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At Innotribe in Toronto, we had a fantastic group of speakers. We call them “igniters”.

It was energizing and inspiring to see how some of them were each other’s fans on-line, some just met for the first time face-to-face at Sibos. Many of the discussions between speakers were definitely as interesting as the public appearances they made during the Tribe. We have to do something with these deep conversations…

During one of the few break moments, i got myself in a quite engaging discussion with Dan Robles from The Ingenesist Project and Social Flights. We shared our passions and our scarves, and i told Dan about my dream. I like to connect with people at their scarves- and passion-level… Finding the real soul, the real person and what is driving his/her dreams.

The dream of evolving this whole Innotribe event thing in something almost architectural.

Something artistic. Something that combines in a deep way high quality content, super facilitation, and performance. Emotional engagement. Deep conversations. Making an impact. Way beyond our little Inno-“tribe”. Societal impact. Awesomeness. With a richness of values of what it means to be human.

It all boils down to this old idea of mine of setting up a think tank on long term future, to prepare the next Values kit for our children.

I am worried and concerned. For our children. For my girl of six years old.

And apparently, i am not alone. Had a wonderful chat this week with Sam. Went all directions… until we talked about my princess.

In my Prezi “How to Make Babies” (based on my blog post with the same title), i show what happens when she grabs an iPAD and starts drawing.

And the most intriguing is what she said:

“My fingers don’t get dirty”

It was immediately clear to me she was born in digital. And I was thinking that in a couple of years from now, our children will say “my fingers do get dirty” when they make a real painting, on a canvas with wet paint…

It did not take years. Here we are, one year later, and here is a viral video of a two year old baby, who expects a paper magazine to behave like an iPAD.

I am worried and concerned. For our children. For my girl of six years old.

I am reading the posts “hypereconomics” by Mark Pesce. Already seven years ago, he asked that question:

“What happens after we’re all connected?”

Just one quote, as i know Mark hates to be overquoted and expects people to add their own content:

As we move further into a hypereconomy, we need to assemble value chains from the resources available to us.  We need to be able to bring this material together with that design expertise, married to a fabrication capability, delivered via the appropriate transportation logistics.  When we can do that, every individual will have the same capabilities to fashion an assembly line that Henry Ford once commanded

Read the post. It’s scary and challenging at the same time.

We need to prepare our children and our pre GEN-Y’s for taking up leadership during the next 10-20 years. When the blurring between man-machine will have materialized. Maybe not the singularity, at least Paul Allen does not think so. But for sure when the frictionless economy will be there. And when it will be important to know what makes us more human humans.

A good book in this context is “The Most Human Human” by Brian Christian. (Amazon Affiliate link)

Brian says:

The story of the Turing test, of the speculation and enthusiasm and unease over artificial intelligence in general, is, then, the story of our speculation and enthusiasm and unease over ourselves. What are our abilities? What are we good at? What makes us special?

“Think Tank” is probably the wrong word. Too much talk-club. I was more thinking along the lines of a “movement”. A New Value Movement?

This desire to be part of such movement, that realization was indeed the main trigger to start this blog in the first place. Check out for example some older posts about “Singing my own song” and here about the Think Tank idea and here about “Great to Good: a new value kit”

The concept for a New Value Movement must have sticked on Dan’s ribs, and i was pleasantly surprised to receive a quite extensive thank-you letter from Dan referring to our conversation. I reproduce the letter below in its entirety (my highlights):

Hello Peter;

I don’t believe that I properly thanked you for your confidence in me to present to your truly important attendees at Innotribe. 

I tried to go a bit further over the edge of provocation and I hope that I did not go too far.  No sooner had we finished those amazing Innotribe sessions did the Occupy Wall Street movement largely validate much of your theme about a New Value movement.  It is almost scary to see our prediction that people will re-organize around new value and directly challenge financial currency with social current (currency). 

In addition, I learned tremendously at innotribe and my eyes were opened to many new ways of interpreting our goals. I have since updated much of my ongoing positions to reflect what I learned at Innotribe.  The Big Data sessions, DAG, and Craig Burton’s API work were especially moving for me. 

I believe that the time and technology are right for shifting factors of production away from Land, Labor, and Capital and toward Social, Creative, and Intellectual Assets.  We are developing a simple web app which I believe can catalyze this shift at a remarkable rate.  Please let me know if you would be willing to offer some comments or suggestions to this project. 

Thanks again and please extend my gratitude to Kostas for his wonderful hospitality.

Dan Robles

I am humbled and energized by encouragements like this and it goes without saying that i enthusiastically accept Dan’s invitation to comment on his project.

