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Some time a ago, i took a “little” break for the rat-race, also know as “sabbatical leave”. It allowed me to find internal rest, and clarity about a lot of things important to life. One of the “plans” was to stick to “the plan of not having plan” and let emerge what comes.

I got back to drawing – yes, i was trained as an architect – and discovered i am still quite good at drawing straight lines, but really challenged by curved lines, like human bodies, faces, hands,… probably a testimony of my inclination to the cognitive, analytic, “straight” thinking patterns that formed the first part of my life.

I also did a little dive in the works of Carl Jung. One of the works i struggled through was “Man and his Symbols“.

 

Jung Man and his Symbols

 

I was particularly attracted to the part on dream analysis, and how a dream strictly spoken can only be analysed by the dreamer himself. There is not something like a standard way of analysing dreams. I followed the suggestion to document my dreams. I found this quite confrontational. Very personal. Most of it not really for publication on a public blog.

But i was surprised how some dream transcripts came out in different formats: from films scenarios, to paintings, or even poetry like.

I will start publishing some of these dreams. Here is the first one: i labeled it “breakfast”. Hope you like it.

 

Warm hands wiping

Caressing the table

Weeping leftovers of the night

Used and worn-out shrapnel

Dispersed sparks amidst breadcrumbs and tears

 

More to come…

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I have been away for some while. Many of you thought I was on a sabbatical leave, but that was just a smoke curtain for a much more dramatic makeover and re-invention of myself. I decided to become a true cyborg.

Oculus Ruft Headset Shoot

Zuck was onto something when he decided to acquire Oculus for 1.9B$ earlier this month: blurring the virtual world with the physical world to tap into the enormous opportunity of virtual experiences. But I believe he did not go till the end of his thoughts. You see, the Oculus is “only” one-directional. Giving you the input of virtual worlds. What if you could also give-back and share-back into the virtual world? The ultimate sharing economy?

That’s why I recently decided to become angel investor in a small start-up from Ukraine called “The Fishery”. We are really in stealth mode, I can’t say too much of it. But we are applying the lean startup methodology and we now have our first MVP (Minimal Viable Product) that we start iterating with our celebrity customers. I hope you will understand I can’t share names at this stage.

fitbit-flex-jawbone-up-review-19

Whereas products such as FitBit, Jawbone and others focus on QS (Quantified Self), we believe that with the Fishery we are entering the space of the Qualified Self – it’s about depth and quality, not quantity. We are still hesitating what will be the name of the product: something between the “Fishbit” of the “iFish”: indeed, what we are doing is starting to fish into the deep oceans of the subconscious and the unconscious, where data and the human species become integral one and holistic.

For quite some time, I was a big believer in so called “Personal Data Stores”: tools for the user that allow us to decide ourselves which pieces of our data we share with what vendor in what particular transaction context. But I realized that this only covers the data that we share intentionally. It does not cover data that we share non-intentionally (like the signals from our SIM cards), or data that are collected in surveillance and co-veillance scenarios.

So why not bite the bullet, accept that privacy is dead, and move into the realm of extreme transparency? And what if we could just plainly connect our own human brain to the internet, and create a distributed peer-to-peer exchange of human brainpower, and start to keep a human ledger that is cryptographically secured and trusted? This goes way beyond the Minority Report scenarios (after all, a film of more that a decade old). In this case, you only have to start thinking about something you would do, and hop! It would be immediately shared and algorithmically processed by the hive of connected brains. Of course, we’d have to make some major changes to legislation and regulation, but that can be overcome, it has been done before.

Anyway, last week I was back in our labs in Ukraine, and I volunteered to become the first test case for the latest beta version of our Fishbit.

Petervan with Fishbit

What you see on the picture is me on the lab-bed, right after the 3 hour operation. The little brick on my chest is the prototype of the Fishbit. About 35 wires are connected to different sensors on my brain, my heart, my blood pressure, my lungs, skin, my legs, arms, etc: it’s a true virtual and “brick”-and-mortar tricoder of all my physical and mental sensations and experiences, not only at the cognitive level, but more importantly also tracking and tracing the sub- and unconscious activities of my brain and body.

The Fishbit has of course a number of well-documented open APIs, as this is clearly a platform play where developers can let explode their creativity for thousands of apps tapping into my body, mind, and soul. And to fully bite the bullet of transparency and surveillance, we have added a couple of more secret “dark” APIs to give direct access to governments and other trustworthy organizations looking after the greater good of society at large. But I am deviating.

The mask and the tube are there to add extra oxygen and creative gases, because the sensations are so strong that I need to breath much more consciously to let my heart pumps more oxygen in the blood streams. I can tune the tube, for example per season or month, when for example in April I get an extra dose of laughing gas, and in May some smell or spring blossoms to bring me back to my 60ies hippie memories.

One of the earlier versions had an API with Twitter that made it much easier for me to tweet. I just had to think “tweet”, and hop, there where 140 characters describing what I had spotted in my 2,500 RSS feeds that I follow on a daily basis.

But now we can go a lot further

Jung Man and his Symbols

Many of you know that I am a deep expert in the works of Carl Jung, especially his Book of Dreams, The Man and his Symbols, and his work on the Self, the Archetypes, the personal and the collective unconscious

Jung Sphere

Illustration from the book: “Jung, a very short introduction” by Anthony Stevens

What we discovered with Fishbit, is that sharing as we know in Facebook, Twitter, etc is so… well, outdated. If we reflect on Jung, this sort of FB-sharing only addresses the outer shell of who we are, the ego. In many cases that ego is made up and self-created, and by no means reflecting our deeper selves and motivations. Now, with Fishbit we can tap into that power.

Now, I can share my dreams as they happen. The Fishbit sensors sense when I am entering my REM sleep, can capture my dreams, and in the preferences I can set whether I want my dream to be shared as a literal transcript, as a film scenario or as a piece of poetry.

Now, I can connect my collective and personal conscious to the grid, and share with vendors my really true subconscious needs, to they can shoot better ads to me, the target. Finally! Indeed, as my hero Frank Zappa used to say: “without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”

Zappa deviation norm

And is it not progress when now, for the first time, data, dualism, humanism and the deep unconscious merge into a exciting melting pot with unseen business opportunities on the medium and long term? I hope you share my enthusiasm for this wonderful new world. Welcome to the world of Fishbit. Welcome to my ultimate cyborg make-over.

UPDATE: obviously this post was related to it’s fishy publication date. Thanks for your reactions of concern about my health, I am doing 100% fine ;-)

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Knock, knock, it’s 2014, we are more than one decade in the 21st century, and it’s time to think about transforming our organisations into fast moving feedback movements. A couple of days ago, Rogier Noort (@RogierNoort) interviewed me via mail about my upcoming talk at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit 2014 conference in Paris on 10-12 February 2014. You can find the full interview here (and this post has some extracts from it), but I wanted to expand a little bit on the objective and concept of the 21st Century Organization that I mentioned in that interview.

Knife-Painting-by-Francoise-Nielly

Image credit: Knife Painting by Françoise Niles

It’s the sort of organization we try to fight for with Corporate Rebels United (www.corporaterebelsunited.com). We have had many discussions about the “brand” of Corporate Rebels United. Maybe we’ll change it. The words “corporate” and “rebel” need probably some update or at least some clarification. The only thing that is probably still spot-on is the word “United”. The word “Corporate” is limiting, as it gives the impression that we are “only” targeting big Fortune 500 type of companies. On the contrary, we aim to inspire and activate anybody that is working in any type of organization, networks of people, cells, companies, or ecosystems. The word “Rebel” is probably not the right word either, but as I have said many times, I wanted to keep it as it has something “sharp” to it. We are people taking agency, empowering ourselves, not letting ourselves empowered by others; we are activists and do-ers. Nilofer Merchant nailed it in her 2011 HBR post, we she used the term “protagonists”.

To rebel is to push against something. To lead is to advocate for an idea. To rebel is to say “heck no.” To lead is to say “we will.” To rebel is to deny the authority of others. To lead is to invoke your own authority. A protagonist is a principal champion of a cause or program or action. The protagonist does not wait for permission to lead, innovate, or strategize. They do what is right for the firm, without regard to status. Their goal is to do what’s good for the whole. Protagonists help organizations become more competitive. After all, the word compete comes from the Latin com petter, which means “to seek together.” Their intent is to not to antagonize, but to drive towards something. Protagonists are willing to name things others don’t yet see; they point to new horizons. Without them, the storyline never changes.”

In essence it’s about leveraging the power and energy of people who act from their true selves. Nilofer calls that “Onlyness”: “In this era — the social era — the nugget of value creation starts with a connected human. We call this many things today: a founder, an entrepreneur, an innovator, an intrapreneur… whatever the name, Onlyness is *central* (no longer a nice-to-have) to what gets created. Until you celebrate your own ‘vision of the world’, you’ll be missing out (and so will the rest of the world). Onlyness is one of the 11 rules for the Social Era rules.”

The soul of Corporate Rebels United is indeed about a tribe of enthusiastic protagonists hungry for change. Positive change. Not an anarchist tribe, but a tribe of people who care for the companies they work for and want them to succeed in the 21st century of hyper-connectivity. We are deeply value and purpose driven. We have an ambition for progress, looking forward. We fight mediocrity, and applaud critical thinking. We want to give the best of ourselves. For doing good. For creating human connections between people. For letting people discover their hidden talents and powers. For taking people on a path of discovery, individual and collective relevance. We want everybody in the company and industry to think, to be and act responsible to increase value and wealth creation. Moving from ego-systems and creating eco-systems filled with meaning. We hope we can be a tribe/swarm for leading by being. To quote Keith Yamashita from SY Partners:

“Every leader, at some point in their career, decides whether or not to do the hard work of pursuing greatness. It’s a choice that’s not about satisfying their ego, but about holding themselves and their ambitions to a more enlightened standard of leadership. And it requires the worthy work of showing up as their best self every day, and making a lasting positive impact on their people, teams, customers—even society.”

We love and care for the organizations and networks that we work for and we want them to succeed. We want to reboot our corporate and organizational culture to install a 21st century, digitally native, networked and humanistic version, to accelerate positive viral change from deep within the fabric of our organizations, and to reclaim our passion for meaningful work. The ultimate goal is to find, articulate the drivers and values of “a modern, 21st century organization” and to live, promote, and breathe them every day in our own organization and networks.

