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
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
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
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.
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.