I also got several calls and reach-outs post-Sibos. From people who i spoke to some months ago about this Think Tank idea. And suddenly, all at the same time they want to talk about it again. It must have to so something with synchronicity. With emergence.

Somehow i feel like i have to take a big jump. Beyond the “classic” Innotribe events. Something bigger, with more impact on society. More depth and meaning.

Is it fear to jump ? Is it not being able to articulate it? And then – recently – somebody close to my heart wrote me:

i caught on to that from you, but you haven’t shared too much with me. it’s paradoxical that you talk about wanting depth and meaning, because you have come across as very closed to me when i see you in person… but maybe you are just distracted and focused? or maybe you are afraid to act as your true self in the swift/innotribe setting?

Am i just distracted and focused? I feel i am both.

  • Very focused – like i wrote about my intensity in “Silence, I am painting”.
  • Very distracted, as trying to keep-up with this information stream in my RSS feeds, the twitter stream, etc.
  • Very distracted, as i have probably 20 drafts of blog posts sitting ready to publish.
  • Very distracted, as i feel my creative energy becoming un-stoppable and ready to burst out something new, big, exciting, energizing, inspiring.

A colleague recently told me:

Peter, i think you need to re-connect with yourself.

Same thing. Fear to act as my true self in the swift/innotribe setting? Or in any setting ?

From time to time i use this blog to re-connect with myself. And to share some of these musings with you all out there.

In the hope that somebody reaches out. Shows me an open door.

Or like last week, reminds me that i am the “heavy artillery” when i think i have become persona-non-grata, because too deep, because too demanding and probably even more so because i don’t always live the values that i preach. Even rarely live them. And it is probably that what undermines trust. I expect trust and am surprised i don’t get it when i don’t live the values that i preach.

What suddenly stopped me in staying alive? Where have you see me changing?

My starting point for this blog in April 2009 was the realization that my mission was to “inspire others to dream”. Now i want to add emotion. In Dutch there is a word for this: “ontroering”. I tried to translate, and the closest i got was “thrill”.

Who wants to help me seeing clearly? Who wants to engage with me in this adventure? Who wants to help articulating what this New Values Movement is?

I am hungry for your feedback. Send me something in the comments of this blog post. Send me an email or DM me. And i need time to think.

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This post is a fifth in a series on personal digital identity. Part-1 “The unpolished diamond was published here in August 2010 and Part-2 ‘The Digital Identity Tuner” was published here in September 2010. Part-3 “Personal Data Something” was published here in December 2010. And part-4 “Austin-Munich-Toronto” was published in February 2011 here.

Drawing by Hugh MacLeod (@gapingvoid) during the Innotribe Deep Dive on Digital Identity, Sibos Toronto, September 2011.

That was February 2011. Since then a lot happened. I had so many rich discussions, met so many new fascinating people, and have been aroused by a deluge of new ideas on digital identity.  And my employer SWIFT gave the go-ahead for an incubation project on Digital Identity that is now called the “Digital Asset Grid”.

As I mentioned in my Innotribe Sibos report, the Digital Asset Grid (DAG) is important because:

  • We are moving from money bank to digital (asset) bank
  • The DAG is an infrastructure play for SWIFT to offer a certified pointer system pointing at the location of digital assets and the associated usage rights
  • It’s and economic imperative for SWIFT to expose its core competence via API’s
  • The DAG is a huge opportunity for SWIFT to be a key infrastructure player in offering an end to end hardened infrastructure and end-point to enable the seamless exchange of any sort of digital asset between any number of entities
  • This is also a huge opportunity for financial institutions to plug-in to this infrastructure for offering a new set of services in the data leverage space in un-regulated data market places

For me Digital Identity is so much more than your log-in, or our account-number that is backed by a Know-Your-Customer (KYC) process, or another userid/password or a security token.

I look at it a spectrum. Like you have a spectrum analysis for a star that uniquely identifies it, you can imagine a spectrum for the digital identity of persons:

Digital Identity Spectrum is everything from PKI, account#, Log-In to address, attributes, history, preferences, biometrics, reputation, risk profile, intentions, signals, etc and all this in transaction and time context.

It’s no co-incidence that Facebook recently announced “TimeLine”. Identity in time-context leads to your identity spectrum that is unique at one given time. And yes, you will be able to play it backwards like a movie, but also forward to do trend analysis and forecasting.

VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) is about sharing specific parts of my spectrum with specific vendor(s) in specific transaction context(s). In the Digital Asset Grid project we asked ourselves:

“What if we could apply the VRM principles not only to personal data but to any content, to any piece of information, to ANY digital asset?”

