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There is a fantastic talk on the 99u site by Mark Eckō titled “Embrace the mess”

Mark Ecko

Entrepreneur, media mogul, and designer Marc Eckō tell us that, if we’re not careful, we can let others label us and define our career, robbing us of our natural potential. The solution?

 

Stand up for yourself!

 

Mark Ecko book Un-Label

It’s a great talk, one of those that I listen to second by second, making lots of notes almost leading into a full transcript of the talk. Somewhere halfway the talk, it seems there is a book about this by Mark Eckō titled “Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out”. I bought it right away after this talk. I have no credits for any of the ideas in this blog post. It’s just a transcript. It’s just some re-ordering of somebody else’s great ideas.

Mark Eckō has 3 messages for you:

  • Embrace the mess
  • Create wealth that matters
  • Be an Un-Label

Embrace the mess

The talk starts with the famous quote by Thomas Edison “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”

Edison genius

99% perspiration as if

 

You manage the PAIN of the grind

You embrace the RIGOR

Your hard work is THE HEART of genius

 

1% inspiration as if

 

Inspiration needs to be dosed carefully

Inspiration is ROMANTIC and perhaps distracting

And IDEATION can be a rabbit hole

 

You are so busy

You are so busy grinding

You are so busy perspiring

 

That perhaps we have forgotten to imagine

 

Are you’re an entrepreneur, or a creator and an artist?

 

Sometimes we think being an artist/creator

Is indulgent

Self-indulgent

 

About self-philosophical people

That get dressed in all black

Lean back

 

And get moody,

And self-loathing

 

Sloppy and right brained

 

Or maybe this is just not for you?

Maybe you loose some of that swag or that freedom?

 

Where when you were in second grade

You would just raise your hand and say:

 

YES! I am an artist!

 

Some think that this notion of creator/artist is divine

And we struggle with that

We believe there are a holy war between creative and art and commerce

 

This inhibits us in our relationship with our art

 

So I challenge you folks who don’t necessarily fancy themselves as artists

That just because you can not manipulate paint, sculpture or music

Doesn’t mean you should not problem solve like an artists

 

Learn to embrace the messiness of creation

Give yourself more than the 1%, chill-on the dosing, ok?

Create wealth that matters

 

Numbers don’t lie, but they don’t always tell the truth

 

We are obsessed with accounting,

Accounting for our money, our grades, our wins, losses, time, likes, followers, fucks, KPIs, the quarter, page views, etc

 

Count count count

 

Quit counting

 

Big data matters

But Being human even matters more

 

You can’t loose sight of the qualitative intent

 

Qualitative excellence cannot be hacked

 

Wealth that matters cannot be counted

 

Be an un-label

 

One used to say “perception is reality, you have to control the room”

 

But no,

 

Reality is reality

 

We try to give a taxonomy to everything

The perceived versions of ourselves

We focus on the outside only

Attempting to remain in fashion

Hopefully from value to the skin

Instead of skin to the world

 

Fash-ion: group of people acting together

Fas-cism: a way of organizing a society rules by dictatorial controls, a very harsh control or authority

 

The gospel of streetwear

 

All these gatekeepers in my office

 

A BLIV-IT

 

blivit

 

I was so busy to round off my edges

 

I was so busy assigning so much value to this 3rd party infrastructure, these gatekeepers,

 

Divergent ideas breed independence

 

I was looking for their approval

And letting me frustrate by this

 

When you ask for change

It is going to be with friction

It’s going to be work

Perhaps you going to ask for enemies

 

Apologising for your square edges does not make sense

 

Gatekeepers breed groupthink

 

How much energy in my life did/will I give to those gatekeepers?

 

Don’t loose sight of the GOAL-keepers

 

Who care more about what you are making

Even care about how you make them FEEL

 

When you refuse to be labeled

Suddenly you play by your own rules

Not theirs

 

When rules start to look like BLIV-IT s

Defy them

 

Measure yourself up to your own standards

 

Versus the gatekeepers’

Abstract and often irrelevant compliance metrics

 

Just saying:

There are some compliance standards

That are rather old

And not really relevant anymore

 

No one has a monopoly on validation

 

It’s about your body of work

 

The talk resonates strongly with me.

