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Bicycle ride Sep 2017 - South of Aalst - Flanders

Summer is over, autumn settles in, leaves are falling but here and there some late sunflowers reminding us of the bright sun and the fertile soils. I am now my last 3 months of my long-term sabbatical as Petervan Productions. If you are interested in my developing journey, my Jan 2017, March 2017 , May 2017 and Aug 2017 updates are still available.

The House project

Our house move is now done and we are fully settled. As planned, the art studio is complete now. The easel has landed:

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Spotless easel in Petervan Productions studio

The Artschool project

Initially the plan was to join the art academy of Aalst, only 2 miles away from where I live. But after the first session, it felt like a mismatch: very limited space to work, a quite older population than what I am used to, and I did not feel a click with the coach.

Upon recommendation of my coach of the last two years (Ann Grillet), I decided to do some better homework and I checked out about five other academies. In the end I decided to join the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, one of the oldest academies of the Low Countries (South Netherlands and Flanders). The academy was founded in 1741.

On my first day I felt a bit like a Flemish Primitive: I learned BTW that the term Flemish “Primitive” has nothing to do with “basic” or “archaic” but is related to “first” or “early”, because the Flemish Primitives were innovators in finding the right compounds for paint to use on panels and canvas. In other words: how to make innovation stick!

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Royal Academy Ghent painting studio and my blank personal corner

I restarted painting, and upon suggestion of Ioana Guiman from Allevo (thank you, Ioana!), I started experimenting with timelapses of some of my paintings. It is an interesting format: you can pause the video where you like it most and then make a sort of personal still and print-out.

Here is one of the painting “Girl Dancing in Flemish Fields”. I did a quick soundscape for it as well, so volume “on” is recommended.

The falling of the leaves and the autumn humidity of the soil inspired me for a poem:

Herfst

Vervaagd

Het beeld van zondag

Een boomgaard vol fruit

Warmte onderhuids

De zoete hap vergeet de kleur van zon

Vliegensvlugge paardebloemen

Verstrooien nog snel het land met hun laatste zaad

Te laat

We moeten zoeken nu

naar een warm nest

in die berm van oneindige mildheid

Apple trees with red apples

Trees with red apples in an orchard

 

Autumn

Blurred

The bust of Sunday

An orchard full of fruit

Warmth under my skin

The sweet mouthful forgets the color sun

Speedy dandelions

Spawn brisk the land with their last seeds

Too late

We have to find a warm nest now

In that soft shoulder of endless indulgence

 

And here is another new poem “Horse Riding without Bridles” . In essence, the poem is about personal freedom.

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Quote by Kurt Vonnegut - Found in Royal Academy studio on kitchen wall

The Performance project

As mentioned in my August update, I was invited for a gig at FinnoSummit in September in Mexico . Some sort of  keynote, including some elements of my performance “Tin Drum is Back”. The talk is about structural change and archetypes of change agents. It is very much related to my research about Good Change – Bad Change (more about that later).

FinnoSummit was scheduled as a two-day event on 19-20 Sep 2017, but at 13:14pm on day one, the 7,1 magnitude earthquake hit, and in the end the whole event was cancelled as the venue could not get clearance from the authorities to re-open before the appropriate stability checks of the meeting location.

Although experiencing a 7,1 quake is quite an experience in itself – I was sitting in the top of the 1000 PAX concert hall shaking at least 50cm from left to right –  I was most struck by the huge wave of solidarity throughout the city by all layers of the population, helping the rescuers and the victims with food, water, blankets, etc…

It made me think of “The Intensity to action of the Positive Archetype” in the nice post about systems thinking by @LeylaAcaroglu

This occurs when agents are motivated to take action for the collective benefits due to an intensely focused experience, as was the case in Mexico City after the earthquake last week. The focused intensity of the need to act and the physical actions of many agents create a reinforcing feedback loop of contribution, all dedicated to the collective whole.

The talk also went into the topic of patrimony and spaces of memory, and I will update the talk with the earthquake experience of damaged patrimony, the emergence of commons, self formed solidarity brigades, and “moles” (the name of the special rescue forces that start digging into the rubble of the quake.

The organisers of FinnoSummit have kindly re-invited me to do the premiere of this performance at their Miami event on 9 Oct 2017. The venue is again stunning: they selected a place called “The Sacred Space”.

Sacred space Miami

The Sacred Space in Miami

The Deep Change project

Patrimony is one of the components of a research I started some months ago on “deep” change. Check out the previous posts here, here and this one where I highlighted the importance of patrimony and its combination with contemporary. Or the respect of the memory of an organisation and its combination with the DNA of innovation.

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Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, by Thomas Heatherwick Studio

Although the term “deep” is a somewhat glorifying term – as glorifying as “meaningful” or “authentic” – it has some meaning as the change I am trying to describe probably has its source in the more deeply wired connections in our brains and being fully conscious.

The plan is to come up with a body of work, describing what is deep change, to articulate the levers to accelerate deep change, and a more tactical set of recommendations on how to get started and keep going. The format of that body of work is not decided yet, but it could go from anything like a publication up to a performance and/or experience expedition, as I believe learning happens best through experience and not through teaching.

For this project – funding permitted – I intend to do 10 “in residence” immersions, complemented with additional interviews with a collective of leaders, visionaries, artists, craftsmen, designers and producers.

In essence this is a sensemaking expedition on the what and the how of high quality connections and long lasting cross-generational structural change that goes beyond innovation tactics such as bootcamps, start-up competitions, accelerators, incubators or whatever these concepts are called these days.

I have by now a quite solid outline in place and feel ready to get this one going.

Sponsorships

There are different kinds of sponsorship available for the Deep Change project. Please contact me in private if interested.

techonomy 2017

On a separate note, I would love to combine my FinnoSummit Miami trip in November with one of the best conferences in the world: Techonomy. I believe many of the topics on this year’s agenda could be solid anchor points for the Deep Change project as well. It would be great if somebody would be willing to sponsor my attendance. Let’s discuss what sort of deliverable you’d like in return. Please contact me in private if interested.

What’s next?

During Oct – Dec 2017, the plan is to work on:

  • FinnoSummit Miami keynote/performance on 9 Nov 2017
  • Covering Techonomy (pending sponsorship)
  • Continue the research on deep change
  • Get some blogs and reflections published
  • More disciplined agenda again

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Permeke – De Vespers – 1927 - Oil on Canvas – 128x149cm

That’s about it for this edition. If there is something worth reporting, next update is for Dec 2017. Looking forward to hearing from your latest adventures as well.

