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Archive for the ‘Transhumanism’ Category

UPDATE: obviously this post was related to it’s fishy publication date. Thanks for your reactions of concern about my health, I am doing 100% fine ;-)

I have been away for some while. Many of you thought I was on a sabbatical leave, but that was just a smoke curtain for a much more dramatic makeover and re-invention of myself. I decided to become a true cyborg.

Oculus Ruft Headset Shoot

Zuck was onto something when he decided to acquire Oculus for 1.9B$ earlier this month: blurring the virtual world with the physical world to tap into the enormous opportunity of virtual experiences. But I believe he did not go till the end of his thoughts. You see, the Oculus is “only” one-directional. Giving you the input of virtual worlds. What if you could also give-back and share-back into the virtual world? The ultimate sharing economy?

That’s why I recently decided to become angel investor in a small start-up from Ukraine called “The Fishery”. We are really in stealth mode, I can’t say too much of it. But we are applying the lean startup methodology and we now have our first MVP (Minimal Viable Product) that we start iterating with our celebrity customers. I hope you will understand I can’t share names at this stage.

fitbit-flex-jawbone-up-review-19

Whereas products such as FitBit, Jawbone and others focus on QS (Quantified Self), we believe that with the Fishery we are entering the space of the Qualified Self – it’s about depth and quality, not quantity. We are still hesitating what will be the name of the product: something between the “Fishbit” of the “iFish”: indeed, what we are doing is starting to fish into the deep oceans of the subconscious and the unconscious, where data and the human species become integral one and holistic.

For quite some time, I was a big believer in so called “Personal Data Stores”: tools for the user that allow us to decide ourselves which pieces of our data we share with what vendor in what particular transaction context. But I realized that this only covers the data that we share intentionally. It does not cover data that we share non-intentionally (like the signals from our SIM cards), or data that are collected in surveillance and co-veillance scenarios.

So why not bite the bullet, accept that privacy is dead, and move into the realm of extreme transparency? And what if we could just plainly connect our own human brain to the internet, and create a distributed peer-to-peer exchange of human brainpower, and start to keep a human ledger that is cryptographically secured and trusted? This goes way beyond the Minority Report scenarios (after all, a film of more that a decade old). In this case, you only have to start thinking about something you would do, and hop! It would be immediately shared and algorithmically processed by the hive of connected brains. Of course, we’d have to make some major changes to legislation and regulation, but that can be overcome, it has been done before.

Anyway, last week I was back in our labs in Ukraine, and I volunteered to become the first test case for the latest beta version of our Fishbit.

Petervan with Fishbit

What you see on the picture is me on the lab-bed, right after the 3 hour operation. The little brick on my chest is the prototype of the Fishbit. About 35 wires are connected to different sensors on my brain, my heart, my blood pressure, my lungs, skin, my legs, arms, etc: it’s a true virtual and “brick”-and-mortar tricoder of all my physical and mental sensations and experiences, not only at the cognitive level, but more importantly also tracking and tracing the sub- and unconscious activities of my brain and body.

The Fishbit has of course a number of well-documented open APIs, as this is clearly a platform play where developers can let explode their creativity for thousands of apps tapping into my body, mind, and soul. And to fully bite the bullet of transparency and surveillance, we have added a couple of more secret “dark” APIs to give direct access to governments and other trustworthy organizations looking after the greater good of society at large. But I am deviating.

The mask and the tube are there to add extra oxygen and creative gases, because the sensations are so strong that I need to breath much more consciously to let my heart pumps more oxygen in the blood streams. I can tune the tube, for example per season or month, when for example in April I get an extra dose of laughing gas, and in May some smell or spring blossoms to bring me back to my 60ies hippie memories.

One of the earlier versions had an API with Twitter that made it much easier for me to tweet. I just had to think “tweet”, and hop, there where 140 characters describing what I had spotted in my 2,500 RSS feeds that I follow on a daily basis.

But now we can go a lot further

Jung Man and his Symbols

Many of you know that I am a deep expert in the works of Carl Jung, especially his Book of Dreams, The Man and his Symbols, and his work on the Self, the Archetypes, the personal and the collective unconscious

Jung Sphere

Illustration from the book: “Jung, a very short introduction” by Anthony Stevens

What we discovered with Fishbit, is that sharing as we know in Facebook, Twitter, etc is so… well, outdated. If we reflect on Jung, this sort of FB-sharing only addresses the outer shell of who we are, the ego. In many cases that ego is made up and self-created, and by no means reflecting our deeper selves and motivations. Now, with Fishbit we can tap into that power.

Now, I can share my dreams as they happen. The Fishbit sensors sense when I am entering my REM sleep, can capture my dreams, and in the preferences I can set whether I want my dream to be shared as a literal transcript, as a film scenario or as a piece of poetry.

Now, I can connect my collective and personal conscious to the grid, and share with vendors my really true subconscious needs, to they can shoot better ads to me, the target. Finally! Indeed, as my hero Frank Zappa used to say: “without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”

Zappa deviation norm

And is it not progress when now, for the first time, data, dualism, humanism and the deep unconscious merge into a exciting melting pot with unseen business opportunities on the medium and long term? I hope you share my enthusiasm for this wonderful new world. Welcome to the world of Fishbit. Welcome to my ultimate cyborg make-over.

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Last week, I attended the PurpleBeach launch event (check out the twitter stream at #purplebeachlaunch). It’s one of those events that got me again into hyper-reflection mode.

Purplebeacj

I was not really sure what the launch was about – initially I thought it was about the launch of a new consultancy firm – but once on site, it looked like being an experiment driven by Annemie Ress about “People Innovation”. Annemie had been heading HR and people efforts at eBAY, PayPal and Skype and I think she was not sure yet herself where this happening was going to land. She was maybe taken a bit by surprise by the number of folks who signed up for this invitation-only event – and in some way I liked a lot the authenticity of her and the team, being and staying open and curious about what could emerge from a gathering of about 180 folks of quite diverse “plumage”.

I got invited via MJ Petroni, owner and founder of Causeit.org. I met MJ last year when he and his team coached the Innotribe team on making quality team alignments and intentions. Petroni is mentored by Mark Bonchek, PhD, former SVP of Networks and Communities at Sears, now heading his own consultancy Orbit about pulling customers and communities in “orbit” around your brand. Enough credentials to follow-up on the invitation and checkout the event that took place in Audi Quattro Rooms, West-Side of London.

quattro rooms

Day one started with some strange mix of “quite-ok” talks about mobile, big data, digital identity, trends, leadership, HR, and the blurred zone between HR and Marketing.

In essence, the glue binding the different activities was “business humanization” and “people innovation”. The basic premise that innovation in organizations does not happen without people rediscovering themselves in their full being, a rich combination of left/right brain activities, and greater levels of personal awareness.

And yes, there was some strange Californian “wu-wu”, “mindfulness”, “well-being” and poetry and artistic performance elements as well. After all, we were on the “beach”, a place where you can relax, be idle, and be open to whatever comes your way.

Day one was ok, but not more than that: I was more or less familiar already with the content presented, and was in search for the new insight, the new synthesis, the new “AHA” moment. Alas, I waited in vain for the muse to inspire me.

But Day-2 kicked off by a great discussion about being “on”-line all the time, after a presentation by a trends watcher about future trends, micro work, etc. The presenter was depicting a future of always-on, nowism and “on-ism”, a future where you have to check your smart-device or sensor every second to capture that 5 minute chunk of work on a worldwide marketplace for mechanical turks.

In the following panel, Doug MacCallum (ex eBay but still advisor to the CEO of eBAY and non-executive Director on the board of Ocado) couldn’t hold it anymore:

“What a horror! I don’t want to live in a future like that. People need their time off to reflect and recalibrate. This is a dystopian future”

Doug MacMallum almost got a standing ovation for his intervention, and just the fact he got the ovation is a proof of how deep “presentism” is disturbing our human lives. It was like some sort of relief going through the room.

He went on describing a practice of Executives not sending mails in the weekend, to respect their own free time and that of their collaborators. Great initiative, but I have seen such promises before, and in some occasions the executive is preparing her emails during the weekend, queuing them up, and releasing them on Monday morning, so you have your inbox loaded with fresh instructions and work (sic).

present shock

It made me think of Douglas Rushkoff’s latest book “Present Shock” (Amazon Associates Link), about the fragmentation of everything, including work and value, and the addiction that arises when you are not able anymore to step out of the digital time, back into analog time, where you still have some sense of time fluidity, rhythm, and relative perspective.

Penelope Trunk, co-founder of Brazen Careerist, recently wrote a great article in Quartz. I like the section on refusing to present your-self in a linear way:

Agents represent workers who pick and choose projects that match them rather than signing on for indefinite amounts of time. The Harvard Business Review calls this supertemping. Business Week calls it going Hollywood.

It’s about a deep desire for story and narrative, context, being part of something, being for the long haul.

