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Archive for the ‘Personal Values’ Category

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

untitled-by-allison-mcd-on-flickr

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

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

woodstock-poster-for-sale

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

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

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

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

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

camel

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

techonomy

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

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

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

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

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

waze

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

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

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

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

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

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

The world enters into a complexity

that cannot be addressed anymore

by conventional binary linear thinking.

 

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

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

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

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When_the_stars_align_LG

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

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

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

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

system of systems

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

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

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

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

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

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

almost like network cartography

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

fna graps

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

a form of creativity

that was forbidden

and consequently punished 

swirl

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

spiral dynamics

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

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

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

I had evolved, spiraled out…

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

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

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

Could this be a way

to propel us forward

into a state of collective progress and prosperity?

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

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

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

book unreasonable

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

unreasonable copy

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

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

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

cultural dynamics

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

to make reverb and resonate the system at large

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

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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.

tumblr_mk56n9nE7b1rse1ipo1_500

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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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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