As I have increased my social media activity, some folks think I am back at work. I am not. I enjoy the silence, and try to focus on my 4 priorities: Deep change research project, performance, artwork, and experience expeditions (events). If you have anything interesting or related to one of these domains, please contact me.

Warmest,

petervan-signature

I am in the business of cultivating high quality connections and flows to create immersive learning experiences and structural change. Check out: https://petervanproductions.com/

 

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Musikheim, main hall, Frankfurt:Oder, 1929 He befriended fellow modernist Walter Gropius, and helped draw up the curriculum for Gropius_s design school, the Bauhaus Photograph- © Ate

Musikheim, main hall, Frankfurt/Oder, 1929
The Bauhaus Photograph- © Atelier Leopold Haase & Co

A couple of months ago a started a research on “deep” change. Check out the previous posts here and also this one where I highlighted the importance of patrimony and its combination with contemporary. Or the combination of the core organisational DNA with the DNA of innovation.

Although the term “deep” is a somewhat glorifying term – as glorifying as “meaningful” or “authentic” – it has some meaning as the change I am trying to describe probably has its source in the more deeply wired connections in our brains and being fully conscious, as opposed to the western consciousness – starting more or less with Pythagoras – which is anchored in a two dimensional, linear either/or Boolean consciousness.

With my background training as an architect, I have probably developed a greater multi-dimensional sensitivity about spaces, and I stumbled by accident on the notion of space and/or structure as a store for memories, or wisdom if you want.

Lately, I am noticing plenty of videos that use connected particles moving around in some kind of grid, creating patterns of movement.

Here is one video by futurist Gerd Leonhard about the tension Technology vs. Humanity and the connectedness or over-connectedness of humans and things.

The moving grid/nodes representations made me think of some artwork I discovered lately by visual artist Simone Reuss on spacial relations. The original post and background is here, but I made my own little animation with it and added a self-composed soundtrack. I made it as part of a brand new presentation/performance on the topic of “deep” change.

 

Spacial relationships may be one of the aspects of being human that we are losing by using too augmented reality. Like you loose your physical orientation skills by driving/walking around all the time with Google Maps or GPS driving.

I like the idea of human movements creating invisible spaces of memory. Leaving traces of flows and movements.

In the second part of my short movie, you will see a drawing documenting human flows in an office building. How humans cut corners, how their movements are dictated by the structure/floor plan of the office. What I really like is how the artist made 3D prints in silicone of these patterns. It is as if the 3D print object is a store of memory of the movements and the structure.

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Movement Spaces - Silicone 3R print - Simone Reuss - 2012

One can of course question what came or should come first: the structure influencing the flow, or the flow influencing the structure? I remember some Californian University experimenting with spaces with no walls, and let the users define “as-they-flow” where the separations should be.

Fluidity seems to always find its best structure

Flow happens first, it influences the structure and determines the capacity of the structure to further enable connections.

But that structure in its own terms then also becomes patrimony. A memory space. A tool to memorise and remember the patrimony memory of a talk, a plot, a corporate narrative, or a corporate DNA.

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lukasa memory board. Courtesy Brooklyn Museum/Wikimedia

I learned that “Memory Palaces” are indeed an old mnemonic technique to build places of memory. Check out this great post about “Memory Palaces”.

Cultures without writing are referred to as ‘non-literate’, but their identity should not be associated with what they don’t do, but rather with what they do from necessity when there is no writing to record their knowledge. Cultures without writing employ the most intriguing range of memory technologies often linked under the academic term ‘primary orality’, including song, dance, rhyme and rhythm, and story and mythology. Physical memory devices, though, are less often included in this list. The most universal of these is the landscape itself.

It is about recording knowledge, or even better know-how, through experience, and not because being told/teached to do so.

Culture is recorded know-how.

Is there a way to “design” the such spaces of memory? Joe Brewer has done some solid work with his Culture Design Labs, laying the groundwork for a design science of intentional social change to rapidly evolve our systems of government, the practices and structures of market economies, pathways through educational institutions, and journalism models in the media. 

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Not as some loose theory of change, but by creating a rigorous scientific model. That’s interesting and refreshing: looking at change as a science, not as a theory.

Every story, every organisation has structure. How did that structure come into being? How do we change structure? How do we change flows influencing that structure? Or as Jean Russell says: how do we cultivate flows?

Hope it sparks something 😉 Cheers!

petervan-signature

I am in the business of cultivating high quality connections and flows to create immersive learning experiences and structural change. Check out: https://petervanproductions.com/

 

 

 

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storyclub petervan

 

In June of this year, Raf Stevens (RS) invited me for an interview as part of his StoryClub Podcast series. The interview was in Dutch but i made this English transcript out if it. For those interested, it’s a good summary of my thinking and mood halfway my sabbatical. The different rhythm of the sabbatical has also softened my voice. And I like how Raf kept the silences in the interview. Emptiness is sometimes the platform for resonating content… Enjoy or start crying ;-).

Part of these reflections will be integrated in my mid-Sep keynote/performance at the Finnovate FinnoSummit in Mexico City.

PV: If there is any form of consistency in my story, that would be in the word “rhythm”.

RS: I spoke with Peter Vander Auwera (PV)

PV: I have to be very careful that I am not creating a story – which also would be ok – but I just want to indicate that I have the sensitivity not to invent a story just to make the whole thing make sense. In English there is a term for this: confabulating a story. To make – with hindsight – sense of and for myself and others.

RS: Peter Vander Auwera is a thinker. He has been thinking a lot about innovation and change. But he is also a creative doer. He makes paintings and writes poems. At first sight a strange combination. But then you don’t know Peter.

PV: I am in a sabbatical right now. Before this, I was enjoying lots, lots of freedom to create – together with others – a community. We called it a “tribe”. An “Innotribe”. A tribe of innovators in the financial industry. And throughout that journey my focus has become more and more on the creation of a sort of events where people come together in a coherent setting around some content themes. In fact, that has become my main expertise. I rolled into it, and it has become the place where I was meant to be.

RS: Peter works with SWIFT. An international financial services organisation. Within this company, Peter co-founded a very inspiring initiative: Innotribe. A community where financial leaders and big thinkers of today gather to explore how they can create a better world. With Innotribe, Peter brought together these people in what he calls “high quality meeting platforms”. To learn from each other, to start conversations, to dare dreaming again.

