Archive for February, 2012

Open Source currencies

Very interesting video interview about Bitcoin, Ripple Project, etc

Watch till the end: about monoculture of currency, profit vs purpose, how the open source revolution and P2P networks and open source currencies have the potential on medium/long term to create the same sort of disruptions we have seen in music, software, etc

“And unless we see draconian centralized policing of the internet, or fundamental redesign of the internet, these system are technically unstoppable”

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Meryl Streep, Barnard Commencement Speaker 2010, Columbia University. Via @JenniferSertl

About empathy and emotion, the essence of leading by being. About happiness and your own sense of wellbeing and purpose in the world. About staying alert, alive, and staying involved in the lives of people that you love, and the people in the wider world that need your help.
  • “Imagine, imagine a different possibility”
  • “Analyse your advantage”
  • “Pay attention to the cracks, as that’s where the light gets in (Cohen)”
  • “Emotion is the deep source of becoming conscious (Jung)”
  • “There is no normal, there is only change and resistance to it,… and then more change”.
  • “You have the opportunity and the obligation – by virtue of your provenance – to speed progress”
Being an actor has opened my soul

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Every now and then people ask me what incentives we have in place for encouraging innovative behavior.

The short answer is: there are no incentives other than recognition and self-esteem when your idea happens for real. For people with a specific innovation role – such as our “Megaphones” – we do have their innovation objectives as 10-15% of their NORMAL objectives. But no special deals, bonuses, etc.

From the start of Innotribe, we had this discussion about getting 20% time like Google (Btw, that myth of the 20% has been challenged and discussed already many times on the internet. For example here and here. It even leads to big failures).

Many other ways exist in other environments than SWIFT to incentivize innovation like special bonuses, shares in projects that can be turned in real bucks once the project gets critical mass and generates revenues, and much more.

From very early on in our innovation endeavors, we got a clear “no” from our top management.

We do not want a culture

where working on innovation

lead to some sort of “entitlement”

for x% of time or any other resource

In the beginning, i found this a bit harsh, but with hindsight, i think they were right. Personally, I have done some introspection on all this and have come to the conclusion that:

  • I truly believe that the true innovators manifest themselves, and that any request for incentives to innovate just says a lot about the person requesting.
  • What we need is people daring to stick out there neck, and acting from their true selves.
  • As many of you know, I am deep believer of viral infection of the company. That will not happen through incentives.
  • It will happen when we unleash the deep energy of the many hidden change-makers in this company.

Let me develop that thought a little bit.

It all has to do with the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – where self-esteem and self-actualization are on the top of the pyramid.

In our luxury world, most of us already have reached at least some level of self-esteem or self-actualisation.

I believe there is a lot to say to go beyond self-esteem, where the personal transformation fundamentally changes the focus from the “self” to the “others”.

This is where Richard Barrett has evolved the thinking of Maslow. Or where Don Beck did brilliant work with Spiral Dynamics, whose initial thinking was inspired by Clare W Graves who already in sixties/seventies said:

“Briefly, what I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process, marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems as man’s existential problems change.”

There are other thinkers in this space, as pointed out by JP Rangaswami in his comment on my comment on his post about Thinking about the Social Enterprise and Flow

My comment:

“… me too big fan John Hagel, Geoffrey West, Brian Arthur. I love how you squeeze in Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi at the end, as I agree that organization starts more and more looking like an organism in search for flow. If you push the idea, you could add Maslow, as the organization is probably also looking for self-esteem in all its nodes (its people). Even pushing it further and beyond self-esteem, a similar flow “dynamic” is also embedded in Don Becks “Spiral Dynamics”…. the next area of competitive differentiation is in the higher layers of Spiral Dynamics, more or less the space of relationships, the space the Jerry Michalski’s REXpedition is exploring.”

