Archive for November, 2011

Yesterday, i had the pleasure to be interviewed by Dan Marovitz, the founder of Buzzumi, a knowledge monetization platform, and a board member of rbidr, and the Professional Diversity Network. He is currently on sabbatical from Deutsche Bank where he was, until June of this year, Head of Product Management for Deutsche Bank’s Global Transaction Banking business.

The subject was digital identity, and the chat covered several subjects from privacy, KYC, user centric identity, and of course our latest incubation project the Digital Asset Grid.

The chat is available online here.

We could have gone on for hours, as the subject is so rich. Buzzumi is a new kid in town for doing online webinars, a bit like WebEx or Skype, with the big difference you don’t have to install any client. The session yesterday was more or less flowless, with some small audio hick-ups (minor). But they are still in beta. I like the idea of “one click and on”.

It also learned me that i am in beta myself for this sort of on-line interviews. I have done some media interviews in the past, and we got here at SWIFT a proper media training, but this is different. You have to watch several inputs at the same time, the chat box is also a source of streaming info. The most important thing is that i need to be better prepared. Really walk through in advance the questions with the interviewer, prepare my key messages i want to convey, prepare content blobs (just keyword is enough) around certain themes that i can tap into at will as the conversation flows.

“Messaging” is fundamentally changing in nature. Video will be an integral component of it, and i can’t wait to see the first blending of this with Twitter and semantic video searching. On good track, Dan !

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This was my second Defrag.

I attended Defrag for the first time last year in 2010, and it helped me spot 6 excellent speakers for Innotribe at Sibos: Jeff Jonas, Mark Dowds, Laura Merling, Dion Hinchcliffe, Doc Searls, and Stowe Boyd.  I contacted more Defrag speakers, but or they couldn’t make it, or I just couldn’t fit them in the already packed Innotribe agenda.

It’s a dream for me in my role as content curator for Innotribe events. But it is also one of the conferences that really helps me identifying trends in tech industry.

I tweeted the one-liner “once Defrag always Defrag”. Life permitting, I want to go every year.

Defrag is not a conference like any other. It’s a 2-day encounter of tech enthusiasts in Broomfield, close to Boulder, Colorado. It’s capped in number of participants: 325 max. The quality of the speakers, content and participants is excellent. Always a place to have great conversations.

It’s perfectly organized by Eric Norlin and his spouse Kim, and tuned for a modern tech audience: super quality video projection, awesome sound system (the organizers love playing lots of hard rock and metal music), power plugs on all tables, and a Wi-Fi system that is tuned to deal with 3 devices per participant. How good how good was Defrag’s Wi-Fi? Well, they had people downloading the new iPhone/iPAD iOS *in* the keynote room, and we did not notice any drop in quality! And everybody got a goodies bag so big that you have to buy a separate suitcase to get it all home. Eric’s super curation skills, his no-frills introductions of the speakers and his humble no-hero attitude completed the pack.

As usual, I will not make a chronological report of my impressions, but zoom into some of the highlights of this year’s conference.

  • For a very detailed twitter stream, check-out the tweet tsunami with hashtag #defragcon:  https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23defragcon
  • or even better, Matt Groeninger (@mgroeninger) compiled tweets for hashtag #defragcon during Defrag 2011 (11-3 to 11-11), cleaned it up for double entries, time-zone adjusted them and posted the whole lot as an *.CSV file here: http://bit.ly/u8Xppi . Thx, Matt! It helped me writing this blog!

Like last year, the conference opened with an awesome energizing video trailer. This year – the 5th edition – was no different.

Defrag Video: http://vimeo.com/31903004

That was great as a kick-start. Eric and team had decided not to have a specific overall theme for the conference, and I believe that’s a good change. However, after the 2 days, I saw some themes lurking behind all the great content: big data, APIs, the race against the machine, and inspiring new ways of work were recurring.

Opening by nobody less than Tim Bray from Google with a talk on “Mysteries of the Internet”

He was one of the speakers who did live coding as part of his talk, and it was the second time in 3 weeks that I heard the message that nobody really understands the Internet (first time was at Compass11 from Danny Hills from Applied Minds). “Don’t try to predict the future from the past” and “I want to be an explorer (of unknown territories)” were typical one-liners of this talk.