But what does such a 21st century organization look like? In my research, I suddenly realized that it is the network dynamics that are fundamental to all the changes at speed and scale we witness. I took back the 2002 (!) book of Albert-Laszlo Barabasi “Linked: The New Science of Networks” (Amazon Associates Link), and started re-reading it with today’s perspective. As many of you know, I read a lot, and i am usually in many books at the same time. So it happened, that I switched to another book that resonates very strong with me: “Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason and the Gap Between Us and Them” (Amazon Associates Link) by Joshua Greene.

BarabaseiMoral Tribes

Barabasi writes:

  • “Companies, firms, corporations, financial institutions, governments, and all potential economic players are the nodes. Links quantify various interactions between these institutions, involving purchases and sales, joint research and marketing projects, and so forth. The weight of the links captures the value of the transaction, and the direction points from the provider to the receiver. The structure and evolution of this weighted and directed network determine the outcome of all macroeconomic”
  • “in markets the standard strategy is to drive the hardest possible bargain on the immediate exchange. In networks, the preferred option is often creating indebtedness and reliance over the long haul.
  • “A me attitude, where the company’s immediate financial balance is the only factor, limits network thinking. Not understanding how the actions of one node affect other nodes easily cripples whole segments of the network”
  • “A scale-free network is a web without a spider. In the absence of a spider, there is no meticulous design behind these networks either. Real networks are self-organized.”

Moral Tribes is based on the premise that:

  • “We need a kind of thinking that enables groups with conflicting moralities to live together and prosper. In other words, we need a metamorality
  • “We need a moral system that can resolve disagreements among groups with different moral ideals, just as ordinary, first-order morality resolves disagreements among individuals with different selfish interests to think in new and uncomfortable ways.”
  • “Cooperation between groups is thwarted by tribalism (group-level selfishness), disagreements over the proper terms of cooperation (individualism or collectivism?), commitments to local “proper nouns” (leaders, gods, holy books), a biased sense of fairness, and a biased perception of the facts.”

Now we can do our magic trick of mixing and matching and try to do some sensemaking out of this ;-) These network- and moral tribe effects fundamentally change all aspects of what we understand by a company:

  • Organizational structures: from hierarchies to wirearchies
  • Leadership: holding ourselves to a more enlightened standard of leadership, and evolve to leadingship (see many other post on leadingship on my blog)
  • People motivation: from extrinsic to intrinsic motivators
  • Competitiveness: redefine from winner takes it all to it’s Latin origin of “com petire” which means “to seek together”
  • Speed, scale and quality of innovation with different capabilities on social, computational and design dimensions. Netflix deploys software code every 2 minutes (!). Amazon answer customer response times are down to 9 seconds on average (during Xmass peak period !). How does one create ultra fast innovation feedback loops in such high velocity execution  environment.
  • Processes: from Gate-keeping to Gate-Opening, with ultra fast iterations and ultra fast feedback loops with customers.
  • Decision making: moving away from pure ROI and NVP based models into social decision making based on heuristics, narrative, probabilistic analysis of disruption and risk possibility analysis (a big shout here to the thinking of Haydn Shaughnessy), and all that again ultra fast, in real-time.
  • Value creation: from benefiting “only” the shareholders, towards value creation for all stakeholders. We have to start thinking in terms of ecosystems “system-innovation”, and the impact of our actions on the society at large and our long term sustainability
  • The role of the CxO functions: from “officers” to “enablers”. What if the CFO could reinvent herself into the “Chief Innovation Enabler” in stead of the budget gatekeeper?

fairburn-3

Image Credit: Pen Drawing on map by Ed Fairburn

As mentioned in the Enterprise 2.0 interview, there are many challenges along this journey. Let me recap them once more for you:

  • The challenge is – whether we like it or not – that organizational anti-bodies exist and will always exist; they will always resist change, and we have to be aware of this, and still keep on fighting.
  • The challenge is to move beyond some myths of change that sound good in a manifesto, but that have little or no effect in actual viral change at scale in organizations.
  • The challenge is to act like a real swarm, like a virus that “infects” the organization at scale from deep within its own fabric.
  • The challenge is to “activate” our people into doing, to create a do-ocracy.
  • The challenge is to optimize the swarm for speed, trust and scalability between idea and action.
  • The challenge is to make sure that everybody feels included.
  • The challenge is to maintain one value set and one value base.
  • The challenge is to be respectful.
  • The challenge is to be relentless and persistent.
  • The challenge is to remain kind.
  • The challenge is to have the courage to stand for your true self, every day again.
  • The challenge is to make all the above economically relevant, if we want to have the attention of the executives of our organizations

My hope is to find allies to help us in spreading the virus of the 21st Century organization. I don’t know what form that may take; maybe a collective of savants that can coach organizations on this path? Something else? Let me know. My hope is that as a collective we can move beyond the abstraction level of social, organizational, and transformative concepts, ideas and science. I’d love to see that we reach a tipping point where we pay more attention for the humanistic, self-driving and self-motivating energies of human beings, where being is our basis and reference point for leading why and what and how we shake the tree of organizational culture and practices.

As David Gelernter recently said: “A world that is intimidated by science and bored sick with cynical, empty “postmodernism” desperately needs a new subjectivist, humanist, individualist worldview now—not just scattered protests but a growing movement, a cry from the heart.”

Looking forward to your feedback, contributions and ideas for alliances to make this happen.

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As from now, we offer you weekly updates related to our 5th edition of Innotribe at Sibos in Dubai from 16-19 Sep 2013.

As you probably know by now, we’ve designed our programme like a metro map. Just like the underground or subway, it’s up to you to decide which “track” to follow, depending on your expertise, interests, learning objectives, and availability.

Innotribe_TubeMap-01

In this week’s post, we’d like to walk you through the Value Track at Innotribe@Sibos 2013.

 

 

The Value track will explore different aspects of the great value discussion:

  • What is the future model of banking?
  • What is wealth beyond money?
  • Can everything be measured?
  • And are we even measuring the right things?
  • Can we valuate companies based on their intangible assets?
  • How does all this drive happiness and well-being?

Future of Money – Opening Plenary

Location: Innotribe Space

Day: Monday 16 Sep 2013

Time: 09:30 – 10:30

In this session, we will identify how the current model is being disrupted and how the impact on cost and revenues. We will co-create the corporate banking business model of the future, using the Business Model Canvas methodology of Alex Osterwalder.

Innotribe co-founder Mariela Atanassova (Mela) recently posted a great article on this subject on the American Banker blog “BankThink” as part of their series “The Future Model of Banking”.

To guide us, we have invited six awesome speakers, each highlighting one dimension of disruption of the existing corporate to banking model:

  • Scott Bales, Chief Mobile Officer, Moven will focus on Social and Mobile;
  • Dave Gray, Author, The Connected Company will focus on organizational change and how his principles lead to “The Connected Bank”;
  • Hank Uberoi, CEO, Earthport and Dan Marovitz, Founder & CEO, Buzzumi and previously Head of Product Management, Global Transaction Banking at Deutsche Bank will articulate what has changed in infrastructure;
  • Patrick Murck, General Counsel, Bitcoin Foundation will ignite us on transparency and transaction costs;
  • We are in discussions with a major bank, which has experimented with hybrid business models in the Corporate to Banking space.

Two host moderators will guide you through this exercise and will ensure a deep interaction between audience and speakers in an exciting TV Studio type format. One moderator (Udayan Goyal, Partner and Co-Founder of the Anthemis Group) will work the stage; the other moderator (Chris Skinner, Chairman of The Financial Services Club) will work the audience.

Design Thinking

Location: Innotribe Space

Day: Monday 16 Sep 2013

Time: 11:00 – 12:15

This is a “Toolkit” session: an immersive learning experience to help you internalize the basic principles of design thinking with hands-on practical activities. We will practice process step by step the different stages of design-full thinking and apply them to examples from the financial industry:

  • Human observation, particularly using extreme users to inspire idea
  • Looking at a larger context – analogies from other fields; examine interaction touch points
  • Multidisciplinary teams
  • Experimentation, prototyping
  • Engaging others in the process to build enthusiasm for your idea

Speakers: We have invited two world-class experts to guide you through this process:

  • Vince Voron recently joined Dolby Labs as their VP, Executive Creative Director. He has more than 20 years of marketing design experience from two of the world’s most iconic brands: Apple and Coca-Cola. At Apple, he developed and led the human factors and color teams responsible for iMacs, PowerBooks, iPods and the iPhone. As head of Industrial Design at Coca-Cola, he led the form and user interface design for the Coca-Cola Freestyle platform.
  • James Moed is the leader of IDEO’s work in financial service design across Europe. In that role he advises clients and design teams, combining observations of human behaviour with inspiration from other services, new business models, and emerging technologies.

Investment Management 2.0

Location: Innotribe Space

Day: Monday 16 Sep 2013

Time: 12:30 – 13:30

In the financial industry “shareholder value” and “profit maximization” are still very much the main criteria for investment. Nevertheless, new investment trends are emerging as a result of global changes and new ways of thinking,.  Investors are starting to look for criteria beyond maximizing profit, shareholder value and pure financial return – many of which are based on ‘intangible assets’.

To put all this in context, we strongly recommend Otto Scharmer’s latest book “Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies” (Amazon Associates Link).

otto

This session is designed to be highly interactive, applying the design thinking methodology to investment management.  The session is designed as a political campaign debate, where two protagonists will prompt the discussion through at times provocative statements and trying to convince the audience of their deep insights.

During this debate, we will look into following aspects:

  • Definitions of intangible assets, how to account for them and how to invest in them.
  • What role do financial markets play/should play, and their future “design principles”
  • We will paint a broader evolutionary context and the role of technology in all this;
  • Leading into transparency, self-empowerment and permissive organizations

Each of the protagonists will then detail their personal actions for change.

Speakers:

  • Mary Adams, Founder of Smarter Companies, expert in accounting for intangible assets
  • Stephen Richards, Principal of Ability Capital Solutions, who is launching a Pension Investment Fund, based on crowdsourced recommendations for investment by the pension beneficiaries.

