Original Thought · Sharing Economy · Teamwork · Uncertainty

Futility

Scale is a terrible metric for excellence. In all the cases I have considered, scalability is a detriment to excellence. Scale reduces the offering to the lowest denominator and celebrates repeatability. Scalability creates mediocrity. When we strive to be everything to everyone or to solve a condition with a grand one-size-fits-all application, we reduce the possibilities to a very narrow band of acceptable options.

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When the Canadian Federal Government attempts to solve senior’s social isolation at a population level, they throw resources, time, and energy at a national program that eventually offers so little inclusion as to be useless. Social inclusion is a local issue, a community problem that requires a neighbour to neighbour solution. I know the boogeyman known as equality will raise his head and shout; “that’s not fair, some will be taken care of very well and some will be neglected. Some will be invited to share Thanksgiving and some will be at home alone.” He is likely tight but isn’t solving a problem for one individual better than solving for none?

The public and charitable sector have created myths and swallowed lies that enshrine mediocre scale over impactful equity. Both sectors have needed to give birth to an enormous bureaucracy that is at once, expensive, ineffective and inefficient. Scale in the public sector relies on grandiose solutions to small problems rather than addressing social change that is necessary to find our way out of the self-perpetuating mess. If they find a way to house one individual who has been street entrenched for years and help her find gainful employment so she can sustain herself or nearly sustain herself, isn’t that a success? Why do we need to create a universal (unexceptional) global program if a local initiative would provide a community-directed (and different from a neighbouring community) service?

The for-profit sector isn’t immune to mediocrity caused by scale. The reason may be more selfish and nefarious; shareholder value and profit, but in the end we never see the best product or service because it needs to be deliverable in Afghanistan and Alabama simultaneously. The made-in movement of artisans, guilds, growers, and artists bring a refreshing, unique product and service to friends, family, associates, acquaintances, and a small loyal following. Each item is different from the next, often designed in response to a specific request or an individual need or preference. Utility, individuality, and beauty are allowed and encouraged.

I can almost hear the hew and cry as I type these words. ” Yes, but what about …” followed loudly by ” cost”, or ” economy”, or “markets”. For many years I believed the myth of a free market and that if it was good for business it was great for the community. I think that at one time, when we had a local tailor, a local grocer, a milkman, one accountant on the block this was, in fact, a true imagined reality. But as we have devolved into corporate megastores serving pablum to droids, the good that was once bestowed in the community is now delivered through corrupt public markets. Even the stock exchanges that were once a place for considered investment are now just vehicles pushing a dying theory to its eventual and inevitable collapse. People are not served by a corporate culture. We become servants to the machine that churns obsolescence and expects obedience to the powerful purchase promises. ” Buy the next crappy thing because it won’t last long (neither inventory nor functionality).

How can I escape the rolling thunder of messaging? The invasive tracks that are everywhere coaxing me to be better, but only if I buy a new dress, a new phone, a new drug, a new temporary icon are fleeting because there is a new and better crappy thing lurking around the corner with its own marketing plan. The cycle seems unnatural to my heart and my head thinks that the perpetual Ponzi of feeding the beast can’t last.

Can I get off the train at Neighbourhood Station and still live in the world? Can I think local, act local, shop local, give local and still contribute to the global pot? I am hoping that I am up to the challenge. For me, the change that I desire (need?) will be a battle with an entrenched 20th C belief structure that until recently I believed had served me well. A redefinition of well, good, great are needed and my understanding of them will be mine. I am going to attempt a life scaled at the smallest functional level. If I am ready and capable of making a decision, then I should be the one to make it. If the family level is where it would be better made because of the impact the choice would have then the family should decide. The same is true for neighbourhoods, communities, cities. I am no longer convinced that we can make important local choices once we expand the range to provinces or states. It already feels like my health has improved and my stress has been reduced when I focus on those things that I can take immediate, relevant and concrete action on. For me, I need to be able to touch them, see them, walk to them for me to understand the issue or offer and have any hope of adding value.

