Archive for the ‘Transhumanism’ Category

“The Cambrian explosion was the relatively rapid appearance of most major animal life forms, accompanied by major diversification of organisms. Before, most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells occasionally organised into colonies. Over the following 70 or 80 million years the rate of evolution accelerated by an order of magnitude and the diversity of life began to resemble that of today.” (Adapted from Wikipedia )

I believe we are witnessing a similar “Cambrian Explosion of everything” in the information technology evolution of the recent years, and we see a relatively rapid appearance of new “life” forms, new building blocks for the way we do business in this hyper-connected economy.

This thought came into my mind when attending recently the Cloud Identity Summit in Vail, Colorado 16-19 July 2012.

Explosion of API’s

During the pre-conference workshops, I had already seen the explosion of a whole set of new authentication methods and digital identity concepts like SAML, OAuth 2.0, OpenID Connect, OIX, Facebook Connect, Google’s Accountholder.com initiative, etc, etc

And then came Craig Burton with a presentation announced as “The future of Authentication” but in essence a variation of his epic talk on “Identity and the API economy”. His full prezi presentation is here. (Disclosure: Craig has been advising us on our Digital Asset Grid research project)

  • If this evolution goes on, we’ll have 30K “open” APIs by 2016
  • But most enterprise API’s are not open, they are kept private, and their growth rate is 5 times that of open API’s. They are also referred to as “Dark API’s”, because you don’t see these species in the open.

Craig then showed some staggering stats of open API’s, the so-called “API Billionaires”

If you do the calculation, this means 150,000 API calls per second for Twitter!

Update: apparently most of these stats come from John Musser @johnmusser from The Programmable Web. Credits are made in Craig’s prezi, but not apparent in my post here. Sorry, John !

Craig believes – and I subscribe – that we will see a very fast evolution where

“everyone and everything will have its API”

And every API needs its identity. Leading to the staggering conclusion that we will need to provision more than 1,000 new identities per second.

In enterprise, one of the more accepted federated identity authentication and authorization standards is SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language). Craig created some consternation by stating, “SAML is dead”, because it is not made for the provisioning of this Cambrian explosion of identities. In essence the SAML model does not scale. For this type of scale, manual provisioning does not work anymore, we need high levels of automation, also at the provisioning level.

Explosion of Nodes

In his Cloud Identity Summit presentation, Craig was focusing on the explosion of number of API’s and the identities they will require.

Let me give another dimension, triggered by the research work we are doing on the Digital Asset Grid: when Craig talks about “everyone and everything will get an API”, I’d like to offer the dimension of “entities” aka “nodes in a grid” that need share data with each other. Those entities can be:

  • Humans
  • Group of humans – a good example is a Google “circle”, it’s a group of people without legal entity and therefore no liabilities associated
  • Companies – another type of groups of people – with legal entity and liability. Note that the liability of a non-profit is different from a commercial organization, from a educational institution, etc
  • But now we also add devices to the mix
  • And programs – pieces of software code – that act on our behalf or independently
  • Services and 3rd parties representing the seller, and 4th parties representing the buyer.
  • And personal and corporate clouds, where persons and corporations will keep the data they want to share in context with all the other entities in this grid of nodes.

And all these entities will get an API and will need to get an identity. It is leading to a “Catastrophic Complexity” unless we find a way to govern our communities differently, less manual, and highly automated.

It was very interesting to see that in the closing plenary of the Summit, Bob Blakley – now Global Head of Information Security at Citigroup – introduced the concept of the “Limited Liability Persona” that you could select as your identity to participate in certain data sharing use-cases. I’d like to emphasise he talks “personas” (plural of persona) and not “persons”. For example using your Limited Liability Persona “1” for getting a bank-account, and Persona “2” for your health transactions, etc.

This multiplication in personas will just add to the number of identities to deal with.

Explosion of Data

Big Data, Small Data, Real-Time Data, Fast Data, etc… I guess you are familiar with the buzzwords. I would like to share some insights that go beyond the generalities heard at most conferences.

Have a look at Avinash Kaushik – Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google – in his fascinating talk at Strata 2012 earlier this year. And especially pay attention as from minute 4:00 where he introduces Donald Rumsfeld as one of the “greatest philosophers when it comes to analytics”:

“Reports say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are the known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know”

And then there is this recent Future of Internet PEW report that opens with:

Big Data: Experts say new forms of information analysis are helping us be more nimble and adaptive, but they worry over humans’ capacity to understand and use new tools well

And in the opening para:

We swim in a sea of data … and the sea level is rising rapidly. Tens of millions of connected people, billions of sensors, trillions of transactions now work to create unimaginable amounts of information. An equivalent amount of data is generated by people simply going about their lives, creating what the McKinsey Global Institute calls “digital exhaust”—data given off as a byproduct of other activities such as their Internet browsing and searching or moving around with their smartphone in their pocket.

“The realisation of dynamic and emergent systems as a natural order will cause people to realize the foolishness of trying to game systems to the Nth degree. We will see the rise of more algorithmic thinking among average people, and the application of increasingly sophisticated algorithms to make sense of large-scale financial, environmental, epidemiological, and other forms of data. Innovations will be lauded as long as they register a blip in the range of large-scale emergent phenomena.”

Explosion of Time

This leads me into one of the coolest presentations I have seen on big data, high frequency trading and the new algorithmic ecosystem by Sean Gourley from Quid.com at TEDxNewWallStreet

Especially watch the section as from minute 9:00 or so, where he lets us discover how machines are doing business in matter of nanoseconds: a world of machines where black-swans almost become the norm!

It is not so much that more time is created, but more some form or time “implosion”, where things happen in milli- and nano-seconds timeframes, an outer-space alien to human beings.

Btw: Sean Gourley will be with us at Innotribe@Sibos Osaka 2012 in the session about The Future of Big and Small Data

Explosion of Mobile

Also repeated over and over again at Cloud Identity Summit by different speakers. Whereas many of the suggested solutions consisted of some form of “identity bridges” or translators if you want, I start to believe we come at a point where also here the existing metaphors and techniques are not adapted to the new paradigm of super-scale.

I have seen so many statistics and data that mobile is big, I prefer to refer to the mother of all internet trends, Mary Meeker who moved last year from Morgan Stanley to Kleiner Perkins Caufield Beyers with her May 2012 update on Internet trends.

As from slide #29, she introduces  the “Re-Imagination of nearly everything”

And closes her presentation with

“This cycle of tech disruption

is materially faster & broader

then prior cycles…”

Explosion of Decentralization

With some delay, I found some time this week to watch Don Tapscott’s talk at  TEDGlobal 2012 where he gets into “the interest of the collective”

Tapscott points out that this is “Not an Information Age, but an Age of Networked Intelligence

And Don Tapscott nails it when he summarised the 4 principles for the open world:

  • Collaboration
  • Transparency
  • Sharing
  • Empowerment

The meta-story underpinning all this, is probably well reflected in the recent essay “The Democratization of Globalization” by Parag Khanna: We are not only moving into the age of Networked Intelligence, but we are also moving into Globalization 5.0 that is characterized by a high level of fragmentation and decentralization.

