Archive for June, 2011

And here is another fantastic talk by JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist Salesforce.com (twitter @jobsworth) on the gamification of companies and why this can’t be something superficial like putting lipstick on a pig.

Was looking for a transcript, did not find it, so decided to do it myself. Below a summary of JP’s talk. Hope I captured the essential, and you appreciate my style of curating/highlighting.

Have asked JP to deliver something similar at Innotribe at Sibos 2011 in Toronto when we will discuss Corporate Cultures. Hope he will accept the invitation.




Watch live streaming video from readwriteweb at livestream.com


Some highlights:

  • We have always tried to take a material shift of paradigm by attaching some labels of the past
  • The inflection point is about significant changes in work, rather than significant changes in technology
  • This is not about putting something superficial on tasks that your really don’t want to do
  • Extrinsic rewards have significant risks,
  • Referring to the works of Kathy Sierra.


Have a look at Kathy Sierra’s latest guest-post on Hugh McLeod’s blog about “Pixie Dust & The Mountain of Mediocrity”

  • Find rewards inside yourselves
  • “badges” of excellence should be about reaching levels of mastery


I have no intent or wish

to put

the lipstick of gamification

on the pig of work


  • The control paradigms of the past are being challenged
  • Some assumptions on why the firm exists: Firms exist primarily in order to reduce transaction costs
  • As a result of vertical integration, a number of things used to be possible: easier access to capital,
    • Today, most people in this room have a better credit rating that the bank they use
  • Global reach and scope
    • That with the digital world is again available to everybody in this room
  • The firm was designed against the background of the industrial revolution
  • Knowledge work is in essence “lumpy”

We have such fear

if at work it is not possible to doing nothing,

we take the gaps at work,

and we fill this

with this 20st century mechanism,

called “meetings”

  • If you could fill your days with meetings, then you look busy
  • For real work, you have to stay late, as you filled your white-space
  • You have used up your time for cognitive surplus that Clay Shirky talks about
  • The kind of choices we have today are fundamentally different from the past
  • Everything on the assembly line was predicated by the division of labour

Having 1 person doing

the same thing 16,000 times a day

was felt to be acceptable in those days,

to me it feels inhuman

  • The most expensive thing was the equipment, the switching cost of equipment was very high and the collateral damage done to workers was trivial
  • Now the most expensive asset are the people in this room
  • Because we are able to switch, we are capable of doing non-linear work


It not about an inability to concentrate,

its about the inability

to hold a tension

on the garbage

that is being spewed at them

  • You never have a steady stream of work as a knowledge worker
  • The principles of the assembly line are deeply in our ethos, our very being, we get conditioned to that from our schooling system onwards
  • An ability to switch away from that is not trivial
  • The first thing that you notice about Heroku offices is that there are no desks

–> now think about

what it means

to have

a “desktop” computer


  • That’s change is possible because choice of the edge devices is with the individuals
  • Processes are king only where there are repeatable tasks and the repetition is of value
  • Part of the big shift from the static to the flow is we start spending more time dealing with the exceptions rather than with the core flow
  • The choices today are far to vast to believe in a linear progression
  • Much richer knowledge worker environment in which we must be able to recognize patterns
  • Given enough eye-balls, all bugs are shallow
  • The value of inspection when something is shared in a large group comes to the foreground
  • Wikipedia exists because of cognitive surplus: people are prepared to donate or contribute their time, and their brain, and their knowledge and their effort in order to collaborate for some common good

It strikes me

when I am typing this,

that this is exactly

what I am doing right now:

investing my cognitive surplus

for the common good

  • This truth is a valid in enterprises as it is at home
  • The use of gamification is to help generation that are already at work, because the generations coming in know this already
  • This is the generation born since 1982
  • But we live in a hybrid world
  • Genres are values
  • Hearts, Spades, Clubs and Diamonds
  • Hearts are people that like bonding and teamwork
  • Spades are people who really like to go to the bottom of things and complete their analysis
  • Diamonds are people who after surprises, wealth, aggregation and collection
  • Clubs are people who like beating up on others
  • It is a metaphor for serious thinking on what motivates people in the book “Driven” by Nitin Nohria (Amazon Affiliates link)