Accounting for Intangible Assets

Location: Innotribe Space

Day: Thursday 19 Sep 2013

Time: 11:00 – 12:00

Is it possible to make investment decisions based on intangible assets? In this session, you will learn that the financials used as a measuring stick are being generated out of a new kind of factory, a new kind of infrastructure. Most of investment and asset managers understand this intuitively.

We will give you practical hands-on exercises to empower you with a vocabulary and a framework that helps you change what you do and how you evaluate companies.

Speakers:

  • Mary Adams, Founder of Smarter Companies, expert in accounting for intangible assets

Beyond GDP – What is real wealth?

Location: Innotribe Space

Day: Thursday 19 Sep 2013

Time: 12:30 – 14:00

Happiness Indicators like Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness, the OECD’s Better Life Index, and the UK’s Happy Planet Index are already helping the world define well-being and wealth beyond money. The H(app)athon Project www.happathon.com wants to go one step further by “hacking happiness”, and shifting how the world’s view of value can move beyond the lens of GDP.

Innotribe has partnered with The H(app)athon Project to co-deliver this customized,  super-interactive, not-to-be-missed game experience, where several imaginary countries based on new economies will work together to increase their collective progress. We have gone full-blown for the design of this session, with light and sound-scapes to immerse you 100% in this real live experiment, where you are the subject of research ;-)

The results of this experiment will be fed into the development of the Happathon mobile app that will be launched in March 2014.

Speakers:

  • John Havens, Founder, The Happathon Project.

Closing Plenary Innotribe: “Around the campfire”

Right after the Happathon session – at 14:30pm – we will all join the Closing Plenary Innotribe: “Around the campfire”, where we will share the lessons, tools and techniques learned during the week. We are very proud to confirm our two tribal wise men:

  • JP Rangaswami (Chief Scientist of Salesforce.com and direct report of Marc Benioff) and;
  • Andrew Davis (Global Head of e-Commerce Strategy and Innovation, HSBC).

More information about the Innotribe@Sibos 2013 programme can be found in our programme Brochure (PDF flyer), on Sibos.com and of course Innotribe.com

By @petervan from the Innotribe Team

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On 10-12 June 2013, I was invited as a panel participant to the ISACA Insights World Congress. It was the second time in two weeks – the previous time was during a session at the Amplify Festival – that the panel was asked by the moderator what the future would look like in 2040. At Amplify the question was around the future of work. At ISACA, the question was even more open ended.

untitled-by-allison-mcd-on-flickr

Although nobody of course knows what the future will hold, and everything I say on this topic is almost wrong by definition, I believe I surprised my audience with my very dystopian view on the future.

Many seem to believe that the future will be “bright”, with lots of possibilities for hyper-collaboration, in open and shared spaces, where serendipities happen every minute, where hierarchies don’t exist anymore, sort of love-and-peace in a sharing collaborative back-to-Woodstock environment.

woodstock-poster-for-sale

That may be the case in 2020, but I think the picture will be less rosy in 2040. Already today, algorithms trade in matter of milliseconds, a real-time world that we as humans can’t even grasp, let only survive. Where those algorithms now work for stock trading companies, by 2040 we will most probably be “augmented” – at best – by our personal algorithms.

It will not be a nice picture to look forward to: by that time, we will be totally ruled by robots and algorithms, and we will have to fight – assisted by our “devices” – for that very last minute of work in a crowded world marketplace where we will have to compete at rates of 1.5$ per hour. And this for probably high-skilled tasks, as the rest will be taken over by robots: a “Present Shock” of technological presence, a world undone of human presence, a very disturbing place where we are ruled by algorithms working on our behalf, where betting on peoples future is the new normal, where siren server masters raise interest fees on the mortgage of the personal success/failure of the data slaves.

The Singularity will have happened, but in quite a different way, in a way that technology owns us, eats us, swallows us, not a singularity of jolly happy people being more intelligent or augmented. A world of technology versus machines, where technology will dictate what it wants from us (See also Kevin Kelly “What Technology Wants” – with Kelly being the technology optimist he is – and Jaron Lanier “Who Owns the Future?”).

What we have witnessed during the last weeks’ revelations represents a true tipping point. Where we still may have had the illusion that we could empower ourselves, take charge, we will be at best be empowered by other powers: a new dystopian world where authoritarian technology rules, an authoritarian singularity, where we are reduced to data slaves of the new data masters.

As part of the Digital Asset Grid (DAG) project (an Innotribe project stopped after its incubation phase, and given back to the community), I have written in the past about the “Catastrophic Complexity” that is emerging right now through the explosion of the number of nodes on the grid, ànd the explosion of data. Where these data are more and more stored by “Siren Servers” – a metaphor used by Jaron Lanier – and where the DAG proposed a 100% distributed model of data storage in personal or corporate clouds, but with a choice of appropriate Trust Models, so that we don’t end up in another worldwide west. Indeed, with the advent of trillions of nodes on the grid, we will require a new kind of species, a new kind of architecture, but more importantly a new type of governance.

camel

I am also getting more and more disturbed by a sort of “over-glorification of technology. This may be surprising as a “Techonomist”, where the belief is that technology will enable a new philosophy for progress – I still believe that – but we need some solid healthy criticism in the debate.

techonomy

When I read this week in The Guardian – a quality newspaper, right? – about the “gadgetry and behavior concepts for the 21 century” and the related comments that these are “super important” new behaviors, I believe we are missing the point; we need to counterbalance all this excitement with way more attention for humanizing our businesses.

I am afraid we are slipping into an “Authoritarian Surveillance State” as described in Washington Post, or even a “Techtarian State” as articulated by Stan Stalnaker in The Huffington Post.

To understand what’s really going on, let’s looks at some understreams that cause the waves of change at the surface. I have split them in technological and more societal changes:

  • Technological:
    • SMAC: Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud
    • Platforms and APIs leading towards the end of highly vertically integrated organizations, and where the new skill becomes horizontal sourcing of pin-point functionality
    • Explosion and loss of control of data.
    • Explosion of Cyber-threats
    • Our identity schemes not keeping up with the sheer explosion of nodes, hampering our security, as the internet was never built with identity in mind
    • Disintermediation through hyper-connectivity (example Über)
  • Societal
    • Erosion of Privacy
    • Platform, everything as a service
    • New economies (P2P, Sharing, Reputation,…)
    • New expression of value, currencies, assets, cred, influence, reputation,
    • Crowdsourcing everything (credit cards, funding, investing, lending, mapping, reputation, …)

We probably most underestimate this trend of crowd-everything. There is something deeper going on: this is really about the use of external power to scale; think platform, using crowds as change accelerators, like developers for building on your APIs, but now through users. Google recently acquired Waze for 1B$ !.

waze

The industrial scale application of crowd is very much a “Singularity University Meme”, says Haydn Shaughnessy in Forbes.  Crowd-recording, crowd-sensing, crowd-data collection, more eyes and ears and sensors, through Waze, through Glasses, etc. It’s clear some parties want way more data to be available,  searchable, to be monetized, with us working like slaves to provide all these data for free. We evolve from democracy to “crowdocracy”.

Our near future will witness the “fragmentation of everything”: the fragmentation of work, of applications, of hierarchies, and states giving in to power data houses, data guerillas, pods, and cells.

We will see the “asymmetry of everything”: asymmetry of transparency, of search and computing power, of concentration of data. This will lead to power unbalances, to surveillance mania, to loss of freedom of speech. Already now the recent developments makes me more selective on what I tweet and share. The only way out is a 100% distributed system, but I am afraid that it is already too late for that and that our future is already owned by Jaron Lanier’s “Siren Servers”

We already see the “exceptionalism of everything”, where the exceptions become the norm: events such as stock exchange black swans become the norm. We take for granted the exceptional qualities of uber-people like Marissa Mayer, Zuckerberg, and other “heroes”.

We are “attacked by everything”: our secrecy is attacked by Wikileaks, our privacy by Siren-Servers, our security by cyber-attacks, our value creation by thousands of narrow innovations at the speed of light. All this happens at the speed of light, at “Un-Human” speeds, runs on a different clock, lives in another world.

We seem to live in a “perpetual crisis”, jumping from one incident to another, where there is no room anymore for building a story with a begin, middle, and an end; no room for reflection, no room to assess and scan the waves of change on the surface of the data ocean.

The world enters into a complexity

that cannot be addressed anymore

by conventional binary linear thinking.

 

We need new tools, capabilities, and ways of thinking, more non-linear, be prepared to open up for more options. These new tools are about forecasting and assessing in different ways (scenario thinking), decide our options in different ways, design thinking in context with intent and within constraints, and richer ways of expressing our options through visual thinking and other techniques more leveraging the human senses of color, sound, smell, trust, sensuality, presence.

We have come at a point where our only options out are a revolution of the data slaves and evolving as a new kind of species in the data ocean, trying to preserve what makes us human.

I have no clue how we can avoid this dystopia, but we will need a new set of practices for value creation; where data slaves dare to stand up and call for a revolution; where value creation and tax declarations go way beyond being compliant with the law; where we see the emergence of ethically responsible individuals and organizations. But it will be very difficult to turn back the wheel that has already been set in motion several decades ago.

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When_the_stars_align_LG

Some days, stars are perfectly aligned, and sudden insights create these wonderful aha-experiences. A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting together with Philippe Coullomb and Charles Collingwood-boots, co-founders of www.wheretofromhere.asia and initiators of the Sydney chapter of Corporate Rebels United.

They shared their work about “Patches and Nodes”, a G+ Community of change agents determined to nurture and drive systemic transformation in Asia Pacific.

We aim to inspire inclusive transformation by facilitating the emergence of new models for value creation, new mindsets for doing business, and new behaviors for the workplace”

They had prepared a deck (the same one they used for the Rebel Jam on 30-31 May 2013 > WebEx recording here). The key slide in there is the following:

system of systems

It’s a fantastic slide that helps us understand that big change in systems requires “systemic innovation” and a sort “graph thinking”. The circle with the colored dots represents your company. Within that company, different silos work together in some form or – in some cases – not at all.

But companies do not operate in isolation. They are part of a system, and when other actors in the system have counterproductive behavior, which may neutralize completely the efforts you are doing in your own box.

My epiphany happened, when I started looking at this drawing not as a “flat” 2D map, but as something 3-dimensional, like a galaxy of stars, where there is no middle. Every point in the graph is the starting point of a journey.

