Archive for the ‘Think Tank’ Category

Just found this awesome 27 min talk by Joi Ito on the 9 principles of open innovation. They are not that new – first version appeared in 2012 – but they seem to have matured, like good wine in well kept cellars. Almost every sentence he speaks is tweetable ;-)

To help me concentrate on the content, I usually make a lot of notes, and before knowing I almost made the transcript of this talk, so i can as well share my notes.

So, I have no credits on the content. I just did some mix and matching with some other material from others. Like Joi, I have been a DJ, and I have fun in mixing and weaving different themes into some form of new carpet. Highlights are mine.

joi ito


Joi Ito is Director of the MIT Media Lab and many other things (check out this Wikipedia page).

Here is the sort of transcript, more or less ordered around his 9 principles.

But in his intro, he says also loads of interesting things.

The MIT Media lab 30 years later: Media is plural for Medium, Medium is something in which you can express yourself. The Medium was hardware, screens, robots, etc. Now the medium is society, ecosystem, journalism,… Our work looks more like social science.

Before the Internet (BI) and Post the Internet (PI): Post the Internet, it is about participating responsibly in a system that you can’t predict and whose outcome to your intervention is almost random.

We are moving from “demo or die” to “deploy or die”. It just costs some “sweat equity” and some kids in a dorm room to get things done. Kids are competing with the incumbents. The innovation cost – the cost of trying something – went to nearly zero. Now you can innovate without asking permission, pushing innovation to the edges, and allow grassroots innovation.

Note: I believe “grassroots” innovation is very important in organizations. Last week I was on the judge panel of an internal innovation channel. I saw quite some things that our innovation team explored before, but never succeeded to get out there. With grassroots innovation, you have the buy-in from the fabric of the organization from day-1. It is very “swarmwise”.

Before, the guys who had the money had the power. Now, because the space of startups is so crowded, the VCs have to sell themselves.

Note: I heard something very similar recently in the context of innovation motivations: corporates looking for innovations have to sell themselves to startups.

Diminishing cost of innovation makes those having the money behave a little bit better. Who is thinking about those ideas that don’t start small? Thinking about it as a community. This is less about empowering the individual, more about empowering the community.

Note: “empowering the community”. Wow! Big ideas are usually shared ideas. In yesterday’s post, I mentioned the great Diego Miralles with his story of the Janssen Labs as a story of shared infrastructure. I believe the time is ripe – more than ever – for cooperative structures where we can form “coalitions of the willing” to solve the big community challenges.

Twitter was not a company, it was a feature. It only became useful when linked, when in a system. Can the ecosystem solve the big problems, a complex system with nobody really in charge? In stead of designing that one thing, in a system design is more like growing, giving birth to a child, you don’t know exactly where that child is going, it has your DNA, but hopefully turns into something that you are going to be proud of. Think of it like a gardener: the open internet is the water, the openness, the air that you need, and all of us are the organism that live in that system, to make this thing vibrant.

Then Joi started introducing and commenting some of the 9 principles.

A lot of people disagree with them, but I don’t care. I care about the arguments, I don’t care that they are disagreeing.

Joi Ito 9 Principles2

Pull over push

You pull from the network as you need it, rather than stocking it and centrally and control it. And agility is what comes out of that. If you have printing presses, and lines of code, and IP, those are all reasons not to shift course, to stick to your map, rather than the compass. All the things we think are assets are in fact liabilities, if you think about it from the perspective of agility.

Compasses over map

Often the map costs more to build than it is worth, because the complexity is so high and it is so unpredictable. Dependence on planning is a weakness.

Practice over theory

When I was looking for funding my first ISP, the investor spent 3M USD for consultants to advise not to invest 600K dollars. If it costs you more money to think about it than to do it, it’s better to do it. And if you do it, it turns out that you get a fact, not a theory. It is important to do things, especially if the cost of doing things is cheaper than talk about it. A lot of times it works in practice and not in theory, you can figure out the theory later. Most of the world deals with things that work in theory, but not in practice, and they try to discredit reality in order to fit with their theory. But “in theory” they say, “theory and practice are the same”

Disobedience over compliance

You don’t win a Nobel price by doing what you are told. You win a Nobel price by questioning authority and thinking for yourself. You want to build an organization that is resilient to disobedience

Emergence over authority

In communities, authority seems to be emergent. Open Source project leaders, tend to be somewhat quite people, with a lot of EQ, how are not naturally trying to grasp power, but end up in power because the followers (@petervan: I would say the fellowers) push them there. In an investment firm with a hierarchy that is based on function and title, you just need a stick to keep the troops aligned. But when you are in a system where you are paying to participate, then you want emerging authority.

Learning over education

Education is what people do to you, learning is what you do to yourself. About degrees and “finalizing my eduction”. I don’t want you to be at the media lab, because you want to get out.

Resilience over strength (part of the Q&A)

In stead of bulk-up and resist failure, invest the same money on recovery and resilience. You tend to try to minimize failure, rather than trying to work on resilience. It’s also kind of a Zen thing too. If you are extremely present and ready for anything, your are in an extremely resilient state. And it you are not present, you are always focused on the future, or the past, you try to build up walls and trying to make sure that you don’t get choved. And it is hard when you are surrounded by other planners in an institution like this (Knite Foundation) you tend to focus on structure, strength versus resilience, the structure vs this bounciness. Again on the Internet, a lot of the pieces are very resilient, when you are in an institution that uses a lot of planning; it is hard to create that interface

Also the Q&A part of this talk was interesting.

On how to share knowledge:

The conference model is a great system. A lot of people have experimented with ways to try to share knowledge, but it seems to be one of the hardest problems because everybody has a day-job, they are very busy, and people are talking sort of different languages, and when you are face to face you can coordinate your language in real-time

On how to you get people who are working on things coordinated?

At the Media Lab we have several approaches: we have this sort of big data, data mining, machine learning, predicting things through causalities and patterns vs something where people are more in charge and people are more active.

There is another version of this talk at TED talks:

The more I listen to Joi, the more I become aware that he is talking about leadership features to navigate our companies in this more then ever unpredictable fast moving world. It was a pure coincidence; right after Joi’s talk, I spotted this great post from John Maeda, about Creative Leaders versus Authoritative LeadersJohn Maeda was the President of the Rhode Island School of Design from 2008 to 2013. He is currently a Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

This chart represents a summary of the kind of creative leadership that is rising — and needed — in the face of our increasing interconnectedness due to global economies, mobile devices, and social media. In an age where anyone can “friend” the CEO, and where complexity and volatility are the only constants, what should leadership look like? I often say we are now operating within a “heterarchy” though I’ve also cleverly seen it called the “wirearchy.” In any case, it’s a world where I believe the natural perspective of artists and designers — who thrive in ambiguity, fail productively, and rebound naturally — will be become more and more useful in leadership contexts.

The chart was originally created for a workshop at the Davos World Economic Forum in 2009 and became the basis of my book Redesigning Leadership, written with Becky Bermont. In my own observation, there are authoritative leaders and creative leaders everywhere — it’s not something wholly determined by industry, generation, or position. And every leader will need, on any given day, a little bit of both types of leadership.

John Maeda principles

Makes me think about principles for Leadingship vs. Leadership. See also my post “The End of Leadership” of 1 ½ year ago. Like Joi’s talk makes us reflect on the openness of innovation, Maeda adds the openness of leadingship.

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


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.


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.


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.


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$ !.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

search inside yourself

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

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

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

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


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

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

True bonding is a quite another level.


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

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

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

Re-Make and Succeed

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

“First they ignore you,

then they laugh at you,

then they fight you,

then you win.”


Mahatma Ghandi

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

ledzep house

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

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

This is about managing interactions and connections. 

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

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

Again from Chade-Meng Tan’s book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ledzep wholelottalove

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

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

Let’s rock on!

