30 August 2004

The Democratization of Corporate Kingdoms

Lately, I have immersed myself in all the research and collateral conversations going into re-editing my book – The Evolutionary Brand Called M.E. (My Emergence) – and writing a proposal for new series of courses on Evolutionary Leadership, Wisdom and Dynamic Networks for the University of Amsterdam Graduate School of Business Studies. This means I have had to read lots of recent new books, articles and papers – and have lots of interesting dialogues with a diverse group of knowledgeable people. What I have learned has inspired me and provoked some new perspectives.

Several emerging trends have floated to the surface repeatedly with substantiating evidence that they are already integrating and shifting the paradigm for how we do business. Look at how the reduced cost for communication and all the available tools, interfaces, and platforms have drastically changed our communication practices. And those new communication practices are evolving the hierarchical power structures of the corporate organization into more democratic and collaborative networks.

These new assets in human communication and interaction are democratizing the kingdoms of corporations and publishing, and creating whole new industries and sectors that are completely networked. Individuals – we – are gaining more voice and finding channels and shared platforms for our collective voice. Business is becoming more people-centric and less process-centric.

Co-creation is no longer the domain of artists and writers, it is the collaborative space created by giving old ways new context. Individuals are feeling empowered by their connectivity to others as well as by having access to information and ways that were previously inaccessible to them. They are reaching for what they previously thought was unattainable – doing what they love with personal choices now for who, what, where and why.

We see more and more one-person business hubs pulling together dream-teams to handle projects. Employees feel more secure now in leaving the big corporations after a few years because they can continue to serve their prior employer in a much more personalized way and with greater freedom. Within companies, older employees are feeling the freedom created by all the new ways to communicate and share ideas. Collaboration and social networking are the new buzzwords in the hallways. Younger employees don’t know any other way of being except technology-enabled, connected, and accessible with 24/7 integrated communications.

Are we finally headed into an age of innovation and creativity?

I highly recommend reading Tom Malone’s new book “The Future of Work” and Dan Gilmore’s “We the Media”. If you have time, add Richard Florida’s “The Rise of the Creative Class” and James Surowiecki’s “The Wisdom of Crowds”.

28 August 2004

Can we capture the human effect on brands?

What is the human effect?
Is it the impact of our behavior on the world around us?
Is it the impact on our lives of what we believe and therefore continually act out?

What if organizations explored their brand purpose from this perspective? This would mean exploring the impact of not only the human effect of each employee, but exploring the impact of every customer, client, user, distributor, and any person who came into contact with the brand in some way.

I think that we would then pay much more attention to our touching points in the brand organization. This would make the brand very physically aware of its connections. We could begin to sense and register the touching points, aware of what transacted and ready to capture the value of that exchange. I am not talking about the exchange of currency, but the readiness to identify whatever the real value of exchange was.

If we began to try and capture the human effect on brands, could we harness its true cost and true value to create a new accounting methodology within our way system of valuation?

My thinking is following this path because of a conversation that I had last week with Arjan ter Linden from the group called The Human Effect. They work with companies on building innovation into the system by clearing the way for individual’s to find their purpose driven path and discovering what that could mean for them in terms of innovative potential and contribution to their companies. They called these workshops “Being Extraordinary”.

The essence behind The Human Effect fascinated me because of the work I’ve been doing on profiling methodologies for one of the business models I developed called The Evolutionary Brand Called M.E. – My Emergence. Maybe we can take this one step further and develop a tracking system to capture the cost and value of the human effect and not just account for financial profits and losses. That would be a brand enterprise dynamic.

We use money as our currency of exchange in worldwide accounting because we can count it. When, in fact, humans play a greater role in business and economic frameworks than money. What if we could develop a way to track the human effect on our businesses, networks, governments, and organizations of all kinds?

What is the cost of the human effect? What is the value of the human effect? If there a way to define it and track it? Can we build software systems to capture the cost and value of the human effect?

The human effect is powerful and holds a wealth and abundance that money cannot touch. The human effect is also costly and can break the bank.

If you have any further input, ideas or suggestions on how to further this thinking and land it into something more concrete, please share your thinking with me.