But unfortunately, we are getting fragmented disassembled

UPDATE: @MayaDroeschler retweeted my post and linked it with metaphysics of pure presence, referring to the the work of the philosopher Jacques Derrida who introduced the concept of deconstructivism, and who also influenced architecture (in the form of deconstructivism). This is the space of famous architects like Peter EisenmanFrank GehryZaha HadidCoop HimmelblauRem KoolhaasDaniel Libeskind, and Bernard Tschumi. Readers who know me, understand that Maya touched my sensitive chord of love for architecture. Picture below from Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

gmb_bilbao_690x235

But I got distracted ;-) The Quartz article also mentions new “modern” practices of young people selling stocks in themselves. This is about investing in – or probably better called “betting” on humans.

A “good” example is Upstart, a start-up opening their site with the slogan “The Start-Up is You.’’

Upstart

Upstart was founded by a group of ex-Googlers, including Dave Girouard, who spent 8 years at Google where he was President of Google Enterprise and VP of Apps.

I can’t help it, but this starts smelling like slavery to me. You already knew that you were the “product” of Siren Servers like Facebook, Google, your bank, your insurance company, your health company; they are getting your data for free and can monetize it without compensation of the data originator. It’s getting worse now: we are now entering an era where one owns the life of another human being, worse even, takes options in somebody’s future and betting on it.

Jaron Lanier has recently published a great book about this “Who owns the Future?” (Amazon Associated Link)

Who owns the future

I feel really sorry for otherwise very smart people Eric Schmidt, Peter Thiel, Khosla Ventures, Marc Benioff and other moguls for putting 5.9M USD in the last capital round of Upstart. I believe they are forgetting something very important here. This is in essence a form of digitizing of what it means to be a human being, digitizing the being into binary data blips, forgetting the rich set of emotions, senses and creativity we all can bring to the table. We are more than data present in the moment. We are part of a narrative, a story, an analog context.

Our “presentism”, just having that safety option to do that quick email check in the week-end, to check that Twitter status, the Klout and other scores are probably symptoms of something deeper going on: just having that capability is for some people already reducing the anxiety of loosing out on something.

Somebody shouted from the audience “But we are loosing the obvious!” – meaning loosing of being humans – and then a couple of “minutes” later, the quote of the day:

“The Future is Analogue”

I really believe it’s about loosing or sustaining our analogue human identity. Identity is contextual and one context is the time framework we want to function in. I’d prefer to live in the analogue time context; the way Doug Rushkoff described it: “What do we want: the long now or the short forever?”

This lead to my first “Aha” experience at the event: an experience about identity. As somebody quite active online, I try to be – and believe I am – the same person on-line or off-line. I don’t believe I have a different persona online of off-line. But online, I feel more the need to amplify myself  and my outgoing data streams, and at the same time trying the amplify and maximize the incoming streams of new data. But there is too much info out there, I feel indeed this anxiety to miss out on something. I also sense higher degrees of narcissism on-line, narcissism in the sense of self-amplification and promotion. What does that do with my identity? I think I am pretty the same online as in the real world… But “shaping” my online identity raises deep questions on who I am: as an individual, in a group, in the world at large.

Ron Shevlin @rshevlin, author of Snarketing 2.0 sent out this tweet on 28 Apr 2013:

“If identity is the new money,

schizophrenics have it made.”

It was in this mood of identity reflections when I entered a conversation with another Purplebeach participant: Jefferson Cann from Extraordinary Leadership, a soft-spoken gentleman bringing the topic of intimacy into the debate.

The word “intimacy” worked like a red flag on me. I explained Jeff how I was trying to stabilize/discover/re-discover my identity. His feedback was that he was not sure that one needs to fix/stabilize your identity.

“By fixing, you close yourself for being open to the moment, for the intimacy with the moment. The intimacy of the moment INCLUDES identity, so that the identity can flow, can evolve. In that sense, I hope that your MBTI of 10 years ago is not the same as your MBTI of this year, which would mean you have not evolved.”

This coming together of intimacy and purpose gave lead to my second big insight of the week, the second “Aha” moment.

My readers know that I am sick of the 10 min, 15 min, 18 min pitches and talks. I am hungry for depth, for richness of conversations, for going beyond scratching the surface. One of the reasons why I keep writing these long posts ;-)

The insight was that my hunger for depth is really a hunger for intimacy, the hunger for human connection, also on professional environments.

What does it really mean when a manager tells you: “You know, I am a pragmatic man, two feet on the ground, so can you please pitch me your story in one minute, and at the same time tell me what the ROI for the next 2 years will be?”

I suddenly realized that this famous pragmatism and two-feet-on-the-ground is probably a shield to hide from depth, from intimacy. It is a shield against the present that can even be used in Machiavellic ways to include/exclude people from connection. It’s a deep sign of uncertainty and insecurity, the fear of losing control, fear of human contact, the fear of opening up, the fear people will discover there is no substance, and fearing/knowing you cannot compete on content. It’s the fear of having to acknowledge that your leadership power only comes from your position in the hierarchy and not from who you really are.

As Glenn Llopis recently wrote in Forbes about “The 5 Things Leaders are thinking with not talking about”:

Leaders must find a new sense of maturity within themselves to address and navigate these new workplace issues with greater clarity, focus and intention. Leaders must be more proactive in coming to grips with today’s new normal.   In doing so, they must face their greatest fears head-on and get on with the business at hand.  The marketplace, the workplace and those whom they serve demand it.   Until they do, here are five things leaders are thinking, but not talking enough about: 

  • I don’t have all the answers
  • I have difficulty relating to the younger generation
  • Diversity makes me uncomfortable
  • I am uncertain about the future
  • My leadership skills are not relevant

 

It looks like we are witnessing murder by modernity: murder of the human connectedness through the avoidance of intimacy. It looks like most of us – including our leaders – and not ready from the new normal. We need to send our leaders to “Purplebeaches”, so they find again time to reflect, to enjoy depth, to open up and embrace connections between fellow human beings.

UPDATE: as a real example of synchronicity, Jennifer Sertl just posted this awesome video about being human.

 

Some interesting insights:

  • There is no off/on button for feeling an emotion
  • How are we teaching people what is human vs. what is technical
  • We have to re-enforce the usefulness of being human
  • You can’t take care of yourself if your are at the same time taking care of a tribe
  • Everything you do becomes part of a data piece
  • Playing a higher personal – private – game
  • Our ability to have empathy is impacted by technology

“We are loosing the obvious: what we are loosing is our ability to scenario plan, our ability to gain perspective, our ability to know ourselves, and our ability to empathise. Those four things is what separates us from the gadgets”

Life is not digital. The future is one of analogue connection.

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Many organizations are in pain. I am just back from the Front-End of Innovation conference in Copenhagen where I met several friends, ex-colleagues, relatives, business partners, and it seems that change and re-organization are the new normal in our organizations these days. These days, one could jokingly introduce her by saying “what re-organization do you work for?”. But that may be too cynical a start for a blog post.

treo

It also seems to be a constant these days that organizations retract into the comfort zone of their core business and are tuning down their innovation initiatives. I have heard it from at least 4-5 large organizations this week. What remains is a lot of innovation rhetoric but no action on the floor other than political power games.

More importantly, what remains as well is a lot of pain of colleagues seeing their best working mates (have to) leave the company in the worst case, or being re-organized into other departments at best. In Copenhagen, I have seen the pain, fear, and desperation in people’s eyes.

This blog post is about those re-organization pains, and some possible avenues to deal with them.

  • One way to react is driven by emotions: getting in a state of perpetual frustration, blame, gossip, under the skin fights, and self-service. It’s a state of mind that only aggravates the situation, alienates people and teams more from each other than ever.
  • Another way to react is the flee into the comfort zone of tactical actions and quick hits and extrapolating or creating quick and dirty variations of the tricks and processes we are familiar with, without any level of intentionality.
  • The third way – which I would like to promote – is to look deep under the skin of our professional and private way of being. To get to this insight, I was influenced by three books that I was reading more or less in parallel.

The first book I would like to recommend is “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni (Amazon Affiliates Link).

dysfunctions

The author explains razor sharp that trust is the essential foundation of highly effective teams (and organizations). As can be seen from the layered pyramid below, lack of trust in the end leads to inattention to results.

pyramid

I have taken a the following really good summary out of another book “Search Inside Yourself”, that I will refer to later again in this blog post.

The five dysfunctions, in order of causality are:

  • Absence of trust: People do not trust the intentions of their teammates. They feel the need to protect themselves from each other and tread carefully around others on the team. This leads to the next dysfunction.
  • Fear of conflict: Without trust, people are unwilling to involve themselves in productive debates and conflicts, the type of good conflict that focuses entirely on resolving issues without involving character attacks or hidden personal agendas. Without such healthy conflicts, issues stay unresolved or are unsatisfactorily resolved. People feel they have not been properly involved in decisions. This leads to the next dysfunction.
  • Lack of commitment: When people feel their input has not been properly considered and that they have not been properly involved in decisions, they have no buy-in. They do not commit to the final decisions. Ambiguity about priorities and directions festers, and uncertainties linger. This leads to the next dysfunction.
  • Avoidance of accountability: When people have no buy in about decisions, they avoid accepting accountability. Worse still, they do not hold their teammates accountable to high standards. Resentment festers, and mediocrity spreads. This leads to the final dysfunction.
  • Inattention to results: The ultimate dysfunction of a team. People care about something other than the collective goals of the team. Goals are not met, results are not achieved, and you lose your best people to your competitors.

