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

Mark Ecko

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

 

Stand up for yourself!

 

Mark Ecko book Un-Label

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

Mark Eckō has 3 messages for you:

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

Embrace the mess

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

Edison genius

99% perspiration as if

 

You manage the PAIN of the grind

You embrace the RIGOR

Your hard work is THE HEART of genius

 

1% inspiration as if

 

Inspiration needs to be dosed carefully

Inspiration is ROMANTIC and perhaps distracting

And IDEATION can be a rabbit hole

 

You are so busy

You are so busy grinding

You are so busy perspiring

 

That perhaps we have forgotten to imagine

 

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

 

Sometimes we think being an artist/creator

Is indulgent

Self-indulgent

 

About self-philosophical people

That get dressed in all black

Lean back

 

And get moody,

And self-loathing

 

Sloppy and right brained

 

Or maybe this is just not for you?

Maybe you loose some of that swag or that freedom?

 

Where when you were in second grade

You would just raise your hand and say:

 

YES! I am an artist!

 

Some think that this notion of creator/artist is divine

And we struggle with that

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

 

This inhibits us in our relationship with our art

 

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

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

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

 

Learn to embrace the messiness of creation

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

Create wealth that matters

 

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

 

We are obsessed with accounting,

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

 

Count count count

 

Quit counting

 

Big data matters

But Being human even matters more

 

You can’t loose sight of the qualitative intent

 

Qualitative excellence cannot be hacked

 

Wealth that matters cannot be counted

 

Be an un-label

 

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

 

But no,

 

Reality is reality

 

We try to give a taxonomy to everything

The perceived versions of ourselves

We focus on the outside only

Attempting to remain in fashion

Hopefully from value to the skin

Instead of skin to the world

 

Fash-ion: group of people acting together

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

 

The gospel of streetwear

 

All these gatekeepers in my office

 

A BLIV-IT

 

blivit

 

I was so busy to round off my edges

 

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

 

Divergent ideas breed independence

 

I was looking for their approval

And letting me frustrate by this

 

When you ask for change

It is going to be with friction

It’s going to be work

Perhaps you going to ask for enemies

 

Apologising for your square edges does not make sense

 

Gatekeepers breed groupthink

 

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

 

Don’t loose sight of the GOAL-keepers

 

Who care more about what you are making

Even care about how you make them FEEL

 

When you refuse to be labeled

Suddenly you play by your own rules

Not theirs

 

When rules start to look like BLIV-IT s

Defy them

 

Measure yourself up to your own standards

 

Versus the gatekeepers’

Abstract and often irrelevant compliance metrics

 

Just saying:

There are some compliance standards

That are rather old

And not really relevant anymore

 

No one has a monopoly on validation

 

It’s about your body of work

 

The talk resonates strongly with me.

 

Because it resonates with who I am deep inside.

 

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

 

Fig_Sculpture_Fischl atelier

Thinking– Creating – Sensemaking.

 

The messy space of creators

Not the clean-desk policy of clerks

 

Away from the counting

The accounting

The efficiency

And making the numbers

 

And much closer to being human

Taking time

Let emerge

And creating uniqueness.

 

Without the GATE-keepers

But with the GOAL-keepers.

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Peter Thiel is always good for some controversy. Usually, I am a big fan of him, despite his libertarian opinions. But this time I have to disagree. Because it seems that he hates business suits, to a point that he does not want to invest on startup CEO wearing a suit. In Business Insider he says:

“Maybe we still would have avoided these bad investments if we had taken the time to evaluate each company’s technology in detail,” Thiel says in his book. “But the team insight — never invest in a tech CEO that wears a suit — got us to the truth a lot faster.”

But look at what he wears himself in that article!

Peter Thiel in Suite

Maybe it’s just a promotional stunt for Thiel’s new book, “Zero To One,” but even so, I believe it re-enforces polarization and avoids inclusion.

Indeed, what do vestimentairy aspects have to do with content? I even saw a post (hopefully jokingly) suggesting that at next FinTech innovation events no suites would be allowed. What a joke! I don’t think this works.

I am more and more convinced it is our responsibility to build bridges, and create inclusions instead of accentuating the differences.

I have heard similar vestimentairy comments about people within the FinTech innovation community saying things like: “he/she has not enough “streetcred” to be part of our community.”

What a crap, this whole “Streetcred” versus “Suites”!