It suddenly reminded me of the great graph thinking we had done during the Digital Asset Grid (DAG) project. It revived the thinking of “We are all nodes in the Grid”.

The lens of the DAG and the lens of Patches and Nodes started to align. Focal lenses getting aligned, like stars line up in a constellation.

Starting to form “formations” and “digital maps”,

almost like network cartography

Where had I heard this sort of things before? Oh yes, it was during our work on “Network Insights”, where Kimmo Soramäki from www.fna.fi showed us another type of network cartography for financial network analytics.

fna graps

Like in the demo on the FNA site, I imagined how I could zoom in and out of the graph, to get deeper insights and greater levels of detail, like a spiral crawling itself through richer and more complete quality experiences and ambitions. The spiral reminded me of myself as a 7 year old – the same age as my daughter now – drawing of spirals on the chalkboard of my class,…

a form of creativity

that was forbidden

and consequently punished 

swirl

And from a far distant memory, the inspiration from Don Becks “Spiral Dynamics” came back into focus.

spiral dynamics

From the spiral swirl on the chalkboard, via the spiral zooms into 3D graphs, it suddenly felt that I was where I always was meant to be. Not in a fatalistic way, but as a natural evolution and maturing during the different steps of my life.

Spiral Networks, Spiral Dynamics, and Dynamic Fluid Systems were all terms that made me realize that change programs don’t change anything substantial unless it systems change.

With thanks to Fabian Tilmant (@fabnet_be) for pointing me to this video on The Fibonacci Spiral in the song Lateralus by Tool

I had evolved, spiraled out…

…from the polarizing, poor and static discussions of black vs. white into something that felt more like a trajectory, from passively undergoing change to influencing and (co)-creating my own future. I had realized that we needed quality time for reflecting and – like a surfer – scanning coming waves of change and pick the best ones for a great ride. I had realized that to survive in this perpetual crisis, we needed quality time for scenario thinking, where it is about imagining some – not necessarily all – possible futures, hypothesizing, and defining what to do if those futures would happen.

The “Patches and Nodes” drawing suddenly started to make a lot of sense, not only as a way to solve ad-hoc problems in the system, but as a way of making viral change happen system wide and pro-actively, powered by the group pressure of credible and influential system partners.

All sorts of concepts started to spread themselves like viruses through my brain:

Could this be a way

to propel us forward

into a state of collective progress and prosperity?

What if we could seed “activism” into the patches and nodes, a different type of “creators of change”, from solvers of problems and answering known questions to creating a new reality/framework for deep system value creation? Could it lead to “Spiral Network Activists” like agents in “Systems of Endearment”?

Suddenly Corporate Rebels took a whole new dimension of System Rebels, Change agents for society, for systems, System Activists, a powerful group of “Unreasonable people”, together stronger than alone, like the components of Bucky’s geodesic domes.

“How can we catalyse a number of tangible and distinct but yet consistent and convergent initiatives across the board to initiate a self-reinforcing movement?”

book unreasonable

I double-checked the “The power of unreasonable people” by Jon Elkington (Amazon Associated Link), and I noticed that that other Corporate Rebel – Laurent Ledoux – had a summary slide of Jon’s “unreasonable people” in his Rebel Jam talk.

unreasonable copy

But I wanted to go further than trying to measure the un-measurable, and go on a quest of what is worth measuring, measuring that which makes life worthwhile. Like Robert Kennedy 40 years go in his speech about the GDP, that does measure everything but what makes life worthwhile.

To create sustainable deep system change like in Nike’s Launch2020 initiative, using my advocacy and advancement of ideas toward a state of prosperity.

I suddenly realized we could use this model as a way to create deep viral behavior change, not only on companies, but also in systems of patches and nodes.

cultural dynamics

Where we go from spiral dynamics to cultural dynamics, as so magically described in the milestone post about Consumer Activism by Gunter Sonnenfeld (@goonth), describing new types of movements, archetypes, cohorts, and industries. Where Jennifer Sertl added this wonderful dimension of “frequencies” to the mix of nodes on the grid, where each of us is liberated to sing their own song, in our own frequency and at our own rhythm,

to make reverb and resonate the system at large

And where the pleasure comes from pure sharing of your mind-spins, without wanting to make a statement. A form of digital poetry just for the pleasure of play of words; and like in “Mavericks in a corporate world”, finding pleasure in just being human and developing and nurturing the capability to be touched by beauty, a picture, by mastery and harmony; developing a richer palette of responses, judgment, choice and appreciation. And to accept and enjoy that we are incurable romantics, and act from that true self.

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Last week, I attended the PurpleBeach launch event (check out the twitter stream at #purplebeachlaunch). It’s one of those events that got me again into hyper-reflection mode.

Purplebeacj

I was not really sure what the launch was about – initially I thought it was about the launch of a new consultancy firm – but once on site, it looked like being an experiment driven by Annemie Ress about “People Innovation”. Annemie had been heading HR and people efforts at eBAY, PayPal and Skype and I think she was not sure yet herself where this happening was going to land. She was maybe taken a bit by surprise by the number of folks who signed up for this invitation-only event – and in some way I liked a lot the authenticity of her and the team, being and staying open and curious about what could emerge from a gathering of about 180 folks of quite diverse “plumage”.

I got invited via MJ Petroni, owner and founder of Causeit.org. I met MJ last year when he and his team coached the Innotribe team on making quality team alignments and intentions. Petroni is mentored by Mark Bonchek, PhD, former SVP of Networks and Communities at Sears, now heading his own consultancy Orbit about pulling customers and communities in “orbit” around your brand. Enough credentials to follow-up on the invitation and checkout the event that took place in Audi Quattro Rooms, West-Side of London.

quattro rooms

Day one started with some strange mix of “quite-ok” talks about mobile, big data, digital identity, trends, leadership, HR, and the blurred zone between HR and Marketing.

In essence, the glue binding the different activities was “business humanization” and “people innovation”. The basic premise that innovation in organizations does not happen without people rediscovering themselves in their full being, a rich combination of left/right brain activities, and greater levels of personal awareness.

And yes, there was some strange Californian “wu-wu”, “mindfulness”, “well-being” and poetry and artistic performance elements as well. After all, we were on the “beach”, a place where you can relax, be idle, and be open to whatever comes your way.

Day one was ok, but not more than that: I was more or less familiar already with the content presented, and was in search for the new insight, the new synthesis, the new “AHA” moment. Alas, I waited in vain for the muse to inspire me.

But Day-2 kicked off by a great discussion about being “on”-line all the time, after a presentation by a trends watcher about future trends, micro work, etc. The presenter was depicting a future of always-on, nowism and “on-ism”, a future where you have to check your smart-device or sensor every second to capture that 5 minute chunk of work on a worldwide marketplace for mechanical turks.

In the following panel, Doug MacCallum (ex eBay but still advisor to the CEO of eBAY and non-executive Director on the board of Ocado) couldn’t hold it anymore:

“What a horror! I don’t want to live in a future like that. People need their time off to reflect and recalibrate. This is a dystopian future”

Doug MacMallum almost got a standing ovation for his intervention, and just the fact he got the ovation is a proof of how deep “presentism” is disturbing our human lives. It was like some sort of relief going through the room.

He went on describing a practice of Executives not sending mails in the weekend, to respect their own free time and that of their collaborators. Great initiative, but I have seen such promises before, and in some occasions the executive is preparing her emails during the weekend, queuing them up, and releasing them on Monday morning, so you have your inbox loaded with fresh instructions and work (sic).

present shock

It made me think of Douglas Rushkoff’s latest book “Present Shock” (Amazon Associates Link), about the fragmentation of everything, including work and value, and the addiction that arises when you are not able anymore to step out of the digital time, back into analog time, where you still have some sense of time fluidity, rhythm, and relative perspective.

Penelope Trunk, co-founder of Brazen Careerist, recently wrote a great article in Quartz. I like the section on refusing to present your-self in a linear way:

Agents represent workers who pick and choose projects that match them rather than signing on for indefinite amounts of time. The Harvard Business Review calls this supertemping. Business Week calls it going Hollywood.

It’s about a deep desire for story and narrative, context, being part of something, being for the long haul.

But unfortunately, we are getting fragmented disassembled

UPDATE: @MayaDroeschler retweeted my post and linked it with metaphysics of pure presence, referring to the the work of the philosopher Jacques Derrida who introduced the concept of deconstructivism, and who also influenced architecture (in the form of deconstructivism). This is the space of famous architects like Peter EisenmanFrank GehryZaha HadidCoop HimmelblauRem KoolhaasDaniel Libeskind, and Bernard Tschumi. Readers who know me, understand that Maya touched my sensitive chord of love for architecture. Picture below from Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

gmb_bilbao_690x235

But I got distracted ;-) The Quartz article also mentions new “modern” practices of young people selling stocks in themselves. This is about investing in – or probably better called “betting” on humans.

A “good” example is Upstart, a start-up opening their site with the slogan “The Start-Up is You.’’

Upstart

Upstart was founded by a group of ex-Googlers, including Dave Girouard, who spent 8 years at Google where he was President of Google Enterprise and VP of Apps.

I can’t help it, but this starts smelling like slavery to me. You already knew that you were the “product” of Siren Servers like Facebook, Google, your bank, your insurance company, your health company; they are getting your data for free and can monetize it without compensation of the data originator. It’s getting worse now: we are now entering an era where one owns the life of another human being, worse even, takes options in somebody’s future and betting on it.

Jaron Lanier has recently published a great book about this “Who owns the Future?” (Amazon Associated Link)

Who owns the future

I feel really sorry for otherwise very smart people Eric Schmidt, Peter Thiel, Khosla Ventures, Marc Benioff and other moguls for putting 5.9M USD in the last capital round of Upstart. I believe they are forgetting something very important here. This is in essence a form of digitizing of what it means to be a human being, digitizing the being into binary data blips, forgetting the rich set of emotions, senses and creativity we all can bring to the table. We are more than data present in the moment. We are part of a narrative, a story, an analog context.

Our “presentism”, just having that safety option to do that quick email check in the week-end, to check that Twitter status, the Klout and other scores are probably symptoms of something deeper going on: just having that capability is for some people already reducing the anxiety of loosing out on something.