It all begins with trust. The absence of trust is the root cause of all other dysfunctions. Specifically, the type of trust Lencioni talks about is what he calls “vulnerability-based trust.” That is when team members trust the intentions of each other enough that they are willing to expose their own vulnerabilities because they are confident their exposed vulnerabilities will not be used against them. Hence, they are willing to admit issues and deficiencies and ask for help. In other words, they are able to concentrate their energies on achieving the team’s common goals, rather than wasting time trying to defend their egos and look good to their teammates.

Do you trust your team members enough that to expose your own vulnerabilities because you are confident that your exposed vulnerabilities will not be used against you? That you will not be presented sooner or later with the emotional bill? Or is the trust and alignment in your team of a very superficial and low-quality nature?

I fully buy the trust argument in the book. What the book unfortunately does NOT explain is how you get to this level of trust.

My premise is that it starts by looking at people as people, not as objects. By developing a very high standard of empathy for the others. Looking at the other person not as the team member of this or that department (that would be looking at the person as an object, and attaching value to that object based on its hierarchical of functional power or non-power). This is of course very much related to the topic of “LeadINGship” and “Leading from the Edge” that I have shared already at many occasions on my blog.

“Looking at people as people” means looking at people in their wholeness, their full being, with all the aspects that that person brings, like cultural baggage, family situations, vulnerabilities, issues, motivations, concerns, etc

When I look at people as an object, I am “living IN the box”. When I look at people as people, I am “Living OUT of the box”. This living in/out of the box is very well described in “Leadership and Self-Deception” by The Arbinger Institute (Amazon Affiliate Link).

self-deception

“We have to develop a culture where people are simply invited to see others as people. And being seen and treated straightforwardly, people respond accordingly”

But the book goes much further than that, and brings the subjects of self-deception and self-betrayal in full frontal view, and that can be quite confrontational.

Self-Deception and its consequence Self-Betrayal happen when you see a person in need, you feel you should act, but you don’t. What happens then are a couple of behaviors that I recognize with others and myself; I get into a defense mode:

  • I start blaming (maybe not vocally, but for sure internally) the other, the system, the management, and/or the company for all the things that don’t work. Yes, of course the problem of all evil is out there, not with me.
  • I start minimizing or ignoring my own faults, failures, and weaknesses
  • I start inflating the faults of the other persons or teams or departments.
  • I start inflating my virtues: it is because the others don’t have the same virtues as myself that of course things don’t work as they should.

“I just mean that in acting contrary to my sense of what was appropriate, I betrayed my own sense of how I should be toward another person. So we call such an act ‘self-betrayal.” And “I focused on and inflated her faults when I needed to feel justified for mine.”

This is about anger and frustration but at the same time feeling deep inside that “I was aware of the hypocrisy in my anger”.

What is even worse, this sort of in-the-box behavior for sure does NOT solicit the desired counter-behavior in others: it’s a disease that is infectious and viral in nature.

“In the box we provoke others to get in the box — both with us and against us. Our allies and we withhold information, for example, which gives others reason to do the same. We try to control others, which provokes the very resistance that we feel the need to control all the more. We withhold resources from others, who then feel the need to protect resources from us. We blame others for dragging their feet and in so doing give them reason to feel justified in dragging their feet all the more. And so on. Collusion spreads far and wide, and the result is that coworkers position themselves against coworkers, workgroups against workgroups, and departments against departments. People who came together to help an organization succeed actually end up delighting in each other’s failures and resenting each other’s successes.”

“But gradually I came to see the lie in my defensiveness. I saw in myself a leader who was so sure of the brilliance of his own ideas that he couldn’t allow brilliance in anyone else’s; a leader who felt he was so ‘enlightened’ that he needed to see workers negatively in order to prove his enlightenment; a leader so driven to be the best that he made sure no one else could be as good as he was. I was carrying the disease I blamed everyone else for. I infected them and then blamed them for the infection. Our organizational chart was a chart of colluding boxes. We were a mess.”

So key messages here are:

  • Stay away from self-defensiveness
  • See people as people not objects
  • Develop a superior awareness whether you are in/out the box of self-betrayal

And then I got hit by “Search Inside Yourself” by Chade-Meng Tan (Amazon Affiliates Link), also known as “Jolly Good Fellow” from Google.

SIY

Meng also refers to “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” (see summary above) and it was at that moment that the pieces of the puzzle starting falling together and make sense. The “Search Inside Yourself” book is in essence about self-awareness.

Self-awareness depends on being able to see ourselves objectively, and that requires the ability to examine our thoughts and emotions from a third-person perspective, not getting swept up in the emotion, not identifying with it, but just seeing it clearly and objectively…. We are not our emotions. Emotions become what we experience in the body, so we go from “I am angry” to “I experience anger in my body”

And also:

“We have the tendency to feel bad about feeling bad. I call it “meta-distress,” distress about experiencing distress. Also recognize that feeling bad about feeling bad is an act of ego” and “Success and failure are emotional experiences. These emotions can give rise to grasping and aversion, which can hold us back and hamper our ability to achieve our goals.

But there is hope, says Meng: we can become emotionally resilient to grasping onto success and aversion from failure.

The sentence that really blow me way and could become the cornerstone of our new renaissance, our new way of responding to whatever we encounter in life was:

“Imagine the kindest, most positive response” to whatever comes your way.

Wow! Read that again:

“Imagine the kindest, most positive response”

What would happen in our organizations if:

  • Stay away from self-defensiveness;
  • We would always look at the other person as a person and not an object;
  • Develop a superior awareness whether you are in/out the box of self-betrayal
  • And in all occasions, try to “Imagine the kindest, most positive response”

Kindness is the engine of empathy; it motivates you to care, and it makes you more receptive to others, and them to you”

The first time that the word/feeling/attitude “kindness” entered like a bomb in myself was when listening to Jeff Bezos during the graduation speech Princeton, where he says, “it is harder to be kind than clever”. I have posted the link to this speech before, but here it is once more, as so good. Full transcript here

The second time the word/feeling/attitude “kindness” resonated deeply in myself was when reading that book “Search Inside Yourself” (see above).

The third time was later in the same book, where Meng extends the self-awareness to organizational and political awareness.

“Political awareness is a more difficult skill: the ability to read an organization’s emotional currents and power relationships. Political awareness is the generalization of empathy from an interpersonal level to an organizational level…  The ability to empathize on an organizational level, not just an interpersonal one… Distinguish between your own self-interest, the interest of your team, and the organization’s interest—everyone has all three of these interests. It is very important to understand which is which.

SIY Institute

This is such a powerful message, that Meng and his friends made an “Institute” out of the book. Since March 1, 2013 all the curricula are available for free on the website of the SIY Institute:

“Any company that truly values the employee as their most valuable asset should do Search Inside Yourself”

“It’s a great way to develop and grow teams that can work together”

Kindness is associated with friendliness, gentleness, courtesy, kindliness, affability, goodness, tenderness, kindliness, benignity, sweetness. Meng focusses a lot on “goodness”. This empathic/kind self is probably the golden key to unlock and defuse the re-organization pains in our companies and institutions. One of the big shifts we have to make is the transformation from “I” to “We.”

That need for “I” to “We” transformation became also so evident in the talk of The Coca-Cola Man this week in Copenhagen, where Vince Vorne highlighted the need for “respect” for all your partners and stakeholders in and outside your organization and the need to make others win based on their merits and metrics.

It is too easy to fall back in blaming. Yes, we have to keep challenging the status-quo (or in some cased the regression), but we need also to do so in respect for our colleagues, partners, hierarchies, and bosses. Yes, we also have to have to look at them as persons not objects. And yes, we also can even drop our pride and hubris, and “kindly” forgive them for their perceived or real errors, even when it seemed like they were in self-service mode, taking the easiest and safest way out and leaving their teams in the cold. When we look at them as whole persons, they also bring context, pressures, and constraints that we may completely be unaware of.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Dan Rockwell @leadershipfreak wrote a fascinating post “13 Powertips for Leading through Uncertainty”; with a tip to ensure your boss support:

“Pull with – not against, higher ups. Grab the rope and pull, even if you disagree. Everyone who pulls in his or her own direction dilutes potential success. If you can’t pull with, jump ship, now.”

A bit along the same theme, there also was Regis Hadiaris @regishadiaris who posted this week “Martin Scorsese: Leadership lessons for Project Managers”.

marty-scorsese

A very good read from which I retain the following quote:

“You have to first ensure you understand your bosses.  After that, use their view as a “lens” with which to see your project and yourself.  By doing this, you’ll be able to ensure the project executes on their vision as well as yours.”

I deeply hope that applying these principles will make me/us more humble and soft (soft in the sense of soft looking eyes of kindness). If we all could at least give it a try, maybe we all get less cynical and frustrated, judgmental and control addicts; and we can recalibrate towards a renaissance of open mind, open heart and open will; more human and cultural and erudite.

davinci

I have made (and probably still will make) so many errors in my life against the principles of seeing people as people, helping when I see somebody in need, imagining the kindest, most positive response to whatever comes my way, and being respectful and getting buy-in from my leadership/leadingship.