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My post “The End of Leadership” was one of the most read posts on my blog ever. But i owe the spark and the essence for this post to Rune Kvist Olsen, who keeps fine-tuning the concept by sending regular comments to that post. Here is one of these comments

As individual human beings we must learn to practise our free will in taking and making personal choices, and practise responsibility towards our self and each other as trustworthy, dignified, reliable and accountable humans.


The post also triggers comments in Google+ communities like this one by Leland LeCuyer:

Leader-ship puts the emphasis on the person, in particular upon the role that person is playing. Thus the title and the office give an individual certain powers, prerogatives, and duties. Certain other individuals are subordinate to the leader and are expected to execute what the leader commands.

Leading-ship emphasizes the action that is taken. It requires initiative mixed with talent, skill, and commitment. Instead of issuing orders to be carried out, it draws upon the ability of the person who is leading to inspire, teach, and motivate others to join her or him in acting. Most important of all, it doesn’t require an office or a title, just talent, skill and a commitment to act.

The differences are night and day. Carpe diem!

For others to join her or him in acting. That ties in wonderful with my updated “about” where i suggest:

“I love connecting with the experts,

the musicians, and artists of all kinds,

to bring out the very best in them,

to love to work & live with them

to show personal intent and integrity,

so that others want to join our projects too.”

But nothing better than the master himself ;-) Just a couple of days ago, Rune sent me his February update, and asked me to share it with my community and followers. It’s wonderful and deeply enlightening. Highlights are by your humble servant. Enjoy!

+++ Start Rune’s February 2012 update +++

1. Understanding the conceptualization of “Leadingship”

The ultimate core in the vision of “Leadingship” is the principle of self-determination at work. Subsequent that the individual human being is self-deciding within a defined area and field of work based on her or his individual competence. This principle should be the natural and self-evident choice in designing organizations regarding managing and leading working processes. “Leadingship” is a substantial humanistic principle by design and is stating the value of “Leadingship for Everyone”.

The contracting principle to “Leadingship” is that someone is leading and deciding over others and someone is led and decided over by others. The superior authority in subjugating people to subordination is designed by position and rank (contrary to competence). The design principle of “Leadership” authorizing the superior person in charge, is depriving the persons below their innate sense of being personal responsible of one owns contribution and performance of work. The relationship between superior people and subordinate people is legitimating the design of someone above who is worthy trust and responsibility and others below that is unworthy the dignity as equals and peers in the workplace. “Leadership” is definitive an anti-humanistic principle by design and is stating the value of “Leadership for Someone”.

In sum the natural design principle at work is to grant competent people their human right of self-decision. Depriving people their right of self-determination, is to devaluate their competence as authorities within their personal field of expertise. And that choice is both unnatural and anti-human.

2. Understanding the incomprehensibility and unintelligibility of the unknown matter of reality, through our adapted perceptions of beliefs and values.

To become able of understanding and learning anything that comes to us as a matter of something unknown, strange, different and perhaps controversial in challenging our ingrained beliefs and truths, we are dependent of an ability and a will force to think the unthinkable in understanding the unbelievable substance of the unknown matter at hand.

Unless our capacity of transgression beyond our force and power of mind exist, we will surely be stuck with our old beliefs and truths surrounded by ignorance, prejudice and convictions – as protective shields against challenges perceived as threats to our known measures of reality.

The journey of mind from Leadership to Leadingship, is an example of such a provocative, controversial and challenging test for our ability and will to move beyond the unthinkable of the common reality of theory and practice in organizations to day.

3. The pedagogical core of Leadingship

  • As individual human beings we must learn to become independent responsible human entities interacting with each other on mutual and equal ground.
  • As individual human beings we must learn to practice our free will in taking and making personal choices, and practice responsibility towards our self and each other as trustworthy, dignified, reliable and accountable humans.
  • As individual human beings we must learn to convert our learning’s to personal competence by practicing our independence and responsibility through the adaption and application of our learning’s in real life.
  • Being independent and responsible human beings at work. When we have become truly independent and responsible individual human beings at work by taking care of our self and each other, we have gained the personal ability to practice Leadingship in the process of leading our self together with others based on our competence and enabled by mutual trust and personal freedom.

4. Fear based relationship powered by Leadership versus trust based relationship powered by Leadingship

A relationship based on fear (of rejection, exclusion, punishment etc.) and managed by control, command and domination over other people in the organization, is an expression of a deep and intrinsic personal need, urge and desire of being in charge as a superior person ranked above others as subordinates ranked below. By being in charge the person has gained the superiority and the enforcing power over others. The nature of Leadership is to lead others by deciding over them and by subjugating others to be led through obedience and loyalty. The notion of being subjected to others mercy, is in it self a source of the threatening emergency of fear.

A relationship based on trust (of appreciation, recognition, acknowledgement etc) and managed by personal freedom, mutual respect and social responsibility, is an innate expression of a devoted and compassionate engagement between people who are regarding themselves as equal, peers and partners in either working alone or together. The social mutuality is practiced through the respect and appreciation of each person as a worthy, competent and valuable contributor in the integration and coordination of work. The nature of Leadingship is to lead one self together with others in taking personal responsibility for decisions within one owns field of work based on the shared trust in performing independence and responsible actions.

+++ End Rune’s February 2012 update +++

It should make us think deeply what we do with our organizations and the people working in it, for it, or even better from it. The “organization” is not anymore a objective in itself, but rather a tool, a platform for moving the needle of progress in the world. As mentioned before in this blog, I strongly believe that “Organizations are becoming Movements for Greatness”.

The old model has failed and is obsolete.

But we keep on training our young potentials based on the old-style model. Like the overall financial system has failed and is obsolete by only taking value out of the system but never giving back. The old model showcases perseverance in repeating the same greed errors over and over again. The old model fails to see the deeper ecological values beyond transactional relations based on raw power and money. The old model has failed because the power of leaders is based on hierarchical position, title and entitlement.


The old model has failed, and a new generation of leaders is standing up, protesting against the end-less and clueless forms of (re)organizations where people are still considered by “leaders” as pieces on a chessboard that can be moved as resources that are owned in a slavery type of relation, a power by leaders exercised on “subordinates”. These organizations are becoming toxic environments, where people are getting mentally and even physically sick, because they are deprived of genuine sharing and leadingship oxygen.


These new empowered employees are making a big plea for a more humanized workplace and call for actionable movements for greatness and inspiration. For a place where they are no longer seen as cogs in a machine, doing mindless repetitive work, soon to be taken over by machines

Ross Dawson and John Hagel recently elaborated in “Our future depends on the humanization of work“:

However perhaps the most important perspective is that work must be humanized.

As Hagel eloquently described, the problems we face have largely arisen because of the dehumanization of work. As we have built processes and structures that have made people into cogs in machines, it has indeed made them eminently replaceable.

In fact one of the great promises of the increased mechanization of work is that in a way it it forces us to be more human.

We are continually being pushed into the territory that distinguishes us from machines: emotion, relationships, synthesis, abstraction, beauty, art, meaning, and more.

Part of this is in designing jobs that draw on our uniquely human skills, and for all of us to bring our humanity to bear in our work.

Yet the broader frame is an economic structure that has made work inhuman and readily replaced by machines. We need to fundamentally change the nature of organizations and how we work together to create value. The systems must be humanized in order to allow the work to be humanized.

That is our challenge, our task, indeed our imperative if we wish our collective future to be happy and prosperous. Let us work hard to humanize work.

There is a huge role for independent and inter-dependent leadingship grounded employees to virally change the system from deep within, sticking out their neck for this good cause and leading from the edge.

living on the edge

I look forward hearing your comments. Have an inspiring day!

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This post is an extract from my first guest post on WE THE DATA http://wethedata.org/2013/01/08/who-am-i-really/

We The Data

I have always been intrigued by identity. Physical-world-Identity or Digital-Identity. But “digital” is an outdated adjective, used my pre-millennial friend to make the distinction with the world as they used to know it.

