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Archive for the ‘Corporate Values’ Category

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.

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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?

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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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Many use the term “disruption,” to describe the upheaval we’re seeing in the financial services industry. But I believe we are witnessing a “phase-change”—a deeper transformation of how banking and business in general are done, caused by the fragmentation of everything and an unprecedented and unsurpassed period of evolutionary innovation–what might be called a “Cambrian explosion”.

In the run up to Techonomy 2012, I contributed an article entitled “The Six Ways Organizations Can Survive Until 2100.” Six months later, my essays “Dystopian Futures” and “Drowning In Data, Banks Must Learn To Surf” elaborated on my thinking.

Techonomy 2013

With a couple of weeks from Techonomy 2013, now I think we need to get back to our human sense of analog time.

We see the Net-driven fragmentation of work and hierarchies, even as sovereign states are stealing data and intruding into systems worldwide.  We see the fragmentation of trust, privacy, and secrecy. Our organizations are no longer vertically integrated but fragmented into orchestrators of highly specialized functions, sourced from a diverse group of both incumbents and aggressive newcomers.

We need stories about the humans we try to reach and move—narratives, as John Hagel puts it so well in Edge Perspectives–that have a beginning, middle, and end and convey a clear purpose and call for action and progress.

At the same time, we see an explosion of nodes on the grid, with trillions of “things” joining the digital conversation; an explosion in the volume and types of data. Digital currencies are erupting with decentralized and distributed models. States engage in surveillance and companies deploy what Jaron Lanier calls “Siren Servers”: online powerhouses that betray our trust for profit. In banking, we see the advent of network-only banks, and peer-to-peer money exchange solutions like Paypal’s Cash solution–a simple way to email money between people.

Value is being redefined, and many are rethinking what constitutes real wealth and wellbeing, beyond money and GDP. We have to rethink how we measure wealth. Robert Kennedy said: “GDP measures everything…except that which makes life worthwhile.” 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 the world’s view of value beyond the lens of GDP.

happathon

In the financial industry, “shareholder value” and “profit maximization” remain 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.

We have to think about what may in fact be intangible assets, along with how to account for them and invest in them. We have to re-assess the role financial markets play or should play, and their future “design principles,” so that over time we can develop more transparency, self-empowerment, and permissive not restrictive organizations.

Recently, Michell Zappa http://envisioning.io/money/ published a fantastic piece of research on “The Future of Money” documenting recent changes accelerating transactions, leveraging crowds, undermining fiat currencies, and explaining how banking is evolving into just a layer, embedded invisibly in many sorts of daily conversations. These phase changes pose fundamental questions about the role and identity of networks, institutions, and individuals.

Zappa’s timeline infographic is illuminating.

Zappa central-decentral-distributed

The phase-change from centralized to decentralized to distributed networks is shifting how power is distributed: from favoring the connected few to an irregular distribution that favors some individuals, and to a horizontal distribution of power that favors the whole of the network.

We seem to live in a  state of perpetual crisis, jumping from one incident to another, with no room to reflect or to assess.  It feels like we are drowning in tactics and ad-hoc firefighting, incapable of interpreting the tsunami of change. The world enters a level of complexity that cannot be addressed anymore by conventional, binary, linear thinking.

With all these parts moving at once, we need new tools for monitoring change. We need new capabilities and more non-linear ways of thinking, and openness to new options. We need new tools to forecast, assess, and guide our choices. They should offer richer ways to express our options through visual thinking and other techniques.

This is way beyond flashy hyper-tech bank branches and “punchy-music-cool-sexy” banking apps or product videos. This is about bringing back the analog humanizing aspect into banking. I am not my device. The future of banking is analog not digital, and its focus needs to be on relationships, intimacy, depth, and human connection.

Cross-posted at Techonomy 2013

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Since about a year now, i have been intrigued by the work of Rune Kvist Olsen from Norway. It’s a pleasure to give room and space for his thinking on my personal blog. His previous contributions were the best read posts on my blog ever: they include “The End of Leadership” and “Leading from The Edge”. Now, Rune has compiled and added a new piece of work that he introduces himself below (Colored highlights by myself):

Hi You All!

The paper “A Conceptology of  Learning and Leading at Work” is now completed and ready for reviewing/announcing/posting/publishing.

