Can mindfulness stimulate sustainability-oriented innovation?

For most of us in the Western hemisphere the summer holiday season is coming to an end and I sincerely hope that everybody enjoyed  their summer holidays. This year I have, like previous years, the intention to keep the mindset of the summer holidays for a longer period of time. Apparently we have a different mindset when we are on a summer holiday, than when we are busy in our daily routines during the rest of the year. Thoughout the summer holidays we are mostly more mindful, where we value more aspects of life, often the little things, and we  have more observations without judgement or criticism. To keep the mindset of the summer holiday longer, I found inspiration in a study that was published last week in the Journal of Cleaner Production (by Siqueira & Pitassi, 2016), which is about the question if mindfulness can make a difference in sustainability-oriented innovations?

Summer End

The end of summer

Mindfulness is a growing topic in the academic literature and in business, where it is mainly related to the well being of people. Positive aspects of mindfulness are that people gain a better awareness of one’s inner and outer worlds without immediate categorizations, comparisons, self-reference, judgements or criticism. This can help to reduce stress, increases flexibility, improves memory, improves relationships and many other benefits.
In the field of sustainability-oriented innovation, mindfulness can help to improve our creative potential, ecological concern, ethical behavior and empathy for others.

Looking back at the summer holiday and what mindfulness can do to be more successful in sustainability-oriented innovation, there are perhaps a few simple adjustments in our daily working routines. that can make a difference. These adjustments are:

  • Take more time to be aware of situations without immediate judgements.
  • Be more aware of the ecological, social and ethical issues involved.
  • Be more creative to keep what is good and improve where possible or needed.

The coming Strategy Blogs shall be focused more on sustainability-oriented innovations. The future blogs and discussions on the social media shall be tagged as #sustainnovate. If you have any suggestions or best practices please leave a reply underneath this blog or send me an email (

Have a great week!

Norbert Bol


Siqueira, R. P., & Pitassi, C. (2016). Sustainability-oriented innovations: Can mindfulness make a difference?. Journal of Cleaner Production.

Photo credit: Master Cheng Yen There is nothing we cannot achieve if we are willing to think, cultivate and take mindful action, symphony of love via / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: The end of Summer, Great Beyond via / CC BY-NC-SA


Favourite 2016 books by CEOs

Last week McKinsey published an interesting list of books that CEOs read during the summer holdiday season. For the readers of Strategy Blogs I have made a selection of the 2016 non fiction books from the list McKinsey published as they are related to the themes of Strategy Blogs. I have put the selected titles in my favourite order.

The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks—Joshua Cooper Ramo (Little, Brown & Company, 2016)

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing—Benjamin Graham (Harper Business, 2006)

The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy—Mervyn King (W.W. Norton & Company, 2016)

Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy—Robert H. Frank (Princeton University Press, 2016)

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that Will Shape Our Future—Kevin Kelly (Viking Books, 2016)

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike—Phil Knight (Scribner, 2016)

The Inner Lives of Markets: How People Shape Them—And They Shape Us—Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan (PublicAffairs, 2016)

H is for Hawk—Helen Macdonald (Grove Press, 2016)

Enter Helen: The Invention of Helen Gurley Brown and the Rise of the Modern Single Woman—Brooke Hauser (HarperCollins Publishers, 2016)

The Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000-Year History of Wealth, Greed, and Endeavor—Martin Meredith (PublicAffairs Books, 2016)

This Brave New World: India, China and the United States—Anja Manuel (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

The Gene: An Intimate History—Siddhartha Mukherjee (Scribner, 2016)

When Breath Becomes Air—Paul Kalanithi (Random House, 2016)

 The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time—Arianna Huffington (Harmony, 2016)

The Politicians and the Egalitarians: The Hidden History of American Politics—Sean Wilentz (W.W. Norton & Company, 2016).

Norbert Bol


What CEOs are reading, McKinsey, 2016.