But this time, I may have found a framework and context for greater awareness and the insight that I always have an option: the option to change and to turn the switch towards more kindness and forgiveness.

Maybe this way we can make the transition from “I” to “We” and positively impact the trust between ourselves, our teams, our departments, our companies, our society, our world.

In essence using Meng’s kindness  as the input to the trust layer of Lencioni.

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

daydreaming

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

search inside yourself

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

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

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

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

Breaking

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

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

True bonding is a quite another level.

Mourning

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

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

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

Re-Make and Succeed

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

“First they ignore you,

then they laugh at you,

then they fight you,

then you win.”

 

Mahatma Ghandi

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

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

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

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

Re-Ground

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

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

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

ledzep house

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

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

This is about managing interactions and connections. 

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

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

Again from Chade-Meng Tan’s book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ledzep wholelottalove

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

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

Let’s rock on!

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We have all been reading the books and hearing the innovation experts and gurus speak and preach about the need for experimentation and failing wisely in innovation environments. All that is good in theory. What about the real life? What happens in your organization when you fail? How does your leadership assist you in this transition? What happens in the team dynamics? What happens with you?

FALLING_0014

I failed big time recently. And it traumatizes and immobilizes me. It gets me on a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s difficult to deal with the abrupt changes between being celebrated the one day, and being the pariah the other day. Or should I find solace in the fact that at least, I still have highs (and lows) in corporate life?  Some friends and colleagues don’t even have that luxury: they are being beaten up all the time.

It’s not the first time this happens to me: failing big time. Being awarded and congratulated for stellar performance in one fiscal year and then being dropped a couple of days later due to changed priorities in the new fiscal year. So where is the pattern? What can I learn from it? How don’t I get “trapped” in the same mechanism of self-defense over and over again?

When the failing hits, I indeed tend to “protect” my vulnerability and myself by avoiding contact, by being silent, not expressing myself, while at the same time feeling deep anger inside. I am turning in circles, can’t concentrate nor focus, and become cynical. It damages my performance. How can I voice my soul, my emotional state and psychology of failing, the human emotions, and the intimate collateral damage that go with all this? How can I resurrect from failure?

It happens that Adam Dachis (@adachis) just wrote a post about this, titled “The Psychology Behind the Importance of Failure”, and quotes Heidi Grant Halvorson (@hghalvorson), shared with me by Jennifer Sertl (@jennifersertl).

The problem with the Be-Good mindset is that it tends to cause problems when we are faced with something unfamiliar or difficult. We start worrying about making mistakes, because mistakes mean that we lack ability, and this creates a lot of anxiety and frustration. Anxiety and frustration, in turn, undermine performance by compromising our working memory, disrupting the many cognitive processes we rely on for creative and analytical thinking. Also, when we focus too much on doing things perfectly (i.e., being good), we don’t engage in the kind of exploratory thinking and behavior that creates new knowledge and innovation.

So here you are: you have read all the books, seen all the greatest speakers, got the best personal coaches, followed all the personal development journeys you can imagine, you even preached yourself to others the benefits and adrenaline effects of going for your true self. And then you get hit. And you don’t know what to do, how to react, how to stand-up, how to reboot, how to get alive again.

Here are a couple of questions for all you innovators out there. Some areas where I would like to know how YOU coped with that situation, and what we all can learn from it.

  • You have a project of a lifetime. You stick out your neck big time and after lots of blood, sweat and tears, corporate priorities change, and your project is stopped from one day to another. How do you cope with that? Do you have examples of how you turned that sort of failure into a success? A crisis into an opportunity? I don’t know yet a good way how to do this, other than sweating out your time and hoping for the better.
  • Igniting change and innovating also means being a corporate rebel. You walk the edges of corporate accepted behaviors  in 95% of the cases, you succeed keeping that balance. But sometimes you go over the edge. How does that behaviour impact the perception others have of you? Does it impact your performance reviews? How can you avoid paying the price?
  • In innovation, the pedestal of success and the bin of the pariah are oh-so-close. On the pedestal of success, you are full of energy, even arrogant at times, sometimes preaching. But always with your heart at the right place and a deep intention for doing good for your company and the folks who work for it. Some people call it “irresistible enthusiasm”, and get energized when they hear your voice and they see the sparks in your eyes. Others – the criticasters – believe you are member of the “ego-tribe”. You sense jealousy from those who don’t have your opportunities, who don’t have a flexible boss like yours, who don’t enjoy executive sponsorship, some call it executive “protection”. When you fail, all that positive juice flows away. You’re empty handed. It’s time for revenge, for presenting the emotional invoices. Nobody comes to sit at your table at lunch; nobody wants to be seen with the one who just failed. You have been burned. What’s your experience with that? How do you cope with that?
  • What is your experience and reaction with abrupt changes of priorities, change of guards, change of budgets? What do you do when your marching orders change from one day to another? What if you don’t feel aligned with the new directions suggested or imposed? Especially when you just failed and are super vulnerable? Should you just brace for a while and hope for the turn of tides, of keep acting based on what your intimate true self tells you about what is right or wrong for yourself or for the organization you work for and deeply care about? Who has ever done and experienced something like that? Please share your wounds and healings.
  • Corporate world has the reputation of being a world of extroverts. But at least half of the workforce is introvert. I am and never was superman. I am not the vocal extrovert; I am more the reflecting introvert. Many of us are sensitive human beings. Many men have more feminine energy than women and the other way around. Where do you go when you fail? Where do you find a shoulder to cry on? When and how do you deal with pretending to be untouchable in formal settings and/or as team leader? Should you dare to show your vulnerability with trusted colleagues or friends?  Can we look through the crack in you and wonder at the light inside?
  • Is there überhaupt something like trust in business, or is it indeed like one of my first managers in my career told me “never trust anybody in business”. Have I become old and cynical? Judgmental? Control freak? In other words have I become all the things I never wanted to become and ended up on the flip sides of my ideals “Open Heart, Open Mind, Open Will” inspired by Otto Sharmer’s “Theory U”?

The bottom line question really is: how do I keep being present and aligned with my true self, when the going gets though in periods of failure? And who is holding a space for me when I long for help in healing my injuries?

“Life of a frontrunner is hard one; he/she will suffer & many of these injuries will not be accidental” ~ Pele

I know that many Corporate Rebels struggle with this. We can support each other by sharing what works and what does not work in these circumstances. Because I have the deep belief that resurrecting from failure is one of the core elements of creating a practice for value creation.

Credit: Fallen picture by Kerry Skarbakka http://www.skarbakka.com/

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“The Cambrian explosion was the relatively rapid appearance of most major animal life forms, accompanied by major diversification of organisms. Before, most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells occasionally organised into colonies. Over the following 70 or 80 million years the rate of evolution accelerated by an order of magnitude and the diversity of life began to resemble that of today.” (Adapted from Wikipedia )

I believe we are witnessing a similar “Cambrian Explosion of everything” in the information technology evolution of the recent years, and we see a relatively rapid appearance of new “life” forms, new building blocks for the way we do business in this hyper-connected economy.

This thought came into my mind when attending recently the Cloud Identity Summit in Vail, Colorado 16-19 July 2012.

Explosion of API’s

During the pre-conference workshops, I had already seen the explosion of a whole set of new authentication methods and digital identity concepts like SAML, OAuth 2.0, OpenID Connect, OIX, Facebook Connect, Google’s Accountholder.com initiative, etc, etc

And then came Craig Burton with a presentation announced as “The future of Authentication” but in essence a variation of his epic talk on “Identity and the API economy”. His full prezi presentation is here. (Disclosure: Craig has been advising us on our Digital Asset Grid research project)

  • If this evolution goes on, we’ll have 30K “open” APIs by 2016
  • But most enterprise API’s are not open, they are kept private, and their growth rate is 5 times that of open API’s. They are also referred to as “Dark API’s”, because you don’t see these species in the open.

Craig then showed some staggering stats of open API’s, the so-called “API Billionaires”

If you do the calculation, this means 150,000 API calls per second for Twitter!

Update: apparently most of these stats come from John Musser @johnmusser from The Programmable Web. Credits are made in Craig’s prezi, but not apparent in my post here. Sorry, John !

Craig believes – and I subscribe – that we will see a very fast evolution where

“everyone and everything will have its API”

And every API needs its identity. Leading to the staggering conclusion that we will need to provision more than 1,000 new identities per second.

In enterprise, one of the more accepted federated identity authentication and authorization standards is SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language). Craig created some consternation by stating, “SAML is dead”, because it is not made for the provisioning of this Cambrian explosion of identities. In essence the SAML model does not scale. For this type of scale, manual provisioning does not work anymore, we need high levels of automation, also at the provisioning level.

Explosion of Nodes

In his Cloud Identity Summit presentation, Craig was focusing on the explosion of number of API’s and the identities they will require.