The purpose with the “Conceptology of Learning and Leading at Work” is to construct and establish an alternative belief system that would entitle everyone in the workplace the same conditions and access of mutual trust and personal freedom. The intention is to advocate the values and standards of health, liberty, dignity and equality as common principles applied for all the people involved. In challenging the mainstream and contemporary belief system in organizing, leading and managing work and people (granting only a few and someone these principles exclusively), the effort behind this new attempt of intervention was aimed at developing a real alternative option of choice by creating an entirely new way of structuring power in organizing, leading and managing the process of work.

An appropriate perspective in reviewing the significance of the “Conceptology of Learning and Leading at Work”, could be by assessing the article “The Myth of Executive Stress” by Keith Payne. This article is presenting relevant research studies within the field of leading and managing people. Some of the core findings reported is that leaders are showing substantially lower levels of stress than non-leaders caused by their superior position and supreme power in managing other people and leading people below. The implication of being managed and led from others above is the lack of control. The result of being controlled is higher blood pressure, lowered immune function and stress-related diseases. When the stress response is activated for months at a time, it is toxic as Payne is stating. The concluding statement is; “Control is the essence of power, the linchpin binding status to stress”. In this perspective the alternative “Conceptology of Learning and Leading at Work” is raised as the counterpart to the belief system of leadership with leaders above and non-leaders below, and represents an alternative option of choice in moving from the mantra of “leadership for someone” to “leadingship for everyone”.

Everyone in the workplace should be entitled the principles of trust and freedom as common privileges concerning health, liberty, equality and dignity at work. In the history of management the Conceptology of “Humanology” and “Humanability” is granting everyone the equal access to personal control with none above and below in a chain of command and none in charge of anyone else.

The links to the articles and the research studies are:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-myth-of-executive-str&page=2

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/09/19/1207042109.full.pdf+html

https://faculty.fuqua.duke.edu/~ack23/Publications%20PDFs/Compensatory%20Control%20Current%20Directions%202009.pdf (PDF File)

Please enjoy the attached paper (A conceptology in Learning and Leading _short version_- PDF File) and let the Conceptology make a difference and become a real option of choice in organizational life! Feel free to pass this message around.

 

All the best

Rune Kvist Olsen

Inventor and facilitator

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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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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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Since my post “The End of Leadership”, the topic of Leadership vs. Leadingship keeps buzzing in my head. I further elaborated on the topic in a subsequent post “Leading from the Edge”.  As many of my readers know, the inspiration muze for these posts was Rune Kvist Olsen from Norway.

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Rune is fine-tuning the concept by sending regular comments to those posts. He now has collected and gathered his writings from February and March into 9 lessons for Leadingship.

Rune lives a bit isolated in a self-designed and self-built house on a lake in Norway. A bit disconnected from technology and social media and all the rest, but probably more humanly connected than many of us hyper-connected digital stress rabbits.

It is a pleasure to respond with a wholeheartedly “yes” to Rune’s request to post his lessons on my blog as a guest post. It is probably his only voice to the world.

It’s a long read, and you need your attention and intention with you when reading, but Rune has developed such a rich language to articulate the differences between Leadership and Leadingship that I find it always worthwhile to immerse myself in his thinking.

So, here they are, the 9 lessons for Leadingship. Red and italic highlights by myself.

+++ Start of 9 lessons from Rune on Leadingship – Feb/March 2013 +++

Lesson-1: The consistency in interactions between personal conceptions of reality and the influence of personal power in the organization.

The general conceptual principle: We are envisaging the reality as we are our self, and not as the reality is in it self. The particular conceptual principle: We are seeing the reality in our organization based on Who we are as persons and What we have as persons.

The organizational design principle: Our reality conceptions at work varies and fluctuates with our specific and factual organizational circumstances.

1. The reality conceived from a Leadership point of view:

As superior persons appointed to leadership positions we see the reality from above and downward. We are envisaging the reality based on our position and rank as superiors and will understand, interpret, explain and defend our conceptions and perceptions of the reality context accordingly to his respective circumstance of power over subordinates below.

The superior person in a leadership position is given the power to determine and ascertain the correct version and view of the truth and the power to enforce the authoritative description of the reality.

The subordinate person must accept and comply to the version of the true reality conception established by the ruling order with loyalty and obedience, with the purpose of sustaining one owns job and work.

The reality conception powered by Leadership is based on What we are and have by the virtue of positions and ranks.

