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Archive for August, 2018

magritte behind bars

Magritte behind bars – Digital Mix - © Petervan Artwork 2018

On 12 Sep 2018, I will do a live performance at the Finnovista Summit in Mexico-City. The theme of this year’s event is “Listen, Learn, Lead” and the title of my performance is “Get out of your prison cell! – An artistic reflection on listening, learning, and leading”

UPDATE: here is a link to the slide-deck I used during the performance: https://www.slideshare.net/thepierre/finnosummit-mexico-2018-petervan

Manoeuvring through this theme, I have prepared a new performance, recuperating some older material, but also with new elements from my artwork series “Prison Window” and other metaphors capturing more recent reflections and insights. From a stage-crafting perspective, I use a multi-media approach, including props on stage, a live camera feed, some vestimentary attributes like hats and masks and drums, and a lightning script for the light technician.

This post is however NOT about the stage experience, which is rather artistic with self-created visuals, soundscapes and poems, hopefully resonating beyond the cognitive. This post is about the underlying thoughts, messages and insights. Preparing a talk, a blog, or a presentation forces you to get your ideas together and structured. And as usual, by refining and experimenting, I sort of stumbled upon most of these insights.

Otto Scharmer meets Simon Wardley

As many of you know, I am a fan of Otto Scharmer’s work on Theory-U and the accompanying ideas in his book “Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies”.

otto clean

Key image from Leading from the Emerging Future – Otto Scharmer

In essence, Otto Sharmer’s model is about increasing the levels of quality of attention in attending, conversing, organizing and coordinating. It is about getting better at these along higher levels of consciousness. For example, attending at the 3.0 Stakeholder Level is of a higher quality than attending at the 1.0 Habitual Level.

That’s a mouthful, and although we don’t have time here to go into any depth into Theory-U (read the book), it is about letting emerge your future state from being your true self.

I combined this with the insights of Simon Wardley, who – if we discount several thousand years of military history – I would label as the godfather of situational awareness and the accompanying situational awareness maps.

wardley tweet

He labels them as “topographical intelligence in business”. Simon positions his work in the “observing position and movement” part of John Boyd’s OODA model

Wardley circle

Sun Tsu meets John Boyd – courtesy Simon Wardley 

Except for Magritte-behind-bars, none of these visuals are used during my performance, but my metaphorical narrative on stage is in essence about getting better. But getting better at what? And along which dimensions? In what direction?

  • It is about letting emerge a better way of listening, learning and leading.
  • It is about letting emerge a better way of observing, game-play, deciding.
  • It is about letting emerge a better way of attending, conversing, organizing and coordinating

Let me guide you through this forest.

Listening

“If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky”

Raul Gutierrez, Poet

Listening is usually about hearing sound, spoken words, music. In my performance, I expand listening to observing in general. Observing sound, time, location, movement, structure, memory, and patrimony.

listen

Listening is about observing and attending. Getting better at that is making progress along the levels of quality of attention. Open willed listening is better than habitual listening.

Learning

“Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t”

Jordan Peterson

Learning is usually associated with studying, going to a course or training, follow a workshop. It is usually associated with downloading or acquiring new information, knowledge.

In my performance I share the ladder of learning, from innocent to mentor to expert to… God! I talk about learning in the wild, natural emerging apprenticeship, and evolution with/without skin in the game. John Hagel refers to some of this as “scalable learning and tacit knowledge.”

“Tacit knowledge trumps explicit knowledge. The latter can be articulated and written down and it usually takes time before it can be expressed clearly and coherently to others. Tacit knowledge is within our heads and we have a hard time even expressing it to ourselves, much less to anyone else. Because tacit knowledge is generally newer knowledge, emerging from new experiences that we’ve encountered, it’s often the most valuable knowledge, providing us with insight into how to act in a rapidly evolving environment. Tacit knowledge becomes accessible through shared practice

Ise Shinto

Ise Shinto shrine in Japan

In my performance, I metaphorically refer to the Ise Shinto shrine in Japan, which is rebuilt every 20 years for around 1,300 years as a way to preserve process knowledge aka tacit knowledge.

learn

Learning is about game-play and conversing. Getting better at that is making progress along the levels of quality of attention. Learning through doing in the flow is better than learning through downloading information.