Let me give another dimension, triggered by the research work we are doing on the Digital Asset Grid: when Craig talks about “everyone and everything will get an API”, I’d like to offer the dimension of “entities” aka “nodes in a grid” that need share data with each other. Those entities can be:

  • Humans
  • Group of humans – a good example is a Google “circle”, it’s a group of people without legal entity and therefore no liabilities associated
  • Companies – another type of groups of people – with legal entity and liability. Note that the liability of a non-profit is different from a commercial organization, from a educational institution, etc
  • But now we also add devices to the mix
  • And programs – pieces of software code – that act on our behalf or independently
  • Services and 3rd parties representing the seller, and 4th parties representing the buyer.
  • And personal and corporate clouds, where persons and corporations will keep the data they want to share in context with all the other entities in this grid of nodes.

And all these entities will get an API and will need to get an identity. It is leading to a “Catastrophic Complexity” unless we find a way to govern our communities differently, less manual, and highly automated.

It was very interesting to see that in the closing plenary of the Summit, Bob Blakley – now Global Head of Information Security at Citigroup – introduced the concept of the “Limited Liability Persona” that you could select as your identity to participate in certain data sharing use-cases. I’d like to emphasise he talks “personas” (plural of persona) and not “persons”. For example using your Limited Liability Persona “1” for getting a bank-account, and Persona “2” for your health transactions, etc.

This multiplication in personas will just add to the number of identities to deal with.

Explosion of Data

Big Data, Small Data, Real-Time Data, Fast Data, etc… I guess you are familiar with the buzzwords. I would like to share some insights that go beyond the generalities heard at most conferences.

Have a look at Avinash Kaushik – Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google – in his fascinating talk at Strata 2012 earlier this year. And especially pay attention as from minute 4:00 where he introduces Donald Rumsfeld as one of the “greatest philosophers when it comes to analytics”:

“Reports say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are the known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know”

And then there is this recent Future of Internet PEW report that opens with:

Big Data: Experts say new forms of information analysis are helping us be more nimble and adaptive, but they worry over humans’ capacity to understand and use new tools well

And in the opening para:

We swim in a sea of data … and the sea level is rising rapidly. Tens of millions of connected people, billions of sensors, trillions of transactions now work to create unimaginable amounts of information. An equivalent amount of data is generated by people simply going about their lives, creating what the McKinsey Global Institute calls “digital exhaust”—data given off as a byproduct of other activities such as their Internet browsing and searching or moving around with their smartphone in their pocket.

“The realisation of dynamic and emergent systems as a natural order will cause people to realize the foolishness of trying to game systems to the Nth degree. We will see the rise of more algorithmic thinking among average people, and the application of increasingly sophisticated algorithms to make sense of large-scale financial, environmental, epidemiological, and other forms of data. Innovations will be lauded as long as they register a blip in the range of large-scale emergent phenomena.”

Explosion of Time

This leads me into one of the coolest presentations I have seen on big data, high frequency trading and the new algorithmic ecosystem by Sean Gourley from Quid.com at TEDxNewWallStreet

Especially watch the section as from minute 9:00 or so, where he lets us discover how machines are doing business in matter of nanoseconds: a world of machines where black-swans almost become the norm!

It is not so much that more time is created, but more some form or time “implosion”, where things happen in milli- and nano-seconds timeframes, an outer-space alien to human beings.

Btw: Sean Gourley will be with us at Innotribe@Sibos Osaka 2012 in the session about The Future of Big and Small Data

Explosion of Mobile

Also repeated over and over again at Cloud Identity Summit by different speakers. Whereas many of the suggested solutions consisted of some form of “identity bridges” or translators if you want, I start to believe we come at a point where also here the existing metaphors and techniques are not adapted to the new paradigm of super-scale.

I have seen so many statistics and data that mobile is big, I prefer to refer to the mother of all internet trends, Mary Meeker who moved last year from Morgan Stanley to Kleiner Perkins Caufield Beyers with her May 2012 update on Internet trends.

As from slide #29, she introduces  the “Re-Imagination of nearly everything”

And closes her presentation with

“This cycle of tech disruption

is materially faster & broader

then prior cycles…”

Explosion of Decentralization

With some delay, I found some time this week to watch Don Tapscott’s talk at  TEDGlobal 2012 where he gets into “the interest of the collective”

Tapscott points out that this is “Not an Information Age, but an Age of Networked Intelligence

And Don Tapscott nails it when he summarised the 4 principles for the open world:

  • Collaboration
  • Transparency
  • Sharing
  • Empowerment

The meta-story underpinning all this, is probably well reflected in the recent essay “The Democratization of Globalization” by Parag Khanna: We are not only moving into the age of Networked Intelligence, but we are also moving into Globalization 5.0 that is characterized by a high level of fragmentation and decentralization.

“Call it Globalization 5.0, the most decentralized form of the phenomenon in history. If succeeding in Globalization 5.0 comes down to exhibiting a single trait, it would be resilience—a decentralized, node-to-node way of doing business, where hundreds or thousands of points of interconnection form a giant web of commerce, information and social good. Those who can demonstrate resilience will adapt and thrive. Those who cling to the old, centralised paradigm do so at their own risk”

I am deeply convinced that the “Cambrian Explosion of Everything” is leading us very fast in a highly fragmented world of heterogeneous entities that are sharing and analysing data at warp speed.

It’s a new world

that will soon require new levels of

governance, security, identity

and community or commons management

Who could be the neutral trusted organisation for the financial industry to deliver us that resilience and trust for the next superfast and hyper-connected data-age?

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Since my initial post “Corporate Rebels United – the start of a corporate spring?” of 17 March 2012, a lot of exciting things happened.

I’d like to share with you where we are, and what’s the plan for the upcoming weeks and months. When most of you will be on the beaches, we’ll do some digging and set the basis for some of our infrastructure needs ;-)

What happened?

The 17 March post was without any doubt the most viewed post ever on my personal blog. I got loads of comments. I got in contact with some very high profile people who offered their mentorship, coaching and mindshare in their communities. Many very cool people contacted me and wanted to know how they could be part of the movement. Clearly, something strong and positive resonated with you.

We now have a “core” group of +/- 30 Corporate Rebels: it’s a cross-industry group, with folks from the Americas, EMEA, and APAC. All the way from San Francisco to Sydney, with Europe in-between. Maybe still a bit weak in South-America, Africa, and Asia. We’re getting there ;-)

We had several calls and Skypes, and we had our first face-to-face meeting in London on 22 June 2012. We had about 10 core rebels attending physically and 15-20 via call: one call for the Americas and one for APAC. It was a great experience, refreshing, and reinvigorating. With thanks to SWIFT for the meeting facilities.

We have worked hard with that “core” group to articulate why and how we want to create this movement. We also looked in detail into the “what”, the deliverables. We wanted to ensure that the message we sent out was “right” before we throw into the open.

I now want to share with all of you the progress we have made so far. With deep gratitude to the core group of Corporate Rebels United: as all this is obviously the result of teamwork. I also would like to talk everybody who took the time and effort to listen to me and give feedback.

Our mission, vision, and strategy

“To transform our companies into hyper-organizations and create new value for the people they serve.”

We love our companies and want them to succeed in this high-velocity, hyper-connected world. We want to reboot our corporate and organizational culture to install a 21st century, digitally native version. We want to accelerate positive viral change from deep within the fabric of our organizations. We want to enable and empower the rest of our organizations to move at rapid pace, but room for patience and reflection. We want to unleash the enormous potential that lies within every human being within our organizations. We want to re-ignite the passion in our organizations. We are actionable.”

“We are building a global network of change catalysts that act from their true selves. Our actions will lead to new product and services and new global practices for value creation, agility and velocity. Our community acts from deep personal awareness and presence, and an irresistible enthusiasm opening up old rusty structured. We are architects and scouts into the future, and we want to guide our organizations in navigating a safe path from now to then.”

“We are making and holding a space where everybody can have a voice in service of value creation. “

Our game plan

We are making and holding a space where everybody can have a voice in service of value creation.

  • This space is called “Life”. This is where the new practices for value creation exist.
  • A community of cells upholds the space. These communities are self-organizing. These cells are built on the DNA of our movement.
  • The DNA of our movement is the platform of core principles that are the basis for us to connect, to practice, to embrace, and to inspire other to dream and make their dreams come true

DNA: A core (the common practice, the “commons” practices that cannot change, everything else can change. The DNA gives birth to cells. The cells can organize themselves.

They decide upon their own activities, their own resources, and their own relationships. And they always connect back to the mothership, the DNA of common core principles. Together, the cells create “Life” – our new global practice for value creation.

Our deliverables

We plan 8 types of deliverables:

  • Our manifesto
  • A common language
  • The 20 core principles of our DNA
  • A New Global Practice for Value Creation
  • A Belonging and Support program
  • A Discovery program
  • An Exchange program
  • A series of Events

I would like to summarize some of these deliverables:

The Manifesto

It has not changed really, but I’ll share it once more, as it, especially the “relentless” part of it, inspired so many people ;-)

Relentlessly

Challenging the status quo

Breaking the rules

Saying the unsaid

Spreading the innovation virus

Seeding Tribal energy

With No fear

With a cause to do good

Leading by Being from our True Selves

Going after the un-named quality

Relentlessly

Common language, lexicon

It is our ambition to get buy-in and support from our corporate leaders for our proposed company transformations. We also want to articulate the direction. In a language clearly indicating the road from where we are today towards the destination we aim for. More specifically, we want to show the safe path and help our companies navigate from here to there.