2. The reality conceived from a Leadingship point of view:

The power of Leadingship is based on the principle that everyone in the organization are entitled and authorized personal power within a respective field of work, and entrusted with individual freedom and personal responsibility in making autonomous decisions.

Everyone are relating as equals and peers and are envisaging their reality context from a similar point of view (neither upwards or downwards – but sideward’s) from the same platform of out looking the organizational reality.

A shared reality conception between individual human beings occurs when individuals are able to understand that other’s conception of reality can be as real, true and valuable as their own conceptions and perceptions.

The common awareness that our reality are composed of a myriad of different views, conceptions and opinions, are the dynamical cord that are linking and connecting us together through our individual personalities in shaping our common identity as a working community.

The reality conception powered by Leadingship is based on Who we are as individual human beings based on our personal competence and capacity in doing our respective jobs.

Lesson-2: The Truth powered by Leadership versus Leadingship:

A. The Truth powered by Leadership:

The Subjective and Superior Truth as a matter of an Objective Supremacy Fact. The superior leadership person sees and rules the truth, and the subordinate person is told and ruled by this commanding truth:

If and when a superior person in a leadership position don’t  like, disagrees and disputes a critical and controversial report from subordinates, the superior person will most likely terminate and close the matter, and file the case in the archive as invalid, unreliable and unaccountable. The subordinates will be labeled as disobedient, disloyal, dishonest and not trustworthy.

B. The Truth powered by Leadingship:

Subjectivity is a personal matter as an individual expression of reality conception. Objectivity is a collective matter as a result of shared understanding amongst the people involved.

When people have gained the personal force to operate and function independently and entrusted the liberty to take responsibility of actions as equals and peers, they have at that moment of conscious state of mind attained enough personal confidence and will force to accept and trust the reality description of others without fear, rejection, condemnation, denunciation. damnation and contempt.

Lesson-3: The consequence of a polarized reality conception powered by Leadership versus a shared reality conception powered by Leadingship.

1. The Leadership reality conception directed downwards and upwards:

  • Mastering hegemony by monopolizing the truth.
  • Colliding values and believes.
  • Minimizing, discrediting and ridiculing alternative statements as rhetorical and semantical matters (depriving and renouncing confronting aspects their authority in being serious and real).
  • Conflicting priorities.
  • Contradicting truthfulness.
  • Compromising reliability and credibility.
  • Alienation by separation.
  • Ruling by dividing, conquering and domination.
  • Verticalization of relationships.

2. The Leadingship reality conception directed sideward’s:

  • Sharing by beneficial benevolence.
  • Communication by leveling.
  • Collaboration by coordination.
  • Corporation by complementation.
  • Connecting by integration.
  • Equalizing by reciprocally.
  • Horizontalization of relationships.

The structure in organizing, managing and leading work and people are a consequential reflector of the structuring of power as the premise shaper of the reality design in the organization.

Lesson-4: The necessity and essentiality of substituting and replacing obsolescent and anachronistic believes and dogma (f.ex: Leadership) with new and alternative options and solutions (f.ex: Leadingship) – which are not part of the illness and disease that inflicts and infects the mental health of the human mind in contemporary organizational life.

The excellent and brilliant statement of Buckminster Fuller says everything about the necessity in creating alternative options (model, concept, system, structure) when dealing with obsolescent matters opposing and counteracting new future realities:

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

The power and force embedded in the concept of Leadingship enables us in moving beyond existing mental boundaries in reaching the emergent future of a new workplace reality, where everyone are relating equally and mutually on the same level of co-existence.

At that point of evolution in the state of mind of the individual human being, we have released the chain of control and command from someone above to lead and others below to be led. This significant action have made the existing model of Leadership for Someone superfluous by compensating this obsolescent dogma with a new model of Leadingship for Everyone.

Lesson-5: Notorious governing administrative mechanisms and ruling Leadership techniques in enforcing silencing, subjugation and subordination in the workplace – in relation to Leadingship practice.

The purpose of well known and famous governing mechanisms administered by the system and ruling leadership techniques applied by the superior (leader, boss, supervisor, controller, director etc.) person in charge, is quieting and silencing people against advocating personal, individual and collective concerns, anxieties and worries about their work, working conditions and working contracts. The intention of such subtitle and often concealed leadership action, are enforcing, protecting and preserving the interest of the power holding and the powerbase that ensures supreme privileges and advantages for the people in charge in leadership positions.