“Call it Globalization 5.0, the most decentralized form of the phenomenon in history. If succeeding in Globalization 5.0 comes down to exhibiting a single trait, it would be resilience—a decentralized, node-to-node way of doing business, where hundreds or thousands of points of interconnection form a giant web of commerce, information and social good. Those who can demonstrate resilience will adapt and thrive. Those who cling to the old, centralised paradigm do so at their own risk”

I am deeply convinced that the “Cambrian Explosion of Everything” is leading us very fast in a highly fragmented world of heterogeneous entities that are sharing and analysing data at warp speed.

It’s a new world

that will soon require new levels of

governance, security, identity

and community or commons management

Who could be the neutral trusted organisation for the financial industry to deliver us that resilience and trust for the next superfast and hyper-connected data-age?


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Since my initial post “Corporate Rebels United – the start of a corporate spring?” of 17 March 2012, a lot of exciting things happened.

I’d like to share with you where we are, and what’s the plan for the upcoming weeks and months. When most of you will be on the beaches, we’ll do some digging and set the basis for some of our infrastructure needs 😉

What happened?

The 17 March post was without any doubt the most viewed post ever on my personal blog. I got loads of comments. I got in contact with some very high profile people who offered their mentorship, coaching and mindshare in their communities. Many very cool people contacted me and wanted to know how they could be part of the movement. Clearly, something strong and positive resonated with you.

We now have a “core” group of +/- 30 Corporate Rebels: it’s a cross-industry group, with folks from the Americas, EMEA, and APAC. All the way from San Francisco to Sydney, with Europe in-between. Maybe still a bit weak in South-America, Africa, and Asia. We’re getting there 😉

We had several calls and Skypes, and we had our first face-to-face meeting in London on 22 June 2012. We had about 10 core rebels attending physically and 15-20 via call: one call for the Americas and one for APAC. It was a great experience, refreshing, and reinvigorating. With thanks to SWIFT for the meeting facilities.

We have worked hard with that “core” group to articulate why and how we want to create this movement. We also looked in detail into the “what”, the deliverables. We wanted to ensure that the message we sent out was “right” before we throw into the open.

I now want to share with all of you the progress we have made so far. With deep gratitude to the core group of Corporate Rebels United: as all this is obviously the result of teamwork. I also would like to talk everybody who took the time and effort to listen to me and give feedback.

Our mission, vision, and strategy

“To transform our companies into hyper-organizations and create new value for the people they serve.”

We love our companies and want them to succeed in this high-velocity, hyper-connected world. We want to reboot our corporate and organizational culture to install a 21st century, digitally native version. We want to accelerate positive viral change from deep within the fabric of our organizations. We want to enable and empower the rest of our organizations to move at rapid pace, but room for patience and reflection. We want to unleash the enormous potential that lies within every human being within our organizations. We want to re-ignite the passion in our organizations. We are actionable.”

“We are building a global network of change catalysts that act from their true selves. Our actions will lead to new product and services and new global practices for value creation, agility and velocity. Our community acts from deep personal awareness and presence, and an irresistible enthusiasm opening up old rusty structured. We are architects and scouts into the future, and we want to guide our organizations in navigating a safe path from now to then.”

“We are making and holding a space where everybody can have a voice in service of value creation. “

Our game plan

We are making and holding a space where everybody can have a voice in service of value creation.

  • This space is called “Life”. This is where the new practices for value creation exist.
  • A community of cells upholds the space. These communities are self-organizing. These cells are built on the DNA of our movement.
  • The DNA of our movement is the platform of core principles that are the basis for us to connect, to practice, to embrace, and to inspire other to dream and make their dreams come true

DNA: A core (the common practice, the “commons” practices that cannot change, everything else can change. The DNA gives birth to cells. The cells can organize themselves.

They decide upon their own activities, their own resources, and their own relationships. And they always connect back to the mothership, the DNA of common core principles. Together, the cells create “Life” – our new global practice for value creation.

Our deliverables

We plan 8 types of deliverables:

  • Our manifesto
  • A common language
  • The 20 core principles of our DNA
  • A New Global Practice for Value Creation
  • A Belonging and Support program
  • A Discovery program
  • An Exchange program
  • A series of Events

I would like to summarize some of these deliverables:

The Manifesto

It has not changed really, but I’ll share it once more, as it, especially the “relentless” part of it, inspired so many people 😉


Challenging the status quo

Breaking the rules

Saying the unsaid

Spreading the innovation virus

Seeding Tribal energy

With No fear

With a cause to do good

Leading by Being from our True Selves

Going after the un-named quality


Common language, lexicon

It is our ambition to get buy-in and support from our corporate leaders for our proposed company transformations. We also want to articulate the direction. In a language clearly indicating the road from where we are today towards the destination we aim for. More specifically, we want to show the safe path and help our companies navigate from here to there.

This above is just a summary of some from-to destinations. The core group worked out a quite detailed and compelling list.

The 20 Core Principles of our DNA

We don’t want to be an exclusive club or so. It’s just in these early days we keep the group to 30 to be able to hack-out a first solid foundation. We will then throw it fully into the open.

But something needs to hold us together. These are the DNA principles of our practice. In the language section above you’ve seen that one of the to-from destinations is the journey from “Distrust as a default” to “Trust as a default”. Networks only work when there is trust. We want to walk the talk. When we will open-up our movement, everybody how signs-up is “in” by default. You will be “trusted” by default as long as you act in line with our 20 core principles:

  • Principle-1: We love our companies and want them to succeed in this high-velocity, hyper-connected world
  • Principle-2: We dare to be great
  • Principle-3: We have the mandate to be brave and to challenge the status quo
  • Principle-4: We reboot our corporate and organizational culture to install a 21st century, digitally native version.
  • Principle-5: We accelerate positive viral change from deep within the fabric of our organizations.
  • Principle-6: We enable and empower the rest of our organizations to move at rapid pace, but with room for patience and reflection.
  • Principle-7: We unleash the enormous potential that lies within every human being within our organizations.
  • Principle-8: We re-ignite the passion in our organizations.
  • Principle-9: We are actionable
  • Principle-10: We are building a global network of change catalysts that act from their true selves.
  • Principle-11: Our actions lead to new product and services and new global practices for value creation, agility and velocity.
  • Principle-12: Our community acts from deep personal awareness and presence, and an irresistible enthusiasm opening up old rusty structured.
  • Principle-13: We are architects and scouts into the future,
  • Principle-14: and we want to guide our organizations in navigating a safe path from now to then
  • Principle-15: We are very well intended individuals
  • Principle-16: We are united people with shared purpose starting with your own being
  • Principle-17: We maintain integrity and relevance of the reason.
  • Principle-18: We keep our community a safe environment, where you can become who you want to become. Where you are not alone in being a catalyst
  • Principle-19: Our core values are integrity, clarity of reason, brightness and great positive energy
  • Principle-20: Reflection, reporting back and adding-on to each others input and opinions is our natural way of collecting and discussing opinions.

New Global Practices for Value Creation

The core of our ambition is to create/let emerge a new Global Practice for Value Creation.

It’s “practice” like in Lean “practice” and SixSigma “practice”. However these are  for increasing efficiency in our organizations. We are on the innovation side. Innovation is less about “optimizing” the core engine; it’s more about new value creation.

Imagine having “black-belts”, “champions” in value creation and deep transformation of our companies based on our mission and principles. In the end, a company should be proud and outspoken of having x number of “black-belt Rebels” on board!

We want it to be global. From a meta-story perspective, wanting it to be something “global” that holds the values is probably one of the strongest thoughts of our movement.