 

Because it resonates with who I am deep inside.

 

I feel like the artist/creator in his atelier below.

 

Fig_Sculpture_Fischl atelier

Thinking– Creating – Sensemaking.

 

The messy space of creators

Not the clean-desk policy of clerks

 

Away from the counting

The accounting

The efficiency

And making the numbers

 

And much closer to being human

Taking time

Let emerge

And creating uniqueness.

 

Without the GATE-keepers

But with the GOAL-keepers.

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Rogier Noort just published a post on his site, for a great part based on an interview he did with me during the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Paris in February of this year. Rogier’s original title of the post was “Collaboration:  Salvation or Myth”. It’s a great post, and Rogier clearly took the pain to reflect on our conversation. I would label it as “The Myth of Collaboration”. Some people call my point of view blasphemy in a period where everything has to be “social”, “working together” and “collaboration and hacking spaces”. So be it. I just felt there was something deep wrong about it, and Rogier did an awesome job of articulating my thoughts. I have copied the text in it’s entirety, and just added the usual colour emphasis.

+++ Start Rogier’s post +++

Collaboration is an important part of productivity. It’s a highly desired commodity, but seemingly more elusive that you’d might think.., and it cannot be forced.

The other day my wife saw a message from an old colleague.., they’re moving her to a flex desk. “Now, I’m no longer allowed to place a photo of my grand children on my desk”, is what she said.

Her work is routine, she’s not allowed to work from home, needs no collaboration, won’t hop from desk to desk, and nobody will wander in looking for a place to work.., in other words.., that particular department does not need flexible workspaces. What they need is a working environment where an employee feels comfortable, secure and relaxed. A place where it’s okay to have a picture of your grand children on your desk.

This message reminded me of a conversation I had with Peter Vander Auwera about this very topic. I didn’t know quite how to put this in a post, until now.

The Key to Success

There is a wide variety of approaches to SocBiz, or Enterprise 2.0, some say the business goals have to be aligned to social, or we need to measure everything first, or we have to have a Digital Village first… others take a more tangible approach. A more non-virtual one. They reshuffle the physical space people work in.., the office floor.

Collaboration is the key to success.., so.., we create a (physical) working environment where collaboration is as easy as raising your hand and ask a question. Serendipity is guaranteed because people have no fixed desk, so you never know who you’re going to sit next to.

The Myth

According to Peter “[the office space] has been designed to enhance collaboration… working with each other across departments.”

The myth is, you have to collaborate all the time.

But, not everybody operates that way. As far as I’m concerned, I like my work area quiet. I need focus to concentrate, and more often than not, my work needs to be accurate and creative. Two things I can (or need to) do alone, no collaboration is needed.

For Peter it’s the same; “I don’t function that way… I need time on my own to think.”

Collaboration is Not Happening

Peter explains his view further; “When you sit with other colleagues around a “collaboration” table.., I hardly see any collaboration. Everybody still works in their own zone, because they have work to do. It just doesn’t happen.”

This happens when culture and progressive ideas clash. You can’t force people into a collaborative state of mind. Reshuffling desks, open up the floor, and taking away personal offices does not guarantee collaboration.., it just doesn’t.

I’m sure at some companies, for some departments this approach can do wonders. But, we should judge the merit of such huge changes on any specific floor/office/department/company.

You could simply ask employees their stand on such a high impact change.

Personal Space

“The other aspect has to do with physical space and emotional space. When working in a collaborative space I have the feeling my privacy is disturbed. At any time somebody can come up behind you and look over your shoulder.., it feels like a sort of surveillance.”, Peter says.

“It’s difficult to articulate, because I have nothing to hide, in fact, I have a lot of things to share. The idea of collaboration has the opposite effect, it doesn’t invite me to collaborate with the people who look over my shoulder. Because I feel they are intruding in my privacy zone, my creativity zone.”

The idea that anybody can criticise your work at any time can be a great hinder. This is not just in the physical space, but can also occur in a collaborative on-line space. When I’m working on something, a blogpost for instance, I like to write a great deal, preferably all the way to the end with a revision or two, before I let anybody read it.