JP responded:

“I am more of a fan of Nohria and Lawrence than I am of Maslow. Parallel not serial, networked not hierarchical”

I wrote about JP and Nohria, when trying to do a transcript of in my post “JP on Gamification, Lipstick and Pigs”. So I won’t repeat myself on that topic, and summarize JP as: The 4 drivers of motivation: the drive to acquirethe drive to defendthe drive to bondand the drive to learn

In my opinion, it is about discovering your true self in the full context of all its relationships (family, work, company, country, culture, world, cosmos). As Marti Spiegelman recently said during a REXpedition call:

Awareness of the context creates meaning

And meaning creates value

Do you really believe that people will start innovating more if they get an extra bonus of 2% ? Only when people act from the power of their true self and experience meaning in what they do, only then real motivation kicks in.

I am deeply convinced that innovation and culture change will NOT happen through rolling out huge top-down innovation programs. On the contrary, I am a strong believer in “viral” innovation, where you seed the people that act from their true self throughout the company.

They will act as they believe they should act, and because their environment will feel inspired by this real motivation, they will inspire and infect others, form natural tribes with their own team dynamics and influence, become self-organizing teams that create their own meaning and value, and change the company from within.

Forever. Unstoppable. That is how real change happens.

Discovering and nurturing the hidden pearls in your organization that have the mindset to do this is the real challenge. It’s about finding the people who want to move, to challenge the status quo, dare to stick out their neck, etc and do so not because the incentive program has framed them that way, but because their true self boosts them towards the others with unlimited and eternal energy.

In the end it is about creating meaning in YOUR life.

Am I dreaming? Maybe. Am I ambitious? Maybe. Will it work? Maybe. But at least this way you know that’s where I have put the bar. So next time you see me, don’t ask for incentives, but tell we about what you want to achieve, and let’s see how I can help you.

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The Edge Becomes The Core

A couple of weeks ago, I had a discussion with colleague Joe on the program for one of our upcoming main Innotribe events. My colleague is not part of the innovation team, but has shown growing interest in what we are doing: great! Joe is known in the company as rather a conservative, cautious person, making decisions on data and not feelings. So, like many human beings, when I go and see him, I already have put my projection biases on (shame on me).

Taking into account my manager’s request to start dancing with the company, I decided to use a different approach and asked Joe what sort of innovations got him excited. He was looking for innovations that were 1-2 years out at maximum, complemented the core, were easy to implement and had effect on the bottom-line right away. Joe felt that I was too much in science fiction territory, out “there”, looking at a horizon of 10-15 years, my head in the skies.

At first sight, this seems to be about different perceptions on what is important based on time-criticality of the innovations.

But then, another colleague Jamie, said it was also about being used to think in abstract concepts.

The whole discussion made me think, and I started making some notes on what was going on. I landed with the following high-level “concept” drawing:

In my opinion, there are 3 forces at work, all on the same continuum, and more or less the same scale:

  • Time horizon
  • Level of abstraction
  • Level of disruption

What I see happening all the time is that innovations start with adjacencies and evolve towards new territory:

  • If the product in the core is called “thing”, then the adjacency is smelling  “My thing”, the edge is trending towards “More thing”, and finally the new territory is really about the “New thing”
  • In SWIFT world there are many examples of “My Thing”: MyStandards.com is the “My thing” variation of the core Standards proposition. In the same way, the EBAM Hub is like “My EBAM” variation of the EBAM Standards, and Alliance Lite is a “My messaging” variation of FIN.

The point I am trying to make is that we rarely look at the next level of abstraction or disruption. Because deemed to far away from the core. Because that was not the way it was supposed to work. Or not fixing an immediate problem: why fix if it ain’t broken?

The other point I am making is that we risk becoming complacent and happy with adjacent innovations only. Tick-box innovation.

However, there is power living on the edge.

I’d like to refer to John Hagel in one of his latest posts on The Evolution of Design to Amplify Flow.

He comments on the new book “Design in Nature” by Adrian Bejan and J. Peder Zane.

