barn!
Also of Interest
Kate Issacs on Solving Wicked Problems