24 August 2004

A Dutch Guy at Google

Douwe Osinga is currently working at Google in Silcone Valley in America. He has a website with a very interesting projects page. Though he won't open source these projects, he is open to sharing source with those who will help him improve these projects by playing with them.

I found the maps measuring psychological distances of countries interesting. Wonder if he can do this with company organizational networks - or map the people politics in organizations?

Check out Douwe's maps:

Mapped Web

Physical distances are not the same as psychological distances. Physical distances are easy enough to measure, but how do we go about measuring psychological distances? The Mapped Web does this by taking the chance that given a page contains the name of one country it will also contain the name of another country as a measure for psychological distance. The resulting images show us how close countries are to each other in psychological terms.

This procedure can be extended to create maps for specific areas by including extra search terms. Look at all the pages on the Internet with the word War on them, which countries correlate? Probably countries that have something to do with each other in wars. The images below picture some of the relations between countries in this way.

A 200x200 matrix with the relative frequencies of country name combinations represents actually a 200 dimensional space with the countries as dots in between them. The trick is to reduce this amount of dimensions to two so we can actually plot something. This is usually done by a technique called Principal Component Analysis, where two new axis are constructed that represent the lot in the best possible way. The program here uses a different technology, the sammon algorithm. Here we just start with a random initial configuration. Over a number of iterations, we move the countries in the directions where they want to go, i.e. they are attracted to countries which they are closer to according to the matrix than according to the configuration and are repulsed by countries are too close to.

The results are the maps below. You can download two scripts, generateMatrix, which takes one parameter, the keyword, and generates a text file with the distances matrix for that keyword and stressOptimize, which generates the map. The latter uses the brilliant VPython visualization. The nice thing is that it is animated during the iteration, so you see what goes on. This project was largely done together with Ernst Wit, a fellow Savage Minder, who also came up with the initial idea.

The World Map according to the Web

The World Map according to the Web

The upper part of the map is dominated by the Anglosaxion countries; To the right Europe sits, with Germany and France in ever closer union. The lower part of the map is Asia, with Japan the most central because westernized nation.

Economics relations in the world

Economics relations in the world

In the middle, the powerhouses of the world, the US, Japan and Germany, with China and its two satelites Hong-Kong and Taiwan waiting in the wings. What about the cluster India, Russia and Israel? I don't really know, but they do correlate. May because they are relatively poor countries that do well on technology?

Wars of the world according to the web

Wars of the world according to the web

The war map is spread out and tense; so many wars, so little space on this bitmap. The second world war axis are visible in the right corner, as are the axis of evil in the lower right corner. Russia, China and Japan form an uneasy triangle of historic conflict. The US is in the middle of everything.

Immigration streams

Immigration streams

Ireland and Germandy are in the middle, as large contributors to American immigration, but destinations themselves nowdays. The big immigration countries keep their distances from the others and warp the map a bit; immigration isn't that much an issue there as it is for the exporters of people in Asia, who are much closer to each other.

You can reach Douwe by email: dmo@oberon.nl

23 August 2004

ChangeThis launches with Art of the Start

ChangeThis launched last week as one of the hottest new sites on the internet. It proposes a new form of media using existing tools to challenge the way ideas are created and spread. Seth Godin thought up the original idea and then wrote the first draft of the business plan for ChangeThis. He inspired five people - Amit Gupta, Catherine Hickey, Noah Weiss, Phoebe Espiritu and Michelle Sriwongtong - to build ChangeThis during the summer of 2004 .

They believe in Manifesto-thinking, and launched with the new manifesto from Gary Kawasaki - The Art of the Start.

Gary Kawasaki opens up our minds and pours in some valuable insights that we can apply to starting up businesses in his new book The Art of the Start. Download his
The Art of the Start manifesto from the newly launched ChangeThis site. I enjoyed his FAQ's (Frequently Avoided Questions) in particular.

They had another manifesto that caught my attention. The Customer Evangelist Manifesto discusses building the kind of relationship with your customers where they go out into the world and praise your brand for all the right reasons. This is one manifesto that should be shared with everyone working for those large companies with call centers.