In practicing Leadingship everyone must take responsibility and operate independently because there are none to command and control, and subsequently there is an absence of manipulative mechanisms and techniques of silencing people to muteness. One main purpose behind Leadingship is to take each other seriously and not dismiss controversial, challenging and critical arguments as invalid.

There are some factual and actual factors (mechanisms/techniques) applied by superiors above in governing/ruling subordinates below by legitimate leadership strategies and tactics:

1. Dismantling the existing workplace setting.
2. Dispersing/dissolving the working group.
3. Exiling persons from the workplace (office/station).
4. Removing access to working instruments.
5. Depriving of tasks and functions.
6. Redrawing authorization, certification and security clearance.
7. Degradation/depromotion downwards.
8. Excluding/out locking from job.
9. Expelling from department.
10.Relocation to another physical setting.
11.Discharging/firing from job.
12.Dismissing/teminating contract
13.Disgraced/dishonored professional reputation.

Revealing and exposing pretentions, intentions and reasons behind the monumentation and cementation of the Truth of Reputation by the correct version of history description, is the only option in establishing transparency and prevent future veiling of manipulated truth powered by Leadership.

I will end this enigmatic lesson with a statement from some years ago:

“The truth is only threatened by its own essence when revealed as a deception and falsehood in concealing the real and sincere intentions and reasons behind a manipulative action in preserving the status quo.”.

Lesson-6: Identifying and mapping the consequences of institutionalizing the correct version of the Truth by the legitimate and authorized act of either superiority or equality in the organization.

Evidencing the Truth of reality by Leadership versus Leadingship. Our conception of reality becomes our truth depending on how we are letting and accepting the reality being described and interpreted by someone keeping the power based on (leadership) position, or by everyone sharing the power based on experience and knowledge (leadingship competence).

The act of indentifying the common reality experienced by everyone individually in the organization, can be done by proposing relevant questions in revealing and exposing the real truth about powering, organizing, managing and leading work and people:

  1. Can you envision a workplace where all people are powered with authority by their own abilities to operate and function independently and responsible?
  2. Can you envision a workplace without superiors and subordinates where some people have power to dominate, control and command others in the act of subjugating them to subordination?
  3. Can you envision a workplace reality where the power to make and take decisions is linked exclusively to personal competence (in contrast to position and rank)?
  4. How are your present workplace powered, organized, managed and led?
  5. What are the intentions and reasons behind the existing structuring of power in your organization?
  6. What would you regard as the most important, crucial and vital assets and requirements in changing your workplace to a reality where everyone have equal access to personal freedom and individual responsibility?
  7. How can you contribute in addressing issues at work that you need to resolve in creating a transparent and ethical social conscience amongst the people in your organization?

The strategic option in this organizational context is either staying behind by maintaining and conserving Leadership for Someone or moving beyond by initiating and implementing Leadingship for Everyone.

Lesson-7: Why Leadership versus Leadingship are interconnected opposite poles in a dynamical learning progression interfacing each other through reciprocal  interdependency and mutual influentially.

A key to a dualistic relationship between diametrical contrasting opponents is challenging each other by their opposing differences and inequalities, lies in the insight, knowledge and experience of how the essence on one specific entity is shaped and formed in the relation to its absolute contrast.

For example to understand white we must understand black, god versus bad, nice versus evil, sharing versus keeping, cold versus warm etc. Our conceptions and perceptions are constructed by this code of symbiotic dualism. Subsequently the insight and understanding of Leadingship is found in the knowledge of Leadership. The simple pedagogical motto is therefore: ”Knowing the one by knowing the other and visa versa”.

The paradigm of dualism unites separation and integration as two opposite aspects of the same matter, both contradicting and presupposing each other at the same time in a dynamic and progressive process of attraction and repulsion. The pedagogical flow are the initiating energy behind all human learning as a composition of mutual interaction and interference between distinctive reciprocal components. These influencing factors generates a synergic and symbiotically impact of unified consciousness by the momentum of learning.

In balancing and harmonizing a dualistically process between opposite poles that are contesting the essence and nature of each other constantly, we must establish counterbalance that are enabling the potential and options of alternative choices granting us the freedom to choose. In choosing and selecting one specific option, we must at the same time be aware of alternative options.