This above is just a summary of some from-to destinations. The core group worked out a quite detailed and compelling list.

The 20 Core Principles of our DNA

We don’t want to be an exclusive club or so. It’s just in these early days we keep the group to 30 to be able to hack-out a first solid foundation. We will then throw it fully into the open.

But something needs to hold us together. These are the DNA principles of our practice. In the language section above you’ve seen that one of the to-from destinations is the journey from “Distrust as a default” to “Trust as a default”. Networks only work when there is trust. We want to walk the talk. When we will open-up our movement, everybody how signs-up is “in” by default. You will be “trusted” by default as long as you act in line with our 20 core principles:

  • Principle-1: We love our companies and want them to succeed in this high-velocity, hyper-connected world
  • Principle-2: We dare to be great
  • Principle-3: We have the mandate to be brave and to challenge the status quo
  • Principle-4: We reboot our corporate and organizational culture to install a 21st century, digitally native version.
  • Principle-5: We accelerate positive viral change from deep within the fabric of our organizations.
  • Principle-6: We enable and empower the rest of our organizations to move at rapid pace, but with room for patience and reflection.
  • Principle-7: We unleash the enormous potential that lies within every human being within our organizations.
  • Principle-8: We re-ignite the passion in our organizations.
  • Principle-9: We are actionable
  • Principle-10: We are building a global network of change catalysts that act from their true selves.
  • Principle-11: Our actions lead to new product and services and new global practices for value creation, agility and velocity.
  • Principle-12: Our community acts from deep personal awareness and presence, and an irresistible enthusiasm opening up old rusty structured.
  • Principle-13: We are architects and scouts into the future,
  • Principle-14: and we want to guide our organizations in navigating a safe path from now to then
  • Principle-15: We are very well intended individuals
  • Principle-16: We are united people with shared purpose starting with your own being
  • Principle-17: We maintain integrity and relevance of the reason.
  • Principle-18: We keep our community a safe environment, where you can become who you want to become. Where you are not alone in being a catalyst
  • Principle-19: Our core values are integrity, clarity of reason, brightness and great positive energy
  • Principle-20: Reflection, reporting back and adding-on to each others input and opinions is our natural way of collecting and discussing opinions.

New Global Practices for Value Creation

The core of our ambition is to create/let emerge a new Global Practice for Value Creation.

It’s “practice” like in Lean “practice” and SixSigma “practice”. However these are  for increasing efficiency in our organizations. We are on the innovation side. Innovation is less about “optimizing” the core engine; it’s more about new value creation.

Imagine having “black-belts”, “champions” in value creation and deep transformation of our companies based on our mission and principles. In the end, a company should be proud and outspoken of having x number of “black-belt Rebels” on board!

We want it to be global. From a meta-story perspective, wanting it to be something “global” that holds the values is probably one of the strongest thoughts of our movement.

We would like that these practices develop in a self-emerging way through the activities of the cells. Our expectation is that these practices are grounded in following principles:

  • Practice of Courage, Fear-is-not-an-Option, No fear to jump
  • Behavior/attitude: “Shift Makers”, “Accelerating Purposeful Innovation”, “Inside and Outside the company”, “Accelerators”, “Catalysts”, “Igniters”, carrying “The soul of Innovation”, “Re-Build”, “Re-Work, “Corporate Activists”, “Positive Deviants”
  • Emergent from the cells
  • Includes stealth approaches etc
  • Practices that lead to mastery
  • Focus on what works
  • Be part of curriculum
  • Certification levels vs. Reputation system
  • To be added as program to universities etc

In writing this blog post, it suddenly becomes clear to me that we found the sweet spot between “singing my own song”,  my loosely defined concept of a “New Value Movement”, and the irresistible enthusiasm of corporate rebels who want their companies to succeed in the 21st century by creating viral change from within.

What’s next?

I just sent a much more detailed consolidation of the 22 June London meeting to the core team. Given the summer holiday period we gave ourselves time till Mid August to co-edit all that material.

By somewhere mid-September our web site should be done.

We have planned our next face to face on 22 Sep 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island (USA), back to back with the BIF8 Summit.

Now in its eighth year, the BIF Summit has earned it reputation as “one of the top 7 places to watch great minds in action” (according to Mashable). The BIF Summit is an annual gathering of innovation junkies and transformation artists all in service of better – across industry, sector, and community. Eighty percent of Summit participants are senior executives; all are designing next generation business models. The summit provides participants with the space to be curious and crazy, get inspired, and collide with unusual collaborators. A shoe designer learns innovation processes from a car designer. A police officer teaches a business guru about transforming industries. This year’s storyteller line up features diverse system thinkers like Intel’s Brandon Barnett and ZipCar’s Robin Chase, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and the Food Network’s Simon Majumdar, GE Healthcare CTO Michael Harsh and Drupal Creator Dries Buytaert.

BIF8 is September 19th and 20th in Providence, Rhode Island. For those who want to move their inspiration into action, there is a third day, post-Summit Workshop on Business Model Innovation. This workshop is hosted and facilitated by BIF Founder and author Saul Kaplan and the creator of the Business Canvas, Alex Osterwalder.

Many BIF Summit participants come as teams from the same organization or affiliated group – using the BIF magic to challenge norms, inspire creativity, and think across disciplines. Recognizing how hard it is to bottle the magic, and harder still to operationalize it upon the return to business as usual, BIF offered us an interesting Team Package, helping us prepare for and act on insights and random collisions experienced at the Summit. Thank you BIF for your generosity.

The BIF8 conference is on 19-20 Sep 2012 http://www.businessinnovationfactory.com/bif-8

It’s probably around that time we will throw it into the open.

And in November, we’ll do some solid campaigning in the heavy event season with Innotribe at Sibos, Techonomy, Defrag and Blur. And back-to-back to that week, we plan our 3rd face to face on 17 Nov 2012 in Boulder, Colorado (USA).

For 2013, we already received a generous offer from the Australian AMPlify Festival to host one of our next coming together.

Hopefully by then, we’ll find some sponsors to cover some of the basic costs for keeping this going.

Some resources:

  • Prezi: some of the visuals is this post were created in Prezi. I did a talk at the EU Marie-Curie event in Brussels on 3 July that included our rebels story. That talk has 3 sections:
  • I am still maintaining a Scoop.it curation on Corporate Rebels United. As I am doing my daily RSS Feed reading, tweeting, etc, I am reading them with a specific “Corporate Rebels”-lens and put them all together in one place: http://www.scoop.it/t/corporate-rebels-united > check it out

Feel free to use and share it with anybody who can help and support our cause. Let’s rock this place together and let’s get a life / get alive ! And feel free to post events on this blog or contact me via mail or twitter.

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I am restless these days. Exploring my limits, physically and mentally, and calibrating and navigating what I was meant to be: an architect, painter, scripter, dramaturge, producer?

I am so hungry to create those true memorable experiences, with artistic, architectural, and ethical rightness and integrity. Experiences those feel right from the very first second to the very last. Produced and executed with a crew of super professionals

Experiences that matter, those touch and move you.

Experiences that give you the same sort of “bang” as when you arrive in Bangkok airport, and get amazed by the post-industrial architecture, in all it’s grandeur and massivity.

The sort of “awe” when discovering Bucky, or the mindset of Jeffrey Katzenberg,Co-founder and CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG here below in interview with David Kirkpatrick of Techonomy.

The sort of “yes” when seeing the Blue Man Group. But a Blue Man Group with a message, and not only one-way, but where also the audience has to participate to realize the full potential and learning of the production.

The sort of “love” and being “moved” when seeing/hearing Mark Pesce analyzing and synthesizing, and story telling with an eruditeness seldom witnessed before, with us at Innotribe Bangkok last week.

Be in company of these sources of inspiration, or at least breath the same air (spotify link)

Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe and to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe yes to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe

When as an audience you know, just know, that this production is so right I, in the sense of “exact”, “spot-on”.

When as a producer, behind the scenes and behind the technical desk, you can feel the shiver down the spine as the rumble of the deep bass rolls-in and when the show begins, and the mystic of the lights, the mystery of the colors, the artists, the perfect technology, the professional crew are all coming together in an amazing whirlwind.

A production that feels more like a good book, where you have to invest in the beginning, where you discover new stuff, not the same old re-mashed hyped stereotypes, tricks and banalities.

Like a great film where the plot unfolds, and magic and surprise come together.

With deep immersive learning experiences, and drama, lots of drama, even in the sense of theatrical overacting. It’s creating a meta-story, a story of stories and adding performance to it. A new class of story telling, of immersive learning experience.

With authentic, inspiring mastery on stage, orchestrated and mashed-up into a brand new value play artistry, adding facilitation and superior crowd control to the mix. Aah! How I love the “stage” with it’s smell of wood, nails, pain, curtains, mechanics, flight-cases, racks, amps, cables, light and sound towers.

The whole discussion of hyper-connected companies during our Innotribe event in Bangkok, and especially the story of Uber taxi, made me reflect deeply on the role of the old taxi company as a dispatching service.