From the perspective of the authors, design is not static.  It is continually evolving in a quest to find more effective ways to support flows. “This evolution occurs in one direction: Flow designs get measurably better, moving more easily and farther if possible. This evolution can be observed at all timescales. Rivers evolve at a different rate than a lightning bolt or snowflake. If a design ceases to evolve, it will quickly become a fossilized flow system, tossed aside to make way for more effective flow designs.”


“Now that new digital technology infrastructures are emerging globally, we are witnessing a profound and disruptive shift to from knowledge stocks to knowledge flows as the source of value creation.  With the benefit of hindsight, we may come to realize that the powerful institutions that emerged in the last century and continue to govern our lives – whether companies, NGO’s, schools or government – were in fact a very brief detour in the evolution of institutional design to facilitate flow.”

It confirms my thinking that if we want to remain a powerful institution, we have to be part of this disruptive shift towards knowledge flows, and we have to create design as an institutional core value.

And who says “design” says “abstraction”.

In an older 2009 post, John Hagel talks about “How to bring the edge to the core”

“What’s the best way for companies to participate in this dynamic? Disruption theory suggests it’s by bringing the edge to the core. The approach we suggest is to instead bring the core to the edge, to expose your company to institutional innovations and new management practices that emerge on the edge.”

It’s clear from the above that I am not the first one making such reflections. And I am fully conscious that John Hagel plays in a different league that I do 😉 John seems to have landed on bringing the core to the edge, whilst I still believe in my maybe naïve enthusiasm that the result of our innovation work will lead to the edge eventually becoming the new core. Wisdom will probably come later 😉

John goes on:

“To exploit opportunities on the edge, executives must resist the temptation to prematurely integrate edge resources into the core of their operations. Instead, they should determine what resources they can offer to help SCALE the innovations being developed by edge participants. This could catalyze the development and deployment of growth platforms, platforms that edge participants can then use to more effectively design and deploy new innovations.”

“By seeking to mobilize and engage with a large number of edge participants, core players can reduce the risk of prematurely locking into edge resources or of overwhelming smaller edge players with the demands of much larger core assets.”

We at Innotribe are looking into the edges in our incubation initiative. Is it enough focus on the edges? Maybe not. In my personal opinion, incubation has to focus exclusively on the edge and the new territory. The continuous improvements to the core and the creation of “My things” should be part of the normal product evolution/enhancement cycle and should not be funded from the incubation fund.

And it’s about putting in place a well-balanced innovation portfolio, a yin/yang of core and edge, and a continuum of different types of innovation. It’s fairly “easy” to do stuff at the left side of the continuum. It is usually a stretch to work on the far right side of the continuum. Innovation is NOT about launching the next cool mobile app. Real innovation is about moving to the right. Where the edge has the potential to become the core.

Real innovation “hurts”, disturbs.

It has to disturb something: be it the core, the market, the hierarchies, the power balances, whatever… but it has to disturb. In some ways, innovation is rebellious. Rebels are needed. Not rebels as in “anarchists”, but rebels as in change makers, the ones who relentlessly challenge the status-quo.

On the other hand, innovation is about holding hands, showing different sides of the coin, and inviting each other to come and see at your end of the wall. Having empathy for the other’s opinion, for their lens on the topic. And taking them on our innovation journey from that empathic moment.

It’s not one or the other. It’s sensitive dosage on the continuum of challenge and empathy.

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On March 11th, 400 people will gather in Mountain View, CA, to map out a new banking system fit for the Information Age, with new technologies, transparencies and values… at TEDxNewWallStreet.

Just down the street from Google, some of the brightest minds locally and internationally are coming together at the famed Computer History Museum to re-imagine banking for the Information Age at TEDxNewWallStreet on March 11, 2012. This audience routinely disrupts Industrial Age paradigms, and will be encouraged to do so for banking, by inventing new technologies and processes that make banking a game that people can win.