(Music)

RS: Peter lives and works on the intersection of business transformation and art. Since begin 2017, he is on sabbatical, a period to disconnect, and to take distance from his day-job at Swift and Innotribe.

RS: Welcome at the Story Club Podcast, with Peter Vander Auwera.

PV: Sometimes I think I pushed the bar quite a lot with the work I am doing so far, but in reality I just scratched the surface. I got a lot of freedom, I mean a LOT of freedom at SWIFT. I can say for sure that I got 95% freedom to do what I thought should be done, what content to bring, how the production should feel like etc, etc… But still, I felt I was hitting some cultural ceiling within the organisation. That is not a criticism, it is what it is.

I want a much bigger contribution of artists, of art in the creation of this sort of rhythms, this sort of experiences. What I want, I want to resonate with the audience and the guests at a level “beyond the cognitive”. Not only leave a message between the ears, but also touch the heart, the soul, and the human. I want that what we make that it enter your unconscious. I want to create magic and put a spell on you.

In the events, especially the bigger ones, I use artists in support of the content, so not as entertainment, but as underpinning for the content. In the smaller events, these feel more like a retreat and therefore only target small highly curated groups of twelve people, I use artists not so much in support of the content, but to let them inspire the guests by sharing the intensity of their work.

(Music)

I was trained as an architect. At Saint-Lucas in Brussels and Ghent. So not the engineering architecture, but more the artistic side of it. I usually say with a prank: “We were permissioned to draw buildings that never needed to be built”. And that is an enormous freedom of expression. That started itching again. Three years ago, I went back to art academy. The first year was drawing, especially drawing of life models… with my architecture background of straight lines – in that era – it was a real stretch for me to deal with the organic shapes of the human body. I even felt that in my hands: they never had internalised the drawing of a curved line, it was not natural for me.

But I also learned to observe. So not drawing what you think but drawing what you see. Same for painting: painting the colour you see not the colours you think you see.

After the first year of drawing, I did two years of painting. And now and then I post some work on my Facebook page, and to my surprise there are a number of people asking me if I sell my work. Selling my work? Hmmm… never thought about that.

(Music)

And just like you, I got the chance and opportunity to talk in front of audiences. I do my best to illustrate my “talks” or “stories” with good visual material, and I also already use some soundscapes and even silence….

RS: Yes, I saw your nice TED talk of 2-3 years ago.

PV: Yes, Thank you… I now start playing with the idea to evolve those talks in some sort of “performance”, almost “conférencier” style of keynote.

RS: An “experience” ?

PV: Yes, an experience indeed. I want to tell a narrative – at another occasion we can discuss the difference between a story and a narrative – a narrative about maturity levels of change agents in organisations. I defined 3 phases, and each phase is documented by four archetypes of change agents. And for each archetype there is a narrative, a visual, a soundscape, a scene setting, a prop on stage. I have not decided yet whether I will deliver this as one big performance of 12 archetypes, of maybe an episode per phase, or maybe an episode per archetype.

I believe there are a couple of interesting findings in there. Phase 1 for example is about “The Forbidden”, that what was suppressed, the forbidden fruit. And Phase 2 is about protest and rebellion. And Phase 3 about daring to stand fully in your own creativity. And I illustrate all that exclusively with my own artwork, my self-composed soundscapes, my self-written poetry and “bring it live” on stage. And only once.

RS: Heh… only once?

PV: Only once.

RS: Why only once?

PV: Because I am attracted by ephemeral experiences. A good metaphor is drawing or writing on a sandy beach. The waves come and it’s all gone. You were there to witness it, or not. One can of course make a video testimonial of that, but that’s not the same experience as when you were there live. The idea emerged – maybe a strange connection here – when I looked and watched over and over again the reunion concert of Led Zeppelin in the London O2 arena a couple of years ago. That concert only happened once. You can’t repeat that sort of concert ten times in a row. Not possible.

(Music)

Then you encounter yourself. In your own emptiness, your own… the aspects of yourself that you don’t want others to know about. The so-called shadow side. A good way to pinpoint your shadow is to ask yourself what you absolutely would HATE that people say about yourself. What would hurt you badly? That could for example be: you are stupid, or you are a liar, or you are a manipulator, or you are a psychopath.

RS: An interesting word in that list is “manipulator”

PV: Yes. I got in contact with Leading By Being via Andre, Andre Pelgrims who was in one of your previous StoryClub stories. I know Andre already from my Microsoft period (2001-2005): Andre was offering a couple of workshops about people coaching. To make a long story short, one of the workshops was a role-play, and in the play Andre was my counterparty, the guy that needed to be coached by me. After the game, when Andre was back in his role of facilitator, he told me: “My feedback to you Peter is that I never would want to work for you. You are the biggest manipulator I ever met!” BANG! That is something Andre is really good at: he only needs 5 minutes to scan you, laser-sharp, make the diagnose, you are dissected…

RS: Do you think that was part of the game?

PV: I don’t believe Andre is a manipulator at all. That this is part of his game. On the contrary. I really think he is laser-sharp, in the sense of a scalpel, tjack – and be ultra precise in “this is your problem, man. “

I have tried to take that feedback with me very consciously in the rest of my career: make sure that I am not manipulating when I do something. And that is also part of the design and the delivery of the sort of events I am trying to create. You told me before this interview that you were planning to follow a workshop on “the art of facilitating”? I will send you a link – and please remind me when I forget – of a book by Dan Newman “From the front of the room” (Amazon Link), a sort of the Art of Facilitating for advanced etc etc … Dan is founder/director I believe of an organisation called The Value Web http://thevalueweb.org/ and amongst many other engagements they do the facilitation for the WEF in Davos. With big whiteboards, and live scribing, and – it is much more than scribing, it is based on the MG Taylor methodology – with a lot of preparation, a lot of solid framing, very very professional.

But when I was reading Dan’s book, at some moments I felt the facilitator became a manipulator. Using tricks that I would not feel good with and who make me think of what you read and hear about Trump. It was in that election debate with Hillary: at a certain moment Trump stands right behind Hillary, where he basically manipulates with his body energy how she feels. Not that I am worried that Hillary has not yet developed a thick skin against these tricks but anyway… In his book, Dan describes a couple of other subtle and not so subtle ways to facilitate groups and use your physical presence/position to deal with for example saboteurs in the group, by standing very close to them, or by ignoring them, or… The art of facilitating is a fine art. At what moment does it become manipulation and when is it authentic?