Alternative options gives of the freedom of choice, while absence of alternative options will be forcing us to submit to the only given solution at hand.

The lack of options is the opposite of freedom of choice.

In balancing and harmonizing our choice in organizing, managing and leading work and people, the option of Leadingship contra Leadership is significant and essential in sustaining the free will and the freedom of choice. Subsequently the counterbalance of interconnected opposite poles in a learning perspective, is substantial in generating “learning of the one” by the “learning of the other” and visa versa.

We learn our self in relation to others by questioning What, Why and How we our self can perform, accomplish, achieve and pursue our intentions and purposes.

We are not truly learning by letting others tell us what to do. Learning from others are just reproduction and copying old learning’s. Others can help us to learn, but the learning is ours to do within our self.

Learning is a personal process done inside the human embodiment. By internalizing and processing all types of inputs from outside and inside, we will be molding our impressions to distinct emotions and thoughts that can transpire to learning’s that enables specific actions. By converting the learning’s to actions, we are creating competence as we are testing our theories into practical operations for our self and others.

Competence is a individual and personal matter that never can be conveyed and transferred to other people, because of the nature of the process as a personal matter inside the individual person. Everyone must do their job and learn by themselves from birth to death. However we can share and exchange our knowledge and experiences so that others can internalize and process their own impressions, and later can convert their thoughts into competent expressive actions.

Learning as a dualistic matter is all about learning and understanding One Self through the relationship to others in true and affectionate mutuality of susceptibility and receptivity. In this way we learn by challenging and questioning the truth conveyed by others, and instead be searching for our own personal truth in becoming authentic individuals.

Lesson-8: The Learning Design of Leadership versus the Learning Design of Leadingship.

The vital and crucial questions are:

1. Am I my self able in taking responsibility for my own learning or not?

2. Am I the person who know best what I need to learn most and in a way that suits me best?

Answers to these questions will be determining and forming the applied learning design principles regarding which force of power that will be ruling and governing our learning process and learning lessons. The selected force of power will have two alternative options of choice:

1. My inner self capacity in taking care of my learning responsibility.
2. Someone outside my self who is assigned my tutor and appointed my superior being considered as best qualified.

I. The Leadership Learning Design:

Someone above as the superior authoritative person in charge is telling, instructing, training others below as subordinates what to do, why to do it and how to do it.

The learning belief is that the person in the leadership position has the best knowledge and competence to determine what is best for the people below in performing their jobs, while the subordinate person is not personally equipped and endowed with the adequate and sufficient talent in taking care of one owns learning in an independent and responsible manner.

This difference in preference and reference signalize the distinction between trust and distrust in people and in the emphasizing of the significance of position and rank. This differences in conception of who to trust as superior and who to mistrust as inferior, are the main reasons that someone is valued and regarded as best qualified to leadership positions and subsequently most trustworthy in taking care of others learning.

The leadership learning design principle is focused on organizing learning as a system of teaching, training and education from top down the hierarchical ladder by the appointed person in charge of the facilitation training program in employee education. The superiors themselves are summoned to exclusive Leadership programs in learning the design principles of organizing, managing and leading the subordinates below.

II. The Leadingship Learning Design:

Everyone are considered qualified in taking care of their own learning actions as trusted equals and peers based on their respective competence and personal characteristics in adding value to the common good and the corporate benefit.

The learning belief is that everyone are doing their learning from inside themselves based on personal choice of individual development. The learning must be subjected to personal choice and processes in order to evolve as a personal matter of competent individual actions. People will be operating independently and responsible in generating their learning and be converting their learning into applicative competencies.

The leadingship learning design principle is to situate and arrange necessary space for personal learning and collective sharing of individual learning, where the internalized learning outcome from everyone can be coordinated and integrated as a collective force of organizational competence. The leadingship design of learning is focused on organizing learning as a consecutive process of learning by experiencing progress and regress in personal achievements, and by reflection on continuous improvements in personal accomplishments.

The Leadingship programs of training and education are inclusive for everyone since everyone are learning by themselves together with others all the way through their working life and private life.

The ultimate choice of the Design principle of Learning is subsequently a choice between either Leadership learning program for Someone or Leadingship learning program for Everyone.

Lesson-9: As in Heaven – So on Earth. Leading and Learning through parallel perspectives of Reality.