Take the time to read through the rest of manifestos and some of the proposals. Consider sending them one of your own.

18 August 2004

Overview of the Weblog Tools Market

In her elise.com: On the Job blog from August 6, 2004, Elise Bauer compiled a comprehensive overview of the weblog tools market. She has managed to inventory the tools with links, identify the market share and use index, and shine the light on this emerging business sector. If you want to quickly get up to speed with weblogging, Elise's blog from August 6th is a perfect resource.

For example, here are some of the links to weblog tools mentioned in her article:

Hosted Blog Services

Hosted Blog Communities
Live Journal
AOL Journals
AlwaysOn Network

Blog Software
Movable Type
Expression Engine
Radio Userland
Open source and free:
Roller Weblogger

Blog Indices and Search Resources

Websites Focused on Blog Market Sizing

If you read through the posted comments, people have also built on what Elise has listed.
Definitely worth a read.

17 August 2004

The Science of Getting Rich

The Science of Getting Rich

From Wikibooks, the free textbook project.

This book was written in 1910 by Wallace D. Wattles, one year before his death. According to United States copyright law, it is now in the public domain.

The Science of Getting Rich provides an unusual method for gaining wealth: It preaches against competitive economic practices, instead concerning itself with the betterment of the world.



Chapter 1: The Right To Be Rich

Chapter 2: There is A Science of Getting Rich

Chapter 3: Is Opportunity Monopolized?

Chapter 4: The First Principle in The Science of Getting Rich

Chapter 5: Increasing Life

Chapter 6: How Riches Come to You

Chapter 7: Gratitude

Chapter 8: Thinking in the Certain Way

Chapter 9: How to Use the Will

Chapter 10: Further Use of the Will

Chapter 11: Acting in the Certain Way

Chapter 12: Efficient Action

Chapter 13: Getting into the Right Business

Chapter 14: The Impression of Increase

Chapter 15: The Advancing Man

Chapter 16: Some Cautions, and Concluding Observations

Chapter 17: Summary of the Science of Getting Rich

A Model for Intentional Communities

Once again Dave Pollard has outdone himself on capturing our hearts and minds in his recent How to Save the World blog. When you really think about creating model communities and what could inspire our children to engage, contribute and build these communities, he has established some fence posts to mark the area so all can see.

August 16, 2004

MIC ProcessMy article last month proposing Model Intentional Communities (MICs) as a means of showing young people a better, more natural way to live provoked a strong and positive response. Many readers commented on how important it is to teach by showing (or better yet, by letting young people experiment themselves with some intelligent, structured but light-handed facilitation) rather than by telling. So I'm encouraged to go on to the next step to try to assess how we can (and should) create some MICs.

First, some definitions: An Intentional Community (IC) is an autonomous, self-managed, democratic association of people with shared social, cultural and economic intentions and aspirations. A Model Intentional Community is an Intentional Community that is:
  • exemplary -- it works well, and represents the best of what ICs with similar focus and talents have to offer
  • egalitarian -- it is non-hierarchical, has no dominant leader, and is free of the coercive characteristics that can cause healthy communities to decline into cults
  • replicable -- other successful ICs could be created by following its example
  • educational -- by spending time in it, you can learn a great deal, including how and why it is successful
  • responsible and respectful -- there is no reason why ICs can't be selfish or arrogant, but I think we'd want the models we show our young people to be communities where members took responsible for, and were respectful of, the welfare of other members and their neighbourhoods
  • sustainable -- it's not dependent on the largesse of outsiders, or on subsidies or low commodity prices
  • diverse -- substantially different in focus, style, and/or structure from the other MICs
There is no cookie-cutter mechanism for creating ICs, but in reviewing the various websites of successful ICs and the umbrella organizations like the FIC, the FEC, and the CCS and CCA here in Canada (cooperatives are somewhat different from ICs, but they share some important principles of formation), you can identify at least a skeleton formation process, which I've diagrammed above. I wouldn't presume to say exactly how to accomplish each of these steps (ask me again when I've set one or two up), but the steps are:
  1. Find Members: Select the people who you would love to have in your community, and live and/or work with. Just as in any other activity that involves social networking, this is by far the hardest step. We desperately need better social networking tools and processes.
  2. Set Intentions & Principles: Collectively, the members decide what the objectives of the community will be, and what principles it will live by. These may include principles that define its responsibilities and values, how new members are admitted, a size limit for the community, how resources will be owned and 'profits' distributed, the decision-making process, required contribution and participation from members, and many others. Like the membership itself, these principles may be fluid, at least until the community has been operating for awhile.
  3. Design the Community: Now collaboratively the members design what the community will look like and how it will operate.
  4. Obtain Needed Resources: Acquire what the community needs to achieve its intentions
  5. Create the Community: Together, make it happen.
  6. Connect & Outreach: Connect with other communities, with the outside, and with schools and other organizations and people looking for models of a better way to live. This is the step that too many communities, fearing contamination or destruction by contact with the rest of the terrible world, so often omit. We all need each other. Isolation deprives the communities of some of the benefits of technology, innovation and civilization, and deprives the rest of the world of much-needed learning about living alternatives.
If you have set up, or belong to, an IC, please share with us what you've learned about the process. I've made arrangements to visit a local IC just north of where I live later this month, and I'll report what I learn after they show me around. The more I find out about ICs, the more attracted I am to the concept. And what's interesting is that they seem to have figured out the principles of Natural Enterprise as well, by trial and error, so I'm going to feature some of their stories in my upcoming book.