What do you think?

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Sharing Economy · Teamwork · Uncertainty

Fear versus Hope

I am afraid that the fear mongers are winning and yes I see the irony. After writing for weeks about hope and her great liberating, creative, and generous power I find myself slipping over to the dark side more often than I like. Even though I understand that choosing hope has a positive and infectious impact on my life and those around me, I feel like I have been inundated by media, social media, and conversations with a message of distrust, hatred, and terror. So much of what I hear and read has a bias towards suspicion, division, and polarization. Is our world tumbling out of control? Will the schism we are creating bring dire and fatal consequences for our species?

I am taking off the grey coloured glasses of despair and seeing the world in the brighter glow of hope. What I take in through my eyes and ears will be curated towards the best of our city, province, country. I am not going to naively ignore news but I will intentionally seek generative, positive stories. Afterall, the best and the worst are nothing more than fictions that we tell ourselves and if collectively more of us lean into narratives about responsible government and personal responsibility, climate care, equity, joyful relationships, then more coverage of those will be offered and more will be generated.
My position isn’t Pollyanna pie in the sky. It is a deliberate and intentional choice. I can be positive and passionate and opinionated and respectful with being inane, insane, or weak. Hope can raise the water for my little boat and can carry a flotilla of like minded travellers. Therein lies the rub. I am looking for people who are willing and courageous enough to say no to fear and yes to hope.

We can build a new movement; one that is democratic without being political. One that is passionate without being partisan. One that is confident without the vitriol of certainty. Are you interested in joining others to create something hopeful, even if it just adds joy and inspiration to those on the boats? What if the Armada’s positivity infects a few dozen, a few hundred, a few thousand new sailors? Are you seeking hope? Do you know others around you who are ready to stake their position and take a stand? If we created an online presence like a Facebook page (or other suggestions)
would you join and contribute? Hope won’t win if we just lurk around her edges. We need to wrap our arms around her and then tell others our stories of hope.

Today I had three conversations with younger people from early 20’s to early 30’s who seem immune to the rubbish that is being spewed through conventional and new mediums. Their outlook on today, tomorrow and the future were refreshingly expectant. They weren’t so much concerned with the trappings of the world but more interested in what they are and will experience and the value that they can add to their friends, family and community.

They believe they are and can make a difference in the world and they are. It is that simple and that complicated but it began with a choice to view the world in a light shining brightly.

Make Today Hopeful,

Bonce-you-choose-hope-anything-is-possible

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Sharing Economy

Is My Conclusion Unreasonable?

I have been working as a consultant, coaching and investing in startups time in startups for the past few years after a career in the charitable sector. I have used databases, spreadsheets, algorithms and intuition to help people make better decisions. Better is a relative term laden with personal bias and appreciation. In a conversation a month ago, a colleague planted a seed that has been trying to grow through the pavement of my mindset and certainty. She said ” after 15 years, I have concluded that donors don’t want data to assist them in their philanthropic decisions” I countered with ” doesn’t the data allow the mind to listen to the heart?” She strongly responded “no”.

data

I got thinking about how social marketers, sales associates, businesses and corporations, government administrations use all the information they collect. What I discovered is disappointing. Most (all) don’t disseminate their findings so I can make a more informed decision. Rather they use the collected points to manipulated an already confirmed trend. Usually the trend is towards additional commitments, acquiescence,   or consumption. This seems worse that libertarian paternalism because generally those choice architecture suggestions are intended to help me make a decision that is better for me. The way I have observed governments, politicians and businesses use their proprietary collection is to help them ‘sell’ us something that is good for government, politicians and businesses.

I have willingly shared many of my habits (loyalty programs, surveys and focus groups) and realise that moving through space with any of my devises turned on leaves a discernible footprint which changes the way I am approached. The goal isn’t to make my life better.

With that said, what  do we do? Some are disconnecting, rejecting and hiding. I read a piece in NYT that suggests that we should all disconnect from social media or risk destroying our careers. I am mulling what would work for my current situation and what would serve me better in the future.