You could then start thinking about sharing specific parts of any digital assets with specific vendor(s) in specific transaction context(s).

In essence, what we are doing, is “weaving” digital contents with associated digital rights and who has the rights to that content.

It’s a map of digital weavings

of digital fabrics

This is how the Digital Asset Grid was born.

Is this not too consumer oriented for an organization like SWIFT? I believe this is the wrong question. The discussion “consumer vs. enterprise” has kept us blind. Same by all sorts of other customer segmentations like “small-medium-large”. In the identity ubiquity game, all this is segmentation is irrelevant.

We have to start thinking in terms of different sorts of entities that participate to the identity-dance. Those entities can be:

  • Person (humans)
  • Loose group of persons (for ex Google Circles), that have no legal construct
  • Commercial companies
  • Non-Profit companies
  • Governments
  • Educational institutions
  • Programs (code)

The last one – programs – is quite fundamental. We are witnessing the blurring between humans and computers. It smells like early singularity. And in this debate we should not only be concerned on how programs augment humans, but also how humans augment programs. But that is another more philosophical discussion, and some good reading on this can be found in the book “The Most Human Human” by Brian Christian. (Amazon Affiliate link)

Back to our Digital Asset Grid…

The vision of the Digital Asset Grid

is to move the SWIFT network and SWIFT services

from a closed, single-purpose, and messaging-based system

to an open, general-purpose, API-based system

It’s a natural evolution. That’s it. No disruption. No—“the next big thing.”

Just apply out-of-band our core competency to the modern age of connectivity. Instead of destabilizing the market by disruptive innovations, provide the basic infrastructure missing for a global transaction-based platform on the Internet.

Of course, its vision is grand, with plenty of innovative elements and thinking. Here are some examples how we move from the traditional identity “space” to the new “Digital Identity Grid”

I would like to zoom-in on one of the bullet points above: from one way request-response to full duplex dance.

The web – a collection of pages – is based on some simple request-response mechanisms. I request a page and the server responds and gives me the page. End of that transaction.

With the dataweb – a collection of Digital Assets with associated usage rights – we will need something where exchanging entities can perform a dance around and with the Digital Assets. And we want to be sure that they are who they say they are, and that they have the right usage rights to the digital assets. So we move from a two dimensional view of the world (in computer terms a “table”) to a multi-dimensional view (in computer terms a “graph”)

The Digital Asset Data Web is the next phase in the evolution of important internet stuff. It’s probably what comes next in the following series:

To continue the dance metaphor, the SWIFT infrastructure is the Dance Hall where entities meet to perform certain specific dances.

One of the many use cases for the Digital Asset Grid would be to solve compliance, In stead of moving messages from A to B, we keep the data where they are and “point” to them with SWIFT certified pointers to where the data are located and the associated usage rights.

The dance protocol (full duplex) for this use case, from opening of the dance with (a “webhook” in technical terms), to the actual picking-up of the content, and closing the dance and everything in-between, could look like something like this:

  • PartyA: “hey, I am sending a signal that I wanna dance the tango (slang for payment instructions) with any party in the Swift dance hall at 9pm”
  • PartyB: “yep, I wanna dance with you, let’s meet in the SWIFT dance hall at the bar”
  • PartyA: “ok, here we are, cool place ;-)”
  • PartyA: “Let’s get to business”
  • PartyA: “I just gave you following rights my payment instructions at this XRI: you have XDI pick-up rights”
  • PartyB: “ok, gotja. Will pick it up right away”
  • PartyB: “knock knock, I am coming to fetch those payment instructions”
  • PartyA: “let’s check if you have the usage rights….”
  • PartyA: “everything looks fine, go ahead”
  • PartyB: “loading, loading, loading…”
  • PartyB: “Ok I am done”
  • PartyA: “So am I”
  • PartyB: “tomorrow, same place same time to dance ?”
  • PartyA: “would love to 😉 9pm again ?”
  • PartyB: “sure, bye bye”
  • PartyA: “bye bye”

And, what’s really cool about it, it’s fully auditable, end-to-end.

When telling this story to one of my colleagues, I got the following reaction: “Hey, but you are changing the basic messaging paradigm of SWIFT… I am not sure that I want to support an innovation like this… one that is cutting off the branch from the tree I am sitting on…”

Here is something essential for innovation. Any innovation team in any company should not only look at some nitty-gritty small incremental innovations, but

daring to be great and to re-think

the cash cows of our companies

Like Guy Kawasaki used to say: “the best way to innovate is to set-up a company that is trying to kill your cash-cow”

All the above is about the infrastructure story that SWIFT could play in and in that sense is a bit navel staring. But the biggest opportunity however in all this is probably for banks, financial institutions, and new upcoming innovative financial service providers.

