It’s quite some time ago i did a post with brand new content. It’s partly because i also have a family and a job, but mainly because i only feel the urge to blog when i have real content to contribute.
These days i also share an awful lot via twitter: that’s where the day-to-day action is. So if you are interested in my lens on technology and values for the 21st century, you can also follow we on twitter @petervan . There is an almost daily stream of tweets on these subjects.
I “reserve” the blog to share some more elaborated thoughts on stuff that keeps me going or that touches me one way or another way emotionally, in the way i am.
This time, the post is about
People, Culture, Excitement and
And I’d like to share what happens if you truly stand for who you are and have the courage to stand up and stick out your neck.
The title of this post is of course a word-spiel on get-a-life and get alive. The discussion was part of an off-site recently attended in the wonderful city of Barcelona.
It was about 20 years ago i was in Barcelona, and the only thing i remembered were the ‘”Ramblas” and the “Plaza de Espagna”. Given my education as an architect (non many people know this ;-), i of course knew that Barcelona was the city of the Sagrada Familia of Gaudi.
The off-site was facilitated by Dan Newman and his team from The Value Web.
The off-site was our reflection moment about our company for the next 5 years.
Dan really “got me” with his opening speech: he used two words that deeply resonated very strong with me – at an emotional level.
The architect aims for
Especially in sculpting the old with the new. Old game and new game. And that the old and the new should be connected by more than just a link or a tunnel. That the end-result should show a deep sense of unity. And that this “sculptural integrity” and other architectural thoughts were the also the basis of facilitation work and techniques of the Value Web, because that was also how group dynamics could be looked upon.
The words entered by body and mind, as they reminded me of a piece of my true self and my youth 30 years ago when i was making drawings and sketches myself of the most bizarre and bold architectural designs.
Dan mentioned also a book: “The Timeless Way of Building” by Christopher Alexander.
The real and ultimate question in this book is:
What is it that makes a building “work” ?
When you see something that works, you just know it. And it’s something that has a timeless quality.
I was intrigued by the subject, and kept researching, and quickly discovered the site of Tomorrow Makers.
And especially the blog post titled “Happiness Pandemic (HP101) Hits Worldwide”. Just read and internalize the first two bullets:
The tendency to let yourself be guided by intuition instead of acting under pressure of fear, forced ideas and pre-conditioned behavior.
A total loss of interest in: – judging others, convicting yourself and preoccupation with things that create conflict.
During the off-site, Dan did something else that was brilliant. He took us out of the hotel into the city. In our case we went to the CosmoCaixa Barcelona, the Museum of Science.
Besides being a perfect metaphor for blending old and new with “sculptural integrity”, it also put all of us in a different context and mindset to look in quite different and innovative ways to our off-site subject.
I don’t know what happened exactly, but when we returned to the conference hotel, we were looking for topics likes
At a certain moment, we could form a small group of people, sort of a tribe around a subject that was not yet addressed.
I put the word “excitement” on a post-it, and look: 10 min later, we had 7 or so colleagues interested in discussing the subject.
I asked a simple question: “how excited do you get by the work done so far at this off-site” and rate it on a scale of 1-10. To my astonishment, the average rating was 3.
So we then looked for the root-cause of this score. A lot had to do with company culture, but also by the need for a new vocabulary, and not just words, but a vocabulary that was inspired by the value set that is needed for the 21st century.
In a follow-up session on people and culture this topic re-appeared in full force.
Although initially we were looking at symptoms and superficial quick fixes, it suddenly dawned to us that
the real root cause was about
the openness of
our minds, hearts, and minds.
I have used the following slide many times in my postings.
In black the old game: full of macho behavior and Machiavellian attitudes and states of mind.
In white the new game. With true, genuine interest in the other and the true self – not based on tricks or quick fixes.
The discussions on these topics were deep and full of enthusiasm. We were looking at talent development, both the professional skills ànd the Personal Development side of it.
