Discussion with Anthony Willoughby, Founder of The Nomadic Business School

Date: 29 Sep 2020

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How Milton Keynes businesses can learn from nomadic leadership and strategy

With 75% of employees calling for higher levels of flexible working, and the potential demise of the traditional office - business leaders need to adopt a new management approach.

At the latest online, MKBLP event, leading Milton Keynes employers heard from intrepid adventurer, Anthony Willoughby, on how implementing a nomad approach to business might be the answer: "We are all in unchartered territory – and we need a plan."

Founder of The Nomadic Business School, Anthony fervently regaled the group of MKBLP members of his time with nomad tribes in Africa and Western Mongolia – indigenous communities where no one person is the leader, and at the centre is trust.

Commenting on the ‘swamp of civilisation,’ the entrapments which enslave people - debt, possessions, and desires to succeed and want more – Anthony explored the notion that society has created people who are obsessed with feeling good about themselves. Which, in turn, had built up barriers which deflates trust.

And trust amongst organisations as they navigate through the fallout of Covid-19 is vital to ongoing success.

At a time when many businesses are at their most vulnerable, Anthony encouraged leaders to cultivate communities within their organisations, seeing their employees as a nomad would see their village.

“The nomads have created a highly robust social system to keep them strong, unified, and adaptable in the face of great hardship, by bringing out their spirit of intense cooperation and migrating when faced with challenges.

When the indigenous nomads drew territory maps, Anthony noted that they exhibited three fundamental qualities: clarity, purpose, and agility. Anthony’s nomadic approach emboldens businesses to adopt this ‘territory mapping’ technique in a bid to function as a community, while removing the barriers that prevent trust.

Through the visual medium of territory mapping, businesses are encouraged to draw how they conceive the risks, returns, threats and opportunities which face their organisation. With bridges, rivers and wolves linking the community from where they are, to where they are heading. “Once people work out what they are hunting, everyone gets a sense of clarity.

Employees need to be a part of that plan, that ‘community.’ When a territory or organisation is under threat they need to migrate. Mapping gets below the rational and into the emotional drivers which it crosses all diversity.”

As part of the migration, Anthony encouraged training, coaching and further education as the ‘bridges’ to migration – with employees firmly part of the plan.

The nomadic business approach has been incorporated into global businesses including Microsoft and Thomson Reuters, putting business executives in the midst of nomad communities. It was also the catalyst for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to eradicate polio.

During his engaging narrative, Anthony enthused leaders to inspire people within their business communities to lead different areas and develop people. Linking back to his experiences to the nomads where skills are recognised throughout communities and no one person if the leader.

A big man has many feathers, but a bigger man hands out his feathers.