This is a HUGE opportunity to offer new digital services in non-regulated markets

Many examples and use-cases here :

  • Personal Data Lockers, Digital Asset Lockers, Digital Asset Services aka Digital Bank, « Who-touched-my-data » services, Personal Data Trading Platforms, Digital Asset Trading Platforms, Corporate and Bank Klout Services, Audit services, Tracking services, Big Data and Analytics services, EBAM, Corporate Actions, etc.
  • Also e-Wallets of all kinds. Not only « wallets » for money but wallets for all sorts of Digital Assets. An e-Wallet is nothing else than a browser on a personal money store. What if we start thinking a browser for a personal data (asset) store?
  • And I spoke recently to one of our managers in Securities Business : also there plenty of examples, even in looking at trading assets.

So far, the Digital Asset Grid was just the result of a research project at SWIFT. Today, I am very pleased to announce that the SWIFT Incubation Team just gave the green light to move this project in prototype stage.

It means that during Q1 2012, we’ll have a working prototype targeted at a specific use case, but we will expose the API’s of the infrastructure and give them in the hands of developers and challenge them to come up with some cools apps that can be built on top of this infrastructure.

A lot of the thinking in this blog is the condensation of a lot of teamwork of many many people who participated to this Digital Asset Grid project. With the risk of missing out somebody, I’d like to send out a digital invitation signal to those people for a thank-you dance in the SWIFT Dance Hall: Mary Hodder, Kaliya Hamlin, Doc Searls, Drummond Reed, Craig Burton, Andreas Weigend, Gary Thompson, Tony Fish, and also lurking-in Don Thibeau, Scott David, and Peter Hinssen.

I would like to say Thank you! Maybe with David Bowie’s 1983 hit “Let’s Dance”? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4d7Wp9kKjA

Let’s dance put on your red shoes and dance the blues
Let’s dance to the song they’re playin’ on the radio

Let’s sway while colour lights up your face
Let’s sway sway through the crowd to an empty space

If you say run, I’ll run with you
If you say hide, we’ll hide
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two
If you should fall
Into my arms
And tremble like a flower

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I have a week off, so it gives me some time to reflect and muse about things that are close to my heart.

This is a post about my intensity in creating and curating Innotribe events.

 

It is about creating

memorable events

that are memorable

because they deliver

an authentic experience

 

I got inspired when discussing the drive behind my work with a good old friend. At a certain moment, i described event production as some form of composition, like a piece of music, like a painting. It’s where this story starts…

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Jan Van Eyck – Arnolfini portret

Flemish painting flourished from the early 15th century until the 17th century. Flanders delivered the leading painters in Northern Europe and attracted many promising young painters from neighboring countries. These painters were invited to work at foreign courts and had a Europe-wide influence. The so-called Flemish "Primitives" were the first to popularize the use of oil paint. Their art has its origins in the miniature painting of the late Gothic period. Chief among them were Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, Hugo van der Goes, Robert Campin and Rogier van der Weyden.

From the early 16th century, the Italian Renaissance started to influence the Flemish painters. The result was very different from the typical Italian Renaissance painting. The leading artist was Pieter Brueghel the Elder, who avoided direct Italian influence, unlike the Northern Mannerists.

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The painting above is by Pieter Breugel the Elder: “The Blind lead the Blind.”

What is interesting in this painting is that the little church actually exists. It is located in a small village “Sint-Anna-Pede”, in the heart of the “Pajottenland”, West South-West of Brussels, and where famous beers like Geuze and Lambic have their origins.

It is also the place where I spent most of my youth till +/- 21 years old.

 

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A later generation of Flemish painters were the Flemish Expressionist, with Permeke  from ‘Group of Latem’,  as generally the best known:

 

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Permeke – Laying Farmer

I love the “primitiveness” of Permeke. The primitiveness makes me think about some deep and profound thoughts from Jerry Michalski himself, who planted the seed to go back to the primitive level of our understanding of a bank.

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The word “Bank” comes from “Banca” which means “Bench”.

People used to sit on a bench, and had a conversation. It was relationship building avant-la-letter, it as about wealth creation for everybody, it was a community play. The metaphor also applies to “stocks” which originally was a “stick” with carves indicating what values where loaned between parties. See also my blog post “Banks for a Better World”

The Flemish Primitives originated in Flanders. As you all know, Brussels is the capital of Flanders (this statement in itself – albeit factual true – may cause a whole political debate in Belgium, a debate i definitely do not want to get in now ;-).

All the above just to say I was born in Brussels, raised in Flanders, where the Flemish Primitives originated.