Photo credit: Simon Cocks via / CC BY

CEO’s who are blogging about strategy

In this Strategy Blog I would like to share with you the blogs of CEO’s that I follow because they also discuss strategic management issues. These blogs are:

Ben’s Blog by Ben Horowitz, CEO of Andreessen Horowitz

CEO Blog – Time Leadership by Jim Estill, CEO of Canrock Capital.

CEO Blog – Meet Clive by Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret.

CraigConnects by Craig Newmark, Founder of Craiglist.

George Colony’s Blog: The counterintuitive CEO by George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research.

Guy Kawasaki Blog by Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist of Canva.

KellBlog by Dave Kellogg, CEO of Host Analytic.

KR Connect Blog by Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi.

MarcFaberNews.Com by Marc Faber, Founder of Marc Faber Limited.

Marriott on the move by Bill Marriott, CEO of Marriott International, Inc.

MarthaLaneFoxBlog by Martha Lane Fox, Founder and Chair of

Michael Hyatt, CEO of Michael Hyatt & Company.

Open Mike Blog by Mike Critelli of Pitney Bowes. by Rex Hammock, CEO of Hammock, Inc.

Richard Edleman’s Blog by Richard Edleman, CEO of Edleman.

The Grassy Road: A CEO at Work and Play in Silicon Valley and Beyond by Penny Herscher, CEO of FirstRain.

Thom Rainer Blog by Thom Rainer, CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Tom Glocer’s Blog by Tom Glocer former CEO of Thomson Reuters.

If you have additions to this list of CEO’s  who blog about strategic management issues please let me know.

Norbert Bol

Photo Credit: Dimitar Nikolov, Blog, Flickr





Leadership in networked organizations

After my last blog about shared leadership I received many votes and many positive reactions. Especially about leadership that can be found everywhere at any level in an organization. Most of the readers agree that leadership is not just a function where you sit, but is more about what you do and how you do it. What do leaders do? Leaders are busy with networking, innovating, coaching and leading by example. These activities are done with great passion while taking responsibility at the same time.

In my opinion, traditional hierarchies are getting more and more replaced by networked- or social organizations, where organizational networking, learning and innovativeness are important drivers such as Husain et al. (2016) demonstrate. To achieve this, organizations need leadership which can be found everywhere in the organization. It is important however to communicate on what topics we want to be leading the organization and how we are going to co-operate with other leaders.

Norbert Bol


Husain, Z., Dayan, M., & Di Benedetto, C. A. (2016). The impact of networking on competitiveness via organizational learning, employee innovativeness, and innovation process: A mediation model. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 40, 15-28.

Photo credit: LiveLuvCreate

Responsible and shared leadership

Leadership can be found at any level of an organization. This means that you don’t have to be a manager to be a leader. To make this work it must be possible in an organization to lead one another. Recent research shows that this can take place when there is enough diversity and commonality.

Diverse teams are more successful and innovative than homogeneous teams, as diverse teams are better at managing opportunities and threats to create success in a more sustainable way. Commonality is important because team members who are holding the same attitudes, arguments, feelings or beliefs can work successful together. This successful cooperation is built on the belief that team members that lead each other can show their weaknesses, whereby these weaknessses do not make a member weak. On the contrary, it allows delegating responsibilities to others who have those abilities, in order to achieve the common goal.

Although the theory is helpful in understanding that leadership can be found at any level of organizations with enough diversity and commonality, I am interested in personal experiences or opinions from readers about this concept of shared leadership.


Norbert Bol


Cismas, S. C., Dona, I., & Andreiasu, G. I. (2016). Responsible Leadership. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 221, 111-118.

Drescher, G., & Garbers, Y. (2016). Shared leadership and commonality: A policy-capturing study. The Leadership Quarterly, 27(2), 200-217.

Photo credit: Create-Learning Team Building & Leadershipvia / CC BY

Are you too busy to improve?