In this time of solemn and holy reverential sentiment to come for the celebration of the Easter holiday, I would like to summarize my posted lessons in both an earthly perspective as a spiritual perspective. I will be starting this angling approach with the spiritual part in relevance to the theme; Leading and learning in parallel perspectives of reality, by making a connection between references to spiritual experiences extracted from conveyed interviews with persons under superconscious hypnosis.

The distinguished author and scientist Dr. Michael Newton has uncovered the mysteries of our state of being in the spirit world, and has written several books covering experiences from living human beings who convey reports from their spiritual realm. The texts of Dr. Newton gives a fascinating and an intriguing insight of how a parallel reality such as the spiritual world, could be organized, managed and led. The following statement is quotations from the book; “Destiny of Souls”:

“While in a superconscious state during deep hypnosis, my subjects tell me that in the spirit world no soul is looked down upon as having less value that any other soul. We are all in a process of transformation to something greater than our current state of enlightenment. Each of us is considered uniquely qualified to make some contribution toward the whole, no matter how hard we are struggling with our lessons. If this was not true we would not have been created in the first place. (page 6)… Advancement through the taking of personal responsibility does not involve dominance or status ranking but rather a recognition of potential. They see integrity and personal freedom everywhere in their life between lives. (page 7)”.

A rather solemn and reverential statement at this time of sentimental and ceremonial reflection and contemplation, I would say. In either way these words of Dr. Newton can perhaps give us a touch in raising our senses in expanding our perspectives of existential matter.

I will be ending this lesson with an earthly part in relevance to the theme; Leading and learning in parallel perspectives of reality. The earthly duality of values and believes states the overture:

“Someone are leading others and others are led by someone” powered by Leadership versus “Everyone are leading themselves together with others” powered by Leadingship.

At the moment when the majority of people are deprived their power of self-decision and ranked below as subordinates with superiors in charge, the structuring of power is shaped vertical and organized hierarchical. At this momentum of subjugation by subordination, someone is appointed the authority of leading others by the virtue of their superior position and rank, and others are subjugated to be led by the virtue of their corresponding inferior position and rank. This way of organizing, managing and leading work and people represent the rule of Leadership where the organization is adopting and adapting Leadership for Someone.

At the moment of revelation of the apparently devastating and damaging consequences of Leadership for Someone for the human energy and spirit in the workplace, where the majority of people are subdued to inferiority and subjugated to subordination, people will at the moment of despair understand that this vertical and hierarchical way of organizing is obsolete and destructive regarding human engagement at work.

The mantra of Leadership for Someone would at this point be at its breaking point of revolution, and ripe and ready for replacement by the essence of Leadingship for Everyone.

The essence of Leadingship for Everyone is that all people are enabled the authority of self-decision at work. At this moment of transformation in the way we operate as free individual human beings, the structuring of power is shaped horizontal and organized egalitarian with people sharing power, exchanging resources and complementing each other in unified actions.

This way of organizing, managing and leading work and people, represent the era of a humanized work life, where the organization is adopting and adapting the vision of Leadingship for Everyone.

At this moment of truthfulness including and equalizing Everyone and Everybody in the organization, we are in a way aligned with the spiritual vision of leading and learning beyond our own comprehension of reality.

+++ End of 9 lessons from Rune on Leadingship – Feb/March 2013 +++

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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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One of those days off, in the middle of the week; with nothing on the agenda than just hang around, do nothing; just getting inspired by what presents itself that day. One of the presents was a tweet this morning about daydreaming and wandering brains.

daydreaming

The picture of the wondering girl intrigues me. I am back in high school. My mind takes the time-capsule 30 years or more back in time. When I was a DJ of a traveling gig called “The Celebration”. Led Zeppelin’s “Celebration Day” inspired that name.

“I’m gonna join the band,
We are gonna dance and sing in celebration,
We are in the promised land”

I open up iTunes, start the HD video version of Led Zeppelin’s concert “Celebration Day”. Magic happens.

Mmmm… this is really very very good. Enjoy it very much, especially loud with quality headsets on and Mac wide 27 inch screen. Next time, I have to experience this on IMAX in a high quality cinema…

This concert performance makes me think of the magic of great bands, the magic of big teams. What they are going through when they form, when they storm, when they norm, when they perform. When they disband or get disbanded, get together, stay apart; investigating the energies and emotions that glue the human fabric in something magic and powerful that can not be articulated in hierarchies or organograms.