We would like that these practices develop in a self-emerging way through the activities of the cells. Our expectation is that these practices are grounded in following principles:

  • Practice of Courage, Fear-is-not-an-Option, No fear to jump
  • Behavior/attitude: “Shift Makers”, “Accelerating Purposeful Innovation”, “Inside and Outside the company”, “Accelerators”, “Catalysts”, “Igniters”, carrying “The soul of Innovation”, “Re-Build”, “Re-Work, “Corporate Activists”, “Positive Deviants”
  • Emergent from the cells
  • Includes stealth approaches etc
  • Practices that lead to mastery
  • Focus on what works
  • Be part of curriculum
  • Certification levels vs. Reputation system
  • To be added as program to universities etc

In writing this blog post, it suddenly becomes clear to me that we found the sweet spot between “singing my own song”,  my loosely defined concept of a “New Value Movement”, and the irresistible enthusiasm of corporate rebels who want their companies to succeed in the 21st century by creating viral change from within.

What’s next?

I just sent a much more detailed consolidation of the 22 June London meeting to the core team. Given the summer holiday period we gave ourselves time till Mid August to co-edit all that material.

By somewhere mid-September our web site should be done.

We have planned our next face to face on 22 Sep 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island (USA), back to back with the BIF8 Summit.

Now in its eighth year, the BIF Summit has earned it reputation as “one of the top 7 places to watch great minds in action” (according to Mashable). The BIF Summit is an annual gathering of innovation junkies and transformation artists all in service of better – across industry, sector, and community. Eighty percent of Summit participants are senior executives; all are designing next generation business models. The summit provides participants with the space to be curious and crazy, get inspired, and collide with unusual collaborators. A shoe designer learns innovation processes from a car designer. A police officer teaches a business guru about transforming industries. This year’s storyteller line up features diverse system thinkers like Intel’s Brandon Barnett and ZipCar’s Robin Chase, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and the Food Network’s Simon Majumdar, GE Healthcare CTO Michael Harsh and Drupal Creator Dries Buytaert.

BIF8 is September 19th and 20th in Providence, Rhode Island. For those who want to move their inspiration into action, there is a third day, post-Summit Workshop on Business Model Innovation. This workshop is hosted and facilitated by BIF Founder and author Saul Kaplan and the creator of the Business Canvas, Alex Osterwalder.

Many BIF Summit participants come as teams from the same organization or affiliated group – using the BIF magic to challenge norms, inspire creativity, and think across disciplines. Recognizing how hard it is to bottle the magic, and harder still to operationalize it upon the return to business as usual, BIF offered us an interesting Team Package, helping us prepare for and act on insights and random collisions experienced at the Summit. Thank you BIF for your generosity.

The BIF8 conference is on 19-20 Sep 2012 http://www.businessinnovationfactory.com/bif-8

It’s probably around that time we will throw it into the open.

And in November, we’ll do some solid campaigning in the heavy event season with Innotribe at Sibos, Techonomy, Defrag and Blur. And back-to-back to that week, we plan our 3rd face to face on 17 Nov 2012 in Boulder, Colorado (USA).

For 2013, we already received a generous offer from the Australian AMPlify Festival to host one of our next coming together.

Hopefully by then, we’ll find some sponsors to cover some of the basic costs for keeping this going.

Some resources:

  • Prezi: some of the visuals is this post were created in Prezi. I did a talk at the EU Marie-Curie event in Brussels on 3 July that included our rebels story. That talk has 3 sections:
  • I am still maintaining a Scoop.it curation on Corporate Rebels United. As I am doing my daily RSS Feed reading, tweeting, etc, I am reading them with a specific “Corporate Rebels”-lens and put them all together in one place: http://www.scoop.it/t/corporate-rebels-united > check it out

Feel free to use and share it with anybody who can help and support our cause. Let’s rock this place together and let’s get a life / get alive ! And feel free to post events on this blog or contact me via mail or twitter.

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I am restless these days. Exploring my limits, physically and mentally, and calibrating and navigating what I was meant to be: an architect, painter, scripter, dramaturge, producer?

I am so hungry to create those true memorable experiences, with artistic, architectural, and ethical rightness and integrity. Experiences those feel right from the very first second to the very last. Produced and executed with a crew of super professionals

Experiences that matter, those touch and move you.

Experiences that give you the same sort of “bang” as when you arrive in Bangkok airport, and get amazed by the post-industrial architecture, in all it’s grandeur and massivity.

The sort of “awe” when discovering Bucky, or the mindset of Jeffrey Katzenberg,Co-founder and CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG here below in interview with David Kirkpatrick of Techonomy.

The sort of “yes” when seeing the Blue Man Group. But a Blue Man Group with a message, and not only one-way, but where also the audience has to participate to realize the full potential and learning of the production.

The sort of “love” and being “moved” when seeing/hearing Mark Pesce analyzing and synthesizing, and story telling with an eruditeness seldom witnessed before, with us at Innotribe Bangkok last week.

Be in company of these sources of inspiration, or at least breath the same air (spotify link)

Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe and to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe yes to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe

When as an audience you know, just know, that this production is so right I, in the sense of “exact”, “spot-on”.

When as a producer, behind the scenes and behind the technical desk, you can feel the shiver down the spine as the rumble of the deep bass rolls-in and when the show begins, and the mystic of the lights, the mystery of the colors, the artists, the perfect technology, the professional crew are all coming together in an amazing whirlwind.

A production that feels more like a good book, where you have to invest in the beginning, where you discover new stuff, not the same old re-mashed hyped stereotypes, tricks and banalities.

Like a great film where the plot unfolds, and magic and surprise come together.

With deep immersive learning experiences, and drama, lots of drama, even in the sense of theatrical overacting. It’s creating a meta-story, a story of stories and adding performance to it. A new class of story telling, of immersive learning experience.

With authentic, inspiring mastery on stage, orchestrated and mashed-up into a brand new value play artistry, adding facilitation and superior crowd control to the mix. Aah! How I love the “stage” with it’s smell of wood, nails, pain, curtains, mechanics, flight-cases, racks, amps, cables, light and sound towers.

The whole discussion of hyper-connected companies during our Innotribe event in Bangkok, and especially the story of Uber taxi, made me reflect deeply on the role of the old taxi company as a dispatching service.

A dispatching role that was in essence the friction in the system, and becoming completely obsolete when the nodes (in this case taxi drivers and their customers) started talking to each other via API’s (in this was built into iPhone apps).

This friction (less)-rule not only applies to organizations and functions but also to people and events.

The master of ceremony (MOC) role has to become much more than just announcing and introducing speakers. If the MOC role stays limited to that, the MOC becomes a friction in itself that needs to be removed. The MOC has to become a “master of connections”, bringing additional content-value, interpretation and guidance to the mix.

In the case of events, we have to start looking at them as a way to bring the consumers and providers of our immersive learning experiences in direct P2P contact through API’s aka “emotional synapses” of the speakers/ignitors.

Some folks out there claim that we are pushing the envelope of performance too far, and should fold back to simpler formats closer to TED, or that our banking audiences and cultures are not ready for this. I deeply disagree. I believe that what we set out as a performance design in Bangkok is just the beginning, the middle of a spectrum between minimum and maximum.

It is of course easier, less complex, where you just program some cool people and surf on the success waves of others, never creating something yourself. But when an event becomes a happening with no file-rouge, no overall theme, without gluing metaphor and design, and without deep reflection about the overall energy and thematic rhythms, then we end-up merely with a set of sequentially ordered speakers, at best a mash-up of speakers, MOC, and facilitation tricks picked from the routine shelf, where the colors and scribes are just lipstick on a pig, a weak copy of the original.