This is my process, the way I want to work.., I do not want any input, suggestions or comments until I’m good and well ready for them.

More about working in peace can be read in “Silence, I’m Painting“, an article by Peter on his personal blog.

Inspiration

… or lack thereof. Most people in the office have nothing or very little to do with your work. The chance of having exactly that person that you need come sit next to you in an open floor space is quite slim.

The odds of serendipity (fortuitous happenstance or pleasant surprise) are against you, against us. Even if you plan and scheme everything to enhance those chances.

Inspiration therefore is one of those things we seek out. We connect with those people who can help us move beyond a certain point.., everything else is just noise.

Controversial

Peter worries about this attitude sounding arrogant. Knowing Peter.., this is far from what is happening.

What’s really happening is that, at times, we should stop and think, reflect on the changes we’re trying to make, and the goals we want to achieve. Despite the fact there are a lot of talented people out there with a great number of good ideas, we cannot, and should not, just apply them. This goes for collaboration, but also hierarchy, job titles, software.., you name it.

Social business, The New Way of Working.., or whatever you want to call it.., is NOT generic. There is no One-Size-Fits-All. Not only does this apply to every company, but also to each department and each individual. To generalise, automate, or standardise this idea works as good as trying to fit every person in exactly the same suit.

Balance

Like any other undertaking, regardless of what it is, for it to have long term success, there has to be balance.

An office should provide spaces for all sorts of productivity styles. Employees should be involved in the design, their opinions should drive the change. After all, it is they who do the work.

 Thank you Peter for the insights and challenging us to think.

Peter is a creative thinker, creator and sensemaker. Co-initiator of Corporate Rebels United, a movement to unite corporate rebels worldwide to ensure that true change happens virally. Charter Member of Change Agents Worldwide.


Edit: Richard Martin (@IndaleGenesis) pointed me to this wonderful video made by Dave Coplin (@DCoplin). It really adds to the points made in the post. It’s only 9 minutes, I encourage you to watch it.

+++ end Rogier’s post

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Corporate Rebels United is a movement uniting innovation- and disruption-catalysts and instigators worldwide to ensure that true change happens virally from deep within the fabric of our organisations.

rebels mathias 1

The organisations we have in mind can be any size/form of organisation (Fortune 500 company, SME, NGO, non-profit, Network, Peer-to-Peer, Cell, System, Context) and we aim to be truly cross industry (industrial, tech, health, government, financial, pharmaceuticals,  educational, ….)

 

The Only Rule Is That There Are No Rules

 

We Trust That You Are REsponsible

 

We don’t do screening or certification of our activists: our movement is designed by and for trust in the first place. We welcome any inspired individual from any organisation that is subscribing to our manifesto and is willing to implement the 20 principles of our movement in the way that makes most sense in their individual and group context:

  • If You are a principal champion of a program or cause or action
  • If You do not wait for permission to lead, innovate, strategize
  • If You are Responsible, Do what is right
  • If You aim for Greatness, Healthy Fire, Worthiness
  • If You name things others don’t see yet
  • If You point to new horizons
  • If without You, the storyline never changes

Then Corporate Rebels United is something for You!

When we started in 2012 with Corporate Rebels United, we had no idea that 2 years later we would be a group of +/- 800 protagonists/instigators, from San-Francisco to New-Zealand and anything in between, truly cross-industry. Our web presence was sober: with the help of Mathias, we created a super simple one-page-HTML site with our Manifesto, and at the bottom of that page a simple “JOIN” button.

Manifesto Rebels Pic

The Manifesto (PDF available on the new site)

We also created a Facebook group, a Google+ Community, a LinkedIn Group and a Twitter account (@corprebels). Every day, one or more people joined, and shared suggestions. And we got some cool speaking opportunities at TEDx events and in some corporate environments.

End 2013, i got a mail from Nadja Petranovskaja from Hamburg asking:

 

“Are we going to DO something here?”

 

Indeed, although several folks already had set up a Local Chapter, and there was some good sharing going on in the online communities, i agreed with Nadja that we wanted to be more actionable. We wanted to be more than just another echo chamber of the Internet.