Another example: when we – I always say “we” because I never could make these events happen without other professionals, you need a production team for this – when we you work all the time in co-creation mode, I am basically the composer, the architect, like you ask your architect “I need a home”, I try as an architect to get a clue – or rather a pretty sharp understanding – of what you really want of a home.

RS: Also the storyline of an event

PV: And thus, what we do with our facilitators: we cut the content of the “speaker” in chunks, and after each chunk we give an exercise to internalise the content just given. Starters, main course, dessert. Whatever the number of servings you need… And the invitation process to move the audience into active assignment mode can be quite diverse. I will make a caricature of it now, but one way would be by announcing “Guys, we now have some work for you!” I can guarantee that 25% of your audience chickens out, especially an audience of people from the financial industry feeling already uncomfortable as they come into an experience space that does not exactly mimic their bank branch. Another way of moving your guests in action mode is to day “We have a present for you” and the assignment is wrapped in an envelope of a present box, or something they discover themselves, but there the line is very thin…

RS: Yes, is it manipulation or facilitation?

PV: Exactly. To come back to the beginning of this interview, I am very sensitive to this; it has to be “right”.

(Music)

RS: When I hear you talking, Peter, you know what I am thinking about? Maybe it is linked to your sabbatical, but maybe you went deeper then ever, not only in theory but also in art, in poetry – thinking about deep change some moments ago – but has all this created a deep change in yourself, that will maybe enrich you if you ever go back to a corporate world? Or will it rather be an obstruction; because of lot of what you do is a mile away of what happens in most companies? Will it be enrichment or rather a frustration?

PV: Yes, but it also has to do – and I come back to the aspect of maturity, the maturity of a change agent – with moments of powerlessness. The realisation that I have reached an age where I will never be capable anymore to become fully what I could become, and will not be able to realise my dreams to the fullest.

RS: Not anymore? That is quite fatalistic…

PV: Not anymore, or for sure not anymore in a corporate environment because I believe it is – and that is not a matter of laziness of fatalism – I believe it is a big stretch for a corporation to get inspired by these sort of ideas, let alone to do something with them. And it is very easy for me to shout something about architectural metaphors and blah blah blah, but in all these models – and they are just models – what is always missing is the noise inherent to the system. The noise of the human being. The noise of the human as manipulator, the noise of trying to take space from the other, the noise of not willing to make the other win, the career noise of wanting to be the next CEO, etc… all this is noise in the system that makes you live in a big illusion that you have a new skeleton, a new perspective, etc – in that sense most change programs are bullshit. As long as you don’t bring together people together in high quality connections, you have to get on with the old crocodiles that are polluted anyway.

(Music)

RS: May I ask you two things to end? One is a citation, from the editor of WIRED Magazine Kevin Kelly, also found on your blog. And the second thing… that is still a secret, won’t tell you now…. The citation goes: “Your job in life is to discover your job, and it usually takes you a whole life to figure this out”. How far are you with that?

PV: If zero is nowhere and 10 is everything…. I feel I am somewhere around 3

RS: Ouch! That’s sharp!

PV: Yes, but on the other hand, what you get from Leading by Being, at least in my case – it’s different per person – in my case – and I still don’t succeed in doing that – it is to build in mildness for yourself.

RS: So it is ok it is a 3?

PV: You say, “That is sharp”… What I realise more and more the last months – not sure you call this mid-life or late-life or whatever-life – a year or so ago I started realising that if I would like to stay active professionally till the age of 70, I only have 10 years left to do what I want to do. So the clock is ticking. And that is also the main reason for my sabbatical. If I don’t do it now, I will never.

(Music)

RS: Do you need appreciation? – everybody needs appreciation, let’s put that down as a certainty. With your blog posts and a quite different rhythm of life and the things you share with the world, it must be pleasing to get reactions/feedback, or does that not keep you awake?

PV: In honesty, yes, it is very pleasant to get these reactions, but it does not keep me awake.

RS: And not only reactions to your paintings and poetry, but also on your vision of the world?

PV: The really good question is – all your questions are ok – the really critical question is “what’s your intention in doing that?”. Is the intention to get reaction and attention, or is the intention “I have a reflection I want to share, I really want to know how you think about this”. I want reaction. To complement that idea, to challenge it, etc.?

RS: Is that something you question? Do you know the answer?

PV: Well, no. I don’t know the answer yet. But I hope that with my current writings about “being normal, being special” I will find some answers to that, I am asking myself… Sometimes I would like to disappear in anonymity, almost like a monk, without all this twittering, facebooking, blogging: phew … gone. And being normal again.

RS: Is there not some pressure like “I can’t do that because I have to earn a living for the next 10 years”?

PV: No, I don’t feel that pressure

RS: I have to throw my vision into the world, I must share it, I must continue building reputation so I can get back in corporate life late this year?

PV: No. Reputation is not something I worry about. I am in fact sharing and publishing less than before. I only want to publish if I really have to say something. And not when I am looking for attention. When I have a new insight – and that is not that often, but maybe… something of a higher quality? QWAN (the quality without a name)?

RS: But my spouse would say: “But how are you then going to make a living, Raf?”

PV: I am not worried about that. Because I really believe that there is a need for this sort of high quality meeting platforms, and if I keep focussing on what I am focussing on right now, some day something will emerge. I do have confidence in that. I have now somebody from the FinTech network asking me whether I would be willing to do the opening keynote at an event in September in Mexico City… Yes, by all means, but only in the way, in the direction I have set out for myself right now.

RS: One more. What are “Strillingen” ?

PV: Hah! I wrote a poem about that, a play of words…

RS: Can I read it out?

PV: Yeah, of course

RS: Or do you want to read it out? I will let you do that. I found it very beautiful.

 

PV: Thank you.

PV: Strillingen https://petervan.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/strillingen-poem/ (poorly translated by myself into English as “Hidrations”

Hidrations

Still vibrations

Cold and chilling

Perditions

Explorations of dangerous awareness, beyond the shame

A dog inspects her dung, rattle, and drivel

Nothing is worth what it seems

The silencing humming of tires on asphalt

Only the heat of tarmac is left

Air vibrations and fata morganas

Warm shivers of pleasance

A hideaway too far

Buried masks and hidden cuddles

Hidrations

RS: What does this mean for you?

