Inkubator Menedżerów Archive


Getting Uncomfortable on Purpose

Thinking about purpose in business was once a provocative and urgent activity. A seminal HBR article from 1994 states, “In most corporations today, people no longer know—or even care—what or why their companies are,” and argues that “strategies can engender strong, enduring emotional attachments only when they are embedded in a broader organizational purpose.” At the time, purpose was a disruptive idea, reminding companies how disconnected they had become from their raison d’être and inspiring them to re-articulate it, recommit to it, and mobilize around it.

Yet like many new ideas in business, what starts out as a provocation can easily become an empty word, a comfortable routine, or even an excuse for not facing the toughest issues. Indeed, interest in purpose has surged, peaked, and declined, suggesting that the concept, like CSR, agile, and other initially powerful business ideas, has been overused and diluted. (See Exhibit 1.)

A clear sign that purpose has lost its power is if discussing it is easy and comfortable—if in articulating purpose you are merely describing, rather than disrupting, how your company works. Such discussions are probably not adding much value. Yet the reasons for a serious consideration of purpose have only become more urgent. How can we get back to the raw power of the idea of purpose and jettison the ambiguity, complacency, and ritualization that have grown up around it?

What Is Purpose?

Purpose is developed at the intersection of aspiration, external need, and action. A purpose is an enduring aspiration formed around a need in the world that a company is willing and able to act on, using either intrinsic strengths or capabilities it could develop. For example, the world’s oldest company, Japanese construction firm Kongō Gumi, describes its purpose this way: “Kongō Gumi constructs shrines and temples that cultivate and bring calmness to your mind.”1 Although the company has probably articulated this purpose in different ways over time, and its offering and operations have evolved (the company was recently acquired), it has pursued the core social good of bringing calm to people’s minds since its founding 1,440 years ago.

At the heart of the idea of purpose are a number of discomforting tensions. (See Exhibit 2.) There is the tension between idealism and realism: on the one hand, you want to set forth an ideal that pushes your company to become something greater than it currently is, but on the other hand, you don’t want videos and speeches articulating lofty aspirations that are grossly mismatched with your company’s intention and capability to act. Reality without ideals takes you nowhere, but ideals without reality are equally fruitless: you end up either ignoring the ideal or pretending you are already living it.

Then there is the tension between imagination and existing needs. One can be guided by a dream—of what people’s lives or society could be like—using it as the basis for articulating a new need. Or one can set out to meet a palpable existing need. Serving acknowledged needs is likely to be more realistic but also to provide less differentiation from others. Shaping new needs offers greater possibilities for uniqueness and profit but is likely to be less feasible.

There is also the tension between having a positive impact on society and maintaining financial viability. When addressing an ideal cannot generate a return, the purpose will not be sustainable. On the other hand, when the need is conceived as little more than providing a useful product, the purpose is hardly inspiring. The tension is between fulfilling a societal need and keeping the machine of the business running to fund the purpose on a sustainable basis.

Finally, there is the tension between consistency of purpose over time and adaptation to changing conditions. On the one hand, a commitment that can be broken and reframed too easily is not a principled basis for an enduring identity. On the other, aspirations, needs, and capabilities all change over time, indicated by the dotted triangle in Exhibit 2; it is natural that even if your purpose endures, how you understand and act on it evolves as you experiment and learn in a changing world.

A good purpose integrates and balances all of these tensions. It is a balance of idealism (setting a real aspiration) and realism (not ignoring brutal truths); it is an imaginative way to meet a genuine need; it suggests a path for making an impact while attracting and maintaining sufficient resources to do so; and it captures what is timeless while leaving room for evolution of thought and action.  

By Ashley Grice , Martin Reeves , and Jack Fuller

More: The BCG Henderson Institute is Boston Consulting Group’s strategy think tank, dedicated to exploring and developing valuable new insights from business, technology, and science by embracing the powerful technology of ideas. The Institute engages leaders in provocative discussion and experimentation to expand the boundaries of business theory and practice and to translate innovative ideas from within and beyond business. For more ideas and inspiration from the Institute, please visit Featured Insights.