Make Today Remarkable, for you, by considering who is collecting and who is pushing,

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Sharing Economy

Acts of Kindness

I don’t have any particular problem with the motivation or mission of Kindness &Co. and think they have landed on an idea with the Kindness Movement. I like the Kindness & Co + Pick The Brain, Kindness Kit and can see myself using it. Where we have a tiny difference is around Random Acts. I believe that anything thta is left to random or organic is best to be left all together.

I prefer Intentional Acts of Kindness. I set out each day prepared to be kind. Not just in situations where I happen to notice someone or something and take a momentary leap and provide some generousity. For me if I am on the lookout for kindness, I see it in others and am aware of it in circumstances. I more often pause and reflect (sometimes for a few days) about how I might inject some thoughtfulness and gentleness.

John McKnight says that “generousity is the only lubricant that will make our neighbourhoods viable”. I love that sentiment and understand it to mean that we need to become fountains of kindness for each other with so much helpfulness, graciousness and hospitality spilling over the top that we are splashing each other in puddles of goodness and grace. When I am wet with drops or a deluge, I can’t help being kind.

Set out everyday to be kind, to accept kindness and to splash someone you don’t know.

B

Self Improvement · Sharing Economy · Teamwork

Thankful

100 Reasons to be Thankful

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In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving on Monday October 10. I know all our friends south of the 49th are waiting until November 24th. My challenge to you is to make a list of 100 reasons you are thankful before the celebration where you live ends. The list can be in point form or an essay or a poem or song or whatever means you like. I am thinking that one of our regular readers will take her camera out a create a collage of thankfulness. Be courageous in your gratitude and brave in sharing your thanks with others. Feel free to paste your lit in comments or sent your creation to bob@remarkablepeople.com and I will post it on the blog.

My list, written spontaneously with this post. After the first 10, they are in no particular order.
1. My beloved Jan
2. My son Jon
3. My son Adam
4. My son Patrick
5. Three amazing daughter’s in-law Amber, Becca, Karla
6. Lidka and Craig
7. Eleven grandkids, Daniel, Josh, Austin, Andrew, Kaleb, Theo, Jack, Claire, Kennedy, Sam, Wyatt
8. My mom
9. My siblings Wendy, Teresa, Ken, Kevin
10. Pat and Phil
11. Fine Diner Gang
12. A large social circle
13. Work Nicer
14. changing seasons
15. liberty
16. hope
17. optimism
18. remarkable people
19. my neighbourhood
20. my city
21. my country
22. clean air
23. clean water
24. courage
25. vision
26. hot coffee on a snowy day
27. a home that is more than just a roof
28. access to fresh food
29. resources to acquire what I need
30. resources that I can share
31. time to write
32. time to love
33. time to run
34. time to think
35. creativity
36. artists and their art
37. singers and their songs
38. writers and their work
39. peace
40. generousity
41. people who care about the same things I do
42. people who care about different stuff
43. people who I disagree with
44. people and ideas that challenge me
45. tradition
46. As yet unimagined solutions
47. heroes
48. role models
49. mentors
50. coaches
51. a good night’s sleep
52. a comfortable bed
53. lights and heat
54. the routine of rising at 5am
55. the surprises that each day brings
56. old acquaintances
57. strangers
58. craft beer
59. the ritual of table
60. freedom to believe
61. freedom to question
62. laughter
63. tears
64. mental health
65. physical health
66. access to medical treatment
67. spiritual health
68. emotional health
69. libraries and great books
70. making those closest to me laugh
71. memories
72. travel with my beloved
73. adventures with friends and family
74. democracy with all it’s warts
75. abundance
76. new possibilities around each corner
77. commitment
78. silliness
79. 62 years of life and experiences
80. 40 years of marriage
81. anticipation of another 40 years
82. the gift of each day
83. the diversity of our city
84. the beauty and awe of creation
85. the mystery
86. knowledge
87. great thinkers from the past whose ideas still rattle me
88. the wisdom from the mouths of the children in my life
89. curiousity and zest for life
90. adversity that helps shape us
91. justice with all it’s bias
92. firefighters, police officers. emergency responders and all who put their life on the line to protect us
93. teachers and coaches
94. public servants and politicians who work for the greater good
95. the Blue Jays and Stampeders for giving us something to root for
96. pizza, perogies, pasta, tacos, fish and chips, hamburgers ..
97. challenges that inspire
98. gifts, skills, talents and strengths
99. people who can compensate for all my weaknesses
100. the heart and head to allow me to be thankful