Leading

The first job of a leader is to learn. Only then can a leader do their second and third jobs — care and love ”

Umair Haque

Leading is usually associated with leaders and followers. I wrote a post about “The End of Leadership” long time ago.

In my performance, I focus on different types of archetypes of change agents, and the evolution from the forbidden, through the rebellion into creation. I talk about the coherence of narrative, motives, and governance. All addressed in previous posts on this blog.

lead

What is new is that I could now map “leading” to the “organising & coordinating” columns of Otto Scharmer’s model or to the “leadership” quadrant in Simon Wardley’s circle.

Leading is about deciding, organizing and coordinating coherence of narrative, motives and governance. Getting better at that is making progress along the levels of quality of attention. Leading in awareness-based-collective-action is better than leading in command-and-control.

Personal reflection

During my performance, I am inviting the audience for a moment of personal reflection after each chapter, with the explicit instruction that they will NOT be asked to report back.

This is about personalized learning, letting humans internalize with attention for privacy and intimacy. Learning as a personal secret.

“All our choices are among life stories that end with our individual deaths.”

Venkatesh Rao

Every reflection moment also challenges the audience in taking personal leadership for stepping out of the prison cell, hopefully in a series of choices among life stories. Every choice is a choice between inside or outside of the prison cell.

So, please, get out of your prison cell!

Warm regards,

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There is a new 9 minute video profile about David Lynch. The text that goes with it is beautiful. I just made a transcript out of it. Enjoy.

david lynch curtains up

Cinema is a language

It can say things

Big abstract things

And I love that about it

 

Some people are poets

And have a beautiful way of saying things with words

But cinema is its own language

And so you can express a feeling and a thought

That can’t be conveyed any other way

 

It’s a magical medium

 

For me it is so beautiful

To think about these pictures and sounds

Flowing together in time and in sequence

Making something

That can be done only through cinema

 

It’s so magical

I don’t know why

To go into a theater

And have the lights go down

It’s very quiet

And then the curtain starts to open

And you go into a world

 

Although the frames of a film are always the same

The same number in the same sequence and with the same sounds

Every screening is different

 

There is a circle

That goes from the audience to the film and back

Each person is looking and thinking

And feeling and coming up with their own sense of things

 

I like a story that holds abstractions

And that’s what cinema can do

 

I was a painter

I painted and went to art school

I had no interest in film

 

One day I was sitting in a big studio room

And I had a painting going

Which was of a garden at night

It had a lot of black with green plants

Emerging out of the darkness

 

All of a sudden these plants started to move

And I heard a wind

And I thought “Oh, how fantastic this is”

And I began to wonder

If film could be a way to make paintings move

 

An idea is a thought

It’s a thought that holds more

Than you think it does when you receive it

 

But in that first moment there is a spark

 

Desire for an idea is like bait

You bait your hook and then you wait

The desire is the bait

That pulls those fish in

Those ideas

 

Little fish swim on the surface

But the big ones swim down below

If you can expand the container you are fishing in

Your consciousness

You can catch bigger fish

 

When I started meditating

I was filled with anxieties and fears

I felt a sense of depression and anger

Anger and depression and sorrow

Are beautiful things in a story

But they are like poison

To the film maker or artist

 

You must have clarity to create

 

You have to be able to catch ideas

 

Life is filled with abstractions

And the only way me make heads or tails of it

Is through intuition

 

Intuition is seeing the solution

It’s emotion and intellect going together

 

Personally, I think intuition can be sharpened

And expanded through meditation

Diving into the self

 

There is an ocean of consciousness

Inside each of us

And it is an ocean of solutions

 

When you dive into that ocean

That consciousness

You enliven it

It grows

 

And the final outcome of this growth of consciousness

Is called enlightenment

Which is the full potential for us all

 

There are many many dark things

Flowing around in this world now

And most films reflect the world in which we live

 

In stories, in the worlds that we go into

There is suffering, confusion, darkness, tension, and anger

 

But the filmmaker does not have to be suffering

To show suffering

 

Negativity is like darkness

You turn on the light and darkness goes

 

We’re like light bulbs

 

If bliss starts growing inside you

It’s like a light

 

You enjoy that light inside

And if you ramp it up brighter and brighter

You enjoy more and more of it

And that light will extend farther and farther

 

Maybe enlightenment is far away

But it is said that

If you walk toward the light

With every step things get brighter

 

Every day for me gets better and better

And I believe that enlivening unity in the world

Will bring peace on earth

 

So I say “Peace to all of you”

 

UPDATE: most quotes in the video are taken directly from his book “Catching The Big Fish”. I started re-reading the book after having seen/listened to this video.

cover david lynch

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Holiday is almost over, and soon the corporate machinery will kick-in again in full swing, with plenty of exciting announcements about new innovation initiatives, conferences, books, accelerators, startups, scale-ups, and what have you.