Somebody shouted from the audience “But we are loosing the obvious!” – meaning loosing of being humans – and then a couple of “minutes” later, the quote of the day:

“The Future is Analogue”

I really believe it’s about loosing or sustaining our analogue human identity. Identity is contextual and one context is the time framework we want to function in. I’d prefer to live in the analogue time context; the way Doug Rushkoff described it: “What do we want: the long now or the short forever?”

This lead to my first “Aha” experience at the event: an experience about identity. As somebody quite active online, I try to be – and believe I am – the same person on-line or off-line. I don’t believe I have a different persona online of off-line. But online, I feel more the need to amplify myself  and my outgoing data streams, and at the same time trying the amplify and maximize the incoming streams of new data. But there is too much info out there, I feel indeed this anxiety to miss out on something. I also sense higher degrees of narcissism on-line, narcissism in the sense of self-amplification and promotion. What does that do with my identity? I think I am pretty the same online as in the real world… But “shaping” my online identity raises deep questions on who I am: as an individual, in a group, in the world at large.

Ron Shevlin @rshevlin, author of Snarketing 2.0 sent out this tweet on 28 Apr 2013:

“If identity is the new money,

schizophrenics have it made.”

It was in this mood of identity reflections when I entered a conversation with another Purplebeach participant: Jefferson Cann from Extraordinary Leadership, a soft-spoken gentleman bringing the topic of intimacy into the debate.

The word “intimacy” worked like a red flag on me. I explained Jeff how I was trying to stabilize/discover/re-discover my identity. His feedback was that he was not sure that one needs to fix/stabilize your identity.

“By fixing, you close yourself for being open to the moment, for the intimacy with the moment. The intimacy of the moment INCLUDES identity, so that the identity can flow, can evolve. In that sense, I hope that your MBTI of 10 years ago is not the same as your MBTI of this year, which would mean you have not evolved.”

This coming together of intimacy and purpose gave lead to my second big insight of the week, the second “Aha” moment.

My readers know that I am sick of the 10 min, 15 min, 18 min pitches and talks. I am hungry for depth, for richness of conversations, for going beyond scratching the surface. One of the reasons why I keep writing these long posts ;-)

The insight was that my hunger for depth is really a hunger for intimacy, the hunger for human connection, also on professional environments.

What does it really mean when a manager tells you: “You know, I am a pragmatic man, two feet on the ground, so can you please pitch me your story in one minute, and at the same time tell me what the ROI for the next 2 years will be?”

I suddenly realized that this famous pragmatism and two-feet-on-the-ground is probably a shield to hide from depth, from intimacy. It is a shield against the present that can even be used in Machiavellic ways to include/exclude people from connection. It’s a deep sign of uncertainty and insecurity, the fear of losing control, fear of human contact, the fear of opening up, the fear people will discover there is no substance, and fearing/knowing you cannot compete on content. It’s the fear of having to acknowledge that your leadership power only comes from your position in the hierarchy and not from who you really are.

As Glenn Llopis recently wrote in Forbes about “The 5 Things Leaders are thinking with not talking about”:

Leaders must find a new sense of maturity within themselves to address and navigate these new workplace issues with greater clarity, focus and intention. Leaders must be more proactive in coming to grips with today’s new normal.   In doing so, they must face their greatest fears head-on and get on with the business at hand.  The marketplace, the workplace and those whom they serve demand it.   Until they do, here are five things leaders are thinking, but not talking enough about: 

  • I don’t have all the answers
  • I have difficulty relating to the younger generation
  • Diversity makes me uncomfortable
  • I am uncertain about the future
  • My leadership skills are not relevant

 

It looks like we are witnessing murder by modernity: murder of the human connectedness through the avoidance of intimacy. It looks like most of us – including our leaders – and not ready from the new normal. We need to send our leaders to “Purplebeaches”, so they find again time to reflect, to enjoy depth, to open up and embrace connections between fellow human beings.

UPDATE: as a real example of synchronicity, Jennifer Sertl just posted this awesome video about being human.

 

Some interesting insights:

  • There is no off/on button for feeling an emotion
  • How are we teaching people what is human vs. what is technical
  • We have to re-enforce the usefulness of being human
  • You can’t take care of yourself if your are at the same time taking care of a tribe
  • Everything you do becomes part of a data piece
  • Playing a higher personal – private – game
  • Our ability to have empathy is impacted by technology

“We are loosing the obvious: what we are loosing is our ability to scenario plan, our ability to gain perspective, our ability to know ourselves, and our ability to empathise. Those four things is what separates us from the gadgets”

Life is not digital. The future is one of analogue connection.

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Many organizations are in pain. I am just back from the Front-End of Innovation conference in Copenhagen where I met several friends, ex-colleagues, relatives, business partners, and it seems that change and re-organization are the new normal in our organizations these days. These days, one could jokingly introduce her by saying “what re-organization do you work for?”. But that may be too cynical a start for a blog post.

treo

It also seems to be a constant these days that organizations retract into the comfort zone of their core business and are tuning down their innovation initiatives. I have heard it from at least 4-5 large organizations this week. What remains is a lot of innovation rhetoric but no action on the floor other than political power games.

More importantly, what remains as well is a lot of pain of colleagues seeing their best working mates (have to) leave the company in the worst case, or being re-organized into other departments at best. In Copenhagen, I have seen the pain, fear, and desperation in people’s eyes.

This blog post is about those re-organization pains, and some possible avenues to deal with them.

  • One way to react is driven by emotions: getting in a state of perpetual frustration, blame, gossip, under the skin fights, and self-service. It’s a state of mind that only aggravates the situation, alienates people and teams more from each other than ever.
  • Another way to react is the flee into the comfort zone of tactical actions and quick hits and extrapolating or creating quick and dirty variations of the tricks and processes we are familiar with, without any level of intentionality.
  • The third way – which I would like to promote – is to look deep under the skin of our professional and private way of being. To get to this insight, I was influenced by three books that I was reading more or less in parallel.

The first book I would like to recommend is “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni (Amazon Affiliates Link).

dysfunctions

The author explains razor sharp that trust is the essential foundation of highly effective teams (and organizations). As can be seen from the layered pyramid below, lack of trust in the end leads to inattention to results.

pyramid

I have taken a the following really good summary out of another book “Search Inside Yourself”, that I will refer to later again in this blog post.

The five dysfunctions, in order of causality are:

  • Absence of trust: People do not trust the intentions of their teammates. They feel the need to protect themselves from each other and tread carefully around others on the team. This leads to the next dysfunction.
  • Fear of conflict: Without trust, people are unwilling to involve themselves in productive debates and conflicts, the type of good conflict that focuses entirely on resolving issues without involving character attacks or hidden personal agendas. Without such healthy conflicts, issues stay unresolved or are unsatisfactorily resolved. People feel they have not been properly involved in decisions. This leads to the next dysfunction.
  • Lack of commitment: When people feel their input has not been properly considered and that they have not been properly involved in decisions, they have no buy-in. They do not commit to the final decisions. Ambiguity about priorities and directions festers, and uncertainties linger. This leads to the next dysfunction.
  • Avoidance of accountability: When people have no buy in about decisions, they avoid accepting accountability. Worse still, they do not hold their teammates accountable to high standards. Resentment festers, and mediocrity spreads. This leads to the final dysfunction.
  • Inattention to results: The ultimate dysfunction of a team. People care about something other than the collective goals of the team. Goals are not met, results are not achieved, and you lose your best people to your competitors.

It all begins with trust. The absence of trust is the root cause of all other dysfunctions. Specifically, the type of trust Lencioni talks about is what he calls “vulnerability-based trust.” That is when team members trust the intentions of each other enough that they are willing to expose their own vulnerabilities because they are confident their exposed vulnerabilities will not be used against them. Hence, they are willing to admit issues and deficiencies and ask for help. In other words, they are able to concentrate their energies on achieving the team’s common goals, rather than wasting time trying to defend their egos and look good to their teammates.

Do you trust your team members enough that to expose your own vulnerabilities because you are confident that your exposed vulnerabilities will not be used against you? That you will not be presented sooner or later with the emotional bill? Or is the trust and alignment in your team of a very superficial and low-quality nature?

I fully buy the trust argument in the book. What the book unfortunately does NOT explain is how you get to this level of trust.

My premise is that it starts by looking at people as people, not as objects. By developing a very high standard of empathy for the others. Looking at the other person not as the team member of this or that department (that would be looking at the person as an object, and attaching value to that object based on its hierarchical of functional power or non-power). This is of course very much related to the topic of “LeadINGship” and “Leading from the Edge” that I have shared already at many occasions on my blog.

“Looking at people as people” means looking at people in their wholeness, their full being, with all the aspects that that person brings, like cultural baggage, family situations, vulnerabilities, issues, motivations, concerns, etc

When I look at people as an object, I am “living IN the box”. When I look at people as people, I am “Living OUT of the box”. This living in/out of the box is very well described in “Leadership and Self-Deception” by The Arbinger Institute (Amazon Affiliate Link).

self-deception

“We have to develop a culture where people are simply invited to see others as people. And being seen and treated straightforwardly, people respond accordingly”

But the book goes much further than that, and brings the subjects of self-deception and self-betrayal in full frontal view, and that can be quite confrontational.

Self-Deception and its consequence Self-Betrayal happen when you see a person in need, you feel you should act, but you don’t. What happens then are a couple of behaviors that I recognize with others and myself; I get into a defense mode:

  • I start blaming (maybe not vocally, but for sure internally) the other, the system, the management, and/or the company for all the things that don’t work. Yes, of course the problem of all evil is out there, not with me.
  • I start minimizing or ignoring my own faults, failures, and weaknesses
  • I start inflating the faults of the other persons or teams or departments.
  • I start inflating my virtues: it is because the others don’t have the same virtues as myself that of course things don’t work as they should.

“I just mean that in acting contrary to my sense of what was appropriate, I betrayed my own sense of how I should be toward another person. So we call such an act ‘self-betrayal.” And “I focused on and inflated her faults when I needed to feel justified for mine.”

This is about anger and frustration but at the same time feeling deep inside that “I was aware of the hypocrisy in my anger”.

What is even worse, this sort of in-the-box behavior for sure does NOT solicit the desired counter-behavior in others: it’s a disease that is infectious and viral in nature.