We connected via Skype, and had several hack sessions to prepare our action plan for 2014. As we have a great group of silent advisors, i suggested to Nadja that we’d have a call with them to do some sound boarding of our initial ideas. Not really to my surprise, that call ended up as a personal coaching call for myself. It was a period where i felt exhausted, mentally and physically tired. Anyway, the advice i got was to first create clarity for myself before messing around with the Corporate Rebels United movement.

I took some time off (a sort of mini-sabbatical), slowed myself down, did almost nothing, except reading a lot, taking my bicycle when sun was out, trying to stick to the plan of not having a plan. I was taking lots of notes and keeping some sort of journal – I think i have enough material for 50-60 blog posts or maybe a book, and will start gradually releasing the new material in the coming weeks/months.

In the meantime, Nadja and myself kept exchanging ideas, themes and action plans. Then, a couple of weeks ago, i decided to walk my talk, booked a cheap flight to Hamburg, and spent a hacking day with Nadja to lay the foundation for our new website and action plan. Some time before, i had asked several people for help with a basic WordPress site, but nobody really delivered. In Hamburg, we just started working on it, did some initial white-boarding and post-it hacking, and Nadja teached me some WordPress basics. In about half a day, we had our site up and running with some basic content, and Nadja had produced a nice PDF version of our Manifesto, a video illustration our first Hack, and an fantastic foldable flyer on our “I am Responsible” theme for 2014.

IMG_3567

Nadja working on the video for Hack#1

It was awesome. I went back home – completely energised – and worked out some details, created more content, polished a bit, and… here it is, the brand new site of Corporate Rebels United.

We still want to keep it relatively basic: our website is a quite straightforward WordPress site. It allows for basic collaboration where you can comment on every page and post. We added some forms to post ideas and artwork. Of course we are aware that more powerful collaboration tools exist such as Jive, Microsoft’s Yammer, Salesforce’s Chatter, SocialCast, Lithium, SocialText and many other Wiki environments. But before we move to one of those Rolls-Royces, we first want to test the appetite and needs of the Corporate Rebels as we go. In the meantime, we suggest we default to a couple of de-facto standards for online collaboration, without full integration within our website (See the tools section on our new site).

We hope that the new environment will encourages you to actually DO something.

And we made some suggestions:

  • Celebrations for the Corporate Rebel of the month
  • Helpers: there is a lot of creative power in the movement, so we decided to outsource some of the work for visual artists, creatives, PR people, etc
  • Hacks: not the heavy lifting work, but some small tips, tricks and practices to help you coming out of your protective shell, and make more powerful connections within and across your organisations.
  • Value Practices: we invite all Corporate Rebels to start forming small teams (“pods” as Dave Gray would say) to hack out Practices for Value Creation that can be shared inside and outside of our community as sources of inspiration, practice, and reflection.

Our main theme for 2014 is “I am Responsible”

I am responsible

We’d like to encourage you to be responsible human beings. Being a Corporate Rebel is NOT about kicking and screaming around like crazy. It is about daring to be great, about daring to step forward, about taking personal leadership.

It is about being responsible and actionable. Corporate Rebels are responsible for:

  • Themselves: their mental and physical well-being
  • The teams they belong to:
  • The organisations these teams belong to;
  • The ecosystems these organisations belong to;
  • The whole world these ecosystems belong to

Since the start we loved the idea of being a actionable group of people, not just a think-tank or an echo-chamber of the internet. With the new website, we try to create some conditions to enable online group collaboration, and to suggest some initiatives where everybody can apply his/her talents for the great cause for our movement: to make of our organisations places where people come alive!

Corporate Rebels United is a movement. It’s a culture, emerging from some specific behaviors. It’s 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. Corporate Rebels United soul is about people taking agency, people stepping forward and taking responsibility, self-empowering themselves.

Corporate Rebels United is deeply value and purpose driven. We have an ambition for progress, looking forward. We fight mediocrity, and applaud critical thinking.

We invite you to join us and be part of our challenging journey.