So suppose a bunch of us built a set of MICs with varied intents and specialties. We might categorize them in some way to reflect their diversity and their principal focus, for example:
  1. Inventors -- ICs focused on innovation and development, perhaps applying lessons from nature to invent products and processes that do more with less
  2. Fabricators -- ICs focused on 'ingeneering' and manufacturing durable, customized, recyclable products
  3. Carriers -- ICs focused on distribution of products of other ICs to customers, just in time, and including recycling and returning all materials used, cleanly, back to the Earth
  4. Menders -- ICs focused on preventative maintenance and repair of people (health and spiritual wellness) and the things they use
  5. Scientists -- ICs focused on scientific discovery, and development of technology and biotechnology drawing on those discoveries, that will allow us to live well with smaller ecological footprints
  6. Artists -- ICs focused on arts & entertainment, whose members portray for other MICs the world as it is, was, and could be
  7. Players -- ICs focused on sports & recreation, exemplifying and teaching the value of physical prowess, collaboration and play
  8. Designers -- ICs focused on cooking, fashion and other design, making intelligent and creative use of natural ingredients
  9. Teachers -- ICs focused on philosophy, education and the social sciences, and the dissemination of knowledge
  10. Nomads � ICs focused on travel and continuous learning
These would not be exclusive specialties, of course. Each community would need some expertise in the other areas, and all communities would be self-sufficient in growing their own food and producing their own clean, renewable energy. And people in each community would doubtless have hobbies outside their MIC's focus. But having models that fell into each of these diverse types would provide the perfect basis for showing young people the diversity of opportunity, work focus and intellectual and emotional pursuit that is open to them. Instead of four years sitting in classes in high school, for example, students from 14 to 17 years of age could rotate through a couple of MICs of each of the above focuses, for, say, a month at a time, observing and trying things out and contributing as much as possible, at the end of which they would have acquired the kind of exposure, learning and experience that no classroom could ever match. My bet would be that many, perhaps even most, graduates of such a system would want to join one of the MICs they had lived in, or would want to set up their own, with other members of their graduating class and people they had met along the way.

Who knows, we might even start a movement, launch a new, sustainable economy, and create a new culture. Education, done correctly, can be that powerful. But first we need to create these MICs, these new dynamic 'educational institutions'. And that isn't going to be easy.

16 August 2004

Paradigm Shifting

I am a regular reader of Flemming Funch's blog. It contains gems like this.