It’s like cheating your audience. Because you know you can do so much better. Not giving the best of yourself is a cheating your audience, whether that audience is your beloved one, your family, your team, your company, and your world.

Easy is easy. Easy smells laziness. What we – at least me – are trying to do with events is not about producing a soap, or the n-th well produced game-program for points or money on television. Although I can be seduced by a well executed professional television production like “The Voice”.

I don’t want to go “easy”, that’s not where I set my bar. When “going back to basics, to easy” starts showing its ugly head, it’s time for us not to be complacent and run on routine, but to re-invent ourselves. We have to re-invent ourselves when we think we have explored the limits.

I am looking for the French quality of “profondeur” which I find richer than “depth”. That is where I want to go.

Sometimes, it looks like the ecosystem I live in today is not ready for this ambition and experiences. Sometimes, my current fishbowl is not ready to follow. I sense it’s a matter of time before we all can see the perspective.

This minor headwind is no reason to give-up or scale-down. I want this “giving-my-best-experience” to happen rather sooner than later. I don’t think I can do more than one production like this per year or even two years if I want to keep the quality of content and production I have in mind.

The choice is between many small touch points, with superficial tricks from the routine box and less events, with a dramatic increase in depth and exploration of new limits. Our edge of yesterday has already become the core. We have to be and remain the Edgewalkers (Amazon Affiliates link)

We have to keep our edge of “Edge-Walkers”, “Protagonists”, “Corporate Rebels”: challengers as described in Art Kleiner’s “The Age of Heretics”.

As Peter Thiel explains in this great New York Times article about establishing a creative monopoly:

Instead of being slightly better than everybody else in a crowded and established field, it’s often more valuable to create a new market and totally dominate it.

The journalist of the article makes some great observations:

Creative people don’t follow the crowds; they seek out the blank spots on the map. Creative people wander through faraway and forgotten traditions and then integrate marginal perspectives back to the mainstream. Instead of being fastest around the tracks everybody knows, creative people move adaptively through wildernesses nobody knows.

We live in a culture that nurtures competitive skills. And they are necessary: discipline, rigor and reliability. But it’s probably a good idea to try to supplement them with the skills of the creative monopolist: alertness, independence and the ability to reclaim forgotten traditions.

Maybe I should disappear for some months or years, to do my ultimate research, find sponsors, leverage the knowledge of the commons, produce and distribute with the best of the best.

I have already decided to invest in myself, healthy mind in healthy body to start with, but also focus on giving the best of myself in everything I do, and yes – with a little dose of arrogance – ignore everybody for the better overall health of myself. Ignore everybody as in Hugh McLeod’s bestseller with the same title (Amazon Affiliates link)

I am restless. Because I feel I am stagnating in my current environment. Limited in my creativity. I want to break free. Unchain my heart. Being able to speak free again. No strings attached. Surprise you and myself. Explode, and be emotional and physical again. Exploring my limits.

Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe and to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe yes to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe

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From time to time I get a mail with encouragements for my work at SWIFT and my work on the edges like “Rebels”. Today was one of those days. This is why I keep doing what i do. Below a letter from an anonymous reader of my blogs and tweets; a nice wrap-up of some of my latest work and efforts. At least it paid off for one person. I reproduced the mail without changing one letter. I just added the links where appropriate.


Thanks for sharing your world in the links you provided.

I love what you’ve done with the Innotribe channel on YouTube.  Great style and excellent testimonials.

I like the high energy style and content on your curated page on scoop.it (here and here)

Also looked at the Prezi presentations.  Outstanding.  I particularly liked the digital asset grid and the notion of a spectrum.  I think the digital identity element coupled with a digital asset perspective  is key to the next stage of digital development.  I also like the services model you present at the end — like the perspective of both an enterprise and a customer or individual perspective and call for action on it and suggest some solutions.  I too came to a similar conclusion that the power of identity is key and that it can be viewed as an exchange between the individual and other parties.  Great work, Peter.  I have attached two papers that I wrote with colleagues some time ago that explore what we called pervasive personal identity and a second paper on alternative security viewpoints (atomistic view — which is really an asset view).  Totally agree with your From To perspective on security.

Also very intrigued with notion of SWIFT playing a role in this space.  We need some trusted players in this space that are not simply motivated by big data and commercial interests (e.g. Facebook, Google etc. “Everybody wants to replace me with my data.   Your experience in Belgium also, in my opinion, can provide a leadership role on the global scene.   I would like to see more told about that story.

Love the “Babies” presentation.  Fan of the Diogenes quote. Informative and energizing.

And I would say the soul of innovation is a tour de force.  Uplifting, emotive and a powerful message.  I very much like the juxtapositions of art, science, psych, esthetic, and experience.   Also a fan of B. Fuller.

Bottom line:  Important, inspirational and incisive message(s)…

Thanks for sharing.  Made my day.  You also gave me additional motivation to get on Prezi.

Have a great time and much success in Bangkok and Sydney.

(x) name known

Thank you (x) from deep in my heart. You know who you are. It gives me a boost of energy for next weeks Innotribe in Bangkok.

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The last couple of weeks I have been aroused with many ideas and reflections on Personal Digital Assets and on Digital Assets in general.

The journey started some weeks ago with my prezi talk at TEDxNewWallStreet and included my participation to the WEF “tiger team” on Personal Data, where a group of 30 experts are looking at what is needed to make realize the vision of Personal data as a new economic “asset class”. Personal data created by and about people, touching all aspects of society. That group is stitching the pieces together for a framework of business, technical and legal elements that are needed to underpin this vision.

However, the following video from Kynetx was the big aha-moment during my 4-weeks tour on the subject.

I never thought of a Personal Data Store as a “Personal Event Network”.

This changes everything ™

indeed as Phil Windley (@windley), CTO of Kynetx says.

One years ago, there was this beautiful video animation by David Siegel (@pullnews), a great vision of distributed nodes of personal data content talking to each other through API’s.

In the meantime, there is a rich ecosystem of start-ups that are building something very similar as we speak.

Maybe not yet to its fullest grand vision, but definitely going way beyond the traditional concept of a “personal data store”.

Check out leading start-ups such as Personal.com. Btw I dream of one day seeing an integration of Personal.com with an on-line bank. Anybody needing a brokering service here ? 😉

What Kynetx is adding to the mix are three important things:

  • the “event” based thinking
  • the prototol for the data-web
  • Cloud Operating System

Event based thinking:

He really nailed it down for me last time I met him:

  • In the past we had RPC (Remote Procedure Calls), in essence fire and forget
  • Then came request/response: you ask for something, and you get it
  • Now there is the “event-signal”. It does not ask for something, it just says “something’s happened”, and any entity in the network can subscribe to the event and decide itself to do something with it.

Protocol for the data-web:

The other aha-moment was when Phil was doing his talk at the New Digital Economies conference on 27 March 2012.

For those who remember, in the past we had silo-d email systems. AOL, Compuserve, etc. They did not interoperate. We got rid of those silos when there was a standard protocol, allowing competing commercial and open source servers to talk to each other in SMTP.

We now see the same with data, personal data, social graphs. We have data-silos (Facebook, Google, Bank systems, Health systems, Government systems, etc). What we need is a “Data-Server” and a “Protocol” that allows these data servers to be interoperable.