Last week I wrote about how we can learn to innovate by learning from haute cuisine chefs. Besides learning from models I think it is also important (1) to asses who we are and (2) to make a good assessment of the organization where the innovation should take place. When assessing ourselves and the organization it is often quite easy to come to the superficial conclusion that we all are too busy to innovate.  At the same time we often know that it is not quite true, but when we innovate we need to overcome the structural inertia that promotes stability. Time is only one of the factors that is needed for change. In the picture below a more comprehensive view on individual change is presented to discover for ourselves how we deal with these  factors.

Individual change

To innovate it is important to build a network and to explore needs and solutions. Successful innovators seldomly see this as a seperate activity of work, but they do this in action with their daily traditional work. Time does not restrict them from innovating. When there is real potential value on the horizon it is more easy to allocate more time to the potential innovation. They are in that respect clear about what procedures they need from the organization to convert initiatives into actions.

Innovative organizations at the same time should create an environment where employees can build a network, explore needs and solutions and create procedures that convert initiatives into actions. It is my personal opinion that organizations as well as employees want to be more innovative and there is probably enough time and room to innovate. However finding the right time to discuss meaningful matters is often the biggest challenge to keep momentum and inspiration.



Norbert Bol


Makkonen, H., Johnston, W. J., & Javalgi, R. R. G. (2016). A behavioral approach to organizational innovation adoption. Journal of Business Research,69(7), 2480-2489.

Picture credit: aafromaa via Scandinavian / CC BY


Learning innovation from haute cuisine chefs

How do we learn to innovate and become successful entrepreneurs?

In the August 2016 edition of the Journal of Business Research there is an interesting article (Abecassis-Moedas, et al., 2016) that shows how top haute cuisine chefs innovate and are successful.

Top haute cuisine chefs learn to innovate by vicarious learning. This is a type of social learning in which the individual learns through observation without directly
performing the behavior or experiencing the consequences. Vicarious learning can be described as a process where “by observing a model of the desired behavior, an individual forms an idea of how response components must be combined and sequenced to produce the new behavior”. There are three types of vicarious learning, these are:

  • Vicarious learning from parental models
    Parents can be viewed as a central model for the development of the entrepreneur identity for nascent entrepreneurs, whereby role modeling, imitation, basic values or
    utilities passed from parents to child;
  • Vicarious learning from academic models
    In schools and universities, individuals can learn vicariously through discussions,
    conflicts, challenges, story-telling and observing not only lecturers and professors but also more experienced students and peers;
  • Vicarious learning from mentor models
    Mentors can be important for learning as they facilitate opportunity recognition by providing valuable information based on their extensive experience. Besides the information transfer mentors are also important by the model they represent.

Top haute cuisine chefs learn to innovate especially from parental models and mentor models. Learning form academic models seems to be less important as these models probably do not capture the complexity and heuristic behaviors needed for innovation, although they are useful for learning in general.

For top haute cuisine chefs it shows that innovation is beneficial to the performance. Chefs who incorporate novel approaches to food preparation, ingredients, menu,
service, and the configuration of restaurants are more likely to perform better.

If we want to be successful in our working career in probably other businesses than the restaurant sector, what can we learn from these top haute cuisine chefs? At least we can start by looking for role models, find a mentor and at the same time start using novel approaches to our preparation, find new ingredients, make changes to the menu, improve the service and start making changes to the configuration of our workplace.

To improve my Strategy Blogs I’ll start by learning next week more about blogging during the Blogging Challange of the Blog Universiteit (Blog University).

Norbert Bol


Abecassis-Moedas, C., Sguera, F., & Ettlie, J. E. (2016). Observe, innovate, succeed: A learning perspective on innovation and the performance of entrepreneurial chefs. Journal of Business Research.

Photo credit: Les Roches via / CC BY

Innovation through knowledge sharing

Last week I wrote about knowledge sharing in project teams. This week I would like to discuss the importance of knowledge sharing for learning, creativity and innovation.