“In the box we provoke others to get in the box — both with us and against us. Our allies and we withhold information, for example, which gives others reason to do the same. We try to control others, which provokes the very resistance that we feel the need to control all the more. We withhold resources from others, who then feel the need to protect resources from us. We blame others for dragging their feet and in so doing give them reason to feel justified in dragging their feet all the more. And so on. Collusion spreads far and wide, and the result is that coworkers position themselves against coworkers, workgroups against workgroups, and departments against departments. People who came together to help an organization succeed actually end up delighting in each other’s failures and resenting each other’s successes.”

“But gradually I came to see the lie in my defensiveness. I saw in myself a leader who was so sure of the brilliance of his own ideas that he couldn’t allow brilliance in anyone else’s; a leader who felt he was so ‘enlightened’ that he needed to see workers negatively in order to prove his enlightenment; a leader so driven to be the best that he made sure no one else could be as good as he was. I was carrying the disease I blamed everyone else for. I infected them and then blamed them for the infection. Our organizational chart was a chart of colluding boxes. We were a mess.”

So key messages here are:

  • Stay away from self-defensiveness
  • See people as people not objects
  • Develop a superior awareness whether you are in/out the box of self-betrayal

And then I got hit by “Search Inside Yourself” by Chade-Meng Tan (Amazon Affiliates Link), also known as “Jolly Good Fellow” from Google.

SIY

Meng also refers to “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” (see summary above) and it was at that moment that the pieces of the puzzle starting falling together and make sense. The “Search Inside Yourself” book is in essence about self-awareness.

Self-awareness depends on being able to see ourselves objectively, and that requires the ability to examine our thoughts and emotions from a third-person perspective, not getting swept up in the emotion, not identifying with it, but just seeing it clearly and objectively…. We are not our emotions. Emotions become what we experience in the body, so we go from “I am angry” to “I experience anger in my body”

And also:

“We have the tendency to feel bad about feeling bad. I call it “meta-distress,” distress about experiencing distress. Also recognize that feeling bad about feeling bad is an act of ego” and “Success and failure are emotional experiences. These emotions can give rise to grasping and aversion, which can hold us back and hamper our ability to achieve our goals.

But there is hope, says Meng: we can become emotionally resilient to grasping onto success and aversion from failure.

The sentence that really blow me way and could become the cornerstone of our new renaissance, our new way of responding to whatever we encounter in life was:

“Imagine the kindest, most positive response” to whatever comes your way.

Wow! Read that again:

“Imagine the kindest, most positive response”

What would happen in our organizations if:

  • Stay away from self-defensiveness;
  • We would always look at the other person as a person and not an object;
  • Develop a superior awareness whether you are in/out the box of self-betrayal
  • And in all occasions, try to “Imagine the kindest, most positive response”

Kindness is the engine of empathy; it motivates you to care, and it makes you more receptive to others, and them to you”

The first time that the word/feeling/attitude “kindness” entered like a bomb in myself was when listening to Jeff Bezos during the graduation speech Princeton, where he says, “it is harder to be kind than clever”. I have posted the link to this speech before, but here it is once more, as so good. Full transcript here

The second time the word/feeling/attitude “kindness” resonated deeply in myself was when reading that book “Search Inside Yourself” (see above).

The third time was later in the same book, where Meng extends the self-awareness to organizational and political awareness.

“Political awareness is a more difficult skill: the ability to read an organization’s emotional currents and power relationships. Political awareness is the generalization of empathy from an interpersonal level to an organizational level…  The ability to empathize on an organizational level, not just an interpersonal one… Distinguish between your own self-interest, the interest of your team, and the organization’s interest—everyone has all three of these interests. It is very important to understand which is which.

SIY Institute

This is such a powerful message, that Meng and his friends made an “Institute” out of the book. Since March 1, 2013 all the curricula are available for free on the website of the SIY Institute:

“Any company that truly values the employee as their most valuable asset should do Search Inside Yourself”

“It’s a great way to develop and grow teams that can work together”

Kindness is associated with friendliness, gentleness, courtesy, kindliness, affability, goodness, tenderness, kindliness, benignity, sweetness. Meng focusses a lot on “goodness”. This empathic/kind self is probably the golden key to unlock and defuse the re-organization pains in our companies and institutions. One of the big shifts we have to make is the transformation from “I” to “We.”

That need for “I” to “We” transformation became also so evident in the talk of The Coca-Cola Man this week in Copenhagen, where Vince Vorne highlighted the need for “respect” for all your partners and stakeholders in and outside your organization and the need to make others win based on their merits and metrics.

It is too easy to fall back in blaming. Yes, we have to keep challenging the status-quo (or in some cased the regression), but we need also to do so in respect for our colleagues, partners, hierarchies, and bosses. Yes, we also have to have to look at them as persons not objects. And yes, we also can even drop our pride and hubris, and “kindly” forgive them for their perceived or real errors, even when it seemed like they were in self-service mode, taking the easiest and safest way out and leaving their teams in the cold. When we look at them as whole persons, they also bring context, pressures, and constraints that we may completely be unaware of.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Dan Rockwell @leadershipfreak wrote a fascinating post “13 Powertips for Leading through Uncertainty”; with a tip to ensure your boss support:

“Pull with – not against, higher ups. Grab the rope and pull, even if you disagree. Everyone who pulls in his or her own direction dilutes potential success. If you can’t pull with, jump ship, now.”

A bit along the same theme, there also was Regis Hadiaris @regishadiaris who posted this week “Martin Scorsese: Leadership lessons for Project Managers”.

marty-scorsese

A very good read from which I retain the following quote:

“You have to first ensure you understand your bosses.  After that, use their view as a “lens” with which to see your project and yourself.  By doing this, you’ll be able to ensure the project executes on their vision as well as yours.”

I deeply hope that applying these principles will make me/us more humble and soft (soft in the sense of soft looking eyes of kindness). If we all could at least give it a try, maybe we all get less cynical and frustrated, judgmental and control addicts; and we can recalibrate towards a renaissance of open mind, open heart and open will; more human and cultural and erudite.

davinci

I have made (and probably still will make) so many errors in my life against the principles of seeing people as people, helping when I see somebody in need, imagining the kindest, most positive response to whatever comes my way, and being respectful and getting buy-in from my leadership/leadingship.

But this time, I may have found a framework and context for greater awareness and the insight that I always have an option: the option to change and to turn the switch towards more kindness and forgiveness.

Maybe this way we can make the transition from “I” to “We” and positively impact the trust between ourselves, our teams, our departments, our companies, our society, our world.

In essence using Meng’s kindness  as the input to the trust layer of Lencioni.

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My colleague Ian from South Africa recently wrote me a private mail in reaction to my “Help, I failed” blog post. Below some edited extracts (Ian was happy to let me share from his mail on my blog), as I wanted to share the full picture where Ian is coming from when suggesting the concept of “The Bridge”.

the bridge

Ian writes:

“Your post got me thinking of Kosta’s famous analogy of the Castle and the Sandbox and I wonder if we are missing a “bridge of common understanding and respect” between our Castle and the Sandbox. You are probably thinking by now what is Ian talking about and has he had too many good bottles of South African Red Wine :-) Well let me try explaining it in a slightly different way. I have two young kids, aged 7 & 4. We live in in a nicely sized home but it is very clear that we have very different needs in the form of what TV programs I like to watch versus what they like to watch. I like quiet space to read my books and recharge my batteries, where they like a noisy space to play their Wii and play with their friends. So we have created our own Castle and Sandbox so as to speak. The place in the house, called a playroom, for the kids to do what they need to do and a quiet study type den for me to do what I need to do. There is something additional we have in our home, which I believe is missing within the Castle and Sandbox scenario. We have a place where mutual respect prevails. It is called the dinner table. I guess you could also refer to it as a bridge between our diversified needs. We make a conscious effort to sit together during the week where we enjoy dinner together. The rules are simple. No distractions from ‘daily lives’, such as the TV on during dinner or iPods or iPhones at the table. Everyone has a chance to share something uninterrupted, they learnt or enjoyed during the day. Everyone feels included, safe to speak their mind and most importantly respected. So what I am saying is perhaps what we need is to create a ‘bridge’ between our Castle and Sandbox. I am not talking about a gating-process. We need to create a ‘bridge’ where colleagues from the Castle and the Sandbox can come together and feel mutually respected for their views and feel safe and comfortable to engage with one another. No one should feel threatened for questioning the status quo and everyone should feel proud to be a part of our great and diversified organization that makes our company what it is and what it will be irrespective of whether you are in the Castle or Sandbox. I don’t know concretely what this ‘Bridge’ looks like but it should be place for celebrating successes and failures. What do I mean by celebrating failures? We should celebrate that we were bold enough to take the risk and try something that was rebellious and unique and share confidently what we learnt along the way and to proudly say we will continue to walk the edges of corporate accepted behaviours and continue to Innovate.”

Two weeks later, Ian also had a chat with Kosta on this idea of “The Bridge” during our annual sales convention. And another two weeks later I bumped into Haydn Shaughnessy, who gave a whole new dimension to this meme.

Ian’s idea got me thinking. I was already somewhat unsatisfied by existing innovation models. Innovation has become an empty buzzword. Every company is doing open innovation in one size of form. Everybody is doing start-up competitions, VC-funds, prototypes, boot camps, sandboxes, etc. And Kosta has explained at numerous occasions what the Innotribe sandbox is all about. He even wrote a whole book about it (Amazon Associates Link)!

castle and sandbox

The advantage of the “castle and the sandbox” is that is a simple metaphor.

“The sandbox is an “incubator” – a protected place where people with ideas can “play”, or to try out their ideas, without impacting the castle. The “castle” is the metaphor for the mothership, the core of the company. The incubator is the place where you can try, experiment, fail, try again, fail again, and eventually learn and succeed.”

In our incubator sandbox approach, project teams are even located in a separate building. It was an empty platform in one of the side-wings of the campus, and as innovation team we jokingly said that we were going to highjack that space. Which in the end we more or less did ;-) With minimal budget, some paint and beanbags from IKEA, we transformed the office space in a loft-alike start-up garage, where end-to-end project teams were co-located.

With hindsight, the separate building approach may need some fine-tuning. Maybe it needs “The Bridge” that Ian was talking about. Working separately without much transparency creates tensions, suspicion and jealousy. It would probably be better to physically create the sandbox “within” the castle, like a sort of patio, so that people can look over the shoulder, feel confident that real and cool works is being done there, tempting their curiosity so they are looking to join our projects too. Then there may even not be the need for a bridge.