PV: All sorts of things of course. This sort of poems emerge – I will give you an answer on what it means – this sort of things emerge, suddenly there is a piece of inspiration, and I start writing, just writing what comes, without thinking what the next sentence is going to be, an then scratching a bit here and there, just a little bit… It means, it stands for… euh… observation? In the following sense: I wrote this very early in the morning, at sunrise, when the house is still silent, and when you hear – just like now – when you hear far away cars on the highway, and you consciously hear it. Like right now, I hear the wind, I also feel the wind, and am willing to pause for a fraction of a second and realise that.

On the other hand this is of course also a reflection of the eternal fight, the eternal search for who I am, and what and when I am hiding and when I dare to stand fully in the fire, and when I will start doing, instead of telling stories of what I am doing or what I am planning to do. All that is buried in “perditions”, and in “buried masks and hidden cuddles”. Hidrations is about by soft side, my suppressed side, and the side I was not allowed to show. There is a post somewhere in the queue – more a poem than a post – that I have titled “The Touch”. Maybe I publish it some day, if I have the courage. So if I would go back to a corporate environment with this state of mind, mind-set, mind-state, I don’t believe I will survive. Of course I will survive physically, but not mentally. I am at a point that when I get into a corporate building, I almost feel a visceral disgust of “what a fake world!”

PV: Not so long ago – I am now 9 months into my sabbatical – in June that was, I travelled for the first time since 8 months. At Swift I was traveling almost every week, or at least once every month. So it was 8 months since I saw a plane from the inside. I can assure you they still look the same… A very big company invited me – I can’t say whom, as I had to sign an NDA – a very big company with a formidable brand new research site in the middle of nature. OMG, what a possibilities they have! My host was global responsible for their research for that organisation, and they have something like 1,500 researchers on that site. Stunning! Everything you can dream of. But the exciting part was that she – because my host was a woman – she had created a very intense collaboration with an art academy and they brought in artists into their research projects. That also where we connected. Where we resonated. They are convinced that artists can offer a different perspective to their researchers who have a more engineering training. In the sense like philosophy and art can offer a different perspective, ask different questions. So they don’t use artists in an “artists in residence” program to let artist do their artwork. No, the artists are integral part of their research projects as “interrupt-stations”, as” other-insight-stations”. And all this is executed at scale and very professionally by an international jury of art curators etc. PS: in the meantime I did a post on this: https://petervan.wordpress.com/2017/09/02/research-is-not-about-search-but-about-finding/

RS: If you could choose, would you prefer to be the artist that gets invited, or would you like to be the organiser?

PV: The organiser. Although I appreciate very much when people like my artwork, I fully realise I am just an enthusiastic amateur.

(Music)

RS: You listened to the StoryClub podcast with Peter Vander Auwera.

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I am in the business of cultivating high quality connections and flows to create immersive learning experiences and structural change. Check out: https://petervanproductions.com/

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Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise in Minority Report – 2002

I had the opportunity to visit the R&D facilities of a big company, big like in 100K+ employees. I was invited to their brand new R&D site housing 1,500 researchers in brand new fully sustainable buildings (solar panels, recycles water, etc.) in the middle of nature. I was the guest of the Global Innovation Manager.

I have seen this mix/blur of innovation and R&D elsewhere and I had in my career many discussions about where innovation sits on the spectrum from pure R&D work to pure enabling unit. I have also seen several “oscillating patterns” where a company starts at the R&D end, swings to the enabling end, swings back again to the R&D end and so forth. I have written many times before on these and other oscillating patterns, that are in essence caused by structural conflict (with a big shout out here to Robert Fritz, see previous posts).

To be precise the R&D site of big company was a pure R-site. Pure research, no development. Often structural conflicts arise when R is reporting into the marketing department, which is more about the D (product Definition and product Development). The R is a different animal than the D. Or when R sits with IT and D with marketing and the structure of the company obstructs high quality flows between the two groups, instead of cultivating them.

But that was not the case at big company. Being an R-site, the site was full of R-people, most of them engineers. But the R-site of company was making use extensively of artists are part of their R-projects.

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Studio/Atelier Rinus Van de Velde – picture by Joke De Wilde

This was not an “artists in residence” program where the company sponsors an artist to do their artwork. Or where business executives are invited into an artist’s studio for a one-day workshop in the mess of the artist’s working environment, hoping the creative virus would infect them.

No, this was about deeply integrating artists within the R-teams of the company. And they were doing this at scale, in collaboration with a world-renowned academy, changing artists every month, and an international art curation and selection panel.

In part this was inspired by the lateral thinking of Edward De Bono, inventor of the term “lateral thinking”.

This was indeed all about creating collisions between the creative orientation of the artists and the reactive/responsive orientation of the engineer who is looking how to best solve a problem.

In setting up these collisions, the innovation manager was in fact what I would call an “Architect of Accidents”. It suddenly hit me that research was not about searching but about finding.

Research is not about searching but about finding.

The role of the R-teams was to see what they could FIND when they collided. Nobody said: “Let’s find a balloon”. The mission was “what can you find?” if you collide these elements.

This is in big contrast with what I have seen in other R&D/Innovation teams where challenges are set up to solve a particular problem (a problem in search for a solution). A whole “search”-process is then set-up to capture the ideas/solutions, plus some stage gating to further filter (read frame to the be liked by the decision makers), and the end result is that after a while everybody feels like they are fulfilling the system vs. creating what they want. No wonder the change agents get frustrated!

Robert Fritz compromise

It reminded me of Jean Russell’s four types of inquiry, so nicely illustrated in the concentric circles of Jay Standish at OpenDoor (#gratitude):

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Indeed, this was a story of continuous learning, from what is imaginable, what is possible, what is testable, and what is provable.

Research with artists at big company was about finding what is imaginable.

And different practices have different preferences. Good artists are more than just good craftsmen; they let you see/find/discover something that was always there but that you would not find without their help. They let you find what is imaginable. Most engineers can probably be mapped to the science or math circle, with a preference to test and prove things are true, can work.

And different practices have different methods. As you can see from the concentric circles second picture, the philosophy circle is more about theories of change, where as the scientists want to test the assumptions of these theories and reduce the set op options that can be proven to be true.

What the R-team at big company was doing was an effort of being open to new (or existing) insights. In that sense, learning is about letting go of ego. Finding is about being open for the unexpected, the un-searched.

In that sense, my initial spectrum from R&D to Enabling was probably the wrong framing. I tend to prefer these days the concentric circles.

To open the nut, to find the crack inside, one must integrate artists in the innovation flows, especially to help find what is imaginable.