The beauty is in the diversity and being able and willing to go beyond simplistic categorization of exclusion. Old world is about exclusion. New world is about inclusion. The new world is all about building bridges. About staying away from polarized positions. Because I believe the beauty is in between the extremes.

Somebody reacted to me: “but then you will end up with grey!” and I replied: “No, I don’t think so, I think we will end up with a rainbow of colours”.

At Innotribe Sibos 2014 in Boston (29 Sep – 2 Oct), our tagline is “Building Bridges”. In our facilitated sessions, we will use voting/scoring cards labeled “Ties” and “Tattoos”. But not to accentuate the differences, but to bring people together, help them understand each other’s point of view, and agreeing and documenting our intentions for progress.

The secret is in the inclusion of Ties and Tattoos

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

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

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

 

Jung Man and his Symbols

 

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

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

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

 

Warm hands wiping

Caressing the table

Weeping leftovers of the night

Used and worn-out shrapnel

Dispersed sparks amidst breadcrumbs and tears

 

More to come…

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

rebels mathias 1

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

 

The Only Rule Is That There Are No Rules

 

We Trust That You Are REsponsible

 

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

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

Then Corporate Rebels United is something for You!

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

Manifesto Rebels Pic

The Manifesto (PDF available on the new site)

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

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

 

“Are we going to DO something here?”

 

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

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

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

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

IMG_3567

Nadja working on the video for Hack#1

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

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

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

And we made some suggestions:

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

Our main theme for 2014 is “I am Responsible”

I am responsible

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

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

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

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

Corporate Rebels United is a movement. It’s a culture, emerging from some specific behaviors. It’s a tribe of enthusiastic protagonists hungry for change. Positive change. Not an anarchist tribe, but a tribe of people who care for the companies they work for and want them to succeed in the 21st century of hyper-connectivity. Corporate Rebels United soul is about people taking agency, people stepping forward and taking responsibility, self-empowering themselves.

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

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

Rebelliously Yours,

Petervan

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

Knife-Painting-by-Francoise-Nielly

Image credit: Knife Painting by Françoise Niles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BarabaseiMoral Tribes

Barabasi writes:

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

Moral Tribes is based on the premise that:

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

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

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

fairburn-3

Image Credit: Pen Drawing on map by Ed Fairburn

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

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

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

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

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

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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 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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Every now and then, we are reminded that life is not eternal. I am typing this during a lazy Sunday afternoon: the first real day of spring after a way too long winter. Yesterday, it was still cold, windy and humid: i was attending the funeral of my uncle Gustave who passed away at the age of 82 after a long disease.

Death, birth and marriage are probably the only occasions i come into a church. Like at the funeral of my uncle Roger, the holy mass was sober, simple, and bringing back plenty of memories of my childhood.

gustave

My uncle Gustave was bold. He was about one head smaller than me. I remember how we had fun every time we met and I bended forward to kiss him hello on his bold forehead.

Gustave was a man of “Joie de vivre”, liked a good glass of wine or spirit, and could enjoy from time to time a good quality cigar. He got in love with France, Paris, the French Riviera, the Cote d’Azur, the big French chansonniers in the 60’ies. It was therefore no coincidence that his goodbye included this classic from Joe Dassin “Et si tu n”existais pas” (subtitles in French and English in below video)

I started dreaming away to this “Vive la Fête” and “Vive la Vie” crazy period. And could lively remember the scandal atmosphere of Saint-Tropez, Brigitte Bardot, Serge Gainsbourg, many others…

brigitte_bardot_medium map.of.riviera serge gainsbourg and brigitte bardot

Every of these memories reminds me that we only live once, and we should remember every day the “Carpe Diem” mantra. We plan and live as if there never comes an end to it. Until we are hit by a disease, accident, or one of our loved ones passes away.

But we should not wait until mourning knocks on our door. Every moment can be one of wonder and marvel. Even in the darkest winter times.

My 7 year old daughter reminds me everyday of the sparkling discoveries of life. She starts to play with words, at times feeling like poetry. Just a couple of weeks ago, winter had created a thick snow carpet in our garden; it was a bright sunny day, blue sky. She looked out of the window with he clear brown eyes, and whispered softly: “Look daddy, it’s white summer”. Wow! White Summer…

white summer

Seeing the white summer through darkness. I would like to be in that state of wonder every single moment of my life. Remind me when i don’t. It’s probably the best tribute to my uncle Gustave.

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