The Emerging Art of Ecosystem Management

Today’s artists express their vision by stretching far beyond the boundaries of canvas and paint. Through unorthodox juxtapositions of light, color, video, sound, and nature, artists such as Bill Fontana and the artist couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude create immersive experiences that require the input of a complex and highly adaptable network of collaborators—including the spectators themselves, each of whom comes away with a highly personalized experience. To succeed, this type of ambitious endeavor requires radical connectivity, an open mind, and a wide range of players. The collaboration itself and the interplay of different elements create artistic value.

The same is true for the complex ecosystems now emerging throughout the business landscape and across industries—and for the new ways they deliver value. As the Internet of Things (IoT) makes our homes, phones, and cars “smart,” companies must work with a far wider range of partners to pull together the underlying technologies, applications, software platforms, and services needed for an integrated solution. The need for partnerships is further amplified by rapidly changing technologies and consumers’ growing demand for a highly customized user experience.

Today’s “smart” products depend on complex networks of partners. But few companies know how to manage these networks effectively.

Some large networks, such as the digital ecosystems of smartphones, comprise a million or more platform partnerships through their integrated app stores. And it’s not just the tech industry that’s undergoing these changes. All industries—including incumbents such as banking, health care, consumer products, logistics, and automotive—are seeing an evolution of their products and services and a need to collaborate differently.

This new reality can be especially challenging for incumbent players, many of which are used to going it alone—either by trying out new things in-house or by buying a company in order to enter a new space. And when they do set up partnerships or make acquisitions, they often end up with an ecosystem more by accident than by virtue of long-term strategic planning.

A better approach is to actively participate in shaping the new landscape. To this end, many leading companies are building their own collaborative networks and/or joining existing ones. The challenge is how to effectively set up and manage these ecosystems and use them strategically to maximize value—and gain a competitive edge. Companies that can meet this challenge will reap enormous benefits, while those that don’t risk falling behind or becoming irrelevant.

In this article we’ll explore a number of key strategic questions, including:

  • How collaboration within an ecosystem is different from traditional collaboration
  • What types of ecosystems are available and which are best suited for incumbents
  • How incumbents can gain a competitive advantage through the strategic use of digital ecosystems

The New Collaboration Model

Just as contemporary art installations are completely unlike traditional paintings, the members of today’s digital ecosystems collaborate in ways that are fundamentally different from collaborations of the past. Case in point: the auto industry, which is currently undergoing radical changes. In the past, automakers either formed a joint venture or alliance with an OEM to enter a new market (such as China) or formed contractual relationships with hundreds of suppliers to secure parts. These traditional partnerships still exist, but today a typical European auto company will draw on an ecosystem of more than 30 partners across five different industries and several countries to make cars that are connected, electric, and autonomous. (See Exhibit 1.) The auto company acts as the “orchestrator,” whose role is to organize and manage the ecosystem, define the strategy, and identify potential participants.

Today’s collaborations have a different purpose, structure, and outcome than those of the past—and industry lines are becoming increasingly blurred. Articles in academic and business journals have explored only limited aspects of these differences, such as the new focus on smart, integrated solutions;1 the goal of achieving innovation leadership and speed to market;2 and the shift from rigid value chains to highly adaptable value webs.3 But these are only part of the story.

Our extensive research into 40 ecosystems revealed four additional aspects of the new digital ecosystems that are changing how companies collaborate: geographic diversity of participants; cross-industry focus; shorter, more flexible deal structures; and mutual, continuous value creation. (See Exhibit 2.)

Super Platforms: Integrating Several Platforms into One Fully Integrated Offering

Some platforms integrate a wide range of complementary platforms into a single, fully integrated super platform. A good example is a digital assistant that integrates transportation, payment, shopping, and communication services into a single user-friendly solution. This type of ecosystem requires advanced digital capabilities, an openness to outside partners, and a well-established platform to start with. For these reasons, it tends to be preferred by well-established tech companies.