Mobile deposits and bill pay, online stock market quotes and trades show people will use technology to do the banking they used to do, faster. Re-imagining banking changes the guts of how money is created, priced, moved, saved and transparently tracked to its impacts.

More than 400 venture capitalists, serial entrepreneurs, technologists, inspired bankers, Stanford faculty and students, politicians from the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest, and a global online live-stream audience in the thousands using Facebook, Google and Twitter are expected to attend TEDxNewWallStreet. Speakers will give talks on a number of topics, including:

  • banking as a facet of civil rights so as to raise personal wealth,
  • virtual/peer-to-peer banking,
  • how bank technologies can protect customer identity and increase global sustainability,
  • reframing how banks use customer data to price credit and investments, and
  • how public finance accounting and bond offerings can evolve to value what matters to people and community in an economy.

Speakers on the day include Silicon Valley industry leaders and upstarts, venture capitalists (VCs) and serial entrepreneurs like Bill Harris, formerly of Intuit and now of Personal Capital; Joe Lonsdale and Rosco Hill of Palantir; Macarthur Fellow and European accountancy historian Jacob SollPeter Vander Auwera at SWIFT Innotribe and startup micro-investment entrepreneur Shivani Siroya of InVenture. Many more speakers will outline their “wish lists” for Information Age banks and banking, and how to build it now.

TEDxNewWallStreet is organized by Bruce Cahan, an Ashoka Fellow and Stanford University Engineering Visiting Scholar. Bruce is creating a new bank paradigm through his high-transparency, impacts-aware bank project, known as GoodBank™(IO). Living in Palo Alto, Bruce saw that as disruptive as Silicon Valley is, it was missing a huge opportunity to move banking from its Industrial Age camouflage to the Information Age paradigm for user experience, transparency and social media.  “Banking should be what customers co-create for their own needs, not the ‘one size fits all’ take it or leave it choices most banks today offer.  Given how iTunes® and Spotify® reimagined music distribution, how Netflix® and Hulu® changed movies and television, and how digital and subscription libraries are reducing the cost of knowledge sharing, banking creates frictions transactionally, regionally, environmentally and socially that no longer are justifiable, safe or inevitable.  We have an Internet of Things, let’s use it to re-imagine banks built in and for the Information Age.”

Business reporter Camilla Webster will serve as event moderator. Camilla is a seasoned, business journalist, writing for Forbes and Huffington Post, and is co-author of The Seven Pearls of Wisdom: A Woman’s Guide to Enjoying Wealth and Power.  “TEDxNewWallStreet is a solution-based, engaging, idea-generating conversation during a historic time in the finance industry” says Camilla, who as MC will guide speakers and audience on a novel journey.

This event is about financial innovation beyond the next cool mobile app. We will be looking for deep innovations that may dramatically impact the way we think about the function of a bank. It is an honor for the Innotribe team to be invited as speaker at TEDxNewWallStreet. It is a reflection of the Innotribe reputation and brand. My presentation is combining material from “How to make Babies” and “The Soul of Innovation”, complemented with brand new material on our research project “Digital Asset Grid”, and some new insights on innovation disruption levels. Just last week, I gave Bruce Cahan a preview of the draft presentation, and Bruce’s reaction was: “you’ll blow a few circuits with this one!”. Looking forward to this event with all my heart and in full support for Bruce Cahan’s cause.

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Awesome video of innovation in glass by Corning. Everything becoming touch based interface: from your cupboards to car dashboards.

When the video shows health data visualizations, please start thinking big data in financial services and how this could change your financial and personal data services. Imagine doing VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) from an environment/interface like this.

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The title for this blog post comes from a 2010 talk by Mark Pesce. He adds to it:

it rarely arrives in the form that we expect

it is too hard to grasp, a bridge too far

the seeds of the future are always with us in the present

I have referred many times already to Mark Pesce in my previous posts:

He keeps inspiring me, by the challenging content and his oratory skills. And yes, I am trying very hard to get Mark to one or more of our main Innotribe events as core anchor/igniter of some of our conversations.