I have organized this blog under following themes:

  • Check your assumptions
  • Machines in charge
  • When presentations become art
  • How to run your company like a start-up
  • Philanthropy
  • Great conversations
  • Big Data
  • Pitch Alert

Check your assumptions

Sam Arbesman from The Kauffman Foundation pointed out that most facts change over time. There are few absolute truths. He introduced the notion of “mesofacts”, warning that “your reality is out of date” and that “whatever period we are born in we view as the state of affairs”. Facts (averages of facts) obey (mathematical) rules: half of scientific data changes in about two generations. Many of our decisions are based on outdated facts. “Are your facts up-to-date?” was the appropriate call for action for this talk.

Duncan Watts, author of “Everything is obvious, once you know the answer” explained that common sense is hat we rely on to navigate concrete, everyday situations. Unfortunately, we try to apply common sense or gut feeling for complex longer-term situations. In complex systems history never really repeats, history doesn’t repeat deterministically, so generalizations based on the past have limited utility. “Is the Internet to sociology what the telescope was to physics?” is a good summary.

Aneesh Chopra, CTO to the White House gave a passionate talk. The assumption that he challenged was that government officials are boring and non-inspirational. Oh boy, I was impressed by his in-depth knowledge on a broad set of technology matters, and the contagious energy he was spreading. Governments need more people like @aneeshchopra in public service. Do, don’t talk, innovate, don’t legislate, open government using big data, API’s, and crowd sourcing to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship. Cool stuff.

Machines in charge

Robert Stephens was founder and CEO of Geek Squad until Best Buy bought it. Robert is now CTO Best Buy. “Every company should have a Robert Scoble” and “where is the AppStore for home automation?” were some good openers. He made clear that there is a whole market out there for repairing/supporting robotics, home automation, fitness, the Internet of things. On social media, his dream is to have NO social media response team, that every employee is connected and empowered. He also showed some “wireless hygiene stats”: how much noise devices cause in a Best -Buy shop. Towards the end, he made a shutout for #singly > VRM and locker project, and defended that bringing your own device to work (BYOD) works better than giving an employee their own corporate device.

Brad Felds (managing director at Foundry Group) opened his talk with an awesome scary app on Facebook http://www.takethislollipop.com/ > try it and make sure your Facebook locations are “on”.

For Brad, the machines have already taken over: they are very patient, come in many disguises. Machines don’t have to kill us; they are patient and can wait till we die. Still, he is an optimist and thinks that machines will like us and will help us. He urged us to change our mindset about who is controlling whom. Regarding the singularity, he does not care anymore when it happens, it’s happening already, and very fast. To my question “what values to we have to give our children to prepare for the age of the machines?” he answered to my surprise “nothing”. Kids younger than 15 years have grown up symbiotically with being connected, and will solve it themselves. Therefore, Brad remains optimistic.

When presentations become art

Lili Cheng from Microsoft Research surprised everybody with a beautiful presentation inspired by architecture, going back to her education roots: why did I like this talk so much? ;-). She was using the architecture metaphors to refer to the ideal structure of a city, and how that is inspirational to build social software that is flexible and creative enough to optimize big data. “Dance like no 1’s watching. Sing like no 1’s listening. Tweet like no algorithm is coldly deciding your social worth” or a modern implementation of “Why do we loose our child’s innocence along the journey of life ?” was a fantastic quote to make the transition to a great demo of Montage, a document editing package based on search and mixing all kinds of content: pretty cool. It is the first demo in many years that I see from Microsoft where they prove they are finally getting the web.

Already last year, Paul Kedrosky seduced me with his talk on “Ladders”, a great presentation on big data correlations. With Kedrosky, you never know where he is leading you till 10 min in the talk. This year was no different. He started by live coding in game ZORK, trying to get into the White House through the backdoor. At a certain moment in the game, he hits a location that is labeled “this page is intentionally left blank”, btw also the title of his presentation. You must be brave to drop the word “vacansopapurosophobia” (fear of a blank page) into an early-afternoon keynote 😉 In essence, his talk was about transparency and about vulnerability in being open: “I want to play a game but I don’t want to be gamed”. The blank page is a way to reassure us we are missing out something.

How to run your company like a start-up

There were some really cool presentations on new methods of work.

Jay Simmons, President of Atlassian had a talk on “Hack your company”. Some salient approaches included scoring based on performance and stretch, come up with an idea and ship it in 24 hours (yes, 24 hours!) and iPads at the entrance of work to survey employee satisfaction, instead of boring long surveys.