Cloud Operating Systems:

Phil has explained all this beautifully in a series of blogs on www.windley.com and I get very inspired when he makes a call for thinking about personal clouds as “cloud operating systems”

All this, Phil calls “The Live Web” (Amazon Associates link). He is so excited about this that he has written a book about it.

In other words, start thinking about your “Personal Data Locker” become a “Personal Event Cloud”: your personal data-server in the cloud that can talk and do things on your behalf, can make decisions, interpret rules, etc…

And it can talk to any entity, any node in the web (or at least nodes in any discoverable namespace). In real-time. In multiplexing mode (meaning the node can be both a server and a client).

It suddenly dawned to me that over the last years we have been hyping “The Programmable WEB”, and that if we are serious about customer centric identity or “customer centric” or “personal” whatever, we may wish to start with the “me”.

Suddenly it was flashing in my brain: “The  Programmable Me”

“Me” is becoming a node in the grid. We are all nodes in the grid, sending and receiving signals. Like neurons passing an electrical or chemical signal to another cell. And start thinking “synapses” when you talk about the API’s of your Programmable Me.

From Wikipedia:

Synapses are essential to neuronal function: neurons are cells that are specialized to pass signals to individual target cells, and synapses are the means by which they do so”

The APIs of your “Programmable Me”, of your Personal Event Cloud are indeed the means to make all these nodes interoperable.

Add to this the graph-thinking of Drummond Reed (@drummondreed), Co-Chair of the XDI/XRI Technical Committee of OASIS. Check-out http://wiki.oasis-open.org/xdi/XdiGraphModel and more specifically some of the Powerpoints out there:

Each circle in this drawing represents a node in the grid. I really encourage you to look at this as a graph – this ensemble of inter-connected nodes – as something 3-dimensional, possibly multi-dimensional.

We have all been trained to think hierarchical. Flat files with a root, that sort of thing.

We have to learn to think in graph-models.

You can start anywhere in the galaxy. Every point can be the center of the universe. There is no root. At least, not in absolute terms. Yes, in relative terms with respect to the other nodes in the universe…

A grand vision starts to develop when you realize that the nodes can be any type of entities:

  • Humans (or their agents)
  • Circles (like Google Circles) of humans (entities without legal form)
  • Corporations, non-profits, governmental or educational institution (aka organizational constructs of humans with specific legal form)
  • We should also include less traditional forms of organizational constructs such as co-operatives, P2P communities, Commons,…
  • Programs (yes, software code), that perform tasks on behalf of the entities above or that operates as fully independent entities.

Each of these nodes/entities can participate in transactions – or better, “value dances”. “Dance” because the protocol is multiplexing, not one-way request-response.

Of course all these entities will require identity, in the broadest sense, not only URI or ID number, but in the sense of a spectrum, a graph that can be shared in context with other nodes/entities.

Sharing the spectrum becomes the essence of trade

What we are witnessing is a 180° turn in the power balance between client and server, slave and master, buyer and supplier, consumer and merchant.

All entities are equal.

We are all equal

Doc Searls (@dsearls) has written a book about it. The Intention Economy. (Amazon Associates Link)

But look at the subtitle: “When Customers Take Charge”.

I like Doc a lot, but his subtitle may suggest that somebody else is in charge: the empowered customer. I am afraid that we may end-up with another un-balance, where the pendulum has swung the other side: where the customer has an unfair data-advantage versus the merchant. But let their be no doubt that today the merchant has the unfair data-advantage, and I read Doc’s book more like a plea for getting the balance right rather than a socialist rant against establishment represented by the “big boys”, the vendors, the merchants, the silos like Facebook and Google.

In all the discussions about the Empowered Customers, we see classic commerce use cases like buying a book, buying flowers for grandma, etc

But I would like to make the jump to truly balanced financial transactions and what “dances between equals” would mean in that space. I invite you to think about your bank as the merchant, the merchant of financial services, and the consumer as the retail or wholesale customer of the bank.

In such scenario, the fundamental shift in thinking already happens at the Point of Sale (POS). We even have the question the term “Point of Sale”. It stems from an old thinking where the merchant “owns” the customer.

YOU are the point of sale

YOU are the point of data integration!

In the past the POS was the master,

now it will be YOU who is in charge,

or your agent,

the “Programmable Me”.

What if we start thinking about banking where YOU are the point of data-integration? What if your bank would offer you a service that enables you to manage your Personal Event Cloud?

I don’t know how it would look like, but it probably would be something triggered from your mobile phone. It probably would look like one of the Next-Gen banks (Simple, Movenbank, Fidor) with a Personal Event Network out-of-the-box.

Some of these Next-Gen banks are already accepting the CRED of your Social Graph as a much richer (in all senses of the word) basis for “Know you Customer”. Although we probably also have to inverse that: from the captive notion of “know your customer” to the user-centric meaning of “know your bank”. Then we may come back to the “primitive” of the meaning of “bank”: a bench where two people meet to build a relationship of value.

So, the discussion is NOT about the next coolest thing for doing a copy-cat of existing money-transactions through the latest greatest gadget like NFC or Bump, or whatever.

Some of all this already permeates in a recent Techcrunch article suggesting the “NFC is already out-moded”

“The thing to keep in mind here” says Crone, “is that NFC was developed more than 20 years ago. It was first deployed 10 years ago. 10 years ago, we didn’t have ubiquitous access to data plans. We didn’t have more smartphones in circulation than feature phones and we had to depend on an ‘offline’ connection for processing payments. But now, there are 124 million households that have more than one device connected to the internet. Typically, that’s a smartphone, but very quickly it’s becoming a tablet.”

Also Christopher Carfi (@ccarfi) starts thinking in this direction in his recent post “Musings in Small Data”.  In there, he refers to a video of Jerry Michalski (@jerrymichalski) of the REXpedition doing a demo his “Personal Brain”. (Disclosure: I am member of the REXpedition). The video is titled “Gardening My Brain” and the talk was given at Personal Digital Archiving on February 22, 2012 in San Francisco.

It’s a pity that this talk is in the context of a personal digital archiving conference. Because, in my opinion, we have dramatically evolved from archiving to sharing.

Sharing of information and digital assets is becoming the new normal in this world of Abundance of information.

Christopher Carfi nails it when he says:

As these issues become more widely understood, more individuals will be tracking their own information. Perhaps it won’t be to the level that Jerry has done it in the video above, but it will be happening. This means that we, while wearing our business hats, will need to be developing real relationships with our customers. We need to listen to what they are saying, what they are asking for, and working collaboratively with them in order to help them fulfill their needs. In the best cases, we’ll have built up levels of trust with our customers and will have been given the explicit permission to access our customers’ personal data stores. In doing so, we’ll be able to actually take the guesswork out of the equation that was noted so clearly above in the Facebook example and will, instead, be able to connect directly with our customers’ intentions and deliver value on their terms.

Creating an economy based on the principles of relations is of course at the heart of the REXpedition. It is probably the next territory for competitive advantage beyond the mundane money transaction.

All this is about creating “Relationship Channels”, channels the vendor can tune into of the user has opened the channel.

All the above are of course very much related to our Innotribe incubation project “Digital Asset Grid” (DAG), which is about the sharing of any digital asset with any party.

All of the above is also very relevant to Mark Pesce’s (@mpesce) thinking about “hypereconomics”, described in one of my previous posts “The future rarely arrives when planned”.