Today, it is ONE environment, blurring the contours of who-I-am as a human being in flesh and blood and with my own mind, thoughts, and consciousness. Both my body and my mind are getting increasingly augmented and complemented by tools, by ecology of machines, networks, and algorithms. That ecology of an emergent self-correcting organism was labeled as “The Technium” by mastermind Kevin Kelly.

We probably have to invent a new word for this “one environment of me”: maybe the word “Dysical” – as a contraction of Digital and Physical – could do the job?  But it is more than one word we need. We need a new language, a new vocabulary, a new grammar; new ways to create the sentences and the narrative that can capture this new form of being. And when we have developed basic literacy in this new language, perfect it like art, like literature, like poetry, for deep and rich self-expressions of the “Dysical-me”.

That rich self-expression will needed a new data order, caused by ubiquitous connectivity and an increasingly pervasive computing environment, and generating two massive transformations: the enablement of peer-to-peer relations, and the explosion of data: big data, small data, augmented data, fast data, real-time data, etc.

I believe it is time to start reflecting on a P2P “Data-Economy”. Thanks to the ubiquitous connectivity, nodes in a grid can now interact and share with each other without central body or governance. The emergence of the Bitcoin currency is a typical example how new and probably more robust and resilient currency exchanges are possible without central banks, central governance.

My “Dysical-Self” is also getting more and more defined by my context and reputation in this new P2P data-economy. My identity not any longer simply equals my identity number or my digital certificate or passport. My identity is deeply correlated with my relationships with other people and other nodes in the grid. Trust suddenly gets defined at the level of the relationship, not at the level of identity.

That sort of trust will also be very much related to our reputation. Whether that reputation is as self experienced with our human antennas, deducted by algorithms (Klout, Peerindex, Kred,…) or Socially Vouched (LinkedIn, Connect.me,…)

It will require some form of Cloud Operating System, where our mobile device becomes the remote control of our personal and interoperable Data Clouds.

But one could go on step further, where we think beyond the device. Dhani Sutandto , Senior Digital Art Director and the creator of the Oyster Card Ring recently indeed quoted in PSFK Magazine:

“There will be mobile devices but they will be something that you would wear discreetly, without making you look out of place. Instead of constantly looking down at a screen, people will wear something discreetly. Your interaction with technology won’t
be gone, but it will be seamlessly integrated and we will therefore look up and interact in a human way with one another.”

Indeed, when trillions of devices are inter-connected, we need to think beyond the context of the “device”. Device is no longer the context. We – the “Data-objects” – are the context, are the interface:

“We are the data”

And we – the data – will need a common interface to deal with our Dysical Identity, to deal with Access, Trust and Grid-Literacy.

There is more context on the WE THE DATA web-site http://wethedata.org/2013/01/08/who-am-i-really/ with thanks to Juliette Powell for giving the opportunity to share these ideas on a broader scale.

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Last week, I was attending my third Techonomy conference.

Techonomy explores “the role of technology in business and social progress.”

I love the word “progress.”

It has that gentle flavor of positivism; in the direction of better. I am more and more convinced that we don’t need innovation; we need progress.

How is progress reflected in a modern company? What does a 21st century company look like? Or maybe we should start thinking about what a 22nd century company would look like. (22nd century indeed: somebody born in 2012 will only be 88 years old in 2100. If Ray Kurzweil’s predictions are realized, it will be a piece of cake by then.)

People might grow older, but companies will die younger.

John Hagel proves with the Shift Index that the firm performance (based on Return on Assets) has declined systemically over the last 50 years.

Most companies don’t last longer than 40 years. Most of today’s companies will not exist in 2100.

The question is: What are the characteristics of sustainable companies?

Here is a list of some memes I’ve come across in recent months: the Adaptable Company, the Decentralized Company, the Sharing Company, the Participating Company, the Collaborative Company, the Connected Company, the Connecting Company, the Coherent Enterprise, the Elastic Company, the Human Company, the Learning Company, the Living Company. I could go on.

I propose that there are at least seven characteristics that will be typical in the 22ndcentury company:

1. Peer-to-Peer Networks

Decentralized organizations with peer-to-peer networks of highly skilled knowledge workers will best create and sustain knowledge flows and enable employees to self-organize. The jury is still out on whether knowledge workers will most often be hyper-specialists or hyper-generalists, but the successful company of the future will behave as a living organism where peers organize themselves in “cells.”

In The Connected Company (Amazon Associates Link) Dave Gray calls such organizations “pods”: Hyper-connected cells building relations with other cells based on a common principles, a common set of values, a common pattern language.

2. Architects of Serendipity

Being an architect of serendipity is about creating connections and providing opportunities for collisions between nodes in a network that learn from the collisions and continually adapt. The collisions are not random. Instead, this is designed serendipity, which might sound like an oxymoron.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, the shoe company acquired by Amazon last year, is setting the scene for architected serendipity with his Downtownproject.

Instead of venturing in yet another luxury corporate campus with everything on-site from shops, restaurants, doctors, and central idea-incubation, Hsieh sees the value in integrating the Las Vegas fabric to catalyze collisions. He is investing about $350 million in local startups, small businesses, education, arts, culture, and residential and commercial real estate.


This campus of the future

starts to look more and more

like a complex living organism


Forget the old alliteration, the 4 P’s and 5 C’s of Kottler and Drucker. The C’s of this new era are those of hyper-connected learning organizations: Curated content, Community, Culture of openness, Collaboration, Creativity and optimism, Co-Learning, Co-Working, Co-Creation, Collisions, Connections. 

3. Empowered Radicals Instigating a Corporate Spring

Some call them Corporate Catalysts, Catalyst Peers, or Corporate Rebels. Steve Johnson described these instigators in his excellent new book Future Perfect: The Case For Progress in the Networked Age (Amazon Associates Link):



the most striking thing about these new activists and entrepreneurs was the personal chord that reverberated in me when I listened to them talk about their projects and collaborations—and their vision of the progress that would come from all that work.”

In September, I wrote a blog post called Companies Are Movements of Greatness. Catalyst peers in our organizations instigate these movements, whether these organizations are hierarchies or peer-to-peer networks.

The point is we have to unleash the energy of these “positive deviants.” I joined with a group of enthusiasts around the globe to put together a Corporate Rebels Manifesto. It’s all about a common set of principles, a pattern language for helping our companies succeed in the Hyper-Connected economy. It’s about creating a new global practice for value creation. It’s about progress.

4. Empowered Platforms

Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook are celebrated for their platform approach, exposing their core functionality through application program interfaces (APIs) so that other players in their networks–customers, partners, developers–can create new value on top of their platform.

We are only at the beginning of this trend, which will encompass all trade and commerce supply chains. In the end, I believe a wide variety of entities, including people, businesses, devices, and programs will have their own clouds and APIs.

What should come next in this evolution is an interoperability among clouds, a layer of services, protocols, and standards that let a Cambrian Explosion of Everything share data in real time, securely and with the appropriate governance and trust.



Every company may have to carve out

a role as a platform player


5. Empowered and participative customers

Doc Searls has written extensively about The Intention Economy (Amazon Associated Link) and customers taking back control of their data. Many organizations have implemented Open Innovation techniques, calling upon the intelligence in their networks to discover and develop new ideas.

The motto “We know more than me” applies the principles of Crowdsourcing. Barclays Bank recently launched BarclayCardRing, a crowdsourced credit card that empowers customers with highly transparent services and shares the program’s profits and losses and monthly financial statistics. In simple language, the data explain how the program is performing. Customers become producers, in partnership with the companies that serve them. 

6. Deeply Digital and Human

It’s been almost 20 years since Techonomist Nicholas Negroponte wrote Being Digital.

We now swim in a sea of data and the sea level, so to speak, is rising rapidly. Billions of connected people, far more billions of sensors, and trillions of transactions now add up to create unimaginable amounts of information. This new environment will require extraordinary adaptability: It is as if we are a species from dry land that has to learn to live in the ocean.