T.A. McCann, Founder and CEO of GIST charmed everybody with “A startup Start to Finish”. In his opinion great people, aligned passions, and complementary skills are the secret sauce for startups. The HOW is as important as what: he suggested to operate your start-up like clockwork: 18 month horizon, 6 month goals, 3 month plan, 1 month themes, 2 week sprints.

Adrian Cockcroft, Cloud Architect from Netflix blew everybody away. In essence this was a great talk on innovation and on Netflix’s corporate culture. He made clear that the one R&D or Innovation center does not work, is not taken serious by the rest of the company and how incredible hard it is to change corporate culture in a big organization: he implied it’s impossible. I loved his quote “For innovation to happen, you have to get out of its way”. His list of corporate culture attributes was mind-blowing: they only hire senior people, have no coding standards (peer pressure works fine). They don’t have a CIO and their IT staff only supports employees. They push out code, as needed, several times a day, and not “the old way”, the 2-week train like at eBay. One and the same persons now do project manager, line manager, and architect. Prima donna’s are expelled by group pressure. There are no bonuses, just flat and very competitive salaries. And they have monthly stock options at the current price with instant vesting. Fascinating. With his grand-finale “we only hire rockstars: do you want to be in the audience on part of the band on stage?”, any professional should be attracted to check out the open positions at Netflix 😉 Post event @matthixson posted a link to a slideshare about the Netflix culture. It’s great and I recommend it to all, especially if your company is reviewing motivation, appraisals, etc.

I was trying to invite Adrian to Innotribe at Sibos 2012, but could not yet convince him. A couple of days after Defrag, I had a call with Kaliya Hamlin @identitywomen on an unrelated subject, and she asked me how Defrag went. She said that the people who know Innotribe should make a invitation blurb to help us convincing folks who do not immediately see what’s in for them to talk to senior banking executives: Innotribe is different, cool, engaging, and no better ambassadors then those who experienced. Great idea, Kaliya! Thx!

Laura Merling from Alcatel-Lucent was brilliantly comparing the aspects of a business to 5″” stilettos and making a plea for women in business and tech: “it’s not about whether you’re male or female, it’s about whether you’re the right person for the job” almost got a standing ovation. “Build a culture, create a business tribe” sounded as music in my Innotribe-ears. Her presentation used a strong metaphor of boots/shoes, and it was not just a gimmick: the boots have a sole/soul, and mentioned innotribe as a role model. Slides here. http://www.slideshare.net/llm007/five-inches-of-fabulous-defrag2011

Sam Ramji was great during one of the API break-outs: “I am a mercenary, not a missionary” on question whether API intermediaries should refuse non-standard OAuth.

And Dion Hinchcliffe joined JP Rangaswami @jobsworth when he stated “design for change, design for loss of control”


Matt Galligan showed how even start-ups can contribute to a better world via philanthropy.

His initiative “1% of nothing” lets start-ups engage with 1% of their equity. It is called “1% of nothing” where nothing is equity of a startup that us not (yet) worth anything

Great conversations

I had some great conversations with Sam Ramji and Anant Jhingran from Apigee. I have invited them to do a brown-bag session for all staff, next time Sam is over in Europe. This setting is btw possible for any company that has something innovative to offer that falls within our strategic objectives.

I also had some in-depth chats with digital identity folks Ian Glazer (Gartner Research), John Fontana (Ping Identity), and Drummond Reed (Connect.me). The day after, I was already invited to the Cloud Identity Summit in July 2012 to talk about our Digital Asset Grid (DAG).

And it is always fun to brainstorm with Laura Merling and Mike Maney from Alcatel Lucent. We believe there is some fertile ground to join forces, and to do something around a crazy idea of “Rebels United”. More about that for sure in one of my subsequent posts

Big Data

Last but not least, almost all talks had “big data” in them somewhere. It became almost annoying at some moment in time, especially when there was a presentation specifically trying to prove that this was the latest buzzword, and becoming as generic and meaningless as “social media”.

Pitch Alert

On a very few occasions, there was “pitch alert”. And one of the sessions on policy really could not inspire me. The last talk was – at least in my appreciation – a bit “thin” in content (speaker was ok), and I would have preferred to end on a real high, like the conference started.