Ming the Mechanic

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
Paradigm Shifts2004-07-28 21:40
by Flemming Funch

Yahoo Dictionary:
Paradigm: A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.
An important word to know. The Paradigm Web:
The word "paradigm" was originally one of those obscure academic terms that has undergone many changes of meaning over the centuries. The classical Greeks used it to refer to an original archetype or ideal. Later it came to refer to a grammatical term. In the early 1960s Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) wrote a ground breaking book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which he showed that science does not progress in an orderly fashion from lesser to greater truth, but rather remains fixated on a particular dogma or explanation - a paradigm - which is only overthrown with great difficulty and a new paradigm established. Thus the Copernican system (the sun at the center of the universe) overthrew the Ptolemaic (the earth at the center) one, and Newtonian physics was replaced by Relativity and Quantum Physics. Science thus consists of periods of conservatism ("Normal" Science) punctuated by periods of "Revolutionary" Science.
Even more important is finding out how to get these things changed, preferably faster than waiting around for the people with the old views to die. From the same source:
Paradigm Shift: When anomalies or inconsistencies arise within a given paradigm and present problems that we are unable to solve within a given paradigm, our view of reality must change, as must the way we perceive, think, and value the world. We must take on new assumptions and expectations that will transform our theories, traditions, rules, and standards of practice. We must create a new paradigm in which we are able to solve the insolvable problems of the old paradigm.
More good info at Wikipedia. Anyway, so, get that. A paradigm is on its way out when it no longer solves the problems it is meant to solve. Or, rather, it should be on its way out, and a better paradigm should replace it, which better solves the present problems. For various reasons, that might not happen readily. There are people with a vested interest in the old paradigm, who have based their careers on it. And we all have habits that might be difficult to change, including habits of thinking. And we might not really know what the new, better paradigm should be. Even if we bump into it.

Paradigms usually don't start working well right away. And they don't suddenly just stop working either. One way of looking at the life cycle of a paradigm is with a diagram like this. There's a starting period, A, when the paradigm is still being developed, and one hasn't quite figured out the best way of using it yet, so it isn't all that impressive how well it solves problems. Then there's a phase B, where it all has been streamlined, and the paradigm accepted, and it solves lots of problems. Finally, phase C, it slows down, or might eventually drop. Maybe the problems get harder, or they change fundamentally. That's probably when somebody might start looking for better paradigms. Would be better if they did it in phase B, so that there would be time to develop the new approach. But most people wouldn't be looking at that time.

Joel Barker explained all of that really well, in a (very expensive) video and a (cheap) book. Several books, actually.

It is worthwhile to learn to see paradigms. So one can realize which ones one is stuck in, and so one can recognize the alternatives when one sees them. Both are hard. The well-worn paths of the human mind makes it difficult to see where else one could go.

Imagine that changed. That we evolved a bit and we always had a consciousness of what paradigms we were living in, and the myriad of other possibilities. Meta-humans.

The Heart-warming Generosity of Friends

Nothing can match the heartwarming generosity of friends. Through unfortunate circumstances, I lost the right to keep my apartment in the center of Amsterdam and was forced to move immediately. What I learned through this experience was that the heart of friendship had more to do with the concept of home than that little apartment. Two of my dearest girlfriends opened their doors to their flats and studio. We are a group of creative, busy women who often do not find time for one another on a regular basis because of our commitments to our work and some pretty crazy travel schedules. What I have always really enjoyed about my friends is that we respect this distance and appreciate the time we do share with one another rather than complaining about the time we don't have to share.

After a couple of weeks of trying to sort out the emotional impact of packing and putting my life back into storage again, I had to figure out how to work and live out of suitcases. I was feeling seriously depressed � feeling rather lost and not sure where to turn. I was exhausted from moving and trying to find an affordable, new place to live as well as a new place to work. Amsterdam is very expensive and the choices are limited. If you don't own a place, you have two choices � the housing LIST, which has a very long waiting list, or the private sector, which is ridiculously expensive. I have a rather good chance at getting another place, but it will take time. As a foreigner without family here, where am I to live in the meantime?

A real understanding of the meaning and significance of homelessness began to scare me. I realized that this is how people without large cash reserves become homeless. How could something like this happen to me? A sense of panic set in and threw me off balance. Most of my life I have owned my own home and had a business. I realized then and there that homelessness has nothing to do with capabilities, it has to do with having enough quick cash reserves and open access to profitable social networks.