“How serious is your innovation?” is the title of a panel I will moderate at the Finnosummit 2018 on 12-13 Sep 2018. I identified a couple of angles for discussion that you might use yourself in assessing your own innovation efforts. Self-assessment of innovation is of course not new, and I already wrote several posts on this topic before:

But in this post, I would like to go beyond the tactics and the aesthetics.

The aesthetics in the video are great, and the background of the Louvre museum gives it some extra credibility, but from a historical point of view, it is all plain wrong and misleading. S**t sold as culture.

If you are a regular reader of the awesome blog of Leda Glyptis about innovation in financial services, you will soon get depressed, but what she describes is unfortunately reality in most organisations. The essence is that most innovation in bigger organisations is just Apes**t: it is not about getting good new stuff into the market, but it is all about looking good and ticking the box during annual reports and annual events. It’s marketing, and that is fine, as long as you know it and don’t deceit yourself that you are doing the real thing.

In this Apes**t world, innovation is a Brand Of Smiling Young Successful Energetic Good Looking People reflecting sentiments of cool, hip, young, dynamic, agile, fast moving, energetic, smiling, fun, and rule breakers.

building-stronger-more-positive-and-effective-teams

This Innovation Apes**t is now almost in the same category as “Fake trumps reality” a.k.a. fantasies to compensate for unfulfilled needs in real life.

Innovation “teams” are often very small teams compared to the rest of the organisation, and deeply buried in its reporting lines. But those very few are able to make a lot of positive and hyped noise, while in reality the rest of the organisation is still in zombie state, refusing at all times to touch (don’t event talk about cutting) the branch they are sitting on or the breast that is feeding them. Why would they? They are in the comfort zone of regular pay-checks, bonuses, perks, etc. And the rare individuals that have the guts to step forward get slashed in annual appraisals because they don’t focus on their objectives which are all focused on the core of the business, or on some vague management/leadership principles that look nice on a slide deck or annual report, but in reality are lip-service at best. It has come to a point where what innovations teams talk about is not what the organisation is focused on.

I have come to distrust anything that looks good, too good/neat to be true. The truth is always messy, and in a corporate environment the good usually hides the ugly.

Look at this example about employee motivation, typical HR Apes**t slideware.

Workplace trust hr apeshit

Humans just don’t function this linear/matrix type of flow. Humans are messy, and that is a great thing.

Therefore, distrust anything that fits a 2×2 matrix, because it is an oversimplification of reality, and does not include “movement” and “tempo”, unless you draw an arrow from one quadrant to another 😉

In general, also distrust all consultant models: they also suck because besides the gross simplifications of reality they also don’t take into account humans’ motivations. Most human interactions (words, sounds, tone, dress, posture, etc ) are status transactions, to increase one’s status compared to the other (opponent). Most motivations are about reciprocity, prestige, self-serving biases, power, hypocrisy, arrogance and entitlement.

All those models also suck because they forget about patrimony, organisational memory, and culture being in essence recorded/internalised know-how.

Doctrines are a category in their own right. Lean, Agile, and Six Sigma are in the category of “Doctrines”, so are “Customer first” and “FNAO” (Failure is not an option/Fear is not an option). The big four sign big contracts for rolling out Lean, Agile, and Six Sigma programs in organisations. They have “knowledge transfer methodologies” where they run the program themselves with their junior consultants for the first year, and then transfer the knowledge to in-house “navigators”, “coachers” or other fancy titles to keep the whole organisation busy and in defence mode for another 1-2 years.

Agile swardley

Doctrine One Site Fits All - Courtesy Simon Wardley

The problem is when one or the other becomes a one-size-fits-all doctrine, usually to obfuscate an unspoken organisational objective to do with cost control (by reducing cost of change (agile), by reducing waste (lean), by reducing deviation (six sigma), and sold under the innovation umbrella.