The real question is then: “Where will value be created when all the connections between nodes have become frictionless?” Mark has some ideas on this, and he describes them as “irreducibles

No matter how ‘smooth’ and frictionless hyperconnected commerce becomes, certain frictions in the business world will persist.  These represent both speed humps and opportunities.  The businesses of the 21st century will find leverage and differentiation by identifying and exploiting them.”

What those “irreducibles” are, you will be able to discover at our upcoming Innotribe event in Bangkok on 26-27 April 2012, where together with Mark Pesce we will have some great interactive learning experiences. Be there, or read the report that we will make on this post-conference.

If you really want to take a meta-view on all this, I believe all the examples above illustrate our species being in search for a deeper meaning, a thicker value in everything we experience:

  • We are in search for a higher level of consciousness, a further evolution in Spiral Dynamics, in search for a richer value system, much richer than the pure transaction world that is the narrow lens of today
  • We start looking at companies being nodes in the grid, in fair-trade constellations of equals, trying to maximize the commons and contribution and giving back to society
  • We want to go beyond the “advertising” thinking of “let’s hit the target with an ad”. We are in search for a better world with more Thick value and less Thin value
  • We are starting to see the emergence of “The universe as a Computer” as wonderfully described by Nova Spivack (@novaspivack) in one of his milestone posts last month.

All the above is about defining, articulating, and living lives of greater meaning. With the “M” of meaning. Umair Hague (@umairh) already in 2009 called this “Generation-M”, which in essence is anchored in “constructive capitalism”

Generation M is more about what you do and who you are than when you were born. So the question is this: do you still belong to the 20th century – or the 21st?

I would like to close with a reference to The Wellbeing Revolution (Amazon Associates Link) by James McWhinney (@JamesMcWhinney).

What I liked about this book is that it encourages you to look at where you are in your life, and to look at it through the “M” lens. The lens of meaning.

I then discover that what I am writing today, what job I am doing, who I am married to, was probably all meant to be this way. Not “meant” in a deterministic way. No, “meant” as everything I have done, the decisions I have made, my architecture studies, my infection by the identity virus, my journey in Leading By Being, etc… all these things have made me who I am.

What if I could capture all this richness about me, and have a tool and an infrastructure to share that on my terms and conditions, in context, and with the parties or nodes in the grid that I choose to? What if I could share my meaning in a programmable way?

I would end up with something called “the programmable me”

By @petervan from the SWIFT Innotribe team.

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We are all – or should be – familiar with Clayton Christensen’s work on The Innovator’s Dilemma, where he articulated the principles of disruptive innovation. It’s a great business book about innovation.

This is a book about “…how market-leading companies have missed game-changing transformations in industry after industry…not because of ‘bad’ management, but because they followed the dictates of ‘good’ management. They listened closely to their customers. They carefully studied market trends. They allocated capital to the innovations that promised the largest returns. And in the process, they missed disruptive innovations that opened up new customers and markets for lower-margin, blockbuster products.”

For innovation to happen in a company, the principles of Christensen’s books are definitely great advice. There are several other innovation business books that are recommended reading. Check out my GoodReads page.

But since a couple of months now, I believe there is something else we need to look into: something else that is the ticking heart of innovation, something about people, about humans, that makes the difference between thin and thick value creation.

I don’t believe anymore in big corporate change programs that are rolled-out top-down in a military drill. Whether those change programs are focused on efficiency (Lean, Six Sigma, …) or on creating new value (Innovation) does not matter for the argument here.

Real change happens from within the organization. Bottom-up. Virally.

What I want to talk about is the other innovator’s dilemma: the human dilemma, the Innovators Personal dilemma.

This personal dilemma post is about joy versus pain, passion versus suffocation, freedom versus slavery, excitement versus illusion. It is part of saying the unsaid. It is a cry for freedom, a cry for unleashing the energy of the hidden pearls in our organizations, a cry for supporting and encouraging those who really want to create positive viral change from within our organizations.

There is so much positive energy in our organizations that we could tap into, but that energy gets blocked by the corporate “machinery”, by best (or worst) practices, by power games, and in some cases by plain sick people or organizations.

With Corporate Rebels United, we gathered a really great cross-industry sample of innovators, instigators and protagonists that work in bigger and smaller organizations worldwide. We came across a number of real-life stories that give a glimpse of what sort of human dramas sometimes happen deep in the fabric of our corporate organizations, and that are a absolute barrier to innovation.

The great advantage of working as a group is that we now can see some patterns cross-industry. They are not specific to one or the other organization. They are universal.  And I want to put them on the table. I want to create awareness.

But most of all, I want to create a soundboard so that we increase our sensitivity and awareness for the symptoms, so that we can prevent human dramas and turn the pain into something positive, an unstoppable wave of change that will transform our corporations from deep within.

Innovation only happens when somebody steps out of the blueprint

And that means taking a risk. That means going for your own beliefs, against the flow, against the current practices of “this is how we do business here”

Ghandi: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win”

It takes guts to try to change the corporation. Many people try. They will laugh at you. Many get hurt as well. Sometimes minor scarves. Sometimes it results in deep wounds of self-esteem. I collected some stories to illustration the innovator’s dilemma.

There are some common themes in these stories:

–       I want to jump, but I have a family to feed

–       I am surrounded by sick people

–       The employee as a resource

–       The fear of being punished

–       I want to innovate but my manager does not let me

–       Leading by Being does not get recognized

–       Not good for your career

I want to jump, but I have a family to feed

Some of the reactions to my “The Myth of Innovation Incentives” post made me more aware of the “luxury pedestal” I am preaching from. By being part of an innovation team, I get by definition much more freedom than those who are deep in the trenches. In my personal life, I have reached some level of personal wellbeing and stability. But many of my friends out there are at the beginning of their career.

Here is one reaction I received from Jonathan to our invite to join corporate rebels. Jonathan works in the pharma industry:

I have to say that my current employee is a really, really conservative corporation. Quite frankly speaking, we are in dire need of a lot of corporate rebels – but I strongly believe that joining your “club” would get me into serious trouble – if my boss or our corporate communications department ever found out (and they would never, never ever supply me with any resources in that matter). And since I´m going to be a father for the first time this year, trouble with my employer is something I´d rather avoid if possible.

The personal dilemma: “Stand up for who I am, or give in to the power of the corporation”

My answer is one of empathy. I have been there as well. And I regret not having spoken earlier in my life. I do cannot force a person to jump off the springboard. I can only give a gentle nudge. Encourage you despite everything to go for the unknown. Opting for uncertainty and doing something scary (or not) is a deep innovators dilemma. Because you know: if you are not scared of what you’re doing, it’s probably not innovative enough. It’s not disruptive enough. It’s a deep human dilemma, going back to daring to be great. Daring to live and act from your belly. Liberated from the chains of captivity. Leading by being from your true self.

My answer is also that making the jump does not always have to include dramatic live changing decisions. You can start small. And getting addicted by small doses of adrenaline when you stand for who you are. And then a bit more, and a bit more. Makes me think of “Love is the drug” from Roxy Music.