I take some notes of my reflections, and without knowing it on a rant about the making and breaking of bands, of teams. The metaphor is powerful.

Making

Checkout the history of Led Zeppelin on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Led_Zeppelin > and read it as if this was not about a rock band, but about a team in an organization. How much do you recognize?

“As soon as I heard John Bonham play”, recalled Jones, “I knew this was going to be great … We locked together as a team immediately”

Suddenly, destiny brings people together. There is chemistry; sounds and creativity start flowing. We look for a group identity: something that bonds us as a team, as a tribe; a bond, a deep human need.

One account of how the new band’s name was chosen held that Moon and Entwistle had suggested that a super group with Page and Beck would go down like a “lead balloon”, an idiom for disastrous results.The group dropped the ‘a’ in lead at the suggestion of their manager, Peter Grant, so that those unfamiliar with the phrase would not pronounce it “leed”.The word “balloon” was transformed into “zeppelin“, perhaps an exaggeration of the humor, and to Page the name conjured the perfect combination of heavy and light, combustibility and grace.

Heavy, light, combustible and gracefulness. The metaphor of a well-oiled band: playing as united, with deep mutual respect for each other, no egos at play. The look in the eye, the smile of “well done”, “this rocks”, “that was fun”. Also a little bit “dying” in full performance, giving every little bit of you.

Mastery of your instrument, not any more about playing, but expressing yourself at the emotional level, touching others through word, sound, light, and all senses by letting howl your guitar from deep within your belly, but it also can be a weeping or whispering guitar: when my guitar gently weeps (The Beatles 1968, The White Album)

“I wrote “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at my mother’s house in Warrington. I was thinking about the Chinese I Ching, the Book of Changes… The Eastern concept is that whatever happens is all meant to be, and that there’s no such thing as coincidence - every little item that’s going down has a purpose. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was a simple study based on that theory. I decided to write a song based on the first thing I saw upon opening any book – as it would be relative to that moment, at that time. I picked up a book at random, opened it, saw ‘gently weeps’, then laid the book down again and started the song.”

“I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps.”

The magic of Duos and Triads and Tribes, where cohesion and conflict emerge from randomness and live peacefully next to each other. Where there is no fear, and it is 100% safe to express your opinion, to make art, unique experiences that make you smile softly in bliss. Like the smile of the young woman in the audience of the Led Zeppelin concert; a smile of joy.

“Joy” as described as “Search Inside Yourself: Increase Productivity, Creativity and Happiness” (Amazon Associates Link) by Chade-Meng Tan from Google, with foreword by Daniel Goleman.

search inside yourself

“Especially the type of joy with a gentle quality that doesn’t overwhelm the senses. For example, taking a nice walk, holding hands with a loved one, enjoying a good meal, carrying a sleeping baby, or sitting with your child while she is reading a good book are great opportunities to practice mindfulness by bringing full moment-to-moment attention to the joyful experience, to the mind, and to the body. I call it Joyful Mindfulness”

Bands and teams go through the cycles of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing as so well described by Bruce Tuckman, already in 1965.

“These high-performing teams are able to function as a unit as they find ways to get the job done smoothly and effectively without inappropriate conflict or the need for external supervision. By this time, they are motivated and knowledgeable. The team members are now competent, autonomous and able to handle the decision-making process without supervision. Dissent is expected and allowed as long as it is channeled through means acceptable to the team.”

Most teams never get beyond forming. Some get at storming and norming. Very few reach the stage of performing where the “we” supersedes the “me”.

Breaking

But bands split. So do teams. Some teams disband when the work is done. Other teams get disbanded. The “best” way to disband teams is to first cut them of resources, of budgets, of purpose. What also works well is to disperse the team members over different business units, to break the bonding through dis-location.

But in today’s on-line world, place and location matter less.

True bonding is a quite another level.

Mourning

When bands split or teams get disbanded, something strange happens. It feels a little bit like a shrapnel bomb hit by surprise. You loose some of your loved ones. Yes, there are direct casualties, and also collateral damage. It hurts seeing people hurt, bleeding, weeping, crying. The team gets on a roller-coaster of emotions. They are touched in their essence, their flow.

It feels like mourning. You feel alone, dazed and confused (another Led Zeppelin classic)

Every day I work so hard, bringin’ home my hard earned pay
Try to love you baby, but you push me away.
Don’t know where you’re goin’, only know just where you’ve been,
Sweet little baby, I want you again.