Once these programs come to an end, the focus quickly fades out – because in addition the whole organisation is now exhausted – and another year later, we are back to business as usual. Until the next consultant or management guru/book comes along.

This is the famous oscillating pattern so well described by Robert Fritz who states that structure drives everything and basically that any lasting innovation effort is about changing the structure of the organisation. And structure is not only about organisational structure (like organograms and reporting lines). It is about coherence between narrative, motivations and governance.

Some good dimensions to assess your Innovation Apes**t are:

  • What innovation have you SHIPPED lately (let’s be generous and look at last year, not last weeks)?
  • How did that contribute to the bottom line?
  • Where is the Skin-in-the-Game?
  • What % of your revenue is invested in innovation? If less than 5% you are definitely not serious. Some startups have probably more bootstrap money then your whole innovation budget together.
  • What have you changed at organisational level?

strategyzer

Courtesy Alex Osterwalder - Strategyzer
  • Why is your head of innovation NOT reporting to the Chairman of the Board? Yes, you read that well: Chairman of the Board and not CEO.
  • Why don’t you have a Chief Entrepreneur NEXT to the CEO?
  • What have you changed at Governance level? Have you simplified, or just added yet another layer of control and vetting to make it quasi impossible for your innovators to get anything through the different gating levels?
  • What is the name of the (innovation) play you are playing? This is about the clarity of your innovation intention. Describe it in 10 words max without using any of the Blah-words. Are ALL executives and ALL board members 100% aligned on this? Or have you left the doors open for organised sabotage?

blahs

Common Blahs (in strategy) - Courtesy Simon Wardley

For financial services, you can add Blockchain (or whatever semantic variation such as DLT), AI, RegTech and the Data Revolution to that list.

So, what is your innovation about, if you can’t use any of these blah-words? Is there anything tangible or even intangible left when you peal this onion? Curious to hear your thoughts and experiences.

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The 2018 Music Festival season is almost over, and the pattern of “experience” is all over the place. To be honest, I can’t hear the word “experience” anymore. Because most of them are fake, or fantasy at best.

Tomorrowland 2018 Aftermovie

Whether you look at videos from the Dimitri Vegas World Madness Tour, the Alcatraz Hard Rock & Metal Festival, or the Tomorrowland 2018 aftermovie (with almost 3 Million views!), it is all the same: the Disneyland-for-adults-landscape-escapes, the rude language, the circus artists, the booze, the drugs, and the illusion of beautiful people only (except Alcatraz) horrify me. And now there is bigger than big, the Sziget Festival in Hungary. Check-out the photo tab on their site. And then there is lower than low: the Belgian Camping Kitch Festival with this year’s them “Your Marginal Alter-Ego” (parental advice). All of the same decadence at scale.

And it starts dripping over into the corporate event scene. Have a look at the Event Manager Blog: plenty of ideas to make a great event.

7.-Eccentric-Entertainment-550x365

Dimitri Vegas may be born in Willebroek (Antwerp, Belgium) but he could as well be originating from Las Vegas. This Las Vegas style/experience was also showing into this year’s Money2020Europe event (they started their event-as-a-business in Las Vegas anyway 😉

M2020EU18-Big-Top-e1528128533356

And it’s all about scale: 5,000 people, 10,000 people, 100,000 people, … labelled as event-as-experience but deep inside as event-as-a-money-business. We have lost all sense of intimacy.

Besides the enormous challenge and expense of crowd control, these are super expensive productions, just to create fake, to escape from reality into fake nature, fake fountains, with rosy girls with flower in their hairs, hands forming loving hearts, glitter, fake smoke, huge fireworks, confetti machines, heat, sweat, groping, etc.

It feels like the New-Orleans Bourbon Street vulgarity becomes the new norm. You know the norms when somebody calls you a dog.

bestival

Picture from Bestival (sic) 2018 – via The Guardian

Fake-ness has of course for long already permeated news and corporate communications talk, and has now also invaded fake scientific reports, fake reviews, fake attention, many of them algorithmically organised by robots.We are now all part of the New Dark Age that is so well described in James Bridles highly recommended latest book.

new dark age

And it feels the fantasies become bigger and more fantastic the more reality fails at fulfilling the needs. Fantasy compromises on real fulfilment of real needs. The more the audience’s reality is distorted, the more they find comfort in fantasy experiences.