Although there are many theories of knowledge sharing behavior (Razak et. al, 2016), in my opinion the most important aspect of knowledge sharing is that the right circumstances are created to learn, to co-create or to innovate. These circumstances are not only the responsibility of the persons that are willing to share the knowledge but also of those who are willing to learn. When it comes to co-creation or innovation, it is the result of the interaction between people that are transferring their knowledge and are learning.

Norbert Bol


Razak, N. A., Pangil, F., Zin, M. L. M., Yunus, N. A. M., & Asnawi, N. H. Theories of Knowledge Sharing Behavior in Business Strategy. Procedia Economics and Finance 37 ( 2016 ) 545 – 553.

Photo: Emoves Urban Culture Festival

Knowledge sharing in project teams is important to go beyond your limitations

Modern knowledge-based organizations face continuous challenges to remain competitive. These challenges today are driven by globalization, the possibilities of the internet and the increasing need for more sustainable products and services. These developments are creating a complexity of interdependent information flows which can be opportunities and/or threats to the organization.

If in such an environment organzations need to perform tasks that are high in complexity and have many interdependent subtasks, project teams are an appropriate way to organize. This will lead to an increase of performance and a reduction of risk. One of the critical elements to achieve these results is knowledge sharing between team members.

In the upcoming September 2016 issue of the journal Computers in Human Behavior, there is an overview of the scientific literature about the topic of kwowledge sharing in project teams.

The  main findings in my opinion are that:

  • Better knowledge sharing leads to better project results in terms of higher performance and lower risk;
  • Knowledge sharing in teams can increase employee’s productivity and performance as it maximizes their strengths and minimizes their weakness;
  • Knowledge sharing among customers, suppliers and business partners greatly facilitate the process of improving the quality of customer service, reducing production cycles and increasing the cooperation;
  • Knowledge sharing plays also a critical role in promoting innovation, developing organizational agility and generating overall organizational value.

To facilitate the process of knowledge sharing it is necessary to create teams that have complementary skills and enough diversity. It is important to be aware of traditional thoughts and opinions that can prevent the knowledge sharing in project teams. In modern knowledge-based organizations team members need to be aware of their strengths and weakenesses and create the circumstances to help one another that allows everyone to go beyond his or her limitations.

Norbert Bol


Navimipour, N. J., & Charband, Y. (2016). Knowledge sharing mechanisms and techniques in project teams: Literature review, classification, and current trends. Computers in Human Behavior, 62, 730-742.

Spreading new ideas and the role of peer effects

In 1962 Everett Rogers introduced the theory of the Diffusion of Innovation. This theory explains how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread. Innovation and new ideas do not get adopted by the fact that it is a good idea. This is dependent on the innovation itself, communication channels, time, and the social system. The categories of how we adopt new ideas or innovations are according to the theory: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Below a picture represents these categories in relation to  market share.

In the upcoming August 2016 edition of the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics there is new insight that peer effects play an important role in the diffusion of innovations and how it can occur in different circumstances.

The research shows that peer effects are driven by different mechanisms in relation to the stages of adoption.

  • In the early stages of adoption, individuals can only base their adoption decision on basic information about the innovation by individual information exchange.
  • In the majority stages, adoption decisions heavily rely on the experiential knowledge and resources they can collect from earlier adopters. As experience is scarce in this stage, an individual can only obtain it from those who they are closely linked with.
  • In the late stages, when the majority has adopted the innovation, it is important what the adoption behavior is of someone’s peers. This is defined as the externality effect.

Peer effects can only be measured if we understand who the peers are. Therefore it is important to understand the relevant networks in which people operate. The research shows that peer effects can be misunderstood if they are treated as a composite without distinguishing the specific underlying effects.


Norbert Bol


Xiong, H., Payne, D., & Kinsella, S. (2016). Peer effects in the diffusion of innovations: Theory and simulation. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 63, 1-13.

Photo credit: satosphere via / CC BY-NC-ND