Post conference, I had some great chats with Eric Norlin. Maybe I’ll get a chance myself as a Defrag speaker next year: I am working on a brand new prez on “the soul of innovation” based on the attributes of DJ’s, Painters, Pirates and Corporate Rebels”. It’s work in progress, and I am experimenting with sound, video and image landscapes as part of that presentation. Would be nice having a European flavor into the Defrag conference 😉

Two days after the conference, I saw a tweet from Eric Norlin: “had a break-thru moment last night about how to improve the defrag agenda/structure in a discussion w/ kim. can’t wait for 2012.”

Same here. Can’t wait for 2012. Already note down the dates for next year’s edition: 14-15 November 2012. If you go, you will not be disappointed. See you there!

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

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

I invite you to join me on my journey.

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

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

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

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

But what about the more unconscious parts

of these and other decision processes?

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

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

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

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

It feels so much more human.

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

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

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

Is it just a dream that one could live

in such a permanent inspiring environment?

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

It becomes almost

an existential question

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


It is a subtle kind of freedom from inner contradictions


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

Attributes of this quality without a name are:

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

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

Maybe that unnamed quality is an illusion.

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

The day

I am not after

that unnamed quality,

I better stop

Going relentlessly

after that unnamed quality

IS my reason for being

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

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

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

Maybe that’s enough.

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

So, I have come to the conclusion that

fear is not an option

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or is it more, OMG…

Let me know.


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Last week, I attended Compass Summit.  After Contact Summit in NYC the weekend before, the contrast could not be bigger. Whereas Contact Summit was held in a worn-out synagogue, Compass was held in a 5 star luxury resort close to LA.

Also the audience was fundamentally different: in NY we saw a group of activists and revolutionaries (a good representation of the 99%): and the theme was “the evolution will be social”. In LA, scientists and economist – probably a subset of the 1% – shared the space for a couple of days under the overall tag line “What’s possible, What matters, What’s ahead?”

Innotribe was sponsoring both events. In Compass Summit, we also acted as co-curator and facilitator for 1 plenary on Future of Money, and 4 breakouts (see later)

Agenda and program

The Compass agenda was packed.

For a minute-by-minute coverage of the conference, I suggest to check out the #compass11 Twitter stream or Kosta Peric’s coverage by live e-scribing here.

UPDATE: all videos of all talks are now available here.

Instead of doing a vertical or chronological report on this conference, I will try to give you a horizontal report-cut of the topics discussed, and add some personal opinions to the mix.

The conference was a very high quality event, with super speakers from science and economy.

I left the conference with a mixed feeling: who will win, the positive scientists or the dooming economists? My overall take-away was that we are in a very deep crisis of everything, much deeper than most newspapers let us believe. I am worried for our children and what will happen the next 2-5 years.


Compass Summit is a traditional conference, in the sense of  the format: speakers on stage, 20 min talks, fireside chats, and panel debates. The general sessions felt like a TED, but then one with audience interactions. Which gave the organizers a timing-headache as all the Q&A’s ran out time and so the whole conference program. No problem for me: as long as the content is as interesting as at Compass, I could stay there the whole night ;-). Towards the end of the conference, there was some experimentation with a “sequential conversation”, but there was more potential in that: it just requires more scripting and preparation. The Innotribe breakouts and wrap-up were – how would I say? – very “Innotribe”J . We always try to do something special, and you expect no less from us (more about this at the end of this blog post)


The overall message was positive, although many questions were raised on the impact of the increasing human-machine blurring, and whether real life implementations of great ideas in current R&D will reach us in time to save the planet.

Danny Hills from Applied Minds and one of the originators of the Long Now indicated that “we are already in The Matrix” right now. “Nobody really knows how the Internet works” and “we overestimate the human ability to control and underestimate its adaptability” were some reflections leading to his conclusion “Forget the Enlightenment, we now live in the era of “the Entanglement.”

We also saw some great progress on Solar Energy production and photosynthesis Fuel. To put things in perspective: the energy needs for 2050 are such that if we want to cover it with nuclear energy, we would need to install one nuclear plan per day. The conclusion of the energy debate was clearly solar is the way forward and that energy storage was the Holy Grail for the immediate future.

David Gelernter stood out with a milestone presentation.