I am surrounded by sick people

I got the following message from Françoise, a 33 year energetic woman, working in an energy utility company:

In our company we have a culture of public humiliation. Mocking publicly about people’s achievements during town hall meetings, that sort of things. For a person who has worked his fingers to the bones, despite all odds, being humiliated publicly was devastating. The way things work in our team is “man eat man”. They put you in an arena, let you fight it out and silently watch. Whoever wins is right. Blame is the name of the game. Everyone dreads that. If you fail, you will be publicly mocked. Whiteboard and town halls are the new place for mocking failures. I remember such treatment in school. For heavens sake, we are adults.  They took me off the project I loved. I was “promoted” to a new project. The new project was boring as hell. I could not motivate myself to do any of the work they assigned. Writing this mail is painful beyond my imagination. They were so manipulative beyond words. The crime they commit has no facts. The torture I have endured has no records.

It makes me think of a recent case in public service in Belgium. A woman working for the city hall in a small village was disturbing because she said the unsaid. She was “promoted” to a new function. Her new office was a dirty back room of a side building. She got a computer, but one without connection. She did not get a phone. She was not allowed to meet people. All this with the excuse that her new job required her to focus. She had the courage to go to court. She won.

The Personal Dilemma: coming up for your rights, or let your company by run by sick people

I have heard many stories like the above from many companies cross-industry. These stories illustrate plain criminal behavior by sick people. There are no excuses for this. That’s why companies have “persons of trust”. Let there be no mistake. Go and find your person of trust and open a case. Whenever you can, put on the table these sorts of practices, so they and the people responsible for them get eradicated from our organizations. To grow healthy plants, you must first sanitize and fertilize the land.

The employee as a resource

Doc Searls (@dsearls) describes the relationship between a vendor and a customer as a Client/Server one (at times trending to slavery) where the customer calf is drinking the cookie milk from the vendor cow.

What he describes in buyer/supplier relationships is equally applicable in employer/employee relationships. The proposed solutions for “getting the cattle human” is by proposing them tools to take control of their own abundant information.

Replace vendors by employers in the slide below:

Extract presentation Doc Searls at New Digital Economies 27 Mar 2012

Whether employees are seen as cattle or just resource also quickly becomes apparent in all sorts of employee surveys and result discussions involving “benchmarks”:

Here is Anthony from a Financial Institution, reporting on one of their latest employee surveys on corporate culture:

The results of the survey indicated that we were doing quite well compared to the rest of the industry. I could not match that outcome with the generalized quantified results that less than 40% of the employees felt engaged. What if “the industry in general” was crap and a standard for mediocrity? What if the expectations of the staff set the bar way higher than the benchmark? What if we benchmarked against the wrong standard? These old surveys do not take into account that the environment has fundamentally changed. Due to abundance of information, social media and P2P communication, the employees have a richer and more precise data set available. We laugh at those “official” benchmark cheering results

The fear for being punished

Something very similar pops up, when companies try to define KPI’s for innovation. Check out this great post from Drew Boyd (@drewboyd)

Measure innovation alternatives, not just the current program.  When assessing the impact of an initiative, always ask, “Compared to what?”  Don’t fall into the trap of measuring only what the company is doing today.  Rather, measure it against the next best alternative.  For example, if you are using a ideation methodology like S.I.T., be sure to measure the effectiveness of using S.I.T. versus another ideation method.  Understand why you are using one method over another by forecasting results from the alternative.  This re-frames the question from “does this method work?” to “does this method work better than this alternative?


Measure novelty, not impact.  Senior leaders want to know the “bottom line” impact of innovation.  When they see ideation results, they respond with, “Yes, but how many of these actually made it into the marketplace, and what revenues were generated?”  This is a trap because so much of the impact is dependent internal and external factors.  Holding employees accountable for impact will cause them to avoid the truly novel and game-changing ideas.  They fear being punished for pushing great ideas that fall outside their category.  To manage this dilemma, managers need to think more in terms of finding the “innovation sweet spot,” that place somewhere between disruptive and incremental.  The right balance between risk and reward is more likely to occur here.

I want to innovate but my manager does not let me

I silently helped without getting any credit. Then I saw your post about Corporate Rebels. I sat there and was thinking, here I am really doing a rebel activity and suffering and no one is paying attention. At that point everything started looking fake to me… Pain is deep and buried. It takes lot of time to vent it all out. My point is, don’t lose me. I am of lot of value to my company because I genuinely care about the company and its people. My friends do too. Some of us get fired for stepping out of the blueprint. Don’t let this happen again and again. Please use your power and contacts with powerful people to do something good and to fight against injustice.

Leading by Being does not get recognized

If Chris is rocking, it is because of the way I nudged him to do it. If Laura is jumping up and down with ideas, it is because she got inspired by what I was doing. I have inspired many souls at our company. Inspiration can only happen if someone is speaking from his or her soul. Inspiration is language of soul. I have earned respect from lot of people at in the company because of who I was. I have the attitude to make people take action. But I got fired. Because real change disturbs and challenges the status quo. My death was so silent. They did not even give me a chance to say good-bye. It is fishy and please don’t let this happen to anyone else.

Not good for your career

And also heard the following so many times: being innovative is hampering your career.

Kathleen just joined a telco company:

In our company we have a Young Grads Program. But when postulating for the innovations positions, we are kindly taken aside, and somebody whispers in my ear “being part of the innovation team is bad for your career as a manager”.

That’s a really bad story. It’s the story that lets you immediately recognize corporations where innovation is just window-dressing. Even the young people, full of healthy innovation energy don’t get a chance. What a disaster if you have joined such a company. Getting suffocated in your ambitions and drive from day one!

Any CEO with her innovation heart in the right place should mandate – yes mandate – that all newcomers and GEN-Y’s first get immersed in the innovation team. What people are allowed to do there is not the worst possible scenario; it is the best possible starting point for doing much-much more, to instigate real and viral and tidal change throughout the company.


All the above are REAL circumstances in REAL companies. Yes, innovation in these circumstances is hard. You have to go against the wind. And find the balance between a good/bad rebels. Sometimes you will be seen as subversive. And to be honest, some healthy dose of subversiveness is needed. Sometimes you need to act like McGyver. Sometimes you need to be Jack Bauer. One company told me they were acting like the “agency of subversions”

But I can’t expect everybody to be on that extreme end. I would already be so happy if with our Corporate Rebels United movement we can unleash the change-energy of every individual in our corporations.

That each of you have the courage to stand up, to come up for your ideas, to start small and make little changes, or to be very hungry and go for the big visible changes. One could refer to introvert and extrovert changes. Both are equally important to make true and viral change happen.

But we can’t have subversion or anarchy. This is not the way we as Corporate Rebels United want to go. We do not want to provoke for provocation sake. And we do not like to be like the Cacaphonists. Nor do we plan to start flash mob activities who share some ideas with Cacophony, as well as groups like Improv Everywhere and movements like Discordianism.

What we want is change

Viral change from within the fabric of our corporations

We want to change our corporations, not by complaining and blame-is-the-name-of-the-game, but by showing the right behavior, by encouraging each other, by uncovering the hidden pearls of our organizations. But for sure as well furiously fighting and making visible injustice, sick or plain criminal behavior.

We want to change, not by focusing on the things that make innovation hard and only looking for self-esteem, but by focusing both on our dreams and on other people in our lives.

We want to change by daring to be great.

In small and big things/actions.

It feels like somebody should start writing the first chapter of the human book for innovation. Maybe that somebody can use some testimonials of this post. Maybe Whitney Johnson (@johnsonwhitney) is the one? She is preparing a book titled “Dare, Dream, Do”.  It’s planned to come out in May 2012. Maybe she addresses the human aspects that are not covered in business books.