 

It’s sort of back to my roots

It’s somewhere deep in my DNA

 

And it is the sort of DNA that i want to build into our Innotribe events. This is the sort of deep “primitiveness” i want to be the understream of Innotribe events.

Building on this DNA, I was trained as an architect at the Sint-Lucas School of Architecture in Ghent and Brussels.

Sint-Lucas School of Architecture educates designers in a spirit of critical reflection and personal responsibility. Students question their limits and the limits of the discipline. They gain insight into both material and immaterial, physical and social structures. Teaching and research are organized in a spirit of artistic and intellectual openness, of tolerance and inclusion. 

This is more the artistic direction rather than the engineering section of architecture. It’s about designing space, experiences, total experiences. It’s probably why I often “clash” with engineers. We have a different mind-set, training, framework.

It is probably why i like so much the job that i am doing today. Because in my mind, creating a quality event is about creating a total experience.

 

Yep,

that’s where I am setting the bar

 

The end result must be an experience like a very good concert. Or a painting with many layers. Although concerts and paintings are one-directional. To be consumed only. It’s push-only. Modern life has evolved to more pull. Paintings and concerts in general miss the participatory element that we try to build in all our Innotribe events.

Building an event is like doing a production. I’d like to see my role as “written by”. With a team/crew of highly sensitive, critical, creative people, who do not accept compromise. Who do not need always the team to be aligned on everything up-front.

Who can express

their very personal emotions in an emerging landscape

of diversity

 

When the team is blended, we don’t need alignment up-front. The forces of the understream propel us forward in the right direction. Always. Unless some team members or the enabling organization do not have this deep force, energy. Or when the team you are asking to innovate has to waste its creative energy scrambling to find resources.

Harvard Business Review wrote about this basic idea of building in constraints to instigate innovation (credits to Mela of our team for finding this quote):

Scarcity seems to have replaced necessity as the mother of invention in today’s organizations. Far too many managers believe that depriving projects of resources [such as time – Mela’s comment] will inspire innovation. While that’s true sometimes, you’re better off using constraints rather than starvation. The human brain reacts to stimuli, so while a blank sheet can terrify, one or two constraints can stimulate. Experiment with introducing a clearly defined problem and an urgent need. But, don’t create false urgency by refusing to fund a project [or not giving time to work on it – again Mela’s comment].

Can we push the limit of events further ? Yes, of course. We are just getting started.

In my wildest dreams, an Innotribe event is multi-sensory. Appealing not only to visual and audio senses, but also to smell, touch, and taste. We can have total experiences, with music as a background/foreground canvas,

 

building and architecting

the rhythm of the event

like a rave

 

With moveable and touchable walls that give way and light-up when you touch them, with people dancing and raving, sharing a Californian style new-age, un-conference open-space tribe.  OMG, I hear you thinking, what good stuff did he smoke today?

 

It is about the power of the tribe

The deep power of the tribe

The Innotribe

 

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So it happens that some of the finest Flemish chefs put together this fantastic site and tribe of The Flemish Primitives, which is all about the very-very best of Flemish gastronomic cuisine and experiment. World-class. If you have ever seen the drive, intensity, uncompromising drive of a chef like Peter Goossens of 3-star Michelin Restaurant Hof Van Cleve then you know what i mean.

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“It was a great experience to participate in The Flemish Primitives 2010. It’s a high-energy, high-spirited meeting, and a unique mixture of people and points of view. A very stimulating day!”

Having that drive and that result is my inspiration. That’s how we want our audience to come out of an Innotribe event.

We don’t want to go for less!

 

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The atelier – be it an art atelier or a gastronomic kitchen – is a nice metaphor for our group: a couple of artists cooking and painting together. Really together-together, but in the end the composition, the final plate, goes through the hands of the master curator, the “written by” guy, the one who composes.

 

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I do this with

an extreme deep intensity

 

I have all my antennas “on” for 24 hours a day, 365 hours a year. When i read, tweet, blog, view, listen, taste, etc it looks like i have always that lens of “how can i use this or that for the next innotribe event?”.

For me, writing a new Innotribe composition is like being in a creative flow, my most individualistic expression of my emotions.

 

When I am in that flow,

I do not want to be distracted

by personal drama

 

People exposing personal drama usually don’t have anything else better to do.

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Hugh McLeod posted a couple of days ago:

Why are some people such drama queens? Why do some people get so obsessed with the little stuff, the gossip, who said what to who, who’s sleeping with who, who’s no longer sleeping with who…? The short answer: Because it gives them something to do. Life is short. You’d think we would have learned by now, how to make better use of our VERY limited time here on Earth.