The digital age environment requires a new design for companies, which presents both threats and opportunities. Companies will be disintermediated, will see the erosion of their market share as new entrants muscle in, and technology companies will threaten the position of incumbents in more and more industries, threatening profitability.

But there are also opportunities: sources of rich information are multiplying, and more information is being digitized all the time. Every business is becoming a digital business.

However, the potential benefits of the explosion in number of nodes and the volume of data is being squandered due to low levels of trust, concerns about security, and barriers to monetization. That’s why my employer, SWIFT, has launched a project called the “Digital Asset Grid.” The Grid is a research initiated by Innotribe, SWIFT’s Innovation initiative for collaborative innovation.

With the Grid, Innotribe proposesa new infrastructure for banks to provide a platform for secure peer-to-peer data sharing between trusted people, business, and devices.

7. Diverse Contribution and Leadingship in the Social Era

My initial post on Techonomy only included six ways organizations can survive. Nilofer Merchant kindly drew my attention to the diversity aspect. What follows is an edited version of an e-mail she sent me:

We are all talking about thriving, being more deeply connected in community and thus allowing our organizations to be more adaptive. And my question is… is this system of change more about the same or about something fundamentally shifted in who is allowed to contribute.

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

And we will be surprised by what we create. I remember the story of Fold It. The original inventors of that “game” imagined Phd students more like them than not would be the ones creating value. But in the end, it was a woman who was an admin during the day and the best protein folder at night. If the system had first vetted, she would have been screened out, but when all the rules are evened out… she contributed valuable stuff because she could. (http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/04/just_how_powerful_are_you.html).

Blindness shifts when we start to be more conscious. In stead of perpetuating talking about the change, we have to embodying the change. 

Nilofer stroke a cord.

Her new book “11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra” (Amazon Associates link) indeed offers new rules for creating value, leading, and innovating in our rapidly changing world. These social era rules are both provocative and grounded in reality—they cover thorny challenges like forsaking hierarchy and control for collaboration; getting the most out of all talent; allowing your customers to become co-creators in your organization; inspiring employees through purpose in a world where money alone no longer wields power; and soliciting community investment in an idea so that it can take hold and grow.



The Industrial Era and the Information Age are over

and their governing rule are passé


Leading in the Social Era requires a rethink and re-imagination of what can be.

During the same period, I discovered Rune Kvist Olsen in the following YouTube video (1 hour video, you need to be present to fully appreciate the message from Rune)

There is also the excellent article “Leading-Ship: reshaping relationships at work” His thinking blew me away in rethinking leadership into “leadingship”. It cuts deep in what motivates people. There is also an associated slide deck here http://goo.gl/Ds1Qd . Rune   challenges big time all our preconceptions about leaders and followers. I feel deeply inspired by it.

I really enjoyed the 2012 edition of Techonomy. The conference convenes discussions among leaders focusing on the implications of technology change. Kevin Kelly put technology “in charge” in his seminal work What Technology Wants (Amazon Associates Link) challenging the notion that humans control the direction of technology. I look at it more and more as a form of symbiosis.

It happens that I met Kevin Kelly face-to-face later that week at Defrag 2012, where he delivered an awesome talk on “The Emerging Technological Superorganism” but that is the subject for a future blog.

The Internet – with it’s built-in peer-to-peer network architecture – made new forms of peer-to-peer collaboration possible. The creative energy unleashed by the edges of our network represent a transformative change and challenge in how we organize our intelligences in a mix of peer-to-peer intensities, supplemented with some structured “companies” that orchestrate some of the overarching memes in our society.

The rules have changed. To quote Robert Safian (Editor-in-Chief, Fast Company) in his Oct 15 blog post “The Secrets of Generation Flux”:

“Business today is nothing if not as paradoxical. We require efficiency and openness, thrift and mind-blowing ambition, nimbleness and a workplace that fosters creativity. Organizational systems based on the Newtonian model are not equipped for these dualities.”

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Previous posts were impressions of some great conferences I recently attended.

This blog post is different. It is more a personal reflection.

I invite you to join me on my journey.

In our company, failure is not an option (FNOA). That’s quite normal given the nature of our business: a worldwide business-to-business network for mainly international financial transactions. That’s not something you mess around with: rightfully so.

Recently, when attending the Compass Summit, there were a couple of sessions on risk management. Some examples were given how risk is assessed in other businesses such as investments in oil refineries, also an important and critical infrastructure. The similarities with our business were obvious.

There is always the tension between investing in proven technologies and taking some risk with less proven innovative technologies. Moreover, any investment in such space usually commits you for long periods:  10-40 years.  So, you better make the right choice.

All the risk managers I have met are highly responsible people. I can imagine that people making such decisions do their homework and base their assessments on extensive risk analysis. There are for sure many techniques, processes and best practices for this.

But what about the more unconscious parts

of these and other decision processes?

Do emotional and less rational processes play a role? Such as doubt? Such as uncertainty? Such as fear?

  • Fear to make the wrong choice.
  • Fear of taking the leap of faith and switch to the next wave of technologies.
  • Fear of holding back.

I did some introspection in my own state of mind and what’s holding me back some days.

I realize that by sharing this, I do show some personal vulnerability (see video Brené Brown), but i take the risk. Because I am a strong believer of open mind, open heart, and open will. And would like to make more “human” connections with all those who I care about: my family, my friends, my colleagues, my followers, the followed. Because I believe openness leads to transparency, better connections, better choices, and more conscious corporations with a real soul. I would like more people showing some vulnerability.

It feels so much more human.

As some of you may have noticed, I am quite active on twitter. I read a lot. I follow more than 1,000 RSS feeds. I try to stay up to date. I believe my readers appreciate. I believe my employer appreciates the holistic view I bring to the table. I appreciate their feedback and it gives me energy.

Staying up-to-date is a matter of discipline.  In principle, I reserve time early in the morning, during lunch breaks, and late in the evening when the kid is to bed, and everything is silent. I estimate it’s about 3-4 hours per day before and after working hours: quite an investment and intensity.

And with this sort of intensity, I realize every day that there is so much good stuff out there on the edges of our ecosystem. There are so many inspiring people out there, so many inspiring ideas.

Is it just a dream that one could live

in such a permanent inspiring environment?

When I come back to the office, into the “real” world, I often wonder how I can make that knowledge stock more relevant for our company, for our community. How can I create a knowledge flow from my knowledge stock? What’s a better way of sharing? With some more rubber hitting the road. And to see more significant progress and results of our innovation activities.

It becomes almost

an existential question

“What am I doing here if nothing or very little of these spotted innovations, prototypes, and incubations ever hit our mainstream business?”

As Nick Carr wrote in The Shallows (Amazon Affiliate link), all this exposure to scattered new stuff does something with your brain. You start getting used to “scanning”.

It’s a different type of attention, a different type of presence or even “non-presence”. And it becomes difficult to focus for some longer time on something specific, even something as simple as reading a book.

Scanning leads to distraction. Overflow. Not seeing clear anymore. But on the other hand, you become much better in making connections between topics, memes and trends.

Just the other day, a friend called me, and she was in awe for the progress we had made with Innotribe. And also for the personal growth progress I had made myself.

I am not sure. I am in doubt. Maybe I don’t see it. Maybe I don’t see the progress anymore, to close to see clear.  Forgetting the take the time to take the helicopter view.

  • Maybe that’s why I feel more like stagnating.
  • Maybe I am too hungry.
  • Maybe I don’t walk the talk of letting emerge what needs to be.
  • Maybe I don’t celebrate enough progress.
  • Maybe I am too closed.

Even more closed with people I like a lot. Then I feel afraid.

  • Afraid of jumping and making bold moves
  • Afraid of sticking out my neck even more.
  • Afraid of showing some/all my vulnerabilities.
  • Afraid of being hurt.
  • Afraid of giving too much, and not getting back.
  • Afraid of opening up
  • Afraid of the unknown in opening up.
  • Afraid of discovering emptiness.
  • Afraid of loosing control.
  • Afraid of jumping in the empty hole.
  • Afraid of standing in the full fire.
  • Afraid of my true self.
  • Afraid of being free.