Number and Type of Partners. This type of ecosystem depends on a high volume of users driven by a limited number of well-established partner platforms and their contributors, which number in the millions. As a result, super platforms are open—even to competitors, if they can add unique features. For instance, Amazon’s Alexa integrated the Sonos smart-speaker platform to attract high-end users. Rather than standardizing partner screening, super platforms focus on strategic considerations, such as what impact potential partners will have on the overall market opportunity, product cannibalization, and user lock-in.

Role of Orchestrator. Since super platforms have a relatively small number of partners (i.e., the partner platforms), the orchestrator can focus on negotiating the strategic aspects of the ecosystem, such as data sharing, exclusivity, and any changes to the platform that affect services or functionality. The orchestrator’s negotiating strength depends on the power of the super platform, which is a direct function of the number of engaged users and the products and services that are already integrated. The orchestrator also sets technical requirements for the partner platforms.

Another key focus is on providing a best-in-class customer interface and user experience to drive user engagement, grow the user base, and attract other partner platforms. Both Amazon Alexa and WeChat, two well-established super platforms, offer highly intuitive user interfaces that draw upon extensive user preference data from the companies’ other businesses. The two super platforms also integrated their own adjacent services and platforms before adding key partners. This allowed them to experiment with integration, prove the viability of the combined offering, and build up their user base—all of which made the platforms more attractive to potential partners.

A strong financial backbone is needed to grow a super platform. For instance, Amazon launched an extensive marketing campaign to promote Alexa and discounted speaker prices to bring in users. It also provides financial support (via the Alexa Fund) and gives programmers financial incentives to develop skills that continually increase Alexa’s usability and appeal.

Value Creation. A super platform makes money largely through adjacent, mostly data-based businesses, such as ads, e-commerce payments, and new service offerings. A good example is WeChat, which started as a social messenger and now allows users to buy and sell products, send money to friends, order food and groceries, and check news. Customizing service offerings and building adjacent businesses that users want and need require a broad set of user data. Super platforms therefore focus partner negotiations on trying to safeguard their own data and get access to the data of other integrated platforms.

Key Success Factors. Our research suggests that a successful super platform needs a well-established technology foundation, a superior user interface and experience, and strong financial backing.

Looking Ahead

Companies used to work primarily one to one with another companies, but that was ten years ago. To create products today, Niki Lang says that companies need to have an array of partners.

In today’s connected world, industry and geographic boundaries are becoming meaningless, and unexpected change has become a constant. Adaptable ecosystems are designed to respond more quickly to evolving demand patterns, customer preferences, and the competitive landscape.

The new art of setting up and managing these broad collaborative networks—and leveraging their potential—is still uncharted territory for most businesses. The insights described above provide a starting point. Forward-looking companies that can capitalize on the potential power of ecosystems will reap enormous benefits and be well positioned for an uncertain future.


Nikolaus Lang  Managing Director & Senior Partner; Global Leader, Global Advantage Practice, Munich;

Konrad von Szczepanski  Managing Director & Partner, London

Charline Wurzer Project Leader, Munich


The BCG Henderson Institute is Boston Consulting Group’s strategy think tank, dedicated to exploring and developing valuable new insights from business, technology, and science by embracing the powerful technology of ideas. The Institute engages leaders in provocative discussion and experimentation to expand the boundaries of business theory and practice and to translate innovative ideas from within and beyond business. For more ideas and inspiration from the Institute, please visit Featured Insights.


Understanding the leader’s ‘identity mindtrap’: Personal growth for the C-suite

Millions of years of evolution have shaped our brains, with nature selecting for many adaptive and energy-saving, if imperfect, shortcuts. Some are easy to spot—for example, how we systematically fall for optical illusions and how our loss-aversion reflex biases our choices. Other ancient shortcuts trip us up in subtler, more personal ways.

A CEO named Hans experienced this firsthand as he debriefed his executive team on what he’d learned at his leadership retreat. Hans gestured to a printout—a feedback report drawn from a combination of psychometric tests and 360-degree feedback. He told the team that the report found him intelligent, passionate, and purpose led. However, he added, he was also seen as too controlling, prone to quick judgments, and mostly certain of the rightness of his own opinions.