The 4 drivers of motivation:

the drive to acquire,

the drive to defend,

the drive to bond,

and the drive to learn


  • When you are looking for a company to work for, then you have to do this sort of “genre matching”
  • The genre of games is in fact the values and ethics of companies
  • When you join, they put you through some form of induction, and the induction is what in a gaming context you would call a sandbox, because you want to minimize damage to the person and environment, while you teach people and allow people to learn more effectively on how the firm operates
  • The discovery process of “how to”, the discovery of how the game works, in a safe sandbox environment
  • We have to think about induction in a deeper way and say “it is a sandbox”

Work has morphed

over the last hundred years,

from hierarchies of products and customers,


businesses becoming

networks of capabilities and relationships


  • There is a lot of work to be done on how to value this, how do you value relationships
  • Things like Klout,, influence, reputation, capability to create and maintain a group of followers, a weighted understanding of the value of your network
  • A whole new science of beginning to genuinely measuring relationships
  • Let’s put all this now in context of team selection, and missions and quests
  • Hierarchies existed because the cost of coordination was very high

In today’s world

those coordination costs are trivial,

we are moving from a world

where everybody has to go

through an MBTI or similar

and then somebody

decides about team composition,


a world

where the team selection

is carried out

by the individual


  • The tools have to be in place to discover who you would like to work with and what you would like to work on
  • A certificate or badge indicating that that person has the skills and the mastery to perform that task
  • Mastery at work gets meaningful
  • Most video games don’t allow you to go to level-X unless you have acquires the skills for level X-1
  • The reason to keep you at that lower level is to get you to that master level
  • Next: a reasonable understanding of where you are at
  • The idea of “save and replay” when at work

I always wanted to live

in a zero-blame culture


  • And work never has been such a zero-blame culture because of these structural weaknesses
  • Now I can get to the point where I can say “I have not failed, I have found 10,000 ways that do not work”
  • You save that which has not worked, together with the conditions within it did not work, and you can analyze and replay and deeper understand
  • Because – when the conditions change – what did not work may work this time
  • So never say “we won’t do that, we tried it before and it did not work”
  • The value of being able to aggregate any life-stream partially lies in the ability to inspect and make analysis of it
  • Conserving seeds so that they do NOT get naturally selected out
  • What did not work today may work in different conditions tomorrow
  • Somebody smart did not throw away that code of that stupid idea
  • Gamification of the enterprise is not a fad
  • It is not about providing extrinsic rewards for crap work
  • If work is crap, let’s fix that problem


From hierarchical,


top-down work




personally selected teams,


and outcomes


  • We are nearly there, but this change is going to require use to learn a lot of new things,
  • And what games can teach us is a smarter way of being able to extract those learning and bring them into the enterprise
  • Thank you

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Awesome “Must-see” video by Gary Hamel. Contains a lot of the wisdom of Vineet Nayar of HCL, who wrote the book “Employees First, Customers Second”.

Btw: have invited Vaneet to Innotribe at Sibos Toronto on Corporate Culture. Hope he accepts.

I’d love to get to a stage where

Innotribe is the place

where you discover

what futures emerge

on the fringe



"Modern” management is one of humanity’s most important inventions, Gary Hamel argues. But it was developed more than a century ago to maximize standardization, specialization, hierarchy, control, and shareholder interests.

While that model delivered an immense contribution to global prosperity, the values driving our most powerful institutions are fundamentally at odds with those of this age—zero-sum thinking, profit-obsession, power, conformance, control, hierarchy, and obedience

don’t stand a chance against community, interdependence, freedom, flexibility, transparency, meritocracy, and self-determination.