Rebelliously Yours,

Petervan

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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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Futurist and past Innotribe member, Heather Schlegel aka @heathervescent, has announced an ambitious project: The Future of Money TV Series. Happy to offer her a guest post on my Petervan blog. We had great times together, and she is worth your attention.
 
While working with Innotribe, Heather created 3 scenario films and 2 documentaries: http://www.youtube.com/user/innotribefilms. Happy to let Heather explain herself what she is up to with this new project:
FoM Heather

Heather: “While working for Innotribe, I was struck by the impact my films had on people. When I showed them at SXSW and other conferences, people would come up to me afterwards and tell me how the visions in my films changed their perspective. Over and over I saw people’s ideas about the future change after watching my films. It’s this response that inspired me to develop a TV series around the future of money.

 

The Future of Money TV Series explores the evolution of money by interviewing experts in financial innovation and showing futuristic reenactments of plausible scenarios based on facts and theories. I developed the TV series to share positive visions with a global audience to increase optimism about the future.

 

An international distributor green lit the project in May and has agreed to distribute the series internationally IF I can raise $35K to shoot the expert interviews. To raise the money, I launched a Kickstarter. I need your support to make it happen. I’ve spent years of love, sweat and tear on this project. Please back it.

 

This is her first Kickstarter and while it’s off to an excellent start – raising $12,000 of her $35,000 goal – your support is critical.

 

Watch the teaser and back the project – any level helps:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/heathervescent/future-of-money-tv-series

 

It’s been covered on Laughing Squid: http://laughingsquid.com/future-of-money-a-docu-series-that-explores-the-positive-forces-in-the-evolution-of-money/

 

Breaking Banks: http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/73153/and-the-next-big-thing-is

 

Houston Futures: http://www.houstonforesight.org/?p=3315

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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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On 6 June 2013, I presented “Open Innovation Systems – Maverick Ventures in a Corporate World” during the Amplify Festival in Sydney. The Livestream of the talk is available here:

livestream

 

This blog post is documenting the genesis of that talk, therefore not really or only a transcript, but passing the same messages through the medium of writing rather than speaking, hopefully even improving the clarity of purpose and intention of the talk.

 

scribe

Thanks to @cjdelling for this wonderful scribe, made live during the talk.

There were many triggers for this talk, but the two most important ones were Douglas Rushkoff’s latest book “Present Shock” (Amazon Associates Link) – a book that left a deep impression on me – and a conversation with Haydn Shaughnessy, that I already somewhat documented in my blog post “The Bridge”

digital-human

Rushkoff hits the nail when he says “Time Divides” and “Time is digital in character”. Just try to sense the different human experience when looking at 15 seconds of digital time vs. 15 sec on of analog time. In the analog world, there is flow, continuity, and formation. But we have started to accept a new normal where we have to make choices between extremes: black/white, On/Off, Digital/Human, etc. When being presented with the options left/right, we forget we can also go up and down.

“The lack of options is the opposite of freedom of choice,”

says Rune Kvist Olsen.

In an innovation context the limited choices presented are incremental/disruptive, core/non-core, internal/external, castle/sandbox.

There must be a richer better way to have conversations about innovation. I am getting sick of the 1-2 minute conversations where you have to make your case in a tweet. Sick of the 18 min TED talks, where there is no critical dialogue but only glorification of technology as the sole source for progress.

I am hungry for depth

For intimacy and human connection. I am on a quest for depth. A quality space in time and location where free deep thinking is again appreciated. Where we discuss not in limited silos about limiting options. Where life flows like water in oceans, in currents and rhythms, in waves of pendulums with different amplitudes influencing each other as Perpetua Mobile, spiralling as convergent systems into beauty and harmony with a direction of progress.

A space with doors wide open for new world-views  where we create knowledge and resource flows (are they the same?), with new thinking: visual thinking, design thinking, systems thinking, and scenario thinking.

A space where bravery and maverick behaviour are not merely tolerated but accepted and encouraged as the new norm for deep viral change. You may call them whatever you want: mavericks, outliers, beyonders, rebels, catalysts of change.