His talk was completely scripted, no slides. But it sounded like a novel, a piece of science poetry. So many beautiful metaphors, play of words, and fine humor! The content was mind-blowing as well. His starting premise was that we are witnessing the transition from a space-based organization of information to a time-based organization of information. Search starts smelling like value-based search, with time as just one of the values. The concept of a stream-browser instead of a web-browser was no less than brilliant, and I loved his evolutionary insight from “cybersphere” to “cyberflow”.

This was quite consistent with the messages form Brian Arthur and E. Stevenson: everyone is connected and it’s getting deeper and deeper…the grid starts to look like an organism, neural network. The underlying grid of machines talking to each other was described by Brian Arthur as “the second economy” that will soon be bigger than the real economy. The question “Who will win?” in the session “Race against the machine” – and also title of a new book by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson – was therefore spot on.

Cities and their dynamics and their impact on growth and innovation were also a recurring theme: Geoffrey West – world famous since his memorable TED talk – did his fantastic thing on “Cities never die”. Saskia Sassen added a new dimension for me: “a city talks back”, suggesting that a city tells us in immediate feedback loops what works and what not


The overall message was extremely negative. I was shocked by some of the facts presented.

Although we still see a growth in wealth creation, the wealth is more and more concentrated with the happy few. The 1% starts looking more and more like the 0.01%. The world is also turning younger, more urban, and more impatient for accountability, in both democracies and authoritarian states. We need a different diplomacy where also NGO’s, Philanthropies like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and companies like Google and Wall-Mart are represented. I believe that is a good starting point, as the concept of “country” is really dead. But the real question is what are the criteria for who can sit at that table: will be allow organizations like Goldman Sachs, who claims to rule the world, but is creating fake value through speculation, value outside of the real wealth system in my opinion. And whereas countries and UN are as good as dead, there is no transition in governance model between now and then, and we risk falling into a governance no-mans land.

Corporations are piling up cash that is sitting idle. Someone summarized this signal as “between fear and opportunity is paralysis”. In the meantime, the center of power and control is further moving East-wards: 2009 was the first year in 200 years where emerging markets outgrew developed ones. We aren’t going back.

Bernard Lietaer (author of “The Future of Money” and more recently “Creating Wealth: Growing Local Economies with Local Currencies”) was no less than impressive.

He showed that he had empirical evidence that the financial system is systemically instable. He pointed to some solutions to the monoculture of fiat state currencies. The most frightening was probably his statement that “we have 5-10 years to fix this, if not the game is over”.  This was the first (and not the last) time that the idea of war (as in world war) was uttered as a very possible scenario, and although Lietaer did not mention this, I interpreted his message as a warning for fascist behavior and polarizations.

And one day later, Mark Anderson painted a super confrontational picture between the USA and China, and indicated that the IP war was already going on, stronger even, that phase-1 of the war was over and we are already doing corporate body counting.

Add to this the Saudi Arabian oil situation, where the monarchy is a) paying it’s citizen from the oil reserves to avoid a Saudi Arabian spring and where the oil reserves will more and more be used for internal needs. Pierre Larroque added that Saudi Arabia is now in essence a supplier of China, and asked the question “why should we defend them?” Quite a statement!

Add to this water scarcity. Add to these big dysfunctions in education systems. Add to this the fact that the current young generation is the first generation that will enjoy LESS wealth than their parents. Add to this the #occupy movement, Middle East spring, etc. and the picture is not very rosy, the least to say


Following his discourse in currency value debate, Bernard Lietaer also mentioned the need for more “feminine energy, presence and softness”, echoing a message from John Hagel in his blog a week earlier.

“Quod Demonstrandum Est” must have thought Caroline Stephens.

She gave the audience a wake-up call when stating “I have stopped talking about poverty in a 5 star hotel”. Her testimonials of future-less generations in South-America moved everybody in the audience, except the moderator who showed a pedantic lack of empathy and moved to the next point on the agenda by stating “now that we have solved a couple of world-problems…”

A genuine tweet from Heather Vescent sparked the Innotribe team to rally for an ad-hoc session to give Caroline the space needed for her message. It was interesting to see how people quickly tried to recuperate strong personalities like Caroline for their own agenda. It’s a very fine balance to walk. In the end, we failed to get such an ad-hoc session squeezed into the already busy Compass agenda. But we won’t give up: Caroline, we will contact you directly for one of next year’s Innotribe events.

The rest of the conference value discussions debated the rhetorical question whether value-based thinking is eroded by output concentration.