Another disadvantage of the castle-sandbox metaphor is that it polarizes; it creates the perception that the castle is the serious thing, and the sandbox the playground. Innovation projects are just perceived/positioned to the inside/outside world as “Oh, thàt project? Don’t worry, it’s just some experiment/research by the innovation team”.

And before you know it, the problem is becoming one of credibility. The problem is one of execution and scale.

The challenge is NOT to have ideas, or to prototype those ideas, or to incubate those ideas. The real nut to crack is: how do I get projects out of the Sandbox, back into mainstream, back into the castle? As I have already shared many times on my personal blog, this question is for me becoming an existential question. What am I really doing here, if all these great ideas are only play-worthy, but are never allowed to hit the mainstream, the mainstreet?

This is getting into purpose. Personal purpose, team purpose, and company purpose. Purpose and meaning.

“The Bridge” could be one way to tear down the virtual or perceived walls between the castle and the sandbox, and to re-create that meaning.

serendipity machine

“The Bridge” makes me also think of “The Serendipity Machine – a disruptive business model for Society 3.0”. It is the “3rd Space”, where two worlds meet, not only in mutual respect, but also in a gift-economy lifestyle, where our expertise and knowledge becomes an asset to share between equals.

3rd space

But “The Bridge” is in my opinion just the start of a much broader discussion on how we can re-invent innovation.

Haydn Shaughnessy – Forbes/HBR blogger on RE:THINKING INNOVATION, and author of “The Elastic Enterprise – the New Manifesto for Business Revolution” (Amazon Associates Link) for which I wrote a foreword a year ago – has some ideas about this.

Elastic Enterprise

Haydn happened to be in Brussels and invited me for a coffee, as we never met in person before/after the foreword. I shared this idea of The Bridge, and my search and ambition to re-invent innovation. It happened that Haydn was doing a research on a similar topic in preparation of a new book.

The conversation got my head buzzing, and I felt I was onto something: a menu, a mind map, and/or the ingredients of a re-invention of innovation.

  • Lab explosion: the one castle and one sandbox will be replaced by many mini “labs”, at times subversive and in guerilla mode, deeply embedded in the fabric of our organizations, creating a viral effect of systematic and systemic change.
  • The Bridge, or Bridges, or many 3rd Places where we can blend (see above) and respect each other.
  • Integral Innovation: our organizations will require a much bigger focus on external symbiosis and innovation, where we not only suck value out of the system for our own benefit, but we give back to society as equal contributors/fellows, way beyond many master-slave relationships. Focusing only/primarily on the inside or the core will not do it anymore.
  • Functional Integration: In the same realm, check out this article related to the announcement of FastCompany’s 2103 world most innovative companies. The article is titled Death to Core Competency: Lessons from Nike, Apple and Netflix”“In a world of rapid disruption, the idea of having a core competency–an intrinsic set of skills required to thrive in certain markets–is an outmoded principle”. It is very much related to the end of horizontal or vertical integration, and the advent of “functional integration” as wonderfully explained by R/GA CEO and founder, Bob Greenberg, and Barry Wacksman, EVP, Chief Growth Officer, discussing how to grow and thrive amid the chaos and the future of the industry and beyond, and explaining how they re-invent themselves every 9 years (click part-3 under the video stream to get right to the hart of the matter)
  • People Innovation: we need a different type of person, more vulnerable and more human. With other strengths and skills. People with a creative life&work style: people who can experience and digest self-validation, risk and peer rejection, risk and peer validation, failure and triumph.
  • Peer-to-Peer Innovation. P2P is changing everything. Not only technology-wise but also in the way people interact with each other without intermediaries or hierarchies. It even puts in question the need for any form of central organization to filter and dispatch ideas.
  • Uber-Innovation: what if we would apply the Uber-taxi concept to innovation itself? And arm the participants in the innovation demand-and-supply chain with mobile devices, so that ideas can flow freely from the idea-generator straight into the last mile of the one who materializes the idea in a desirable product or service? Is this sort of “Uber-Innovation” just a wet dream, or is it exactly what P&G is doing with P&G-Connect+Develop ™, a first incarnation of this dream becoming reality?

“The Bridge” has also a special meaning in music. There is a whole Wikipedia page about it. I like the description for a “bridge” in a fugue:

“… a short passage at the end of the first entrance of the answer and the beginning of the second entrance of the subject. Its purpose is to modulate back to the tonic key (subject) from the answer (which is in the dominant key). “

But I am not such a classic guy ;-) I lived my youth in the 60ies, and 70ies and 80ies. I could refer to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over troubled water”, but I don’t want to go there ;-), especially with the people I invite to dance at the end of this post.

Then I prefer from far “Taking them to the Bridge” and shake the tree and the body with the famous James Brown song “Sexmachine”, here in a 1971 version with Fred Wesley.

James Brown and Fred Wesley are “taking you to the bridge” somewhere around minute 1:15. So while you are having fun and shaking your body, try also to think about the bridge and other ingredients for re-inventing innovation.

I also now just realize I made full circle to my blog post “My Boss asked me to dance!”, sharing that way my 2012 company objectives.

But this time, it’s me who is inviting Kosta and Haydn to join me in this dance, and have a collaborative, shared, and joined post on re-inventing innovation.

Let us take you to the bridge!

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I am coming to a stage in my life where I discover that most if not all of the knowledge, models, methods, and principles I learned at school and the last 30 years of my career are completely outdated and irrelevant for the new reality we live in.

baby

That also applies to the concept of leadership. We’ve all learned about heroic and charismatic leaders.  That leaders are leaders when they have followers and when they can create the conditions to engage her followers in a new direction, a place where no one has ever been before, to make 1,000 flowers blossom, etc, etc

With some notable dropout exceptions (Jobs, Gates, Bezos, etc), “leaders” all have the “right” attitude and have MBAs or other impressive certificates. They have the right profile. They went to right schools and the top universities like Harvard, Stanford, INSEAD, etc. Career progress and evolution is systematically reserved to this elite. Even upon today, I see companies that reserve certain professional or personal development programs to those who have the right certificates. How sad.

Most of these “leaders” fit a certain “style”, and most have been moulded in the same factories. Well-dressed, always smiling, ready to help, forthcoming, making it in every aspect of the professional and private lives, always reserved, never angry or upset, in control of their emotions, etc. They make impressive careers, mainly by pleasing their hierarchies, by staying in the blueprint and taking no risks.

But over time, I have become suspicious and bitter about these perfectly casted people. In many organisations I have seen how cheer-“leaders” joyfully smile in the face of their subordinates and at the same time put a knife in the back of the same human beings.

Some “leaders” have even “developed” an almost sadistic pleasure in ignoring and destroying well-crafted pieces of work. I would like to illustrate this with a story from during my studies as architect.

We got an assignment to build an exposition hall and the creation of the space had to be based on some repeating element of construction. As part of the coming-out we had to make artistic sketches, draw the precise floor plans and construction details, and work out the whole thing as a model on scale, including the repeating construction element. I think a worked 3 weeks day and night to make the deadline, and I was quite proud of the result. The model was made out of fine balsa wood. During the review session, my “leader” – the professor and coach, I still remember his name – found an immense pleasure in shooting apart with his fingers the fragile construction. I was not amused; in fact I felt deeply hurt and humiliated.

This is of course quite extreme and even psychopathic behaviour  but I am sure each of us can find one or more examples in their career where their project-of-a-lifetime was shot in pieces apart. If it would happen again, I would probably kick and scream, or no, be subtler and present a glass of purifying water, as in this great advertisement from Spa Reine.

Some of the perfectly trained leaders also never take the pain to reach out to those who are more introverts who hunger for depth and they only listen to the extroverts who are most vocal that reach out to them. Decisions about subordinates are made in secrecy.

But the secrecy-trick does no longer work out in this hyper-connected environment, and news that is supposed to be kept confidential in the catacombs of the power hierarchies is dripping through the more and more porous walls of our organisations.

This new self-emerging transparency leads of course to a huge credibility crisis for the leader, as she does not know that you already know, and her “in-control” pose becomes painfully revealing of the true nature of those so called leaders.

Of course, Pepsodent, Spa Reine and the external look-and-feel vestimentary attributes are only metaphors for something deeper going on.

The problem with this sort of leadership is that it is leadership based on what you are (your power position in a hierarchy) versus who you are, your true internal power as a human.

A monkey in a suit remains a monkey in a suit.

We need a more humanistic approach, inspired by meaning and purpose; an “eudaimonic” economy as so well described by Umair Hague in “Is a Well Lived Life Worth Anything?”

That’s an alternate vision, one I call eudaimonic prosperity, and it’s about living meaningfully well. Its purpose is not merely passive, slack-jawed “consuming” but living: doing, achieving, fulfilling, becoming, inspiring, transcending, creating, accomplishing – all the stuff that matters the most. See the difference? Opulence is Donald Trump. Eudaimonia is the Declaration of Independence.

We have too many Donald Trumps in our organisations  We need a culture that is based on deep respect and dignity for the human being. In this context, I recently had a conversation with a very senior businessperson of a multi-billion-technology company, who told me the parable of the Indian King.

The king had hired a consultant to advice him on the performance of the kingdom. The expert told the king to fire ½ of his workforce, as they did not have the same performance and added value to the kingdom as the top performers. The king responded “And what will those people do, once they get fired?”. The consultant answered, “Is that our/your problem? Your kingdom will be more efficient, that’s what you hired me for, no?”. The king did not follow the advice of the consultant, as he deliberately chose for a societal role in giving his citizens an job, a meaning, and a future, even if that meant a little bit of overhead. His choice was driven by people’s dignity.

The leadership that we all learned about starts smelling like a myth: the myth of charismatic leadership. But don’t blame them. That’s how they have been trained and educated. And the “training” or “brainwash” already started at those business schools, provided that you were lucky enough to be born in a family with wealthy parents that could pay the bill, or you were prepared to put yourselves in life-long debts as slaves to the financial institutions of this world.

harvard

The first thing I notice about the Harvard Business School campus is the way people walk. No one ambles, strolls, or lingers. They stride, full of forward momentum. The students are even better turned out than their surroundings, if such a thing is possible.