A dispatching role that was in essence the friction in the system, and becoming completely obsolete when the nodes (in this case taxi drivers and their customers) started talking to each other via API’s (in this was built into iPhone apps).

This friction (less)-rule not only applies to organizations and functions but also to people and events.

The master of ceremony (MOC) role has to become much more than just announcing and introducing speakers. If the MOC role stays limited to that, the MOC becomes a friction in itself that needs to be removed. The MOC has to become a “master of connections”, bringing additional content-value, interpretation and guidance to the mix.

In the case of events, we have to start looking at them as a way to bring the consumers and providers of our immersive learning experiences in direct P2P contact through API’s aka “emotional synapses” of the speakers/ignitors.

Some folks out there claim that we are pushing the envelope of performance too far, and should fold back to simpler formats closer to TED, or that our banking audiences and cultures are not ready for this. I deeply disagree. I believe that what we set out as a performance design in Bangkok is just the beginning, the middle of a spectrum between minimum and maximum.

It is of course easier, less complex, where you just program some cool people and surf on the success waves of others, never creating something yourself. But when an event becomes a happening with no file-rouge, no overall theme, without gluing metaphor and design, and without deep reflection about the overall energy and thematic rhythms, then we end-up merely with a set of sequentially ordered speakers, at best a mash-up of speakers, MOC, and facilitation tricks picked from the routine shelf, where the colors and scribes are just lipstick on a pig, a weak copy of the original.

It’s like cheating your audience. Because you know you can do so much better. Not giving the best of yourself is a cheating your audience, whether that audience is your beloved one, your family, your team, your company, and your world.

Easy is easy. Easy smells laziness. What we – at least me – are trying to do with events is not about producing a soap, or the n-th well produced game-program for points or money on television. Although I can be seduced by a well executed professional television production like “The Voice”.

I don’t want to go “easy”, that’s not where I set my bar. When “going back to basics, to easy” starts showing its ugly head, it’s time for us not to be complacent and run on routine, but to re-invent ourselves. We have to re-invent ourselves when we think we have explored the limits.

I am looking for the French quality of “profondeur” which I find richer than “depth”. That is where I want to go.

Sometimes, it looks like the ecosystem I live in today is not ready for this ambition and experiences. Sometimes, my current fishbowl is not ready to follow. I sense it’s a matter of time before we all can see the perspective.

This minor headwind is no reason to give-up or scale-down. I want this “giving-my-best-experience” to happen rather sooner than later. I don’t think I can do more than one production like this per year or even two years if I want to keep the quality of content and production I have in mind.

The choice is between many small touch points, with superficial tricks from the routine box and less events, with a dramatic increase in depth and exploration of new limits. Our edge of yesterday has already become the core. We have to be and remain the Edgewalkers (Amazon Affiliates link)

We have to keep our edge of “Edge-Walkers”, “Protagonists”, “Corporate Rebels”: challengers as described in Art Kleiner’s “The Age of Heretics”.

As Peter Thiel explains in this great New York Times article about establishing a creative monopoly:

Instead of being slightly better than everybody else in a crowded and established field, it’s often more valuable to create a new market and totally dominate it.

The journalist of the article makes some great observations:

Creative people don’t follow the crowds; they seek out the blank spots on the map. Creative people wander through faraway and forgotten traditions and then integrate marginal perspectives back to the mainstream. Instead of being fastest around the tracks everybody knows, creative people move adaptively through wildernesses nobody knows.

We live in a culture that nurtures competitive skills. And they are necessary: discipline, rigor and reliability. But it’s probably a good idea to try to supplement them with the skills of the creative monopolist: alertness, independence and the ability to reclaim forgotten traditions.

Maybe I should disappear for some months or years, to do my ultimate research, find sponsors, leverage the knowledge of the commons, produce and distribute with the best of the best.

I have already decided to invest in myself, healthy mind in healthy body to start with, but also focus on giving the best of myself in everything I do, and yes – with a little dose of arrogance – ignore everybody for the better overall health of myself. Ignore everybody as in Hugh McLeod’s bestseller with the same title (Amazon Affiliates link)

I am restless. Because I feel I am stagnating in my current environment. Limited in my creativity. I want to break free. Unchain my heart. Being able to speak free again. No strings attached. Surprise you and myself. Explode, and be emotional and physical again. Exploring my limits.

Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe and to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe yes to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe

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From time to time I get a mail with encouragements for my work at SWIFT and my work on the edges like “Rebels”. Today was one of those days. This is why I keep doing what i do. Below a letter from an anonymous reader of my blogs and tweets; a nice wrap-up of some of my latest work and efforts. At least it paid off for one person. I reproduced the mail without changing one letter. I just added the links where appropriate.

Peter,

Thanks for sharing your world in the links you provided.

I love what you’ve done with the Innotribe channel on YouTube.  Great style and excellent testimonials.

I like the high energy style and content on your curated page on scoop.it (here and here)

Also looked at the Prezi presentations.  Outstanding.  I particularly liked the digital asset grid and the notion of a spectrum.  I think the digital identity element coupled with a digital asset perspective  is key to the next stage of digital development.  I also like the services model you present at the end — like the perspective of both an enterprise and a customer or individual perspective and call for action on it and suggest some solutions.  I too came to a similar conclusion that the power of identity is key and that it can be viewed as an exchange between the individual and other parties.  Great work, Peter.  I have attached two papers that I wrote with colleagues some time ago that explore what we called pervasive personal identity and a second paper on alternative security viewpoints (atomistic view — which is really an asset view).  Totally agree with your From To perspective on security.

Also very intrigued with notion of SWIFT playing a role in this space.  We need some trusted players in this space that are not simply motivated by big data and commercial interests (e.g. Facebook, Google etc. “Everybody wants to replace me with my data.   Your experience in Belgium also, in my opinion, can provide a leadership role on the global scene.   I would like to see more told about that story.

Love the “Babies” presentation.  Fan of the Diogenes quote. Informative and energizing.

And I would say the soul of innovation is a tour de force.  Uplifting, emotive and a powerful message.  I very much like the juxtapositions of art, science, psych, esthetic, and experience.   Also a fan of B. Fuller.

Bottom line:  Important, inspirational and incisive message(s)…

Thanks for sharing.  Made my day.  You also gave me additional motivation to get on Prezi.

Have a great time and much success in Bangkok and Sydney.

(x) name known

Thank you (x) from deep in my heart. You know who you are. It gives me a boost of energy for next weeks Innotribe in Bangkok.

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The last couple of weeks I have been aroused with many ideas and reflections on Personal Digital Assets and on Digital Assets in general.

The journey started some weeks ago with my prezi talk at TEDxNewWallStreet and included my participation to the WEF “tiger team” on Personal Data, where a group of 30 experts are looking at what is needed to make realize the vision of Personal data as a new economic “asset class”. Personal data created by and about people, touching all aspects of society. That group is stitching the pieces together for a framework of business, technical and legal elements that are needed to underpin this vision.

However, the following video from Kynetx was the big aha-moment during my 4-weeks tour on the subject.

I never thought of a Personal Data Store as a “Personal Event Network”.

This changes everything ™

indeed as Phil Windley (@windley), CTO of Kynetx says.

One years ago, there was this beautiful video animation by David Siegel (@pullnews), a great vision of distributed nodes of personal data content talking to each other through API’s.

In the meantime, there is a rich ecosystem of start-ups that are building something very similar as we speak.

Maybe not yet to its fullest grand vision, but definitely going way beyond the traditional concept of a “personal data store”.

Check out leading start-ups such as Personal.com. Btw I dream of one day seeing an integration of Personal.com with an on-line bank. Anybody needing a brokering service here ? ;-)

What Kynetx is adding to the mix are three important things:

  • the “event” based thinking
  • the prototol for the data-web
  • Cloud Operating System

Event based thinking:

He really nailed it down for me last time I met him:

  • In the past we had RPC (Remote Procedure Calls), in essence fire and forget
  • Then came request/response: you ask for something, and you get it
  • Now there is the “event-signal”. It does not ask for something, it just says “something’s happened”, and any entity in the network can subscribe to the event and decide itself to do something with it.

Protocol for the data-web:

The other aha-moment was when Phil was doing his talk at the New Digital Economies conference on 27 March 2012.

For those who remember, in the past we had silo-d email systems. AOL, Compuserve, etc. They did not interoperate. We got rid of those silos when there was a standard protocol, allowing competing commercial and open source servers to talk to each other in SMTP.

We now see the same with data, personal data, social graphs. We have data-silos (Facebook, Google, Bank systems, Health systems, Government systems, etc). What we need is a “Data-Server” and a “Protocol” that allows these data servers to be interoperable.

Cloud Operating Systems:

Phil has explained all this beautifully in a series of blogs on www.windley.com and I get very inspired when he makes a call for thinking about personal clouds as “cloud operating systems”

All this, Phil calls “The Live Web” (Amazon Associates link). He is so excited about this that he has written a book about it.

In other words, start thinking about your “Personal Data Locker” become a “Personal Event Cloud”: your personal data-server in the cloud that can talk and do things on your behalf, can make decisions, interpret rules, etc…

And it can talk to any entity, any node in the web (or at least nodes in any discoverable namespace). In real-time. In multiplexing mode (meaning the node can be both a server and a client).