As a lot of the identity discussions were related to privacy, I quickly cover this under this value-section. One participant reacted somewhat sarcastic by saying that during the panel debate she almost believed that Google and Facebook were philanthropic organizations. We were probably closer to the truth when the moderator said “facial recognition will dramatically change what it means to show your face in public”.


Mark Bonchek introduced the notion of “Social Architecture” and gave a great example how this relates to networks and nation building during warfare. And how the US military has realized that shared situational awareness enables self-synchronization. It appears that the army’s counter-insurgency Field Manual (PDF Link) is “the best single guide for driving large scale corporate change.” After the conference we had a really interesting chat with Mark on corporate change and whether you really can steer change or whether it is just as effective to drop a seed bomb of corporate activists, and just watch what happens and emerges. That will be the subject of another blog

An interesting Risk Management debate revealed that trade-offs have to and are being made whether one should implement latest technology or proven technology only, and that the relentless push for efficiency pushes towards latest technology. If one would take the brain scan of the most adventurous CEO, one would see “40% risk taking, 60% risk aversion”.

Brian Arthur spoke about the “second economy” (see earlier). With some hindsight, I would like to suggest even a third economy underneath (or overlaying) that: “the values/spiritual economy”. What are the real values and intentions we have when completing a transaction? Values like transparency and fairness. Like belonging. Like intrinsic drivers of motivation such as the drive to acquire, to defend, to bond and to learn. Which brings us to education.


It looks to me that the USA has a bigger problem with education than other continents. Or they focus more on it. I don’t think it is the latter. Michael Crow from Arizona State University was inspiring when stating “in stead of exclusion (to the education system), our metrics should be based on the output of our education system”. Other speakers insisted that the education system should celebrate from failure instead of exclusively focusing on and measuring success. Jack Hidary was passionate in his plea to “educate to innovate”.

But by the end of the conference, I got a bit tired of the so generic term “innovation”, used as the deus-ex-machina for world hunger problems, without specifying what the solution exactly is.

Innotribe sessions

In addition of the (rather traditional) plenary session on Future of Money with Bernard Lietaer, Innotribe was also responsible for 4 breakout sessions. Our team really went the extra mile in decorating the rooms, and using sound and visual landscaping to further add to the immersive learning experiences that have become the trademark of Innotribe sessions.

For the identity breakout we repeated our Sibos trick with the music from Tron. For the future of value, our ladies Mela and Martine almost created a zen-like experience with candles, rose leafs, and spiritual music.

From a content point of view, I would like to summarize each of them with a couple of tweet-like statements

–       The Future of Banking

  • “Money is the memory of value”
  • “Trust will define the future of banking”
  • “There are huge opportunities for banks in the unregulated space”

–       The Future of Transactions

  • “From the gift economy to the re-gifting economy”
  • “Transactions are the fuel to the relationship economy”

–       The Future of Identity and Trust

  • “Digitization of identity good or bad?”
  • “Identity should be part of digital inclusion”

–       The Future of Value

  • “The poverty of financial metrics prevents full wealth recognition”
  • “Right conduct + truth + peace +non-violence + love = living system of wealth”


Our economic, financial, energy, and wealth distribution problems are huge. The problems seem bigger and more insurmountable than the general press makes us believe. Scientists try to picture of optimism, but I could not resist the discomfort that the implementation of their inventions will come too late. Fear for war can turn any moment into a real possibility. And still our politicians don’t get it. We witness an aversion against the establishment in general. The cry to do without them gets louder.

But current problems and solutions are still presented as a game of winner and losers, with polarization leading to simplification, populism, and possibly fascism. I would prefer a model based on infinite game thinking. The world is the opposite of flat, and the role of black swans is not included in any of the models discussed today. It’s all about redefining a new value context, new value movement, less re-active, less “protest” than OWS, more pro-active.

It is about a collective awakening, where flow reveals structure. You can’t just start with structure and force everything to fit into it. It would be far better to create a parallel positive: a much safer way that just saying “nuke the system”.

Maybe I should close this blog post with the quote by Leonardo da Vinci that was printed on the back of the Compass Summit conference program:

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

That’ s probably why the title of this blog post is “Can we win the race?” and why the Innotribe wrap-up ended with “It is only up to us to act”.

@petervan from the Innotribe team

Cross-posted on Innotribe blog here.

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