With Innotribe we have created an end-to-end framework, based on the Open Innovation principles of Prof. Henry Chesbrough. That it is an end-to-end framework is not always fully appreciated. Sometimes, the work of Innotribe is reduced to its most visible component, the “events”. And also there, the superficial world with lack of depth and intimacy only sees the externalities of the events, the cheerleader-feel of the facilitators and masters of ceremony, thereby completely ignoring the deep immersive learning experiences and techniques applied and intended.

Superficiality kills depth

But even if the full breadth of the Innotribe work would be appreciated, we are not done. There is more, much more to be done. I would like to re-set the bar. I am getting convinced we have to move into systemic and systematic innovation. It was Haydn Shaughnessy who opened my eyes and gave me the first insights that there is an evolution of Open Innovation possible, way beyond corporate garages, towards a model where innovation is deeply baked-in into the fabric of the organization. Haydn has just published a report on this on GigaOm Pro titled “Rethinking innovation: how to manage ideas systematically” (registration required). There, Haydn introduces “lean innovation”, “algorithmic innovation”, and “radical adjacencies”, which we already knew from his book “The Elastic Enterprise”. (Amazon Associates Link). Haydn will be with us at Innotribe Sibos in Dubai in September to share the results of his research in the domain.

Where “systemic” assumes system-wide approach. Not only within the silo of a department, or in non-communicating black/white, internal/external innovations vessels, but across silos, across vessels. If not, failure is almost built-in, because the two camps engage in finite games, whereas we should play infinite games where we do not look for a winner (and by definition also loser), but where the journey of the whole systems towards progress is the goal (read also James Carse’s “Finite and Infinite Games” – Amazon Associates Link).

In the first case – the finite games – we may be seduced by the means, but I am for sure not attracted by the end-game. We have to move across the corporate boundaries, and become “system activists”. My next blog will describe this new form of corporate activism in more detail.

nike launch

A great example is Nike’s Launch2020 Project, creating system wide transformation, in partnership with MIT, NASA, and Government.

Where “systematic” stands for planned, organized, designed, focused, and not random. Repeatable. Scalable. The best example I have seen so far is Vodaphone: they have deeply investigated the trends that impact their business; they have documented the needs (not the asks) or their (potential) customers, and made solid customer segmentation. Then they apply pattern recognition across these three layers, and are hyper-focused on where they want to spend their innovation efforts, resources, and budgets.

In general, it also seems to be that many organizations are very focused on product, service, and process innovation, or the latest buzzword “business model innovation”. Probably because that is what we know, what we feel comfortable with. It’s our comfort zone. We have been trained for years in thinking rationally about our businesses, decomposing, fragmenting every process in sub-tasks that can be mapped, followed, and measured. Up to a level that we don’t see the forest for the trees.

3 engines

What we need are 3 type of engines:

  • A communication engine, with the ultimate goal of being a serendipity machine, an evangelization machine, and a knowledge flow platform;
  • An execution engine, with a good balance/portfolio/consistency between internal and external innovation
  • But all those changes are lipstick on a pig, if they are not deeply embedded in sustained behavioural change in every vain of the company.

What we really need to focus on is the third engine of behaviour change. Deep viral behaviour change. Because behaviour drives culture and not the other way around. And let that change spread like a virus through our organizations and systems. So it is getting copied and amplified through our hyper-connectivity networks. Where leadership becomes leadingship, and backstage leaders act as distributed coaching nodes in the corporate grid.

In the end, it is about being human and developing and nurturing the capability to be touched by beauty, a picture, by mastery and harmony. And to develop a richer palette of judgment, choice and appreciation.

Yes, there is some form of romanticism here; shall we call ourselves business romantics? It’s the nature of this beast, to be an incurable romantic.

Incurable Romantics

It’s what I am as human. I cannot and do not want to settle for the sterility of digital zeros and ones, for cogs in cubicles executing standard processes that anyway do not match anymore our fast changing world.

I want to send, propel and amplify positive vibes and frequencies to all the nodes in our grids. I want to reverb and resonate, and inspire you all to dream. To dream big and be unreasonable and go for the impossible. I want to me and you to get alive and get a life. I want us to be mavericks and rebels in a corporate world.

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