Hans jammed the papers back into his folder. “So you can see,” he noted with a somewhat rueful smile, “these assessments have shown me the ways I am difficult to work with. I have become aware of the reasons behind some of these challenges, and I want you to know that I am grateful to you for putting up with them.” He paused momentarily before adding, “I am delighted to say that with this new information, it will be easier for all of us as you are able to stretch your styles to work within my complications for the good of the work we all care so deeply about.” Hans smiled graciously at the team and moved to the next agenda item.

If Hans’s reaction strikes you as defensive, or perhaps just unthinking, then you’d be partly right. As we will see, it was a deeply human reaction. From our work with Hans, we know him to be a respected, intelligent, and generally well-liked CEO. In that moment, however, he was unconsciously protecting his ego and identity, as all of us do when we feel them come under threat. Hans held a view of himself as a tough, confident, and decisive—if rough-around-the-edges—leader. He knew what it took to get things done. He also didn’t believe that changing himself was possible. Instead of wasting time trying, he wanted to get back to business.

As Hans would come to learn, however, this fixed projection of his identity and his visceral defense of it were unconscious shortcuts that can point leaders in exactly the wrong direction when we face ambiguity. We call it the “identity mindtrap” and have seen it trip up executives all by itself or in combination with other shortcuts. In this article, we describe how the identity mindtrap can blind us to valuable personal-growth opportunities and how a more expansive view, grounded in the principles of adult development, can help us recognize our potential and improve the odds of seizing it. The results not only are personally beneficial—helping us lead with more ease and empathy and improving our ability to deal with complexity—but can also help our teams and organizations thrive in an uncertain, rapidly changing world.

Three questions to help you grow

Interviews, written assessments, and other instruments can help orient us on the map of our development. Self-awareness is the torchlight for walking through this terrain. Over years or decades, we can see and understand the patterns and large shifts described in this article, but we live them in a series of tiny moves. In these moments, things we were once blind to become assumptions we can see and make decisions about. We can help prompt this form of developmental self-awareness by asking ourselves three vital questions:

1. Why do I believe what I believe? We often confuse our beliefs with the truth and rarely question how we came to hold them. To break this pattern, stop looking for evidence to support your beliefs and instead try looking for their sources. Did a belief come from an external authority in a socialized way? Did you write it yourself, basing it on your principles or values? As you examine your system of beliefs, you can begin to shift your attachment to your current form of mind. For example, you might find that your belief that “loyalty is paramount” was inherited from your father in a socialized way because loyalty mattered most to him.

2. How could I be wrong? This question isn’t meant to help you make your beliefs bulletproof but rather to open them up so that you recognize other ways of seeing the world that might be helpful to you—and might be as true as your own vision. For example, if you question your socialized view of loyalty, you might see how loyalty to an outside cause can blind you or others and generate mistakes that eventually hurt the cause. The discomfort you feel at this process (“I can’t be wrong!”) means you’re on the right track. Keep going; this practice creates psychological flexibility and opens us up to new possibilities. When used in the right way, this question is a high-energy packet of developmental goodness.

3. Who do I want to be next? This question is a beacon in the distance for all of us. We often consider what we want to do next or what we want our next career move to be, but we rarely consider who we will be next. Will we be less reactive? Will we have a bigger view? Will we be less oriented to our achievements? If we have a sense of this new person we are growing into, it will be easier to spot—and avoid—the identity mindtrap and continue to walk through our development path with grace.

Our world is changing faster than our biology can adapt. Mindtraps that once helped minimize distractions from ancient challenges are unhelpful in addressing modern ones. Fortunately, our minds can evolve faster than our genomes and can be intentionally developed through practice. Our reflex to protect our egos never leaves us, but as we ask ourselves different questions, we can discover—and follow—a development path that enriches us as human beings and ultimately benefits our teams, organizations, and even the world.

