Inclusiveness breeds new leadership and purpose (Drucker Forum)


Issue 4, 2017


One of my first ever blog posts from May 2005 was about an experiment carried out by researcher Sugata Mitra: Hole in the Wall or”the leader takes the mouse ”.  (See the 2005 BBC report here.)   Mitra broke a hole in the wall between his office and a slum in India and made a computer available to children in a shanty town who had never seen a computer. The result was astounding. Noise exploded as the children experimented with the computer on their own. Gradually a hand emerged and one of the children began to guide the exploration. Self-learning and a natural leader!

Mitra won the TED Prize of one million dollars in 2013 for his project: “Help me design the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can explore and learn from each other — using resources and mentoring from the cloud.” You can view Mitra’s TED talks in 2010 and 2013.

In 2014 I returned to Mitra’s work, and wrote True leadership emerges in an inclusive context.  The noise generated in maturing digital workplaces enable new leaders to arise and lead much like the hand emerging from the crowd of children to guide the the mouse.

However, it is essential that in our enthusiasm for “digital first” in our organizational initiatives,  we must not lose sight of the human realities:

  • Reachability is a pre-requisite for inclusiveness and purpose.
  • Fundamental basics such as answering the telephone are still essential.
  • Attitudes to learning, from “eager and willing” to “doubtful and wary”, must be taken into account in our work as digital leaders.

As always, please get in touch and share your thoughts.


The Inclusive Organization and the Reachability Factor

Photo Russ Collins, Lac de Serre-Pocçon, France,

Published in the Global Peter Drucker Forum Blog….

I defined reachability:

“Reachability means people anywhere in the organization can be contacted directly and individually. People can communicate and interact with others beyond their physical workplace. It means ideas and initiatives that originate in one place can reach across the organization, to all interested people. When there is a problem to solve, a challenge to confront, all people in the organization can contribute ideas.”

Do you have technologies and work practices that cultivate inclusiveness? The 10-question checklist in the article offers practical leads on how to increase reachability in your organization.

Photo: by Jane, 1900 Museum, Arpaillargues, France

In a hard-hitting must-read for digital leaders published in The Mandarin, venue for public sector leaders in Australia, Paul Shetler, former chief executive of the Digital Transformation Agency, says:

“Government service delivery agencies that can’t ‘answer the friggin’ phones’ should not be spending time and money exploring exciting new areas like big data analytics, artificial intelligence and gamification, argues the Commonwealth’s former chief digital officer Paul Shetler.
Nobody wants to engage with government. Nobody cares about the DTO, ATO, DHS, DSS — the whole alphabet soup — nobody cares about any of that. Nobody really wants to engage with it, because people just want to get stuff done.”

Read the full article here.

How People Approach Facts and Information

People deal in varying ways with tensions about what information to trust and how much they want to learn. 

Photo by Jane, Citadelle in Sisteron, France

Consuming information, a new study by Pew Research Center (US-based study) where they identify five behaviors when people engage with information: 22% are the “eager and willing”, 16% are “confident”, with high levels of trust in information sources, 13% are “cautious and curious”, 24% “doubtul” and 25% “wary”.

“On the one hand, significant numbers of people are interested in building digital skills and information literacy. On the other hand, about half of adults fall into the groups we call the Doubtful and the Wary, who have lower interest in getting assistance to help them get to more trustworthy material.”

What does this mean for our societies and for our institutions?

“Information purveyors might need to use very different methods to get material to the Eager and Willing, who are relatively trusting of institutional information and eager to learn, compared with the tactics they might consider in trying to get the attention of the Cautious and Curious, who are open to learning but relatively distrusting of institutional information”.  Similarly, groups with messages might want to plan wholly different processes to reach the Confident (who are basically information omnivores), compared with the Wary (who are quite reluctant to engage with new material).”

A long article, well-worth reading.


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