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Archive for January, 2015

Week-3 of Delicacies: There is so much noise out there. Getting back to some basics: a self-curated weekly list of max 5 articles that i found interesting and worth re-reading. Minimalism in curation. Enjoy!

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Week-2 of Delicacies: There is so much noise out there. Getting back to some basics: a self-curated weekly list of max 5 articles that i found interesting and worth re-reading. Minimalism in curation. Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

There is so much noise out there. Getting back to some basics: a self-curated weekly list of max 5 articles that i found interesting and worth re-reading. Minimalism in curation. Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

IMG_4798

Artwork Petervan 2015 - Thinking Man - Pencil and watercolour

Since a couple of months, I am chewing on a couple of themes that feel interrelated. Themes like scale, uniqueness, and beauty, eternal, ephemeral, one-ness, and only-ness.

I started wondering:

  • What if scale is not the answer?
  • What if I would start focusing on my uniqueness?
  • What if beauty becomes more important than function?

I was on a track where I believed that scale and uniqueness where opposites, and I only wanted to do things that were unique, one-time, never repeating, and NOT trying to create efficiencies. NOT trying to create economies of scale and/or scope.

I spoke to many people about this, and every time I saw their eyes glazing, wondering what world I was living in, and whether I was completely disconnected from business reality, or from reality full stop.

I was more or less told to conform, to behave, to try to do what everybody else was doing: running around at being very busy and being hyper-efficient in doing and scaling things that in my mind were not very meaningful.

During a walk-n-talk months ago with Nilofer, she hinted that uniqueness and scale are in different categories.

Some others hinted me at the concept of doing something that is NOT designed to repeat and permanence made them also think about the opposite, when one created with the objective of only happening once, designed to be ephemeral. Like making a drawing on the beach that is washed away by the waves. If you were not there, you have not seen it. At best it’s documented on video. But the performance itself was unique, only happened once.

Like the snow Art by Simon Beck: working hours on one snow drawing, enjoying the ephemeral beauty of it, but with the certainty that it will be gone with the new thaw of the next snowstorm

Snow Art

I took all the advice, and kept thinking.

I thought I landed on something named

Un-Scale

But that started smelling too fast like slow food or some other sort of new fashion. It was also a different “unscale” than Hemant Teneja’s https://hbr.org/2013/10/economies-of-unscale-why-business-has-never-been-easier-for-the-little-guy/ .

It was also a different “ephemeral”, different from the ephemeral messaging like Snapchat who were just valued at 10B USD.

Doctorow

I was reading Amanda Palmer’s foreword in Cory Doctorow’s latest “Information does NOT want to be free”, where she mentioned there will always only be one Grateful Dead.

grateful-dead-608x417

They realize that companies won’t be manufacturing millions of identical things, but will need to make hundreds, perhaps thousands, of slightly different things

Learning how to do that—how to make an evening interesting for an audience, with just me and a stage and things I’d written, partly because it seemed to me that one day it might not be as easy to make money from selling stories in the traditional way

Many of us became authors in order to avoid getting up on stages in the first place

I started looking in to the concept of “One-Ness”, which is about integrated meditative consumption, unity, even Greek mysticism.

I started reading some of Nilofer’s first articulations of “Only-Ness” http://nilofermerchant.com/2013/01/17/onlyness-the-topic-and-the-talk-at-tedxhouston/

Onlyness is that thing that only that one individual can bring to a situation. It includes the journey and passions of each human. Onlyness is fundamentally about honoring each person: first as we view ourselves and second as we are valued. Each of us is standing in a spot that no one else occupies. That unique point of view is born of our accumulated experience, perspective, and vision. Some of those experiences are not as “perfect” as we might want, but even those experiences are a source for what you create. For example, the person whose younger sibling has a disease might grow up to work in medicine to find the cure. The person who is obsessed with beautiful details might end up caring about industrial design and reinvent how we all use technology. The person who has grown up under oppression might end up advocating for freedom of speech and thus advance the condition of his country. This individual onlyness is the fuel of vast creativity, innovations, and adaptability.

Embracing onlyness means that, as contributors, we must embrace our history, not deny it. This includes both our “dark” and our “light” sides.

Each onlyness is essential for solving new problems, as well as for finding new solutions to old problems. Without it, people are simply cogs in a machine – dispensable and undervalued – and we’re back to the 800-pound gorilla approach in organizations (and our economy). With it, gazelles [employees, community members, and partners] are singularly unique and able to contribute meaningfully.

And then it suddenly dawned on me: I was mixing up several dimensions.