That’s where i am setting the bar. Workaholic ? Maybe. Arrogant ? Maybe.

“I don’t expect everybody using the same standards” is often a standard phrase used in corporate landscape. But is that really so ? Maybe i DO expect everybody using the same high standards.

Or at least, I expect respect from others when I am trying and getting into this high state of flow and expression.

 

Respect for my time and space

Respect for my high standards

 

That’s probably why I hate “enterprise tourists”. The ones that make a lot of noise, but have no content. When they deliver something – if they deliver something – set the bar at creating a ripple where I want a wave.

Why I hate “seagull managers”, who pop-in, drop some comments like seagulls drop shit, and leave you behind alone with the clean-up until they show-up next year for another annual review of KPI’s or whatever artificial measurement criteria.

Why I hate an even worse category of “enterprise rats”. The ones that don’t add any value but only bring process and problems and challenges. The ones that are the messengers, the go-betweens. The ones that forward you mails where they clearly contain actionable items that could have been resolved by the rat herself in the first place. The energy suckers.

So, for you enterprise rats and tourists out there: next time you come into my space and interrupt me in my painting, be aware you are interrupting me in my creative process. Next time you create havoc in my atelier, beware you are messing up the medici effect. I don’t want energy suckers in our atelier

Team is not about celebrating individualism. Team is not the sum of the individuals. Team is about a safe harbor where every individual keeps its own identity. Team is not about dependence. Or about using the team consensus or lack thereof as an excuse.

 

Team is about “inter-dependence”

 

The team and each member of the team is one of the conditions for me – and each of us – to develop my/our full potential and make a great painting.

The team is more than the sum of the parts, the individuals. The team should not be a bowling team: where every player is after her personal best score. They miss positive feedback loops. That flows and fuels back the team.

Don’t mess around with/in team.

Messing around with/in the team is messing around with our full potential.

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In my job, I hear many executives asking “to shake the tree”. What does that mean ? The temptation to just “Pump-up-the-volume” or let the innovation engine run “red hot” is just around the corner. “Let’s come up with a list of hundreds of initiatives and “tricks”, and we’re done.”

Tick ? Don’t think so.

Before discussing the “how”, any organization should first have a look at the “why”.

Usually, the why has to do with creating a more agile organization, waking up the entrepreneurial spirit, in other words to “un-trap” the creative juices.

And to do so, work is needed at the foundations. It’s about making the organization healthy, fit and un-trapped. This has nothing to do with six-sigma, lean, or other way to improve the efficiency of the organization, the efficiency of the organizational “body”.

What we are talking about here is

 

the fitness

of the organizational “mind”

 

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The expected outcome of pumping up the volume and the fitness of the organizational mind is a

 

connected organization,

connected teams,

connected people,

connected values.

 

With connected healthy internal and external primary and secondary circuits.

In between the “why” and the “outcome” is the “how”: the set of tricks, tools, and processes that enable a connected and innovative organization.

As mentioned above, I can easily produce a list of hundreds of new or enhanced innovation initiatives and that set of “hows” will be the subject of one of my next blog posts called “Pump up the (innovation) volume”.

But first, we must focus on the “why”.

We must make sure

that the roots

of the mind-tree to be shaken

are healthy

 

Make sure that the “connections” between the people of the organization are open and healthy. That the rotten apples – both people and processes and cultural dysfunctions – are eradicated. That the connections are such that they encourage acceptance.

 

Acceptance at several levels

 

Let’s look at a framework for these connections, the circle of acceptance.

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All credits for this framework go to André Pelgrims, who is our team coach for team-dynamics. You can read more about André here. Every organization should hire one or more “André’s” to make their culture programs real. (Disclosure: I have no shares or business relation with André, but he was one of the coaches of the Leading  by Being (LBB) program I already mentioned so many times on my blog; stronger, LBB was the reason to start this blog)

The first level of acceptance is being accepted as a person. In our full authenticity. Watch carefully yourself when you meet a person for the first time. What is your screening mechanism: is it respect, space, trust, or something else ? And how much are you trapped in this specific mechanism ? A person that “passes” this initial 15 sec check will be accepted by you as a person. The effect is that person will give you energy.

However, if that person pumps-up its space, trust etc, then that person will start being an energy drain for her colleagues. It happens when people bring into the team the baggage that is not related to work. They don’t even have to talk about it, they bring it unconsciously with them. The art is to be aware of it, in the present moment. And not let it develop as the personal drama. Then it becomes an energy drain. Personally, I need space and silence. If not, I get drained.