No one is more than five pounds overweight or has bad skin or wears odd accessories. The women are a cross between Head Cheerleader and Most Likely to Succeed. They wear fitted jeans, filmy blouses, and high-heeled peekaboo-toed shoes that make a pleasing clickety–clack on Spangler’s polished wood floors.

Some parade like fashion models, except that they’re social and beaming instead of aloof and impassive. The men are clean-cut and athletic; they look like people who expect to be in charge, but in a friendly, Eagle Scout sort of way.

I have the feeling that if you asked one of them for driving directions, he’d greet you with a can-do smile and throw himself into the task of helping you to your destination—whether or not he knew the way.

“This school is predicated on extroversion,” and “Your grades and social status depend on it. It’s just the norm here. Everyone around you is speaking up and being social and going out.” “Isn’t there anyone on the quieter side?” I ask. They look at me curiously. “I couldn’t tell you,” says the first student dismissively.

quiet

These are extracts from “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” a fantastic book by Susan Chain. The book is an eye-opener in itself about the lost and untapped energy/potential of introverts in organisations.

The essence of the HBS education is that leaders have to act confidently and make decisions in the face of incomplete information. HBS was once called the Spiritual Capital of Extroversion” where Top of Form “Socializing here is an extreme sport” and where verbal fluency and sociability are the two most important predictors of success.” writes Susan Chain, and goes on: “It’s so easy to confuse schmoozing ability with talent. Someone seems like a good presenter, easy to get along with, and those traits are rewarded. Exceptional CEOs are known not for their flash or charisma but for extreme humility coupled with intense professional will: quiet, humble, modest, reserved, shy, gracious, mild-mannered, self-effacing, understated. We don’t need giant personalities to transform companies. We need leaders who build not their own egos but the institutions they run.”

Leadership as we know it does not work anymore. We need something else. We also need a language to articulate what this new “thing” is. Some are starting to look into that.

MIX

The MIX http://www.managementexchange.com/ was co-founded by Gary Hamel and Michael Zannini (ex-McKinsey). They have set up a platform to share best practices on innovation, management and leadership. “It’s time to re-invent management” is their tag line, and Gary Hamel has written several books and rants on the subject. And as part of the M-Prize competition series, they just launched a new challenge on “Innovating Innovation”. I will write more about this and the related M-Prize where both Innotribe and Corporate Rebels United will make a submission before the end of the year.

But if you look carefully, many of the contributors are from mainly male-driven organisations with very extrovert people. They fit the HBS mould. We seem to keep on tapping into the same high-testosterone pool of resources.

That becomes very challenging for those who do not fit that mould: the ones who are introvert, and who are rarely listened too (if they ever get the chance to be heard); the ones who don’t have the right MBA or certificate; the ones who have a more feminine rather than masculine energy (some man have lots of feminine energy, like some women hive high doses of testosterone); the ones of the other gender, race, religion, age, education, etc

nilofer2

Nilofer Merchant, author of  “11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra” (Amazon Associates link) rightly pointed out to me:

I hope our future economy is also about including the people who are unseen today. Those who are right in front of us, creating value but then ignored when it comes to be included as leaders, or thinkers to shape the future. No one does this out of bad intent, but out of blindness. Few people will realize that while Hagel and Kelly and Gray etc are mentioned, many well-respected best-selling women management thinkers were not. Our thriving systems HAVE to be open enough to include those that are currently blocked out. Blindness shifts when we start to be more conscious. Instead of perpetuating talking about the change, we have to embodying the change. 

Indeed, something deeper is going on….

Flowchain

Bob Marshall (aka @FlowchainSensei) is addressing a somewhat similar dimension of “leadership” in his post “Leadership of Fellowship” and especially the section about dysfunctions of leadership.

The concept of leadership introduces a number of dysfunctions. Rarely are these discussable or discussed in our romanticized conception of the mythological leader:

  • Leadership inevitably produces implicit (or even explicit) Parent-Child relationships. “Just one of many examples of this type of parent/child exchange is the unwritten pact that if employees do whatever their bosses ask of them (regardless of whether it makes good business sense) the boss will take care of their next promotion/career move.”

  • Leadership validates “followership” and thus increased risk of “social loafing“

  • Leadership cultivates “learned helplessness”

  • Leadership can increases alienation, tribalism and the formation of in-groups

  • Leadership often encourages favoritism, patriarchy, deference, sycophancy and obsequiousness, with a consequent reduction in both the quality and quantity of meaningful dialogue.

  • Leadership compounds and perpetuates the Analytic mindset

  • Leadership subtly undermines systems thinking, by breaking the social body into discrete parts (leaders, followers), and focusing attention on those parts rather than on e.g. the relationships between them, and the whole itself.

But the master of language and insight is for sure Rune Kvist Olsen from Norway. Checkout this excellent article “Leading-Ship: reshaping relationships at work”. Rune’s work is inspired by Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933), a visionary in the field of human relations, democratic organization, and management. The tagline of the Mary Parker Follet Network is:

Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim

Rune’s s elaborated thinking blew me away: he is rethinking “leadership” into “leadingship”. It cuts deep in what motivates people. Rune challenges big time all our preconceptions about leaders and followers. I felt deeply inspired by it. So, I got into a conversation with Rune.

During this post-Sibos period of the year, I take off every Friday of the week to create some space for myself to reflect, to catch up on some reading, at times just being there and sitting in silence and trying to make contact with myself again, and then – in that moment of awareness – getting inspired by books and art. One could call it a personal retreat in silence and/or reflection and/or depth.

It was during one of those Fridays that I had scheduled a very long Skype call with Rune so that I could give him my full attention and listen in full presence to the rich language and set of concepts Rune had developed over the years. Since then Rune keeps on sending me wonderful essays and manifestos: describing what is really going on under the hood of human beings in leadership context. It’s very fascinating, and I all encourage you to dive in and discover Rune’s work.

The biggest outcome of Rune’s work is in my opinion that he has developed a language to express this new type of being as a leader in your organisations. It is so new and refreshing, that it needs its own language and vocabulary. Only then you can engage in a conversation trying to understand each other.

A good example of this language is in the following slide (a small extract of a very long presentation)

slide rune

That language is further elaborated in an essay called “Extracts from Humanistic Management Responsibility in the workplace”. It is about Imposed Responsibility (forced upon from outside) versus Chosen Responsibility:

The practice of “taking control” is a significant way in stimulating and inspiring self-esteem and self-confidence in the art of becoming a responsible and independent person.

Receiving and getting control from managers above implies that the person who is giving, still has control and can withdraw it at any suitable time.

Giving or delegating authority creates and sustain a superior/inferior relationship between the people involved.

This practice of giving as a form of domination is easily encumbered with the feeling of humiliation from the receiver’s point of view. The receiver could suffer the humiliation of not having personal control and not being able to take personal responsibility for the specific action at hand.

By granting power to people in gaining personal control and in becoming personally responsible for their actions, we are at the same time granting them real freedom to become true equals and fully human beings.

It is not difficult to understand that being an object of delegation and a recipient of giving (as a token of shared power), a person can naturally feel the humiliating bitterness engendered by being a powerless and subservient receiver and not having the authority in exercising personal freedom.

The result of this type of submissive role-behaviour, would possible entail the undermining of self- esteem, self-worth, and self-respect.

The most obvious flaw in the context of power concentration in the hands of persons in charge of others is the assumption that delegated responsibility is analogous to a commodity that can be shared among individuals or groups.

Giving or delegating responsibility can be conceived as a disguised way of pretending that people below will be empowered by the person above when this person is handling out some responsibility occasionally.

This is a deception in the sense that managers of other people are not actually entitled to give away any power because their power is connected to the managers’

Rune also signed up for Corporate Rebels United. We are btw now a worldwide group of about 200 people now and counting. And several pods being started up worldwide. More about that later.

rebels website

As his contribution to the rebels’ story, Rune produced the following essay “The Story of a Corporate Heresy”.

rune heresy

The full version in PDF is here The Story of a Corporate Heresy, but to whet your appetite here are already some salient extracts:

These types of corporate activist movements emerges as a result of profound crisis in the way corporate communities are organizing, managing and leading their organizations. Corporate Rebel United is pointing out the problem:

“Our companies no longer serve our needs. They cannot keep pace with a high- velocity, hyper-connected world. They no longer can do what we need them to do. Change is required.” Corporate Rebel Manifesto 2012.

Why, what and how can offensive, progressive and constructive actions be a part of the solution and not the problem?

“You never change things

by fighting the existing reality.

To change something,

build a new model

that makes the existing model obsolete.”

stamp fuller

Buckminster Fuller.

The next and last question of the solution in reinforcing engagement and passion amongst everyone in the corporation is: “How can we unblock and reopen the free flow of creativity and innovation for everyone, and create engagement, enthusiasm and passion amongst one and all?”

The resolving answer could be lying in removing the factors that institutionalize the system of vertical power, and in replacing this system with a model that are granting everyone personal authority in exercising power through individual competence, ability and capacity.

All the above are useful reflections about our future leadingship models. But how do we get to that ideal model of leadingship?

As Einstein once said:

“A problem can not be solved

with the same methods

that created the problem”.

Rune – and Bucky, and Einstein – indeed indicated, that part of the solution is to get rid of the leadership that has brought us where we are today. But this is dangerous territory, as those are the leaders who still are in the hierarchical power position to eradicate the subordinates that do not fit the HBS blueprint, and try to challenge the existing system. It makes me think of recursive loops, or the drawings of M.C. Esher. At what point does the transition between night and day really happen?

esher

“Day and Night” by M.C. Escher

Rune started sticking out his neck many years ago, in a period where he could not yet amplify his message through social media. Because he attacked the powers and hierarchies without defence, the system expelled him, and he ended up somewhat isolated, albeit in a beautiful self-built house on the borders of a beautiful Nordic lake (the story is correct, the picture below not)

house by lake

It is not my ambition to get expelled, and I am trying to walk on thin ice every blog again to get your attention for being your true self.

It is in that context that my questions to you are:

  • How can we get these new practices out of the reflection room and into the daily value creation practice?
  • Who has already implemented these principles?
  • What worked and what did not work when rolling it out or letting it emerge?

Let’s share and learn from each other. Let’s document this practice for value creation. This practice of Leadership. Jump in.

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