I also recommend my readers to have a look at some of his recent work, especially about “hypereconomics”, Flexible Futures, and last but not least his upcoming book “The Next Billion Seconds”. The chapters of the books are being released now on an almost weekly basis, and here are some of the catchy titles with associated content:

  • Initiation
  • Introduction
  • Articulation
  • Replication
  • Duration
  • Revelation
  • Revolution
  • Origin

It reads like an “Origin of Species”, looking back and projecting us in the future of the Next Billion Seconds, aka the next several ten thousand of years. A fascinating read indeed.

But I wanted to use his 2010 talk as guidance to some of the work our Innotribe team is doing in our incubation project called the “Digital Asset Grid” (DAG)

In this talk, Mark Pesce talks to  a group of Human Service folks and Health officials. Although it is about health, I encourage you to listen with holistic ears, as everything he says is applicable for any vertical.

The talk is titled “When I am 64” and is looking forward 17 years from 2010. The “64” is a wordplay on the famous Beatles song.

Here is the link to the first part of the talk. The talk was split into 3 separate videos.

I will avoid the temptation to do an ad-verbatim transcript, and will just use a couple of quotes to illustrate my own points.

Highlights first video

Somewhere half-way, Mark Pesce mentions how his team went open source with their 3D Mark Up language and how surprised they were with the amazing ideas people came up with on what they could do with it.

  • He mentions and Austrian project that made a 3D encyclopedia, like a tree of knowledge, and
  • a 3D visualization of NYSE stock data.

The latter one makes it possible to see 5,000 times more information than on could see with the standard flatlanders’ Bloomberg terminal. Mind you, this was in 1997, that now 15 years ago.

My lessons learned for DAG:

  • The DAG story is a story of value propositions. That is what the prototype we are building will focus on. It is NOT a technology showcase.
  • We play with the idea of an open source DAG server. There is some hesitation. We should not hesitate. We should look at it like IBM looked at Apache Server at the time. Our core competence is to operate a high-available, secure and resilient infrastructure. Probably less in building server software. We know more than me.
  • There is so much innovation in the ecosystem. Our current thinking is to bring the APIs of the infrastructure in a controlled open. So that Banks and other 3rd parties can be on the bleeding edge of innovation.
  • On the longer term, this whole concept of stream-servers makes me think a lot about the Metacurrency.org software project of Art Brock and Eric Harris-Braun. The idea is to build a basic communication later to be able to deal with stream-scapes.

I can assure you that “streams” and “scapes” will be commongood in some years time. Another very cool initiative in this space is Nova Spivack’s latest start-up BottleNose.

Highlights second video

It really gets interesting when Mark Pesce starts unfolding how the power of our communities shape our behavior. Somewhere at minute 09:10, Mark develops an extremely interesting banking scenario:

  • Imagine someone steals your identity, walks into bank, and takes a loan in your name (if they are able to present the proper documentation)
  • The problem is that once you present stolen proof documents at the entry of the process, the process usually kicks off perfectly and delivers the programmed results
  • Better would be to be proofed by others, by your community. “An identity that is confined and constrained by those you are connected to”, by your on-line context
  • At minute 10:35, Mark suggest

that you should be able to handing the bank your social graph!

You really would expect your bank to be able to write some piece of software which could confirm your identity

Bank validating your identity strength based on who vouched for you !!!

This really comes very-very close to some of the use cases we have in mind for DAG.

This would result in a system with greater resilience, much harder to fool, because:

  • Identity is a function of community
  • And not just identity > even TALENT is a function of and a recognized value of a community
  • The social graph is the foundation of identity

In my opinion, all this is leading towards “interest based connections”.