“Energy Drains”

The second level of acceptance is being accepted in your role. Only then you can create impact. When people make themselves (ie. their role) look bigger than they are, then we enter the space of

“Power Games”

The third level of acceptance is being accepted as a change agent. Only then you can create a new type of dynamics, only then you have the right to shake the tree. It’s the moment where you don’t have to sell yourself anymore, you are being called. Again, when one tries to show bigger than one is, one ends up with

“Illusion Building”

 

The awareness of these circles of acceptance are particularly important for innovation teams, who are supposed to keep the fire of innovation burning throughout the organization. Not only the innovation team must maintain healthy connections within the team, but especially in all its relations with its stakeholders. You can shout “change” as much as you want in an organization, if you are not accepted as a person, in your role as innovator, and genuinely being called, you can forget about all the “tricks” you have in your pocket. They remain what they are. Tricks.

Therefore, I prefer to being called as-a-person. The tricks are a bonus. Some people think they have no tricks. I don’t believe that. But even in the hypothetical case that you don’t have tricks, you can still give energy, have impact and being called as a change agent IF you are accepted as a person.

 

I want to be called as a person

I want to be loved

 

Recognition is not good enough. Recognition is like a compromise: if I am not capable of receiving love, I compromise on recognition. That’s why a tap on a shoulder, a holding arm, a hug are only relevant if they are real. The animal in us just senses when these are un-real.

 

So, what does it take to be real ?

 

In addition of having acceptance at all levels, what else is required ? For me what makes the real difference is the way a person approaches me with a healthy mix of love and courage, combined with an equally healthy balance of guilt, shame, and vulnerability. With respect for primary and secondary circuits.

 

The Love/Courage mix:

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  • I may have a lot of courage when giving feedback to a colleague, a partner, a business partner, etc. But if this courage is not rooted in a feeling of love for that other person, then I end up with “active destruction”, the effect of a dirty forward tackle in football. Many companies have unfortunately a culture of forward tackle.
  • On the other hand, when I approach the person with love but without courage, then the effect of my intervention is one of “passive destruction”, unaware of the emotion

The Guilt/Shame mix

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In a very similar way, guilt and shame go together. Guilt without shame is inwards focus. It leads to depression, in a slow and creepy way. Leading to aggression against yourself. On the other hand, shame without guilt is again like the forward-tackle. Not creepy, but blow in the face, active aggression against yourself.

Vulnerability. I have already very often mentioned vulnerability in my blog posts. Suffice to say here that showing vulnerability in the safe primary circuit should be ok. Only works of course if the connections in that primary circuit are healthy.

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Illustration by Hugh MacLeod

Secondary circuits. Last but not least, let’s pay some attention to secondary circuits. There is nothing wrong with secondary circuits. On the contrary, they need to exists to feed a healthy primary circuit, to be supportive of the primary circuit. The problem starts with secondary circuits that are NOT supportive to the primary, and even are counter-productive. Those are the rotten apples. But the secondary circuits need to be made explicit. And for a really healthy system, it would be better that many of the secondary circuits’ discussions are held in the primary circuit for the benefit of the whole team.

 

Our goal should be

to make the primary circuit stronger

than the secondary circuits

 

and not the other way around in many organizations.

What happens a lot in “shake the tree” experiments, is that one or more levels of acceptance are skipped. Or that awareness about the effects of energy drains, power games, and illusion building are being denied. Or that we don’t expose the right mix of love/courage, of guilt/shame, of vulnerability in our day to day connections. That we start jumping into the “how” before questioning the “why” and the desired outcome.

Therefore, let’s first check if our connections are pure, healthy and real. This is the only possible foundation for a deep change that is sustainable on the long term.

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If you’re interested in Innovation, you have to subscribe to Blogging Innovation. All posts are just worthwhile reading.

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They also have a group on LinkedIn.

Today’s article typically resonated with me. It’s titled: “Combining Brand Management with Workforce Enablement”.

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It’s about the speech by Jon Iwata, SVP of communications and marketing at IBM on the future of the communications profession at the November 4th 2009 Institute for Public Relations Distinguished Lecture Series at the Yale Club in New York City. Full text of the speech is here.

Iwata says:

"One day soon, every employee, every retiree, every customer, every business partner, every investor and every neighbor associated with every company will be able to share an opinion about that company with everyone in the world, based on firsthand experience. The only way we can be comfortable in that world is if every employee of the company is truly grounded in what their company values and stands for."