Two of my dear girlfriends came up with a solution for me. Since they both travel a lot, one gave me the keys to her studio and flat, and the other gave me the keys to her newly purchased first home. Considering the inconvenience and lack of privacy this creates for both of them, I couldn't believe their generosity. So here I am tripping back and forth between these places as they travel, able to continue my work and also luxuriate in the living and working space of two dear friends.

Where would we be without the generosity of friendship? Friends show up bearing the most wonderful and unexpected gifts.

Anyway, thank you, Sarah - and thank you, Renee. I now understand the true value of social capital.

8 August 2004

The 9th Amsterdam Gay Parade

Yesterday was the 9th Gay Parade along the canals here in Amsterdam. It was a glorious day because the sun was shining and everyone was celebrating and enjoying themselves. I never noticed any trouble nor any homophobic behavior, which you might expect with thousands of people in attendance. The canals were full of floats and costumes and performances throughout the afternoon. The parties and dancing went on through the night. If you ever get a chance to visit Amsterdam during this festival, you might be surprised that it is not only for gays, but for all people who also support gay freedom of choice.

Someone has posted some
colorful photos
of the event. Check them out.

7 August 2004

The Ingenuity Gap

Every once in awhile I come across a book that is so poignant and relevant to the conversations going on amongst us. The Ingenuity Gap is one of these books.

"Can we solve the problems of the future? Thomas Homer-Dixon tackles this question in a groundbreaking study of a world becoming too complex and too fast-paced to manage.

The challenges we face converge, intertwine, and often remain largely beyond our understanding. Most of us suspect that the "experts" don't really know what's going on and that as a species we've released forces that are neither managed nor manageable. This is the ingenuity gap, the critical gap between our need for ideas to solve complex problems and our actual supply of those ideas.

Poor countries are particularly vulnerable to ingenuity gaps, but our own rich countries are no longer immune, and we're all caught dangerously between a soaring requirement for ingenuity and an increasingly uncertain supply. As the gap widens, the result can be political disintegration and violent upheaval.

With riveting anecdotes and lucid argument, Thomas Homer-Dixon uses his ingenuity theory to suggest how we might approach these problems -- in our own lives, our thinking, our businesses, and our societies.

To receive regular updates and articles by Thomas Homer-Dixon about issues raised in The Ingenuity Gap, send your email address to info@ingenuitygap.com

Book Contents:


One: How Are We Changing Our Relationship to the World?
* Careening Into the Future
* Our New World
* The Big I

Two: Do We Need More Ingenuity to Solve the Problems of the Future?
* Complexities
* An Angry Beast
* Glimpsing the Abyss
* Unknown Unknowns

Three: Can We Supply the Ingenuity We Need?
* Brains and Ingenuity
* Ingenuity and Wealth
* Techno-Hubris
* White-Hot Landscapes

Four: What Does the Ingenuity Gap Mean for Our Future?
* Vegas
* Patna

Thomas Homer-Dixon, or "Tad" as he is known to his friends and colleagues, is Director of the Center for the Study of Peace and Conflict at the University of Toronto, and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto."

You can find the lowest prices for books online with Bookchecker

1 August 2004

A Soul Song: No Escape

She comes alive so late in the night
reaching into the great beyond
setting body free for spiritual delight

Will he tred space in time to go there
releasing all that came before
willingly anxious open even to dare

Messages interwoven
in visional clarity
exploding sensations
in touching reality

He takes her hand in deep connection
mastering time in a side glance
comforting spirit in a safe protection

How can she look out further at whim
escaping now the soul that came
knowing instinctive that she belongs to him

Messages interwoven
in visional clarity
exploding sensations
in touching reality

They meet only for moments in time
falling in step whispers apart
closing tight the gaps with ether words sublime

Can they wait and hold longer to bind
swelling passions deeply alive
erupting from souls so meant to be entwined

Messages interwoven
in visional clarity
exploding sensations
in touching reality

Stripped of facade their dance will begin
engaging time in life's fury
shattering all fear of lost inhibition

Where will one start, the other one end
surrendering everything
capturing their magic alchemical blend

Messages interwoven
in visional clarity
exploding sensations
in touching reality