What do you notice in your list? Are their themes? Was it difficult to create or could you have added another 100?

For Canadians take the almost 100 hours ahead of you and be as thankful as possible. Share your thankfulness wide and far – it can be infectious.

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Sharing Economy

Disruptive Collaboration

We are smarter together than apart. The sum of our experience is more valuable when used collectively. It takes a village … Then why do we resort to an echo chamber when we are trying to solve a wicked problem? How do we get plowing down a path that becomes the only direction we look? An article on Aeon this morning entitled ” Group Smarts” by Jane Hu and some suggestions around building a ‘smart’ team. This matched, somewhat with a presentation I heard, on Saturday, at ‘Soul of the New Economy’ about Messy Collaboration. I will pull some thoughts from both and add what I think is important from my philosophy and practice.

From ” Group Smarts” Ms. Hu quotes Sir Francis Galton ( 1906) on the results of a contest he ran to guess the weight of an ox. “This result is, I think, more creditable to the trustworthiness of a democratic judgment than might have been expected,” when collectively they averaged 1197 pounds and actual weight was 1198. When collectively working to a defined conclusion we collectively do a good job. But how do we do when there isn’t an answer to be calculated or a past experience we can draw from?

hive

Because of my affection and admiration for the hive, I did pause to think about bees and there ability to manage complex problems that require enormous collaboration. I marvel that the hive can be maintained at a constant temperature, optimal for the Queen and brood, by tiny fanning wings cooling or even tinier thorax muscles vibrating to add heat. My astonishment for the hive extends to how together they solve social problems like free loading drones or season changes. Each worker bee lives with a collective purpose – the next generation. The thousands of flights they take to bring nectar and pollen back, the cleaning and preening, the care of the brood focuses on insuring the survival of tomorrow’s workers. In recent years new circumstances have challenged hives across North America. Colony Collapse Disorder seems to be associated with neonicotinoids in pesticides and genetic mutation of monocrops is still destroying hives but the bees are adapting, breeding resistance and beginning to cope.

For bees under normal circumstances or for us in the adding and subtracting world, straight lines to a norm are helpful. “We have always done it this way so let’s do it this way again” In complex and shifting sands we both need some disrupters who begin the slow process of shifting the mindset and turning the caravan. In wicked and desperate situations we shouldn’t just accept dissent but we should find a way to demand it. In the past large stalward groups tried to plant naysayers like the advocatus diabli of Pope Leo X (1513-1521) but after a time they aren’t taken seriously. The devil’s advocate lacks the conviction to disrupt for long or to stray too far because their ‘job’ may be on the line.

I wonder if process can make room for and cultivate discord and resistance. Would built in tests; checks and balances, be enough to pause the race towards a preconceived and accepted conclusion? Would ‘forced’ divergence after every convergence help to moderate the echo chamber? I have used rapid prototyping and improv to add tiny explosions on the track and seen stunned expressions turn to awe turn to inspiration. As yet unimagined solutions rose through the tension and new approaches were discovered. This isn’t a on size fits all correction but I would encourage exploration of possible practices that add detours. Most teams will eventually manage the change if they aren’t constantly hustled to the next step. If the point is to discover a different and better approach then rushing towards a louder, brighter, faster version of today isn’t likely to generate it.