IBM has developed an IBM Brand “System”:

Picture a framework with five columns. From left to right the columns are labeled what it means to look like IBM, to sound like IBM, to think like IBM, to perform like IBM and ultimately to be IBM. Simple enough. You could in 30 seconds create the same frame for J&J, Chevron or Ketchum. But of course it would — and should — take you much longer to fill in the details. Every word, every phrase and description in that framework would be painstakingly chosen. Because this is your corporate genome. It describes what makes your company unique. Developing the framework is hard work, but it’s only the foundation. Because, like a genome, the real work — and value — are in bringing it to life.

and also:

For example, we are now collaborating with our colleagues in HR to redesign IBM’s leadership competencies for the first time in many years. If this is ultimately approved by the CEO – and we’ll know in a few weeks – it will mark the first time in my 25-year career that the foundational elements of HR will not only be aligned with our brand and workforce strategies, they will be essentially the same.

I would like to see some examples on how this works in an environment where efficiency programs are run in parallel with innovation programs and (re)branding programs. What is the ideal role of HR in all of this ? Will HR be degraded to a “management” machine to deal with lay-offs only ?

I’d love to see more HR in a true leadership role. Leadership as opposite to management in its narrow definition of executing a course set out by somebody else. See also below the very important message about the role for HR in creating the eminence of our workforce.

About this, Iwata says:

But the building of constituency goes beyond the reaching of audiences. It gets to how a company establishes shared attraction and shared values: how it shapes not just common ground, but a deeper, enduring, shared idea.

They weren’t simply sending messages to audiences. They were creating audiences.

They weren’t shaping relationships with existing constituents. They were creating constituencies.

This is the basis of our Smarter Planet strategy. We are specifically and deliberately working to validate and stoke the optimism of forward-thinkers. We are saying to them – because we really believe it ourselves: “Your hopes for your industry, your city, your environment, your community are now within your grasp. This isn’t a metaphor. We can actually build a smarter planet.”

Our work of late tries to get at the real substance of change, the real issues on the table. The work is long-form. It’s argued, not pitched. It doesn’t focus on our products and services.

It purposefully invites people to

 think

 

Wow !

 

And lastly about Building the eminence of our workforce.

I believe that 2010 will be the year that corporations grapple with and ultimately accept that their employees are engaging with – and must engage with – social media. We’ll certainly go through a necessary period when people raise all sorts of objections.

The CFO worries about financial disclosure. The General Counsel fears intellectual property leakage. HR will say we’re helping competitors recruit our people. And everyone will be nervous about criticism of management. These are all legitimate.

So the answer to all this may be another set of policies and guidelines for using social media. My employer has indeed such a set of policies. They are difficult to find, but they exist. But are another set of policies and guidelines a solution. Will the fact that each employee has to sign-off the blogging policy or any other code of conduct really change our actual behavior ?

I doubt it.

Let’s say we actually do that. Then what? Policies and guidelines may keep individuals and their companies out of trouble but, by themselves, they won’t create business value.

The key is to build the eminence of our workforce.

 

What do I mean by “eminence”? No matter what their industry, their profession, their discipline or their job, people with eminence are acknowledged by others as expert. It’s not simply to know a lot about Tuscan villas, digital cameras or banking. You need to be recognized as an expert. And when you show up – in person, or online; in writing, or in conversation – you are both knowledgeable and persuasive. Because being an expert and being good at communications aren’t the same thing, as we all know.

Which is why

 

we need to make the creation

of this kind of workforce

an intentional act,

a new discipline in our function

Yes, we need guidelines and policy – but also training, resources and support for broad networks of experts.

Related to this, i found just a couple of days ago a great post from Hugh McLeod’s site titled: If your boss tells you, “our brand must speak with one voice”, quit.

I once had a boss who didn’t like the fact that I had a blog. Especially when I blogged about stuff that was relative to our industry. Yeah, “Our brand must speak with one voice” was his idea. Yes. I know.

Actually, the reality was, HE wanted to be “The One Voice”. He wanted all the credit, and all the rewards. He didn’t mind me put ting words into his mouth– stuff I had writ­ten– so long as the outside world gave him all the credit. But he didn’t want me in any other role, other than subservient, nowheresville wage slave. He fought tooth and nail to keep me from ever becoming a rainmaker inside the company, something he wanted all for himself.

And back to the end of the speech by Iwata:

To me, this is what “values” are about… and what “authenticity” means. This is about consciously choosing a unique identity. And it’s about actually being that unique thing you have chosen to be.

In other words:

Leading by Being

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As mentioned many times before, Huge McLeod’s book “Ignore Everybody” is an absolute recommendation.

The whole book started from a blog, the gapingvoid.com

Here are some recent tapas, that give you a feel of Hugh’s work. Not exactly marry christmas poetry, but that’s the point.

All drawings from Gapingvoid by Hugh MacLeod

fatdumb insane loverslost tired

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