It suddenly dawned to me that over the last years we have been hyping “The Programmable WEB”, and that if we are serious about customer centric identity or “customer centric” or “personal” whatever, we may wish to start with the “me”.

Suddenly it was flashing in my brain: “The  Programmable Me”

“Me” is becoming a node in the grid. We are all nodes in the grid, sending and receiving signals. Like neurons passing an electrical or chemical signal to another cell. And start thinking “synapses” when you talk about the API’s of your Programmable Me.

From Wikipedia:

Synapses are essential to neuronal function: neurons are cells that are specialized to pass signals to individual target cells, and synapses are the means by which they do so”

The APIs of your “Programmable Me”, of your Personal Event Cloud are indeed the means to make all these nodes interoperable.

Add to this the graph-thinking of Drummond Reed (@drummondreed), Co-Chair of the XDI/XRI Technical Committee of OASIS. Check-out http://wiki.oasis-open.org/xdi/XdiGraphModel and more specifically some of the Powerpoints out there:

Each circle in this drawing represents a node in the grid. I really encourage you to look at this as a graph – this ensemble of inter-connected nodes – as something 3-dimensional, possibly multi-dimensional.

We have all been trained to think hierarchical. Flat files with a root, that sort of thing.

We have to learn to think in graph-models.

You can start anywhere in the galaxy. Every point can be the center of the universe. There is no root. At least, not in absolute terms. Yes, in relative terms with respect to the other nodes in the universe…

A grand vision starts to develop when you realize that the nodes can be any type of entities:

  • Humans (or their agents)
  • Circles (like Google Circles) of humans (entities without legal form)
  • Corporations, non-profits, governmental or educational institution (aka organizational constructs of humans with specific legal form)
  • We should also include less traditional forms of organizational constructs such as co-operatives, P2P communities, Commons,…
  • Programs (yes, software code), that perform tasks on behalf of the entities above or that operates as fully independent entities.

Each of these nodes/entities can participate in transactions – or better, “value dances”. “Dance” because the protocol is multiplexing, not one-way request-response.

Of course all these entities will require identity, in the broadest sense, not only URI or ID number, but in the sense of a spectrum, a graph that can be shared in context with other nodes/entities.

Sharing the spectrum becomes the essence of trade

What we are witnessing is a 180° turn in the power balance between client and server, slave and master, buyer and supplier, consumer and merchant.

All entities are equal.

We are all equal

Doc Searls (@dsearls) has written a book about it. The Intention Economy. (Amazon Associates Link)

But look at the subtitle: “When Customers Take Charge”.

I like Doc a lot, but his subtitle may suggest that somebody else is in charge: the empowered customer. I am afraid that we may end-up with another un-balance, where the pendulum has swung the other side: where the customer has an unfair data-advantage versus the merchant. But let their be no doubt that today the merchant has the unfair data-advantage, and I read Doc’s book more like a plea for getting the balance right rather than a socialist rant against establishment represented by the “big boys”, the vendors, the merchants, the silos like Facebook and Google.

In all the discussions about the Empowered Customers, we see classic commerce use cases like buying a book, buying flowers for grandma, etc

But I would like to make the jump to truly balanced financial transactions and what “dances between equals” would mean in that space. I invite you to think about your bank as the merchant, the merchant of financial services, and the consumer as the retail or wholesale customer of the bank.

In such scenario, the fundamental shift in thinking already happens at the Point of Sale (POS). We even have the question the term “Point of Sale”. It stems from an old thinking where the merchant “owns” the customer.

YOU are the point of sale

YOU are the point of data integration!

In the past the POS was the master,

now it will be YOU who is in charge,

or your agent,

the “Programmable Me”.

What if we start thinking about banking where YOU are the point of data-integration? What if your bank would offer you a service that enables you to manage your Personal Event Cloud?

I don’t know how it would look like, but it probably would be something triggered from your mobile phone. It probably would look like one of the Next-Gen banks (Simple, Movenbank, Fidor) with a Personal Event Network out-of-the-box.

Some of these Next-Gen banks are already accepting the CRED of your Social Graph as a much richer (in all senses of the word) basis for “Know you Customer”. Although we probably also have to inverse that: from the captive notion of “know your customer” to the user-centric meaning of “know your bank”. Then we may come back to the “primitive” of the meaning of “bank”: a bench where two people meet to build a relationship of value.

So, the discussion is NOT about the next coolest thing for doing a copy-cat of existing money-transactions through the latest greatest gadget like NFC or Bump, or whatever.

Some of all this already permeates in a recent Techcrunch article suggesting the “NFC is already out-moded”

“The thing to keep in mind here” says Crone, “is that NFC was developed more than 20 years ago. It was first deployed 10 years ago. 10 years ago, we didn’t have ubiquitous access to data plans. We didn’t have more smartphones in circulation than feature phones and we had to depend on an ‘offline’ connection for processing payments. But now, there are 124 million households that have more than one device connected to the internet. Typically, that’s a smartphone, but very quickly it’s becoming a tablet.”

Also Christopher Carfi (@ccarfi) starts thinking in this direction in his recent post “Musings in Small Data”.  In there, he refers to a video of Jerry Michalski (@jerrymichalski) of the REXpedition doing a demo his “Personal Brain”. (Disclosure: I am member of the REXpedition). The video is titled “Gardening My Brain” and the talk was given at Personal Digital Archiving on February 22, 2012 in San Francisco.

It’s a pity that this talk is in the context of a personal digital archiving conference. Because, in my opinion, we have dramatically evolved from archiving to sharing.

Sharing of information and digital assets is becoming the new normal in this world of Abundance of information.

Christopher Carfi nails it when he says:

As these issues become more widely understood, more individuals will be tracking their own information. Perhaps it won’t be to the level that Jerry has done it in the video above, but it will be happening. This means that we, while wearing our business hats, will need to be developing real relationships with our customers. We need to listen to what they are saying, what they are asking for, and working collaboratively with them in order to help them fulfill their needs. In the best cases, we’ll have built up levels of trust with our customers and will have been given the explicit permission to access our customers’ personal data stores. In doing so, we’ll be able to actually take the guesswork out of the equation that was noted so clearly above in the Facebook example and will, instead, be able to connect directly with our customers’ intentions and deliver value on their terms.

Creating an economy based on the principles of relations is of course at the heart of the REXpedition. It is probably the next territory for competitive advantage beyond the mundane money transaction.

All this is about creating “Relationship Channels”, channels the vendor can tune into of the user has opened the channel.

All the above are of course very much related to our Innotribe incubation project “Digital Asset Grid” (DAG), which is about the sharing of any digital asset with any party.

All of the above is also very relevant to Mark Pesce’s (@mpesce) thinking about “hypereconomics”, described in one of my previous posts “The future rarely arrives when planned”.

The real question is then: “Where will value be created when all the connections between nodes have become frictionless?” Mark has some ideas on this, and he describes them as “irreducibles

No matter how ‘smooth’ and frictionless hyperconnected commerce becomes, certain frictions in the business world will persist.  These represent both speed humps and opportunities.  The businesses of the 21st century will find leverage and differentiation by identifying and exploiting them.”

What those “irreducibles” are, you will be able to discover at our upcoming Innotribe event in Bangkok on 26-27 April 2012, where together with Mark Pesce we will have some great interactive learning experiences. Be there, or read the report that we will make on this post-conference.

If you really want to take a meta-view on all this, I believe all the examples above illustrate our species being in search for a deeper meaning, a thicker value in everything we experience:

  • We are in search for a higher level of consciousness, a further evolution in Spiral Dynamics, in search for a richer value system, much richer than the pure transaction world that is the narrow lens of today
  • We start looking at companies being nodes in the grid, in fair-trade constellations of equals, trying to maximize the commons and contribution and giving back to society
  • We want to go beyond the “advertising” thinking of “let’s hit the target with an ad”. We are in search for a better world with more Thick value and less Thin value
  • We are starting to see the emergence of “The universe as a Computer” as wonderfully described by Nova Spivack (@novaspivack) in one of his milestone posts last month.

All the above is about defining, articulating, and living lives of greater meaning. With the “M” of meaning. Umair Hague (@umairh) already in 2009 called this “Generation-M”, which in essence is anchored in “constructive capitalism”

Generation M is more about what you do and who you are than when you were born. So the question is this: do you still belong to the 20th century - or the 21st?

I would like to close with a reference to The Wellbeing Revolution (Amazon Associates Link) by James McWhinney (@JamesMcWhinney).

What I liked about this book is that it encourages you to look at where you are in your life, and to look at it through the “M” lens. The lens of meaning.

I then discover that what I am writing today, what job I am doing, who I am married to, was probably all meant to be this way. Not “meant” in a deterministic way. No, “meant” as everything I have done, the decisions I have made, my architecture studies, my infection by the identity virus, my journey in Leading By Being, etc… all these things have made me who I am.

What if I could capture all this richness about me, and have a tool and an infrastructure to share that on my terms and conditions, in context, and with the parties or nodes in the grid that I choose to? What if I could share my meaning in a programmable way?

I would end up with something called “the programmable me”

By @petervan from the SWIFT Innotribe team.

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