There are risks to working in disruptive collaboration. Strong personalities can attempt to dominate so facilitators need to be tactful and democratic. Variations on a theme have significant gravity so there needs to be a counter force pulling away from the safety of familiar. It seems that once the orbit changes the force needed to resist the status quo lessens and when teams witness unimagined solutions or exciting trajectories, they become confident in the exploration and can hold the unordinary and practical at the same time.

We are smarter together when we work smarter. When we broaden our horizons and search for a distant source of light, we might just discover a planet or a galaxy of better ideas.

Make Today Remarkable,

B

Self Improvement · Sharing Economy

5 Benefits of Choosing Sustainibility

What is the argument for a sustainable life? Are you learning to make your world and your choices more sustainable? Practicing sustainability has at least 5 personal and collective benefits.

sustainable
1. Save money – yes living a more viable life will save you money, potentially a lot of money. If you consider all of your purchases with a lens of supportability, you will likely make fewer purchases, wiser purchases and hold onto what you purchase longer. How many ‘anything’ do we really need?
If you decide to forgo a wee bit of convenience for a different and beneficial transportation alternative you can save $thousands. I have used Car2Go almost 400 times since 2012 at a total cost of less than $1500. The C2G choice allowed us to not purchase a second vehicle ($50 -$30,000), not insure a second vehicle ($7500 to $10,000) not maintain a second vehicle ($2000 to $3000), not pay to park a second vehicle (because of our lifestyle and work this is a big savings but might not be as much for others $10,000) not pay to fuel a second vehicle ($4000) and I don’t need to worry about tires, ammortization, depreciation and am not stressed about a car. Over 4 years I trade convenience ( there is some inconvenience and planning needed) for more than $60,000. Carshare stats indicate that for every shared vehicle on the road 8-11 aren’t need which reduces CO2 output, congestion, and improves health.

2. Improved health – my physical well being has been improved through the creation of higher order habits. By opting to buy more real food, more local food, more organic food I have improved the nutrition of my weekly diet and in turn my body mass has become healthier. With a better diet I am more able and interested in more physical activity which lead me to running ( now clocking about 1500k a year) for recreation and hiking, biking for leisure. Supporting local goods means less transportation and less chemicals needed to hold food like veggies in an unnatural state. I also get the placebo effect of feeling better because I feel better about myself.

3. More time – Even though I confessed that my C2G choice has reduced convenience, I have chosen to make healthier, saner uses of the time getting to shared transportation (public/private). I also plan my outings better and am much more efficient with the travel than the haphazard way I used a personal vehicle. Convenience breeds complacency and if I don’t need to think about my destination and my goals I can turn a single round trip into 5 or 6 excursions.
This has helped me think about how I use time generally and my limited consciousness that I am developing has helped me ask ” do I really need to do that/go there/buy that?” and when the answer is no I get minutes in my relationship, recreation bank to use in a healthier less stressful way.

4. More space – Recognizing that we have too much, too many material possessions that clutter our lives and space was a revelation. I can borrow books from the library and not spend money and space on new additions (this is a difficult one because as I am reading a borrowed book I am thinking about wanting it for future reference). We are fortunate to have a tool library near us and my membership allows me to not purchase and store tools and gadgets that I might only us once. This has lead to some purging, thus creating space, of books, clothes, gadgets, tools, technology that I don’t use or need. Some was donated, some shared, some sold. We live in a apartment condo (built on brownscape) and so the additional few square feet that was created is appreciated.

5. Independence, interdependence and self sufficiency – we haven’t reaped all the benefits in these categories yet but we are working on it. I get to celebrate every opportunity that I don’t need to surrender to the mediocrity of materialism ( I don’t beat myself up when I play into the game). I like the idea and practice of being in a shred relationship with people I know and people I will never meet. The understanding that we are in this together, even when we don’t acknowledge it is inspiring. Everything that we do to live more sustainably is like that rock which, when thrown into a pond, creates ripples that disperse in all directions.

Some self sufficiency goals are a ways off but every day that we make better choices, we get closer to a garden plot, a beehive, and a solar system.

Make Today Remarkable by becoming more sustainable,
B