It’s time

to radically rethink

how we mobilize people

and organize resources

to productive ends

It’s one one-line after the other, this talk is so inspirational. Check-out:

  • Fit for future, but also fit for human beings
  • We have to re-invent management
  • Management legacies
  • Change has changed
  • Hyper-competition
  • You have to earn your place in the market every single day
  • Knowledge itself is becoming a commodity
  • How fast am I creating new knowledge
  • An organization where people are willing to bring the gifts of their creativity and passion
  • Real reverse accountability
  • Holding your managers accountable for you succeeding in your job
  • Challenge management dogma
  • What problem is management trying to solve?
  • How do you turn human beings into semi-programmable robots?
  • You have to have aspiration, you have to be contrarian, you have to be willing learning from the fringe
  • The future happens on the fringe
  • Management is a feudalistic system
  • The web is sort of the global operating system of innovation


We have to bake

into our management values

the deep web values of




and Collaboration

  • We have been told that we can’t change our organization: that’s nonsense
  • Being resilient as human beings

We hope

that you become

a champion

for the future

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

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


It is about creating

memorable events

that are memorable

because they deliver

an authentic experience


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


Jan Van Eyck – Arnolfini portret

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

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


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

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

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



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



Permeke – Laying Farmer

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


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

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

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

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


It’s sort of back to my roots

It’s somewhere deep in my DNA


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

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

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

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

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



that’s where I am setting the bar


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

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

Who can express

their very personal emotions in an emerging landscape

of diversity


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

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

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

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

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


building and architecting

the rhythm of the event

like a rave


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


It is about the power of the tribe

The deep power of the tribe

The Innotribe




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


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

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

We don’t want to go for less!



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



I do this with

an extreme deep intensity


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

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


When I am in that flow,

I do not want to be distracted

by personal drama


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


Hugh McLeod posted a couple of days ago:

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

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

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

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


Respect for my time and space

Respect for my high standards


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

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

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

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

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


Team is about “inter-dependence”


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

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

Don’t mess around with/in team.

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

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After Kosta’s wrap-up about the event some days ago, i’d like to share with you some personal impressions and lessons learned from this event.

We have been designing this event for a couple of months. Not every day 100% – though that may have been true the last two weeks when everything comes together – but a quite substantial piece of our time.

As many of our events, it all looks a bit like chaos – organized chaos.


It looks like

things happen by magic,

but there is no magic


There is just an awful amount of preparation and design.  We spent quite some time to think through the design of our Innotribe events.

But despite all the preparation, debriefs, visuals from the location, hotel rooms, etc, etc the whole thing comes really alive once you actually are on-site and see/feel the actual space that will be hosting your event.

I landed in Mumbai around 1am the morning of 31st May 2011. Baggage got lost in London Heathrow. It was 2:30am before i was in my hotel room. Tired. The rest of the team already flew in the day or some days before.

After a short night, team briefing. So far everything in pretty good shape. We have hijacked 2 rooms and use them as our headquarters. Don’t have pictures of this, but everybody is crew: Kosta and Matteo sitting on the ground cutting hardboard. In the meantime, the facilitation crew is changing once more the design of the event. It’s getting better and better.

Lessons learned so far:

  • Everybody in the team is crew.
  • I have to let go at this stage. Have the impression my interventions don’t add value anymore. My presence is becoming distracting. Let the team do what they need to do. Don’t intervene. Trust the process

Next checkpoint: room set-up at 7pm. Problems. The previous event has not even started breaking down. And the hotel turned off the airco in the ballroom: no need for airco for night workers… Room is steamy hot. There is nothing we can do. It will take at least till midnight before our audio/visual and stage guys will have set up our stuff. Decision: let’s go to bed early and gather back at 4am for general set-up.


Here is Alex keeping the morale up !