I am hungry to be free. 100% free. In the sense of being “alive”, being 100% in my true flow, free from internal blockages such as fear. Free like in letting myself go in dancing. Free like in my most creative moments.

And then, just the other night, coincidently – there are no co-incidences, I believe a lot in synchronicity and that the things that come to you had to come to you – I was picking up again that book of Christopher Alexander in “The Timeless Way of Building” (Amazon Affiliates link) about patterns in architecture.

Chapter 2 is about “The quality without a name”. It made me aware that what I am chasing is more than “free”. I recommend anybody to read this chapter, for me it’s like an ideal compass for life:

There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in a man, a town, a building, or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named


It is a subtle kind of freedom from inner contradictions


… the most primitive feeling which an animal or a man can have, as primitive as the intuition which tells us when something is false or true.

Attributes of this quality without a name are:

  • Alive
  • Whole
  • Comfortable
  • Free
  • Exact (like in “right”)
  • Egoless
  • Eternal

But maybe I should not try to chase “free” or to chase that unnamed quality.

Maybe that unnamed quality is an illusion.

I don’t think so. I would surely hope not so.

The day

I am not after

that unnamed quality,

I better stop

Going relentlessly

after that unnamed quality

IS my reason for being

But the hunt for better and more quality sucks ànd gives energy.

And sometimes I need a pause. Time to reboot. Step out of the treadmill. Take distance. Re-connect with my true self. Pure silence and no distraction. Presence. More conscious.

Sometimes, I imagine living in a convent or on a desolated island. Nothing fancy. Almost minimalistic: small Spartan room, clean, bare furniture, some simple fair food and some wine. And reading. Musing. Reflecting. Having a tribe following.

Maybe that’s enough.

  • But wouldn’t I feel bored pretty soon?
  • Wouldn’t I become a fugitive of myself?
  • Prisoner of my own fear?

So, I have come to the conclusion that

fear is not an option

I believe that one has to hit the bottom of fear, and stay there for some time. And be present in that bottom moment. And let emerge and let happens what comes.

You can’t “steer” everything in live. Probably nothing. I don’t believe anymore one can “steer” innovation, that one can steer change. That a subject for a subsequent post ;-)

Some things cannot be planned. You have to let go, and take the leap of faith.

The only way to make personal and professional progress is to jump. Take the risk. Stick out your neck. And fail sometimes. Fail many times. Re-start. Retry. Fail. Retry. Success. Repeat.

Do you have fear? Do you have doubts? Do you need time to reboot? To re-connect with your true self?

What does this do with you? How does this resonate with you? Does this want you to respond and share your own perspective and experiences?

Or is it more, OMG…

Let me know.


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At Innotribe in Toronto, we had a fantastic group of speakers. We call them “igniters”.

It was energizing and inspiring to see how some of them were each other’s fans on-line, some just met for the first time face-to-face at Sibos. Many of the discussions between speakers were definitely as interesting as the public appearances they made during the Tribe. We have to do something with these deep conversations…

During one of the few break moments, i got myself in a quite engaging discussion with Dan Robles from The Ingenesist Project and Social Flights. We shared our passions and our scarves, and i told Dan about my dream. I like to connect with people at their scarves- and passion-level… Finding the real soul, the real person and what is driving his/her dreams.

The dream of evolving this whole Innotribe event thing in something almost architectural.

Something artistic. Something that combines in a deep way high quality content, super facilitation, and performance. Emotional engagement. Deep conversations. Making an impact. Way beyond our little Inno-“tribe”. Societal impact. Awesomeness. With a richness of values of what it means to be human.

It all boils down to this old idea of mine of setting up a think tank on long term future, to prepare the next Values kit for our children.

I am worried and concerned. For our children. For my girl of six years old.

And apparently, i am not alone. Had a wonderful chat this week with Sam. Went all directions… until we talked about my princess.

In my Prezi “How to Make Babies” (based on my blog post with the same title), i show what happens when she grabs an iPAD and starts drawing.

And the most intriguing is what she said:

“My fingers don’t get dirty”

It was immediately clear to me she was born in digital. And I was thinking that in a couple of years from now, our children will say “my fingers do get dirty” when they make a real painting, on a canvas with wet paint…

It did not take years. Here we are, one year later, and here is a viral video of a two year old baby, who expects a paper magazine to behave like an iPAD.

I am worried and concerned. For our children. For my girl of six years old.

I am reading the posts “hypereconomics” by Mark Pesce. Already seven years ago, he asked that question:

“What happens after we’re all connected?”

Just one quote, as i know Mark hates to be overquoted and expects people to add their own content:

As we move further into a hypereconomy, we need to assemble value chains from the resources available to us.  We need to be able to bring this material together with that design expertise, married to a fabrication capability, delivered via the appropriate transportation logistics.  When we can do that, every individual will have the same capabilities to fashion an assembly line that Henry Ford once commanded

Read the post. It’s scary and challenging at the same time.

We need to prepare our children and our pre GEN-Y’s for taking up leadership during the next 10-20 years. When the blurring between man-machine will have materialized. Maybe not the singularity, at least Paul Allen does not think so. But for sure when the frictionless economy will be there. And when it will be important to know what makes us more human humans.

A good book in this context is “The Most Human Human” by Brian Christian. (Amazon Affiliate link)

Brian says:

The story of the Turing test, of the speculation and enthusiasm and unease over artificial intelligence in general, is, then, the story of our speculation and enthusiasm and unease over ourselves. What are our abilities? What are we good at? What makes us special?

“Think Tank” is probably the wrong word. Too much talk-club. I was more thinking along the lines of a “movement”. A New Value Movement?

This desire to be part of such movement, that realization was indeed the main trigger to start this blog in the first place. Check out for example some older posts about “Singing my own song” and here about the Think Tank idea and here about “Great to Good: a new value kit”

The concept for a New Value Movement must have sticked on Dan’s ribs, and i was pleasantly surprised to receive a quite extensive thank-you letter from Dan referring to our conversation. I reproduce the letter below in its entirety (my highlights):

Hello Peter;

I don’t believe that I properly thanked you for your confidence in me to present to your truly important attendees at Innotribe. 

I tried to go a bit further over the edge of provocation and I hope that I did not go too far.  No sooner had we finished those amazing Innotribe sessions did the Occupy Wall Street movement largely validate much of your theme about a New Value movement.  It is almost scary to see our prediction that people will re-organize around new value and directly challenge financial currency with social current (currency). 

In addition, I learned tremendously at innotribe and my eyes were opened to many new ways of interpreting our goals. I have since updated much of my ongoing positions to reflect what I learned at Innotribe.  The Big Data sessions, DAG, and Craig Burton’s API work were especially moving for me. 

I believe that the time and technology are right for shifting factors of production away from Land, Labor, and Capital and toward Social, Creative, and Intellectual Assets.  We are developing a simple web app which I believe can catalyze this shift at a remarkable rate.  Please let me know if you would be willing to offer some comments or suggestions to this project. 

Thanks again and please extend my gratitude to Kostas for his wonderful hospitality.

Dan Robles

I am humbled and energized by encouragements like this and it goes without saying that i enthusiastically accept Dan’s invitation to comment on his project.

I also got several calls and reach-outs post-Sibos. From people who i spoke to some months ago about this Think Tank idea. And suddenly, all at the same time they want to talk about it again. It must have to so something with synchronicity. With emergence.

Somehow i feel like i have to take a big jump. Beyond the “classic” Innotribe events. Something bigger, with more impact on society. More depth and meaning.

Is it fear to jump ? Is it not being able to articulate it? And then – recently – somebody close to my heart wrote me:

i caught on to that from you, but you haven’t shared too much with me. it’s paradoxical that you talk about wanting depth and meaning, because you have come across as very closed to me when i see you in person… but maybe you are just distracted and focused? or maybe you are afraid to act as your true self in the swift/innotribe setting?

Am i just distracted and focused? I feel i am both.

  • Very focused – like i wrote about my intensity in “Silence, I am painting”.
  • Very distracted, as trying to keep-up with this information stream in my RSS feeds, the twitter stream, etc.
  • Very distracted, as i have probably 20 drafts of blog posts sitting ready to publish.
  • Very distracted, as i feel my creative energy becoming un-stoppable and ready to burst out something new, big, exciting, energizing, inspiring.

A colleague recently told me:

Peter, i think you need to re-connect with yourself.

Same thing. Fear to act as my true self in the swift/innotribe setting? Or in any setting ?

From time to time i use this blog to re-connect with myself. And to share some of these musings with you all out there.

In the hope that somebody reaches out. Shows me an open door.

Or like last week, reminds me that i am the “heavy artillery” when i think i have become persona-non-grata, because too deep, because too demanding and probably even more so because i don’t always live the values that i preach. Even rarely live them. And it is probably that what undermines trust. I expect trust and am surprised i don’t get it when i don’t live the values that i preach.

What suddenly stopped me in staying alive? Where have you see me changing?

My starting point for this blog in April 2009 was the realization that my mission was to “inspire others to dream”. Now i want to add emotion. In Dutch there is a word for this: “ontroering”. I tried to translate, and the closest i got was “thrill”.

Who wants to help me seeing clearly? Who wants to engage with me in this adventure? Who wants to help articulating what this New Values Movement is?

I am hungry for your feedback. Send me something in the comments of this blog post. Send me an email or DM me. And i need time to think.

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I have a week off, so it gives me some time to reflect and muse about things that are close to my heart.

This is a post about my intensity in creating and curating Innotribe events.


It is about creating

memorable events

that are memorable

because they deliver

an authentic experience


I got inspired when discussing the drive behind my work with a good old friend. At a certain moment, i described event production as some form of composition, like a piece of music, like a painting. It’s where this story starts…


Jan Van Eyck – Arnolfini portret

Flemish painting flourished from the early 15th century until the 17th century. Flanders delivered the leading painters in Northern Europe and attracted many promising young painters from neighboring countries. These painters were invited to work at foreign courts and had a Europe-wide influence. The so-called Flemish "Primitives" were the first to popularize the use of oil paint. Their art has its origins in the miniature painting of the late Gothic period. Chief among them were Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, Hugo van der Goes, Robert Campin and Rogier van der Weyden.

From the early 16th century, the Italian Renaissance started to influence the Flemish painters. The result was very different from the typical Italian Renaissance painting. The leading artist was Pieter Brueghel the Elder, who avoided direct Italian influence, unlike the Northern Mannerists.


The painting above is by Pieter Breugel the Elder: “The Blind lead the Blind.”

What is interesting in this painting is that the little church actually exists. It is located in a small village “Sint-Anna-Pede”, in the heart of the “Pajottenland”, West South-West of Brussels, and where famous beers like Geuze and Lambic have their origins.

It is also the place where I spent most of my youth till +/- 21 years old.



A later generation of Flemish painters were the Flemish Expressionist, with Permeke  from ‘Group of Latem’,  as generally the best known:



Permeke – Laying Farmer

I love the “primitiveness” of Permeke. The primitiveness makes me think about some deep and profound thoughts from Jerry Michalski himself, who planted the seed to go back to the primitive level of our understanding of a bank.


The word “Bank” comes from “Banca” which means “Bench”.

People used to sit on a bench, and had a conversation. It was relationship building avant-la-letter, it as about wealth creation for everybody, it was a community play. The metaphor also applies to “stocks” which originally was a “stick” with carves indicating what values where loaned between parties. See also my blog post “Banks for a Better World”

The Flemish Primitives originated in Flanders. As you all know, Brussels is the capital of Flanders (this statement in itself – albeit factual true – may cause a whole political debate in Belgium, a debate i definitely do not want to get in now ;-).

All the above just to say I was born in Brussels, raised in Flanders, where the Flemish Primitives originated.


It’s sort of back to my roots

It’s somewhere deep in my DNA


And it is the sort of DNA that i want to build into our Innotribe events. This is the sort of deep “primitiveness” i want to be the understream of Innotribe events.

Building on this DNA, I was trained as an architect at the Sint-Lucas School of Architecture in Ghent and Brussels.

Sint-Lucas School of Architecture educates designers in a spirit of critical reflection and personal responsibility. Students question their limits and the limits of the discipline. They gain insight into both material and immaterial, physical and social structures. Teaching and research are organized in a spirit of artistic and intellectual openness, of tolerance and inclusion. 

This is more the artistic direction rather than the engineering section of architecture. It’s about designing space, experiences, total experiences. It’s probably why I often “clash” with engineers. We have a different mind-set, training, framework.

It is probably why i like so much the job that i am doing today. Because in my mind, creating a quality event is about creating a total experience.



that’s where I am setting the bar


The end result must be an experience like a very good concert. Or a painting with many layers. Although concerts and paintings are one-directional. To be consumed only. It’s push-only. Modern life has evolved to more pull. Paintings and concerts in general miss the participatory element that we try to build in all our Innotribe events.

Building an event is like doing a production. I’d like to see my role as “written by”. With a team/crew of highly sensitive, critical, creative people, who do not accept compromise. Who do not need always the team to be aligned on everything up-front.

Who can express

their very personal emotions in an emerging landscape

of diversity


When the team is blended, we don’t need alignment up-front. The forces of the understream propel us forward in the right direction. Always. Unless some team members or the enabling organization do not have this deep force, energy. Or when the team you are asking to innovate has to waste its creative energy scrambling to find resources.

Harvard Business Review wrote about this basic idea of building in constraints to instigate innovation (credits to Mela of our team for finding this quote):

Scarcity seems to have replaced necessity as the mother of invention in today’s organizations. Far too many managers believe that depriving projects of resources [such as time – Mela’s comment] will inspire innovation. While that’s true sometimes, you’re better off using constraints rather than starvation. The human brain reacts to stimuli, so while a blank sheet can terrify, one or two constraints can stimulate. Experiment with introducing a clearly defined problem and an urgent need. But, don’t create false urgency by refusing to fund a project [or not giving time to work on it – again Mela’s comment].

Can we push the limit of events further ? Yes, of course. We are just getting started.

In my wildest dreams, an Innotribe event is multi-sensory. Appealing not only to visual and audio senses, but also to smell, touch, and taste. We can have total experiences, with music as a background/foreground canvas,


building and architecting

the rhythm of the event

like a rave


With moveable and touchable walls that give way and light-up when you touch them, with people dancing and raving, sharing a Californian style new-age, un-conference open-space tribe.  OMG, I hear you thinking, what good stuff did he smoke today?


It is about the power of the tribe

The deep power of the tribe

The Innotribe




So it happens that some of the finest Flemish chefs put together this fantastic site and tribe of The Flemish Primitives, which is all about the very-very best of Flemish gastronomic cuisine and experiment. World-class. If you have ever seen the drive, intensity, uncompromising drive of a chef like Peter Goossens of 3-star Michelin Restaurant Hof Van Cleve then you know what i mean.


“It was a great experience to participate in The Flemish Primitives 2010. It’s a high-energy, high-spirited meeting, and a unique mixture of people and points of view. A very stimulating day!”

Having that drive and that result is my inspiration. That’s how we want our audience to come out of an Innotribe event.

We don’t want to go for less!



The atelier – be it an art atelier or a gastronomic kitchen – is a nice metaphor for our group: a couple of artists cooking and painting together. Really together-together, but in the end the composition, the final plate, goes through the hands of the master curator, the “written by” guy, the one who composes.



I do this with

an extreme deep intensity


I have all my antennas “on” for 24 hours a day, 365 hours a year. When i read, tweet, blog, view, listen, taste, etc it looks like i have always that lens of “how can i use this or that for the next innotribe event?”.

For me, writing a new Innotribe composition is like being in a creative flow, my most individualistic expression of my emotions.


When I am in that flow,

I do not want to be distracted

by personal drama


People exposing personal drama usually don’t have anything else better to do.


Hugh McLeod posted a couple of days ago:

Why are some people such drama queens? Why do some people get so obsessed with the little stuff, the gossip, who said what to who, who’s sleeping with who, who’s no longer sleeping with who…? The short answer: Because it gives them something to do. Life is short. You’d think we would have learned by now, how to make better use of our VERY limited time here on Earth.

That’s where i am setting the bar. Workaholic ? Maybe. Arrogant ? Maybe.

“I don’t expect everybody using the same standards” is often a standard phrase used in corporate landscape. But is that really so ? Maybe i DO expect everybody using the same high standards.

Or at least, I expect respect from others when I am trying and getting into this high state of flow and expression.


Respect for my time and space

Respect for my high standards


That’s probably why I hate “enterprise tourists”. The ones that make a lot of noise, but have no content. When they deliver something – if they deliver something – set the bar at creating a ripple where I want a wave.

Why I hate “seagull managers”, who pop-in, drop some comments like seagulls drop shit, and leave you behind alone with the clean-up until they show-up next year for another annual review of KPI’s or whatever artificial measurement criteria.

Why I hate an even worse category of “enterprise rats”. The ones that don’t add any value but only bring process and problems and challenges. The ones that are the messengers, the go-betweens. The ones that forward you mails where they clearly contain actionable items that could have been resolved by the rat herself in the first place. The energy suckers.

So, for you enterprise rats and tourists out there: next time you come into my space and interrupt me in my painting, be aware you are interrupting me in my creative process. Next time you create havoc in my atelier, beware you are messing up the medici effect. I don’t want energy suckers in our atelier

Team is not about celebrating individualism. Team is not the sum of the individuals. Team is about a safe harbor where every individual keeps its own identity. Team is not about dependence. Or about using the team consensus or lack thereof as an excuse.


Team is about “inter-dependence”


The team and each member of the team is one of the conditions for me – and each of us – to develop my/our full potential and make a great painting.

The team is more than the sum of the parts, the individuals. The team should not be a bowling team: where every player is after her personal best score. They miss positive feedback loops. That flows and fuels back the team.

Don’t mess around with/in team.

Messing around with/in the team is messing around with our full potential.

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I would like to start with one of the slides of the innovation framework presented in “How to make babies?”.


The graphic and model is of course based on – but adapted to the specific SWIFT environment – the work of on Henry Chesbrough, the godfather of the concept of “Open Innovation”, and author of the 2003 book “Open Innovation: The new imperative for creating and profiting from technology” (Amazon Affiliates Link)


Chesbrough says:

Open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology”. The boundaries between a firm and its environment have become more permeable; innovations can easily transfer inward and outward. The central idea behind open innovation is that in a world of widely distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research, but should instead buy or license processes or inventions (i.e. patents) from other companies. In addition, internal inventions not being used in a firm’s business should be taken outside the company (e.g., through licensing, joint ventures, spin-offs)

Innovation Framework

The graph above illustrates an innovation framework:

  • With lots of idea generation tools on the left side of the graph
  • An innovation funnel, progressing the ideas from left to right, and making healthy adults from incubated babies
  • A north and a south side, where “north” stands for a traditional gating process product evolution for the core activities of a company, and where “south” stands for any innovation that basically does not fit the blueprint of the core.

In my blog post “How to create deep sustainable change”, I discussed the “Why” and the “expected outcome” of deep change and innovation.

  • The “why” has to do with creating a more agile organization, waking up the entrepreneurial spirit, in other words to “un-trap” the creative juices. And to do so, work is needed at the foundations: the roots of a tree. It’s about making the organization healthy, fit and un-trapped. This has nothing to do with six-sigma, lean, or other way to improve the efficiency of the organization, the efficiency of the organizational “body”. What we are talking about here is the fitness of the organizational “mind”.
  • The expected outcome of pumping up the volume and the fitness of the organizational mind is a connected organization, connected teams, connected people, connected values, operating in a connected economy.

Pump up the Volume

What follows is a personal interpretation of a team brainstorm we did in February 2011. So, it’s collective wisdom that I happen to be able to put in a format that’s more or less readable. Thank you team !

In this blog post, I will talk about the “How”, the set of tools that an organization can use to achieve the why and the desired outcome.

“Tools” can be actual tools such as an idea generation portal, but it can be other techniques at the front-end of innovation (the ideation), as well as processes and governance for moving ideas from ideation, via proof-of-concept, incubation, acceleration, and scale to full fruition.

What follows is also a model that can be used to underpin a strategy of “shake the tree” or – what I prefer – to “Pump up the (innovation) Volume”.

The volume knob is another metaphor to help us gauge our innovation focus, efforts and investments. What is important? What is nice to have?




Turning the knob to the max is what I would call being serious about innovation. But you have to start somewhere.

The Rose of Innovation

So, let me introduce you to the “Rose of Innovation”. Somebody has to give the romantic spin in all of this.

And let me mix it with the epicenter of an earthquake.




Indeed, “Shaking the Tree” is like starting a quake from the middle, and the seismic innovation waves swarm to the edges of the system, where in the end they cause “Fault Lines”. You “feel” the move.


You know that inertia has been broken

You know you have crossed the chasm




And let’s segment the rose or the epicenter in different slices. Each slice is a cluster of innovation tools. You can have as many slices as you want, but I suggest to limit it to six in this case, merely to keep the overview and the focus.

For each slice, one has to decide how far to the right you want to turn the volume knob. Do you want to move from 2 this year to 8 next year? Probably, you want a multi-year perspective on this: from 2 to 4 next year, 4 to 6 in two years, towards 8 in 2015 ?

Let me walk you through the different slices.


We already do internal and sometimes external – with customers – innovation challenges. It’s a call for teams and ideas around a pre-defined topic. What could be our ambition level if we pump up the volume to 8 by 2015?

  • Our ambition should be to be seen as one of the Top-10 innovation companies in financial industry. Long way to go, but possible with focus and will.
  • Build a real “Exchange” of ideas, competences, teams,…
  • Make a real competition of if. Like Cisco’s X-Prize. And with real money, I mean indeed a 250K EUR price for the champ of the year to help her incubate the idea of the challenge.
  • Open up the Incubation Centre, not only for incubation projects, but also for challenges. The cocktail of innovators in Building 8 will be irresistible.
  • Start-up something like frequent flyer pass. A frequent innovator pass. Points gathered this way add to your annual appraisal points, and reward repetitive innovators.
  • We should become so good we are being “called”: by other companies, at conferences, etc So good that people see the value and want to pay us for this.
  • Launch internal SWIFT “bucks”. Innovators can invest “bucks” in their projects. Later, when the project incubates these “bucks” get converted in actual shares in the project-company. These ideas are not new: ideation tools like Spigit and Brightidea already implement this. We just have to turn on the feature.


This is more or less my shop today: let’s call it “Petervan Productions” Our events even more become “immersive experiences”. This unique mix of high-quality matter experts and speakers, together with our facilitation techniques. We could do much much more in this space. What about:

  • 8 Innovation events per year like Innotribe Mumbai ?
  • 1 Partner innovation event of 3 days
  • 1 Customer innovation event of 3 days
  • Deep conversations with: 3 days off-site with a guru on a topic and a select group of top-15 Heads of Innovations of banks
  • 4 hackatons per year where we ask developers to code/hack together an application in 2 days
  • More study tours, not only for the executive or L1/L2 level but accessible for all staff
  • The frequent innovator pass should help us identity who can go on such a tour
    • More gamification of our events: work with game experts such as Jane McGonical from Reality is Broken (latest book), Dave Gray from XPLANE and Gamestorming, and Verna Allee from Value Networks

Dave Gray author headshotVerna Allee

From left to right: Jane McGonical, Dave Gray, Verna Allee

  • Have a 3 day SWIFT employee festival? Like AMPlify.
  • Do sort of Woodstock at Sibos. Like Pirate Ship. With concerts
  • Sponsor other innovation events
  • Embed and sell our techniques to third-party event organizers

The overall objective is to create serendipity. To reach other audiences, bring other content, start exploring the edges, create brand recognition. For SWIFT. For Innotribe.