I tried to articulate my insights in a Powerpoint slide:

uniqueness and scale

There are 3 dimensions in this slide. I was balancing in the zone between uniqueness and ephemeral. But found it difficult to integrate the 3rd dimension of Scale/Scope. In fact, the slide was two-dimensional only. I needed a sphere. I decide to hand draw it:

Scale Unscale

Dimension-1: the spectrum from Permanent to Ephemeral

  • Permanence, the same tone as “Long Now”, “Many-Ness”, things that are designed to last
  • Ephemeral, the same tone as Short Now”, “One-Ness”, things that are designed to disappear, not to last, like the snow art

Dimension-2: the spectrum from Uniqueness to Commodity

  • Uniqueness, the same tone as Nilofer’s Only-Ness
  • Commodity, the same tone as “Multi-Ness”

Dimension-3: the spectrum from Scope to Scale

  • Scale: what everybody seems to focus on. Investors don’t invest if it does not have the potential to scale, to be viral. The tone of “economies of scale”. For some sort of efficiency game. Still don’t like it, even if I can imagine something when Only-ness starts to Scale
  • Scope: what seems to count when one thinks platform business or platform economics.

I don’t want to scale nor scope my Only-Ness, my Petervan-Ness.

I want to create unique performances, multi-media, trans-media experiences, where I touch my audience at another (additional) level than the pure cognitive. I’d love to resonate at a subconscious level, with very unique storytelling and narratives. All build up from my own writing, artwork and self-composed music, sound and light landscapes.

I am entering a period in my career of “multiple gigs”.

I have installed a small studio at home. Maybe the embryo of Petervan Productions. Trying to master new tools. Trying to have the first story ready for dry-runs by March 2015. And a first live performance around summer. For small audiences only. Not to scale but to un-scale my Only-Ness.

Let me know if you want to be part of one of the dry-runs.

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As many of you know, my “night-job” is Corporate Rebels United, a movement to unite Corporate Rebels worldwide to ensure that true change happens virally from deep within the fabric of our organisations.

At the end of 2014, we had something to celebrate: without any marketing we stealthily became a flat army of 1,000+ corporate rebels! From San Francisco to New Zealand and everything in-between, and really cross-industry. We had a toast on that one!

Every month we would try to celebrate a Corporate Rebel who went the extra-mile: in helping our movement, in completing a hack, in pulling together a value practice, or doing something really awesome in the organisation they work for. “Rebel of the Month” is recognition for a Corporate Rebel exposing the sort of behaviours we would like to encourage in our movement.

Our first “Rebel of the Month” in 2015 is Khurshed Dehnugara from London.

KD Headshot 3a

Khurshed has had two careers, ten years as a senior executive for a complex, global corporate followed by fifteen years coaching and facilitating those leading them. He describes himself in both cases as having one foot inside and one foot outside the established system and culture. He describes that position as one of a Challenger – akin to our concept of being a corporate rebel.

His latest book “Flawed but Willing – Leading Large Organizations in the Age of Connection” (Amazon Affiliate Link) has at its heart the premise that there is a different quality of leadership needed as our corporations move from an industrial age to one that is defined by connection. One that is defined by our flaws rather than our perfection, where power is a function of quality of contact rather than hierarchy. An age in which we are never able or expected to be in control and yet can generate more creativity and growth than the Industrial Age imagined was possible.

Flawed by Willing

The writing is full of stories as the primary currency of contact, a voice more aligned with contemporary fiction than traditional business writing. It is playful and vulnerable, reflecting both his and his clients flaws as they do the hard work of being a rebel in a corporate culture that often wants to reject them. And at the same time there is an optimism; a persistence that comes from knowing it was never going to be easy and that overcoming repetitive defeats is part of our work.

Khurshed has a shout of for Corporate Rebels United on page 35 of his book, reproducing our Manifesto and linking it back to his table of the way organizations are integrating the new age into the old one.

Industrial Age Age of Connection
Machine metaphor Environment metaphor
Inherently stable Inherently unstable
Efficient dominant Adaptability dominant
Leader as controller Leader as wizard
Control through sign-off Control through self policing
Teacher as expert Community as expert
Architects Artists
Perfectionism Fast failure
Hierarchy Network
Fleas live of elephants Fleas can kill elephants
High growth, minimal fluctuation Low growth, maximum fluctuation
Relatively closed-off, defended from the outside world Highly permeable to the outside world
Rigid but mostly secure employment Voluntary, flexible, insecure employment
Leader as jerk. Can survive and thrive across whole career Leader as jerk. Gets exposed and rejected quickly
Self-interest Collective Interest

Khurshed is Partner at Relume Ltd. He is based in London.

Please join us in congratulating Khurshed for being our Jan 2015 Rebel of the Month

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