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roozegaarde

Roozegaarde architecture studio – picture via Dezeen

Some time ago, I initiated a conversation with some folks on “deep change”. What is it? What are the leverage points in organisations to make it happen? What are accelerators for deep change etc? One of my questions was “Can organisations change?

I received plenty of interesting feedback, including some challenging insights by Robert Fritz himself. As I am a big fan of Robert’s work, I was very eager to listen.

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Robert and I had some contacts back and forward over mail, and this blog post is a summary of our conversations. Italic paragraphs are direct quotes from Robert’s mails. Highlights, emphasis, non-italics and picture/video curation by myself.

“I don’t like the notion of “deep” change.  It’s the word “deep” that seems incorrect as an accurate description of what it takes to change and organization or a person’s life.

Of course organizations can change if, and it seems to me only if, there is a change in the underlying structure.  Without a change of structure, the organization will reject change the same way the body rejects an implanted organ.  With a change of underlying structure, change is not only possible but probable.

In my new edition of The Path of Least Resistance for Managers (2011 edition) I updated the book, putting more focus on the leadership dimension.  Over the years, we have seen that without the support and even demand of leadership, change will not be sustainable. Change within the organisation is not a grass roots movement.

Why would people change?  People say that change is hard.  But when it is well motivated it is not hard. That is why people moved from mechanical typewriters to word processors.  Why people now are more likely to listen to music from streaming sties than CDs.  Why people use email rather than write old fashion letters – snail mail.  Etc.  

So, the question of why would people change is critical.  Even before we ask that question, we need to understand why people act the ways they do in the current situation.  We then to have the predisposition of trying to change things before we understand what gives rise to the current behaviour.  Also, too often, change is motivated by a problem orientation rather than an outcome orientation that would lead to a true creative process….”

There are a lot of management theories that suggest a kind of grass roots movement within organizations. Sounds very nice. But, in my experience, if leadership is not behind any endeavor, it is not going to happen. There may be a few exceptions to this, but none that are major.

Among the many things it is, leadership is a position. Like the drummer in a band, it is a job within a group. Now there are good drummers and bad drummers and all those on the continuum between great and terrible. All of them are authentic drummers. I’ve never heard someone say, “Hey, I see you’ve gotten an authentic drummer in the band tonight.”

The same holds true for leadership. Good, bad, all the degrees in-between. All of them leaders. If you mean to separate the good ones from the not so good ones, don’t use the term “authentic leadership.” Call it what it is: good or bad or whatever describes it.

And recently, a group of folks have been writing their ideas about “deep change.” Lots of theories, opinions, etc. What makes a change “deep?” When we understand the structural dynamics involved, this is the key:

THE UNDERLYING STRUCTURE OF ANYTHING WILL DETERMINE ITS BEHAVIOUR

Most of the theories have no idea about this. They are thinking in terms of situations and circumstances.

They come up with tortured proposals that have the subtext that change is hard.

Change, when it is well motivated structurally, is easy for people.

Of course in our society, there is the tendency to try to glorify things we like. This reflects a social trend to express things in the extreme. The best or the worst. It was the best of times; the worst of times. 

So, the next time you find yourself saying things like, “this is an authentic hamburger,” or, “this hamburger is really deep,” know that the modern world has slipped into your subconscious without you being aware of it.

I buy that. Let’s call it what it is, without glorified terms like “authentic”, or “meaningful”, or “deep”.

Let’s call it “good” or “bad” change, and what is in between.

Bad change is the opposite good change. It does not include progress. I found quite some inspiration in Jeff Bezos’ latest letter to Amazon shareholders.

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Jeff Bezos - picture via Forbes

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

“I’m interested in the question, how do you fend off Day 2? What are the techniques and tactics? How do you keep the vitality of Day 1, even inside a large organisation?”

“Here’s a starter pack of essentials for Day 1 defence: Customer obsession, a skeptical view of proxies, the eager adoption of external trends, and high-velocity decision making.”

The Bezos starter pack is about structure. Structure that drives behaviour.

“Bad” change is not about advancement, but degradation. Like a building (see my post “Can organisations change?” No maintenance, no refurbishment, no respect for patrimony.

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Abandoned asylum – Matt Vandervelde – via Dezeen

Neglecting: Keep the windows open, so the wind and rain get in, and kill the building from within. A structure of neglecting that drives behaviour.

Other “bad” change is just plain “fake” change. Many organisations get new boards, new executive teams, have re-orgs. Some satisfy themselves (mostly unconsciously) with innovation theatre and the tactics of startup challenges, innovation sandboxes, accelerators, incubators and what have you. Below yet another list of 10 types of corporate innovation programs. The real question is: do they work, do they deliver structural change?

top 10 innovation

Some are champions at designing and getting excited by the illusion of change. Most of this change is motivated by problem solving rather than what organisations and people really want. Like pimping your house, car, etc. This bad/fake change leads to the oscillating patterns so well described by Robert Fritz. Because of the wrong structure, the organisation oscillates back to its initial state.

What we are after is “good” change, which is related to “progress” and “advancement”.

For Robert Fritz it is about advancement towards the desired “outcome”, and filtering all the noise that distracts from this outcome. In my opinion, “good”, “progress” and “advancement” also have to do with high quality connections for something else than speed and noise-free. As indicated in my post “Cogs in networks”, there should be some dimension/ambition/alignment of “spiritual, moral and aesthetical advancement”.

People in organisations can work with Mother Nature or Mother Structure on behalf of their goals.  The question is what is the overall structure of the organisation?   

"Heroes" and others by Ozark Henry and National Orchestra of Belgium

In an orchestra, it is not the conductor or individual musicians who control this. It is the composer.  The composer’s job is to make sure that the parts fit together. Too often, no one is actually composing the organisation, and it leaves one of two bad choices: command and control or organising systems. Much has been made in the last 20 years, glorifying organising systems, but, what happens over time is that these systems self-organise into structural conflicts, which lead to oscillating patterns.

That’s why a “composed” system can lead to advancement and forward movement toward building the company but the other alternatives do not live up to their promise.

As an accomplished composer, filmmaker, and writer, Robert Fritz likes the orchestra metaphor and the role of the composer. Given my background, I like the building-metaphor and the role of the architect.

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Ricardo Bofill – La Fabrica – Living room – Old cement factory

But structure is not a metaphor, it is a dynamic.