Re-Make and Succeed

But then it’s time to get over it and to restart, to reboot. To explore what is our true purpose, where we can make a real difference.

“First they ignore you,

then they laugh at you,

then they fight you,

then you win.”

 

Mahatma Ghandi

It goes back to the principles of “leadingship”, that I described in my posts “The End of Leadership” and “Leading from the Edge”.

Great teams work on the principle of “interdependency”; interdependency from each other, interdependency from the ecosystem; the holistic/”wholistic” environment they operate in.

Great teams never give in. They have some form of pride, not hubris; every team member is standing-up, like “grounded” in full spirit, head-up, facing, forthcoming. Forte, inspiring others to dream and play like a band, rocking the place like it never had been rocked before.

Was the bond strong enough or is it over, over and out? Can we individually re-boot, re-bond across different departments? If so, we can start multiple fires, multiple tribes and set the house on fire. Not a fire of destruction, but a fire of care, love, energy, expansion of the self and the group and the company and the ecosystem at large.

Re-Ground

Quo Vadis, team? Once more the gas throttle full speed, and going were we have never been gone before? For what purpose? With what intention. Why?

To find out, teams have to re-ground. As a team. Even if they don’t exist as such anymore in the organogram.

Like Led Zeppelin, who retreated in Bron-Yr-Aur, the Welsh cottage to which Page and Plant retired in 1970 to write many of the tracks that appeared on the band’s third and fourth albums.

ledzep house

“On 10 December 2007 Led Zeppelin reunited for the one-off Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert at The O2 Arena in London, with Jason Bonham again taking his late father’s place on drums.

Wow! The son of the original drummer? Where is my son? Where is our offspring? Who will be the new drummer of the band and make the magic of team cohesion happen again? The drummer can make a big difference as described by Tim Kastelle in “Culture provides the beat for your organization”.

This is about managing interactions and connections. 

“In complex systems, emergent properties arise through networks of interactions.  Building an understanding of your networks is crucial to improving innovation outcomes.  Network weaving is a more effective management tool than organizational restructuring.”

So how can we have both focused and open attention for network weaving? By focused and open attention and presence.

Again from Chade-Meng Tan’s book:

Focused attention is an intense focus on a chosen object. It is stable, strong, and unwavering. It is like sunlight focused with a lens shining intensely on a single point. It is like a solid piece of rock, majestically unmoved by the distraction of the wind. It is a mind like a closely guarded royal palace where only the most honored guests are allowed to enter and all others are courteously but firmly turned away. Open attention is a quality of attention willing to meet any object that arrives at the mind or the senses. It is open, flexible, and inviting. It is like ambient sunlight, lending itself to anything and everything. It is like grass, always swaying gently in the wind. It is like water, willing to take on any shape at any time. It is a mind like an open house with a friendly host, where anybody who walks in is welcomed as an guest

One of the great challenges of new teams is indeed how you welcome new team members and their emotions. Do you unconditionally welcome them and their emotions as guests, without prejudice? With the real intention to make each other succeed?

Somewhere in the middle of the concert, Roger Plant says something about “Creating a dynamic evening”.

For me that “dynamism” translates in playing my song, a real song, with harmonics, with structure, with ebb and flow, with meaning. Not just a list of great speakers that are great soloists on stage, but creating a magic welding of human energies. It is about indivisible and complete immersive experiences, the same way Led Zeppelin preferred the “album” as an indivisible piece of art:

“After changing their name from The New Yardbirds, they signed a favourable deal with Atlantic Records that allowed them considerable artistic freedom. Led Zeppelin disliked releasing their songs as singles; they viewed their albums as indivisible and complete listening experiences.”

This is not about TED, but as Umair Hague so well described in just one tweet: the difference between TED and the something else with the un-named quality that we are after.

“Not a kind of heat death of thought: all gurus, no teachers; all sound bites, no depth; all positivity, no criticism.”

ledzep wholelottalove

 What we need is a “Whole Lotta Love” in everything we do!

You’ve been coolin’, baby, I’ve been droolin’,
All the good times I’ve been misusin’,
Way, way down inside, I’m gonna give you my love,
I’m gonna give you every inch of my love,
Gonna give you my love.

Let’s rock on!

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