We also should more and more look at our events as something that is the middle of the process, not the end-game. Usually we come out of an event, exhausted, as we build up all the energy towards that one day, one week. But then it only starts: the event is only the place where the connected community meets for the first time, gets initially built.


Again, we already do this. We have a yearly budget that lets us invest moderate amounts of money in proof-of-concepts: these can be prototypes, animations, whitepapers, etc

  • Turning up the volume in this space is merely doing more: more prototypes, hence more budget and resources


We just started this year. See also the “Babies” presentation. Initiated by Matteo, and now with the help from Cathal as program manager, this is our “Mathal Productions”. Their projects are located in Building 8.

Turning up the volume would mean:

  • Team with Silicon Valley incubators
  • Team with Incubators in Eastern Europe, APAC, South America. The example of Solkovo in Russia comes to mind
  • We could do much much more in bringing young entrepreneurs and start-ups together. You can create a marketplace of start-ups, accessible by the SWIFT community.
  • You could create – together with the 9,000+ banks on SWIFT – an alternative start-up funding and loan model. With better rates for those who have a good standardize Innotribe quality score.


This is what Mariela and team already do. For fun, let’s call it “Mela Productions”. Why for fun? Or “Innotribe Facilitation Studios”

  • Mela should make a business out of it. Think big. A worldwide team of 50-60 facilitators. Why not. If we were able to deploy similar numbers of lean navigators for cost reduction and efficiency, why can’t we do something like this for value creation?
  • This is also something we could start selling. This is an area where we are being “called”. Internal business units, but also banks from our ecosystem already now ask Mela to run facilitated workshops. Even from outside or our industry. We should charge for it.

Office Space

This is about having a critical look at our office space and the – communication – tools we have. On one hand we are spoiled. If you have ever been to the SWIFT HQ, you will for sure have been impressed by the main building and campus surroundings.

But the main building inside sometimes feels like a temple or a castle, with long corridors and closed doors that not really incentivize for cross-collaboration and sharing. I know there is a big project started to look deeply into this.

But also office-tools should be looked at. Today we have something called “Internet on the desktop”. It is a Citrix implementation of your browser.

  • We should turn it 100% upside down. Internet should be the default, and we should have a “SWIFT on the desktop” for the couple of apps that require tighter security or access control. It’s inevitable. It’s part of the movement towards cloud.
  • Skype, Drop-Box, Google Docs, etc should be our standard tools. Complemented by Salesforce, Chatter, Twitter, Quora. We should all be equipped with iPADs, Androids, etc. We never should have to use a PC anymore.
  • This modernization will also have a major impact in image and brand.


I have been quite deeply involved in an effort to look at company culture, and those who follow my blog know that I have something to say in this space.

  • Lately, the culture team was re-organized, and volunteers from GEN-Y and GEN-X were called upon. I applied for GEN-X (those born in 1961 and beyond)
  • Great was my astonishment that I was considered “too old to innovate”. I am born in 1957 so indeed, strictly to the letter, I am not GEN-X anymore. But I am lucky, I still get “copied” on the stuff (sic)

Any pump-up-the-volume in his space

will be worthless

as long as we do not

apply a strategy of “seed and infect”

  • If not, what we will end-up with are loads of powerpoint slides, processes etc. It will show great in an annual report or so, and it’s a bit the same as “how real is your innovation?”. Ask yourself the question “How real is your culture change”.

What we need is

a viral infection of the company


  • 40 people in 2011 should get the chance to follow a personal discovery journey like Leading by Being, so that they lead from their open mind, open heart, and open will.
  • In 2012 another 100 people. And in 2013 another 100.
  • That’s 240 folks. Deeply passionate about changing the company. That’s more than 10% of the workforce. That will change the culture for sure.

And have a look what companies like J&J do. They have in a couple of years a group of more than 750 change agents. They can be flown-in or video-conferenced at any moment to form tiger teams.

Banks for a better world

This is a big bad new idea. It must be possible to have a deep merge between Innovation, Talent Management and CSR.

Think big, really big

I think it must be possible to create

a 1 Billion $ Fund

that invests in financial inclusion

  • I know that some of our banks have invested big time in some of the above examples.

Why can’t we pool together

funds and resources as an industry?

Would that not be

immensely more powerful?

  • That would be quite a different story than what you hear/read these days about “too big to fail”, greed, lack of trust, etc

It would also lead and propel the community into a modern thinking about capitalism, rethinking value, and waste that we produce for the next one in the value chain (for ex bail outs) or even pushing debt towards future generations.

Studios and Production Houses

I am getting convinced that for each of these slices, we have to start thinking in terms of independent and complementary “Studios”. Like the studios of Pixar, Dreamworks, etc




Or in terms of <name> “productions”. For example for facilitation, you could pitch the “SWIFT Facilitation Studios” or “Mela Productions”. Events could be “Petervan Productions”, etc.

I like somehow the personalization aspect of this, as usually these teams are geared around a particular person with specific strengths.

If you like it or not, organizations are – or should be – built around people.


It’s indeed some sort of


studio or production environment


The Studio or Production metaphor also works well: you could consider the Head of Innovation as the “impresario”, and the studios the teams that collectively deliver a streamlined total experience. Or you could – like in big Hollywood studios – talk about “Building 123”, or like “Building 20” which is the innovation building of MIT.

At SWIFT, the incubation building is referred to as “Building 8”.


  • What does it take in monetary investment
  • Additional resources
  • This is reality check. Where the CEO mantra “I want you guys to shake the tree” is tested with reality. This is where people get scared. This is where you hear: “I know him/her (the CEO), and we can’t go with such an ambitious plan and attached budget”.


This is the real test

  • Here you will find out how real is your innovation. Or is it just a window-dress because innovation is fashionable and always works well in front of a board of directors or in an annual report.

You will probably end up somewhere between the window-dress and the edge-nirvana. And that is fine. The important thing is that you gauge it. Use it as a baseline. And don’t accept less when entering the next budget round.

Step by Step vs. not knowing what end result is

The challenge with all this is that



can not managed like the core


The core is – and should be – managed as the optimization engine. In this space you know where you want to end-up over a given period of time. You make a phased project plan, allocate the budgets and resources, put a project manager on it, and you execute as planned. It’s Failure is not an Option. It’s highly predictable, with yearly budget cycles, than in essence most of the time built upon last year budget models. It’s a stepped approach.




The challenge with innovations is that they are not planned. You usually know the “direction”, but you’re not sure where you land. It’s like Christopher Columbus heading West to discover India, but he found America. It’s like a (pirate?) ship meandering. It’s Failure IS an option. It’s unpredictable. It’s a meander approach.


That’s what I wanted to say today. It’s a blog post that was cooking for several weeks. Happy it’s done. It’s a long post, I know. And maybe next, I should put all these blog piece together in a book. Who knows, maybe I’ll do that one day.

But one thing is sure: The combination of “How to create deep sustainable change”, “Pirates, Rebels, Mercenaries and Innovators”, and this post “Pump up the Volume” will form the basis of a brand new Innotribe presentation, the follow-up of “How to make babies”. I will let you know when it is ready.

All for the same purpose: the fitness of the organizational “mind”. And a deeply changed organization, connected and full of energy!


Let’s Pump-of-the-Volume!

Let’s take those innovation energy pills!

Let’s shake the tree!

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