Fake trumps reality.

Nobody seems interested anymore in authentic décor, grace, purity of mind and body, with an intention to create wonder for their guests. Or are there still folks out there, who look for being dipped in a silver cleaner, and rediscover their bright shininess, the newness under the accretions of time, habit and fantasy?

My cousin recently reported from his vacation in the Austrian forests and nailed it:

“What people are looking for artificially is always present there naturally”.

BTW, how was your holiday ? 😉

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“But that is not logic!” she cried out about my latest creation. “I don’t care in logic!” I responded. “I am in the business of the irrational…”

IMG_0743 (1)

Horses by Berlinde De Bruyckere in Mukha
Part of Sanguine/Bloedrood exhibition on Baroque

I have something with – or better against – logic, facts, being normal. I am not really interested in doing things that are logic. They feel dry, life-less, un-emotional, un-spiritual, un-aesthetic, and too-efficient.

With the focus on facts (real or alternative), metrics and logic we witness the loss of the subjective.

I was looking back into my “open threads” file – a collection of reflections, thoughts, interesting articles, links etc. – and found back this great quote from T Bone Burnett’s speech at the 2016 AmericanaFest.

T Bone Burnett by Anna Webber for Americana Music Association

T Bone Burnett by Anna Webber for Americana Music Association

“Technology does only one thing- it tends toward efficiency. It has no aesthetics. It has no ethics. Its code is binary. But everything interesting in life- everything that makes life worth living- happens between the binary. Mercy is not binary. Love is not binary. Music and art are not binary. You and I are not binary.”

In other words, technology, and by extension facts, logic, and AI, miss the notion of heart, mind, and spirit.

Apparently Japanese have a word for this unity: “kohoro”. This Quartz article points to the real difference between man and machine.

“The human heart is rich in intuition; it possesses attributes such as illogicality, hunger for novelty, creativity, infinity and openness. Computer simulation is deterministic (closed); it lacks diversity and is an embodiment of dryness. I believe that this is the decisive difference between computers and human beings.”

IMG_0733.jpg

Sculpture by Thea Gvetadze in MUKHA, Antwerp

There is also a much darker side to the illusion of facts. Or when the devil manages at convincing people that only his facts are the real facts. Joe Edelman wrote a great post “Five days with the devil” about that about a year ago. With hindsight, this is such an important insight: how the devil of facts kills how humans interact:

By offering the to-do list, he reduced all values to logistical goals.

By replacing flirting and discovery with an enhanced coordination, he re-cast collaboration as a trade for goals, rather than a mutual exploration of values.

By offering us acute perception, the devil stole our ability to discover value in our environment. He convinced us only facts were real.

By offering us empathy and understanding, he removed our capacity to protect each other, which depends on recognising values.

By preventing us from sharing reasons, he cut us off from us certain social processes: from deliberation about values, from co-discovery of values. It’s exactly these social processes, which make our choices meaningful.

“He convinced us only facts were real.” Read that sink in for a moment. It’s like someone says, “Don’t believe what you hear or see, only believe my facts are real”.

Facts ignore that what cannot be measured, what is at level of meaning, beyond sense-making. It would be better to capture information, knowledge and insight at a more condensed level. Like in an artefact: an eternal repository of high quality information captured before its entropic death.

In his excellent book (Amazon link) “Strange Tools. Art and Human Nature”, Alva Noë confirms:

“What is at stake is not the facts. What is at stake is how we assimilate, make sense of and finally evaluate the facts”

In other words, the future is not about facts. The future is in the victory of the subjective, the nuance and the romance.

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CarPaint-01w floor of paint shop Christie Hemm Klok

Floor of paintshop - Picture by Christie Hemm Klok

 

De pols was weerbarstig

en brak in duizend snippers

Daar lagen ze dan

Als stukken van een nieuwe puzzel

Waar we het raden naar hebben

Op een hoopje

Zoals kinderen na het springen

“We zijn een hoopje” Zei ze

Toen ze hopend op een hoop bij elkaar lagen

Het zwarte canvas van de trampoline

+++ Rough translation +++

The wrist

Refractory

Broke into thousand snippets

There they were

Pieces of a brand new jig-saw puzzle

Its purpose still unclear

A little heap

Like children after jumping

“We are a little heap” She said

When they were lying hoping on a heap

The black canvas of the trampoline

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