The cause of it, as part of physics, has to do with how structure works.  A tension, any tension, will lead to a dynamic, which is to move toward resolution.  We call this a structural tendency.  The reason it does has to do with the principle of equilibrium.  Nature strives for equilibrium.  It wants to end all tensions, all differences.  A state of “non-equilibrium” (purists would say “degrees removed from equilibrium because it is a perfect state) generates movement.  Sometimes this can be accomplished, such as in the design of airplanes wings, sometimes not, as in an oscillating structure in which, as you move toward resolution of one tension resolution system, generates more tension in its contrasting system.

We can use this principle to our advantage through structural tension in which we set up a state of non-equilibrium to resolve on behalf of a specific goal.  

That is the reason that the two data points of structural tension need to be clear: desired state in relationship to the actual state.  Once formed, that tension strives to resolve.  

Like an archer’s bow, aiming an arrow.  In the arts, tension resolution system cause movement.  In music, in screenplays, in painting, etc.  Most artists, and all composers (the most technical of the arts) understand this principle and use it quite consciously. 

When will you revisit the structure and dynamics of your innovation efforts? When will you go beyond the role of change agent, and create good change as a composer or architect? When will you design a structure that leads to good change?

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I am in the business of cultivating high quality connections and flows to create immersive learning experiences and structural change. Check out: https://petervanproductions.com/

With plenty of acknowledgement to Robert Fritz. More about Robert’s structural change in his book “The Path of Least Resistance for Managers”.

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I ask myself often whether organisations can change – really change – at all. I recently spoke to an HR person of a big worldwide corporation, and her answer was a strong “yes”. I am not so sure. Or maybe I am confused.

As organisations are made of people (humans), would you have the change the people in order to change the organisation? Is there another way? Some people say “you can’t change people, but you can change their behaviour”. Are we fooling ourselves with such statements?

I am seduced by the Robert Fritz’ premise that structure drives behaviour. Or Leandro Herrero‘s thesis that behaviour drives culture. And Jean Russell’s “Cultivating Flows“.

Robert Fritz for managers

There are plenty of metaphors to illustrate the relationship between structure and behaviour. From race cars, the team and the driver, to heroes hacking their way through forests (My friend Leda Glyptis wrote this excellent piece on the oscillating patterns – “Acts” in her post – that innovation heroes have to go through).

I am starting to think about a metaphor based on architecture, and the notion of “patrimony” of a building, which has to do a lot with knowledge stored as inheritance material in physical objects (Thanks, Tom Laforge for the insight).

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Kanaal Site – Axel Vervoordt – Old malt factory - Wijnegem, Belgium

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Ricardo Bofill – The Cathedral – Old cement factory – Barcelona, Spain

 

“Patrimony” is an interesting term. The Dutch word “Erfgoed” maybe captures it better. “Erf” means inheritance, value that can be transmitted across generations. “Goed” stand for “good”, both as 1) something tangible, an art-i-fact and 2) something good, of value/worth/wealth/culture/DNA to be carried forward.

Both sites above are a good illustration: Ricardo Bofill’s “La Fabrica” and Axel Vervoordt’s “Kanaal”.

The architects decided to respect the patrimony, strip it to its essence – its skeleton – and create new perspectives and flows. They did not decide for “disruption”, aka breaking down the building and creating something completely new. They combine old and new, they combine tradition/patrimony/erfgoed with new flows, new structures.

The structure is not only the brick and mortar building itself, but includes the whole site, the landscape, the empty spaces, the social contracts, the tacit and non-tacit agreements of flow.

The structure comes alive when people live in it, add furniture, decoration, color, organise their areas for work, for creativity, for reflection.

What is the skeleton structure of the building, what do we need to keep, where do we need to create new perspectives to cultivate new flows of water, traffic, connections?

The metaphor building/organisation – like any metaphor – works only to a certain extent.

Haidt happiness

What’s missing is what makes us human and our motivations. I am reading Jonathan Haidt’s “The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom”, and am struck by all the noise humans put on the system. Some salient wisdom:

  • “We are all hypocrites”
  • “The rider (ratio) is not in charge”
  • “The elephant (the unconscious) is not motivated by happiness but by prestige.
  • “Most stories/narratives are confabulated after the facts”

So back to my initial question: can organisations change? Maybe the better question is: what quality of change are we aiming for? Or the more critical question may be: why would people change?”

Fritz’ suggestion is that if you have the right structure, people will naturally change their behaviour and the flows of information.

What are your thoughts?

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I am in the business of cultivating high quality connections and flows to create immersive learning experiences and structural change. Check out: https://petervanproductions.com/

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This post is about some of the myopic views on disruption in financial services (or any other vertical for that argument), and why I am getting a bit tired of FinTech, RegTech, InsurTech, or whatever AbcTech you may come up with.

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Disrupted - Petervan Artwork - Acryl on Paper format A1

 

Most of the discussions in FinTech are about the (by now outdated) “unbundling” of highly vertical integrated organizations like banks. Everybody recalls the famous CB-Insight slides on how all functions on the website of HSBC, Wells Fargo, or fill in your <Bank Name> here, will be replaced by better offerings of startups or scale-ups: “everything gets fragmented”, you know 😉

It even leads to a “Re-bundling” of financial services, as what was once unbundled needs now to be re-bundled by “banking-as-a-platform” or “Fintegration”, just to throw another buzzword into the mix.

This is in my opinion a highly simplistic view on disruption. It is a fragmented view on disruption. The disruption view is fragmented: each little function on its own is subject of a fragmented disruption debate. We are missing the holistic view of what is going on.

What I would like to bring into the conversation is the “inter-connectedness” of everything, or the “entanglement” of everything.

For payments, the conversation is usually about how many and which intermediaries are part of a payment transaction from the payer to the payee, and how they add value, friction and costs into the system: one can indeed draw disintermediation maps and articulate how the different new entrants attack the different pieces of the end-to-end transaction. But it is piecemealed view, as if the sum of the atomic transactions is an exact equation of the value created in those ecosystem value chains.

The same reflections can be made on the securities business, where many different players (exchanges, central counterparties (CCPs), central securities depositories (CSDs), brokers, custodians and investment managers) are part of the end-to-end flow of atomic transactions between the issuer of a security and the consumer of that security. See also recent comprehensive post by Let’s Talk Payments.

The point I am trying to make here is that what needs to be solved, re-thought and re-designed is a deep ecosystem entanglement. What are really needed are a fundamental process redesign and process innovation and that is not an easy undertaking with all the network effects that are inherent in these ecosystems.

The other point I am trying to make is nobody – not the incumbents, nor the startups/scale-ups – is in a position to solve this on their own.

I believe we have to evolve from platform capitalism to platform cooperation or even platform co-operativism.