Daring to dare is the personal dilemma of corporate innovators

If you feel inspired, join Corporate Rebels United, by leaving an “I join” comment on that or this blog post.

Let’s rock!

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People call you an instigator, a protagonist, a renegade, a pirate, a mercenary, a rebel, or an empowered employee. We know you for what you really are: a change agent who sees speed, change and innovation as the new corporate norm. We know because we are you. We know the challenges – and the excitement – of driving change in an incumbent or start-up company. We know what it means to go for “The Innovator’s Risk”

We call ourselves “Corporate Rebels United”.

The concept of Corporate Rebels is not new. Many people have written about or have alluded to it:

John Hagel referred to the concept of the “Empowered Employee” in one of his recent Forbes posts.

The key answer that defines the post-digital enterprise is to shift attention from the cost side to the value side. Rather than treating employees as cost items that need to be managed wherever possible, why not view them as assets capable of delivering ever-increasing value to the marketplace? This is a profound shift in focus. For one thing, it moves us from a game of diminishing returns to an opportunity for increasing returns. There is little, if any, limit to the additional value that people can deliver if given the appropriate tools and skill development.


The post-digital divide will force them to choose sides – on the side of employee empowerment, or on the side of tactical cost cutting, job cutting, and diminishing returns. If not, the divide will choose for them.

But a Corporate Rebel has something extra. It is about daring to stick out your neck. It is about taking personal leadership.

Nilofer Merchant differentiated between a rebel and a leader

So perhaps we could use a more neutral word: protagonist. A protagonist is a principal champion of a cause or program or action. The protagonist does not wait for permission to lead, innovate, or strategize. They do what is right for the firm, without regard to status. Their goal is to do what’s good for the whole.

Lois Kelly (@loiskelly) from Foghound and Mike Maney (@the_spinmd) from Alcatel-Lucent also discussed recently whether the word “rebel” is not too negative. Mike made some very deep reflections why the hard dividing line between good and bad rebels does not always make sense.

Argument aside, we believe that – positioned well – the word “corporate rebel” exactly reflects who we are.

The aim of “Corporate Rebels United” is to create a global community of extraordinary corporate change agents. It is not an academic exercise or research effort. It’s something deeply actionable.

Our mission is to build the most amazing community of corporate rebels worldwide to ensure that true change and innovation happens virally

The initial idea for Corporate Rebels United emerged when innovation teams of Alcatel-Lucent and Swift met and worked closely in the context of Swift’s Innotribe program. We were excited by the exchange of ideas and energy that emerged when like-minded folks came together. And that got us thinking about some big “what if’s”:

  • What if we could create a tribe of the best and most exceptional corporate rebels worldwide – people like us, people like you?
  • What if we could start leveraging each other’s ideas, energy and best practices?
  • What if we could design a movement to support each other when the going gets tough?
  • What if we could cross-fertilize and infect our organizations with the change-virus from within?

We want to identify exceptional people worldwide that already have an impressive impact on change and innovation in their corporations, no matter in what field or industry. The movers and the shakers. The do-ers of today. The ones who take initiative. Who create deep change from within. People who energize their organizations by leading from their true selves. The crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently, and who are crazy enough to think they can change the world. People like you.

Our plan is to start small – 15 founding rebels cross-industry – because we want to ensure quality and resilience in the initial starters group. We’d like to get the spirit right from the start. We have scheduled a kickoff call on March 30, 2012 with 15 founding rebels. We will follow that call with an off-site meeting where we’ll jointly build a set of agreed upon principles and a longer-term action plan to open and expand Corporate Rebels United to a wider audience.

A lot of “getting the spirit right” was already included in one of my latest prezi’s on the “Soul of Innovation”. Without any publicity, this prezi already generated more than 3,000 hits in less than one month. We seem to have touched something that resonates. Some of it was withheld for my TEDxNewWallStreet talk last week in Mountain-View. Innovation is more than a set of tools and processes. Innovation is an attitude with tribal energy!

For viewing this prezi, turn audio “on”, as I experimented a lot with sound and visual landscapes.

Somewhere halfway in that prezi, you will discover the Rebels Manifesto in the Pirates Treasure Map

Rebels Manifesto


Challenging the status quo

Breaking the rules

Saying the unsaid

Spreading the innovation virus

Seeding Tribal energy

With No fear

With a cause to do good

Leading by Being from our True Selves

Going after the un-named quality


What exactly Corporate Rebels United will do is the essence of our discussion at our kick-off call and event. Initial ideas include:

  • We want to build an action-driven community.
  • We want to create an incredible energy bomb of corporate change.
  • We aim for a very high level of integrity and authenticity. We want this to be morally, intellectually, and artistically right
  • We want to re-enforce the energy of known rebels in a non-zero sum community.
  • We want to identify and unleash the energy from the hidden rebels and the hidden pearls in our organizations and give them a voice
  • We want to create exchange programs between our corporations
  • We want to have deep positive business impact on the corporations and organizations that host and pay our salaries.
  • We want to create a culture in our corporations where change is the norm.
  • We want to measure the progress and propulsionwe make/create:
    • Individually
    • The folks we influence
    • The corporate change heartbeat
  • We want to evolve our corporations into places of constant change, resilience, responsiveness, reflection and vibrant energy.
  • We want to create a place for play, fun, rock, and rich personal expression

At the start, Corporate Rebels United will be a closed community: we’re looking for atypical people who make us go WOW!

Because they act from their true self and without fear, and make amazing change happen within their organizations and the ecosystems they are part of.

People with a moral, architectural, almost artistic integrity. People with a BIG innovation heart in the right place.

We’re looking for people who inspire us as human beings. With open mind, open heart, and open will.

Like Seth Godin said in his last book (We are all Weird):

“they have to be a bit weird”.

We plan to go full-steam as from our Kick-Off call on 30 March 2012, right after the start of the 2012 spring. Our ambition is to be able to shine and radiate as a strong community with first results by end October – Mid November, not co-incidentally the busy conference season with Innotribe at Sibos, Techonomy, Defrag and Blur.

Like Bill Gates wanted to see a PC on every desktop, and Eric Schmidt wants to see an (Android) mobile in every pocket, we want to see a corporate rebel in every company. That’s a lot of corporate rebels 😉

Of course, I am not Bill Gates, nor Eric Schmidt. But there is still enough room for a normal human being like me to create significant impact. And although I am 55 years old now,  I still want to change the world. And yes – at 55 – I still would like to instigate a Corporate Spring. There is no age for Corporate Rebels.

We jump and want to feel the daily adrenaline of being and coaching Corporate Rebels every day of our life.

As we get started up, get some inspiration on our curated site for Corporate Rebels United on Scoop-it.

If you are interested to join Corporate Rebels United, leave a note and some argumentation on why you’d like to join in the comments section of this blog post. And/or let us know what you can bring to the table to make this a big success.

As the Corporate Rebels United get up-to-speed, they will start blogging on http://corporaterebelsunited.wordpress.com and we will soon open our website at http://www.corporaterebelsunited.com

Let’s 21 March 2012 be the start of our Corporate Spring! Because we believe it matters to infect our organizations with “change-as-the-norm” from the bottom-up!

@petervan of the Innotribe team

Laura Merling (@magicmerl) and Mike Maney (@the_spinmd) from the Alcatel-Lucent team

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