And not a moment too soon. Some of the organizational, environmental, and geopolitical issues before us represent the biggest and most complex challenges human beings have ever faced. By avoiding the mindtraps, and participating more fully in our own evolution, we can generate the collaboration and new ideas needed to solve these challenges.

About the author(s)

Jennifer Garvey Berger is the CEO of Cultivating Leadership; her latest book is Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps: How to Thrive in Complexity (Stanford University Press, 2019). Zafer Gedeon Achi is a partner at Cultivating Leadership and a director emeritus at McKinsey.



When women lead, workplaces should listen

For years, female executives have come away from women-only leadership programs empowered to do—and ask for—more, valuing the opportunity to examine their strengths and shortcomings in the psychological safety of their peers and to use the experience as a springboard for personal development.

But organizations are leaving unexamined the most powerful lessons these programs offer.

The oft-overlooked benefit of women-only leadership programs is that they hold up a mirror to the organization. When women scrutinize their own leadership traits and experiences, they reveal important information about the day-to-day environment in which they operate. If a company is receptive, the content of the sessions can help gauge how well the organization promotes effective leadership behavior and can offer a portal into where the company succeeds, as well as where it fails to foster an environment in which everyone can bring their best self to work. In short, companies can use such programs not only to improve the skills of the participants but also to assess—and ultimately improve—the workplace itself.

We’ve come to these conclusions through a decade’s worth of experience in a particular women’s leadership program—McKinsey’s Remarkable Women Program, which has helped develop female leaders from Warsaw to Washington, DC, to Singapore to Stockholm. Remarkable Women sessions generally include participants from multiple organizations, but many companies send more than one woman, and we believe that the lessons we’ve learned are equally relevant for organizations running their own in-house programs.

In this article, we describe what hundreds of program sessions and 150 interviews with participants have taught us. Not only do women and men experience work differently; not only is it the system—rather than women—that needs fixing; but there are three critical actions organizations need to take: they must broaden their leadership models, stimulate dissent, and encourage more effective introspection across the board.

About the authors: Natacha Catalino is an associate partner in McKinsey’s Boston office, and Kirstan Marnane is a senior advisor in the London office.



Promy z polskich stoczni

Silny polski promowy klaster morski może dać nam przewagę nad konkurentami

 Marek Grzybowski

Polskie stocznie budują nowoczesne ekologiczne promy. Niestety, nie dla polskich i skandynawskich armatorów. Pierwszy prom na świecie na metanol, promy z siłowniami na gaz, pierwszy prom elektryczny – to wszystko statki z polskich stoczni, nagradzane w międzynarodowych konkursach.

W budowie kompletnych promów i częściowo wyposażonych kadłubów oraz przebudowie promów na jednostki bardziej przyjazne środowisko specjalizują się stocznie Grupy Remontowa oraz Aluship z Gdańska, Crist i Nauta z Gdyni, a także niektóre zakłady w Szczecinie.

Promy dla Kanady. Na początku listopada handlowcy z Remontowa Shipbuilding podpisali kontrakt na budowę nowego kompletnego promu typu Salish. To kontynuacja serii już wcześniej budowanych w Remontowej 3 promów dla kanadyjskiego armatora BC Ferries, który operuje w prowincji British Columbia. Statek ma być przekazany armatorowi do eksploatacji w 2022 r. Nowy prom będzie wprowadzony na obsługę połączenia Swartz Bay-Southern Gulf Islands. Zastąpi prom Mayne Queen.

BC Ferries operuje już 3 promami przekazanymi do eksploatacji przez Remontową Shipbuilding w latach 2016-2017: Salish Orca – w listopadzie 2016 r., Salish Raven – w czerwcu 2017 r., a Salish Eagle – w lutym 2017 r. Grupa Remontowa uzyskała zlecenie na budowę serii promów typu Salish wygrywając przetarg, do którego stanęły również stocznie z Kanady, Norwegii, Niemiec i Turcji. To, że BC Ferries wybrało budowę jednostek w polskiej stoczni, a nie w kanadyjskiej, było przedmiotem ostrej krytyki prasy kanadyjskiej i niektórych polityków.