June 1, 4am: room is not ready yet. Some team members worked till 2am. Has hardly 2 hours sleep. You can feel the fatigue and the irritation settling in. 7:30am and we have not done even the sound-check and dry-run. Airco is back on.


Somehow – as by magic – all pieces of the puzzle fall in place. It’s 8:30am and the registration desk open. Quickly to room for shower and changing cloths so i don’t smell on stage.

Here is a picture of the opening session


Events runs smoothly for the rest of day. End result is quite cool “knowledge wall”. Again, all team is crew.



17:30pm: Staff de-brief on day-1. Surprising how many folks turn up that i have not seen through the rest of the day. Obviously, those are the people who have most comments on day one. My role:


Take in

Don’t take it personal


What the hell do i care about the typography on some slides or the size of the coffee cups when this event is about financial inclusion? This is good inspiration for me to prepare another blog on event intensities.

Anyway, team will take comments on board and come-up with a redesign after the dinner.

19:00pm dinner. Have a deep discussion with one of the speakers. He has prepared video for the event, but i am lacking the authentic person behind the video. It looks like a documentary. Suggest speaker not to hide behind the lectern and to come in full vulnerability into the audience. Be vulnerable in saying “i don’t know”.


Be vulnerable in

being and standing there

as your authentic self


Do we all have the courage to do so ?

20:30pm after dinner. Debrief on new design. Don’t like it.


Seems we are having

a big illusion


Is financial inclusion the real agenda, or is it just a smoke-curtain to package a discussion between banks and telcos?

These are the real hard questions. It’s about the integrity and authenticity of the event. Should we put it on the table the next day?

We decide yes. We re-design the bloody thing once more. Late again, not enough hours of sleep. Back next morning at 6am.

The room has been re-arranged. From theatre into semi-circle context.


Have briefed all speakers that i will go into conversation with them during their presentation. Yes, i will interrupt them in their flow if they don’t manage to bring home their message fast and clear enough.

We also “play” with silence. With looking each of the participants in the eyes and call for honesty and integrity.

Highlight of the morning is (designed) conversational talk between Dan Marovitz and Neal Livingston.


Afternoon highlights are The Mixer – i love the station-format where you can go from station to station every 10 minutes.


Crown jewel of the event is the Mobile Arena. Matteo his usual self as master entertainer and master of ceremony of the Mobile Arena. There is lot of video material in Kosta’s previous blog.

But not only Matteo is in top shape. I have seen other people growing during this event.

For example Greet, who we bombarded to Audio/Visual manager: growing from shy and hyper-nervous rabbit with open eyes looking in the white light beam at 4am on day one, to the commander in chief controlling the A/V troops by the end of day-2.


Kosta, now in the crowd – anonymous, almost liberated from his staff – in symbiosis with the Indians, truly enjoying, his genuine smile, his body moving with some latency with the Indian Wave.

We end the day and the event with some powerful “Indian Waves”, sheering to everybody who contributed to the event.

Time to relax. We have a cool evening dinner. Lots of fun, jokes, drinks,… Landing…

The day after, i go with Muriel on a guided tour in Mumbai. First time i leave the hotel. Amazed by the crowd, the traffic, the contrasts in wealth and poverty.


The Ghandi house leaves me deeply impressed.




The days after: I see some shrewd attempts water down what we did at this event. Even questioning whether we should do this at all. They try to hide behind a smoke screen of revenue and pragmatic deliverables.

They won’t succeed.


The genius has left the bottle


What they don’t understand is that we are on a mission. We are at war. Against the old game. For a better world and company. With an enthusiasm and belief seldom witnessed before.


True enthusiasm is irresistible

it’s contagious

So, yes this is about energy. About creating a new dynamic. About enabling a new culture. About reaching new audiences. About bringing new and refreshing content. About a different brand awareness of SWIFT, that makes you look never the same way again at this company.


It’s about

the irresistible



that breaks down

rusty structures

and corporate walls


It’s about Indian Waves and genuine smiles.

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