The relationship economy, the reason why REXpedition is so important, is the next battlefield of competition; after most organizations squeezed all the juice out of SixSigma, Lean, and similar programs for increasing productivity and efficiency.

  • The focus of these programs was on doing better what we already did (sometimes doing bad things better)
  • Now its’ about doing new things, the right things. And those right things have all to do with better managing our trustful relationships

Therefore, Mark’s thesis that “a group of well connected highly empowered individuals is a force to be reckoned with” is one of the biggest forces in place. It has always been, but now returning in force thanks to our hyper-connectivity and information abundance.

Highlights third video

This part, entitled “Senior Concessions” really got my attention when Mark Pesce starts talking about “Personal Broadcasting”, networks of trust and sharing of social graphs.

Sharing of social graphs will enable us to identify who brings real value, who brings insight, who bring wisdom. And also those who seek to confuse, who are confused, or who are self-seeking.

This smells very much like reputation and influence like:

  • the reputation score in eBay
  • the thinking of Andreas Weigend’s from the Stanford Social Data Lab
  • Doc Searls VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) thinking
  • Drummond Reed’s Social Vouching start-up connect.me with its underlying Respect Trust Framework.

Mark continues how boundaries of expertise are becoming more and more fuzzy. The patient now often knows more than the specialist. The student knows more than the teacher. It reminded me to one of the first books I read about fuzzy logic by Bart Kosko in 1994. “The new science of fuzzy logic

Reading that book so very early in my career was probably meant to be part of my life and my purpose.

Anyway, Pesce puts the patient in the center, like Doc Searls put the user in the center of his user-centric intention economy.

In my opinion, banks have a similar huge opportunity to put the customer back in the center and offer unprecedented high-quality data services.

And Mark Pesce goes on:

  • This is about user centric “social” graph
  • Knowledge will pass from one user to another (similar to John Hagel’s knowledge flows)
  • As knowledge is passed on to the community, the community empowers itself
  • Person as agency of his own data, deciding who gets access
  • Privacy of medical data is about making these data freely available to those who need it in context, but make them secret to those who do not need those data
  • Only if person has agency for his data and authorizing access to his (medical) records, and tools to track that access (and give/release access)
  • Without those tools we will loose track of who owns what etc and becomes easier for those who shouldn’t to have a look in
  • As our medical records spread through our networks of medical expertise, we will feel less fear, and more to surrender our privacy
  • There is power in releasing our privacy because we gain connections

It’s almost going back to Doc Searls (and others’) 1999 ClueTrain Manifesto where the authors declare in one of their 95 thesis that “Markets are Conversations”.

It’s also going back to Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes, where the each element is weak, but where the combined structure is stable.

As a matter of fact, the 3D space of the geodesic dome perfectly illustrates what the DAG is all about. Look at it as a certified map of where the data are located with their associated usage rights. Sharing as utility. P2P sharing with certified pointing infrastructure. It’s moving us from a Flatlanders 2D thinking of the physical world to a 3D thinking of the graph. That is what the DAG is really all about.

I put this blog together during one of my weeks off, weeks that are completely un-planned and un-structured. For me these are weeks where I refresh my brain, new ideas pop-up during moments of organized boredom. You could call it my Boredom Weeks.

It can therefore not be a co-incidence that Mark Pesce ends with a referral to Genevieve Bell, Intel Fellow and director of the Interaction and Experience Research Group within the Intel Labs. Just on that same day, I received a tweet from one of my followers referring to Genevieve Bell’s TEDxSydney 2011 talk on boredom.

The video basically illustrates that ideas come in moments you don’t expect, when you are not focused, when you have this blissful moments of boredom. Its back to the start and title of this blog post: “The future rarely arrives when planned and it rarely arrives in the form that we expect”

I can already see now how DAG will take off from and into un-expected directions. And we are just at the start of the prototype phase. Exciting times

@petervan from the #innotribe team

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