  • Instead of talking about optimized correspondent banking, the conversation should be one of collaborative/cooperative banking.
  • Instead of talking about optimized securities lifecycles and settlement, the conversation should be one of collaborative/cooperative securities markets.

The system is not broken. It works very well for what it was designed for. It does not need to be fixed. It needs to be re-thought. What we are witnessing is the need for a fundamental re-thinking of our assumptions. The financial system is part of a broader system of capitalism based on neoliberalism. That system is broken.

Paul Mason – who wrote the book “Post-Capitalism” – was very clear in his recent keynote to the Glasgow Economic Forum: “Neoliberalism is broken”. And he goes on:

  • information technology has paralysed capitalism’s capacity to adapt
  • information technology creates a short-cut to abundance
  • the root cause of the boom-bust cycles, collapsing productivity, stagnation and policy paralysis is that the markets are sending us a signal that there’s not enough value in a high-tech economy to justify current valuations — of debt, equities or derivatives
  • we are in a long transition beyond capitalism, in which the state, the market and a non-market sector based on collaborative production will jostle and coexist
  • and that the only theory that can encompass all of these facts is the one originated by the man quoted on the poster behind me [Adam Smith] — a modernised form of the labour theory of value.

That is the first simplification in the current mainstream thinking about disruption.

As a start, one should start looking at the symptoms of that broken system (as very well articulated in Otto Scharmer’s work at the MIT U.Lab). These symptoms are:

  • An Ecological divide
  • A Social divide
  • A Spiritual divide

otto

The second simplification of the disruption discourse is the lack of inclusion of the macro-forces. Some of the macro-forces deeply driving what’s going on are:

  • Technology macro-force. Here is where inter-connectedness hits hardest. However, this is probably the easiest macro-force to deal with, as technology will take care of itself, as it always has. Open source and other collaborative models will only speed-up that self-care of technology: standards will emerge almost naturally, by natural selection, or my monopolistic interventions.
  • Regulatory macro-force. Regulation is still very high on the agenda of financial institutions, and one can only expect that more is to come, especially on the area of data capitalism, handling of personal and corporate data, and even data ethics. After having digested the regulatory impact of the 2008 financial crisis, many are tempted and seduced to jump back with relief into innovation. The blockchain hype is a great excuse for claiming one is busy with the future state of things. Nothing could be further from the truth
  • Geo-political macro-force: Grexit, Brexit, Terrorism, War, Surveillance, climate, and other crisis that can pop-up at any moment in time, with their potential of killing overnight all the innovation plans and ambitions.
  • Eco macro-force: the acknowledgement that our organizations don’t operate in isolation, that we have to evolve from ego-businesses to eco-businesses, not only extracting value out of the ecosystem for our sole and own benefit, but that we are part of a reciprocal non-zero-sum game with an unspoken desire to save humanity.

The third simplification is the omission of the time component of evolution. I strongly recommend you discovering the work of Simon Wardley and his “situational awareness maps”.

 

 

Different values are created by different versions of different technologies and value engines, each of them evolving at their own pace on the lifecycle of emerging to commodity/utility. For big organizations – like financial institutions – it is extremely difficult to map out the current state, let’s not even mention the ability to strategically decide where one wants to head for in different time horizons in the future.

The same situational awareness is not only needed for (existing) and new technologies, but also for existing and new regulations, geo- and eco- events and ambitions.

In the past many have been concerned with the “backward compatibility” of new services and solutions. Backwards compatibility with the existing footprint and practices in the market that is.

I believe there is room today to start thinking in terms of “Forward Compatibility”.

What is Forward Compatibility? It is a capability to plan ahead for gradual adoption by the ecosystem, taking into account the different barriers mentioned above. This is about knowing HOW to get at the new destination:

  • How you rally the main stakeholders of the ecosystem into a rigorous system and process innovation? Process innovation is different from process-, datamodel-, or messaging standardization. It is not about standardizing the existing and guaranteeing backwards compatibility with the existing. It is about co-creating a new reality.
  • How you promote the evolution from the current model to the future model? In the case of distributed ledger technologies for example, it is not about a tabula rasa that will eradicate the existing, but how one evolves from for example a messaging hub-and-spoke paradigm towards business objects and lifecycles in the cloud, initially probably in one central database (one node), and then evolve to a peer-to-peer networks of many distributed databases or nodes (remember the Digital Asset Grid?)
  • How to bootstrap this new reality taking into account the network effects to be created and promoted in the new P2P reality.

No disruption will happen without fundamental re-design – or better re-invention – of the end-to-end business processes:

  • Organizations knowing where they want to get and defining and leading that journey;
  • De-risking change throughout this journey;
  • Making trade-offs in the breadth ànd depth of the destination;
  • Moving beyond the atomic nature of the transaction. As mentioned an nausea in previous posts, it is not good enough anymore to enable (atomic) transactions, the challenge is to enable commerce, as an end-to-end process

Startups/Scale-ups who want to be part of this endeavor, will need to know how to “scale”: they will need to learn to appreciate the mechanics of growing a startup into a corporate. This growth process (and its associated growth pains) is very well described in the post “Go Corporate or go home” around the concept of legibility of on organization. The startup organizations – whether they like it or not – will need to become more legible, more predictable. The author makes a very solid argument why hierarchies are needed.

“The smaller a company is, the less they need to formalize anything, and the less the three levels — chain of command, business process, and culture — differ.”

 As they grow, they will have to synchronize how they transform these three levels (chain of command, business process, and culture). It’s not only from small self-sufficient team into hierarchies; it is also growing into professional business processes, and evolving the social fabric and conventions.

Although startups, scale-ups, and corporate innovation sandboxes mimicking the startup culture “love to have and keep the flexibility, the cost of growth is scale, integration, and profitability.”

In this context, it is probably worth having a look at the post about the Transferwise culture (I could have taken any other scale-up for that matter) “We inspire smart people and we trust them”, and especially the comment on that post that talks about KPIs, product-level empowerment, about focusing on growth more holistically, actually removing bottlenecks and silos, empowering teams at the product level, and instrumenting themselves to be able to actually get granular feedback.

If possible – assuming you want to spend some quality time – read that post and comment after you have read “Go corporate of go home”.

So next time, when you pitch about disruption, about the end of banks/banking, about collaboration/co-operation, or about any other technology solving world hunger, please make sure you have an answer on how to get to your new destination. I would suggest you keep forward compatibility in mind.

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