And i keep on fighting that “Personal Development” is NOT about “soft” skills.
It’s really about having and keeping
cutting-edge “good” people
and nurturing them so that they can function optimally in today’s highly connected networked society.
You need to “train” and get exposed to a number of essential hard skills and values for the 21st century.
In this context, i get very inspired by the work of Vanessa Miemis, a Gen-Y student with a fantastic blog “Emergent by Design”. Look for example at her latest blog entry “Essential Skills for 21st Century Survival: Part-3 Network Weaving”
Or the post “Framework for a Strengths Based Society”
Do you feel how powerful this is ?
“Strengths Based Society”
Should we not invite her to Sibos ? To be part of Innotribe at Sibos. As part of our “Gen-Y meet Bankers” Face-to-Face interactive workshop ? Maybe with the help of some strong Gen-Y-power, we will be able to keep the sharpness of our ideas and dreams.
Because at the end of the off-site, each team had to boil it down its ideas to a pitch of 5 minutes and I was surprised to witness how in this pitching work, we lost quite some of the “cutting" edge”. Also surprised on how fear creeps in when people are volunteered to deliver the pitch to the executives.
And a strange behavior of watering down the message, and even scratching the most provocative words in the end deliverable.
We seem to have lost
our desire for
We also “frame” too conservatively. So, in order not to loose some of these more provocative statements, here are some examples:
- In 5 years time, 10% of our workforce should be Generation-Y folks
- By 2015, our company should be in the Top-10 of best companies to work for in the financial industry. Worldwide.
- Gen-Y should drive the composition of the Leadership council of the future
- 90% of the people in the 2015 leaders team should be new. Only 10% of today’s group should be the same
- Doing things 10,000 time better rather than twice as good
- “Do no evil” is not good enough anymore. “Great to Good” is the new paradigm.
- “Get-a-Life and Get Alive !” Was the original title of our pitch. Somebody changed the title to the more boring “people and values for 2015”
- Chief Corporate Activist
- About framing: from “our company is 37 years old, are we in a mid-life crisis” to “our company is 37 years old, we are just-born, who do we want to feel “right” or “it works” in 500 years from now?”
At this moment, I decided to have a short break in my blogging activity, and go for my Sunday trip to the bakery. I bumped into a friend, who shared me a wonderful story about going for your dreams.
The story was basically about context. Of not waiting to be called. Of doing what you intuitively know is right. What works. In his case it was about seeing a wonderful motorbike, feeling it was just designed perfectly, and following your intuition and impulse and buying the motorbike. It happened to be a Can-Am Spyder Roadster. This was not just about buying something desirable. It was a story about contextual living. About flow. About following your compass. And not delaying your dreams till when you’re dead.
The story reminded me of the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”
You can find “flow” is everything you do. From the most banal activities like cleaning or motorbike maintenance to writing an inspiring blog and making a pitch that makes others dream and wanting to go after their dream.
When i started this blog in April 2009, i wanted it to be in line with my purpose in life “Inspire other people to dream” – and execute their dreams. I hope i have not disappointed you so far.
Last week, somebody said i should start writing a book. Maybe i will do that. Maybe using the funding model experimented by Stowe Boyd fro writing his report on Social Architecture: Microstreams In Business.
Last week, somebody gave me the greatest compliment somebody can give to a man of the 21st century:
“you have the most feminine mindset
of all the men i ever met”
Let’s eradicate the macho culture of judging, being cynical, and control freaks.
Let’s build a culture based on open mind, open heart and open will.
Are you also fed-up waiting on the side-line and do you feel the hunger to join me on the drawing board to help us sketch the “sculptural integrity” required for the 21st century ?
Then please use abundantly the comments feature of this blog.
Doing what you want to do, not waiting to be called. Stand-up and stand as you are. In your true self. Without fear. Living your dreams.
Get ALIVE !
If you feel energized by this blog, you can get an extra doze at following previous posts: