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

Original Thought · Uncategorized

Choices

Can the world change at a global scale or is all meaningful and lasting innovation local? This week, I heard John McKnight say ” generousity is the lubricant that makes neighbourhood viable.”. I don’t believe we, as individual actors, have the capacity to create and deliver the level of generousity he envisions except at the most local and democratic level. In 1804 Thomas Jefferson was running to be PoTUS on a campaign that could be summed up as ” I believe every American, given the opportunity and circumstances, can and will take care of herself, her family and her community”.

I may be naive and too optimistic but I trust that the spirit of magnanimity and the commitment to our tribe is still alive, if not well, in North America. If we can awaken personal responsibility, involvement and awareness of consequences we can begin rebuilding our local communities on generousity, care and respect.

The breakdown of global systems, organizations and theories, while devastating, may be the critical impetus to allow mutual aid and unmeasured reciprocity to embed itself into our culture again. As we need each other, we can serve each other. Brexit, divisive European and American elections, financial and environmental crises, distrust and anger are matched by a rise of optimism, service, entrepreneurial spirit and loyalty. There will be clashes and ‘haters are gonna hate’ but past the vitriol there is a new way waiting for us to steel ourselves and demonstrate the seed of hope.
The news, as it is portrayed and the divisions it creates is one way to view the circumstances. But a change of perspective fosters a different response and results in a different future. We can, individually and in small tribes, change how we see the world, how we respond to challenges, a alter the future with relentless small scale incremental shifts in our decisions and actions.

We can choose not to participate in the fall and degradation. It is a matter of commitment to a different path. Make your choice and make your community.

B

Choices #celebrateblessings

Self Improvement · Uncategorized

Choose Optimism

“Optimism is the most important human trait, because it allows us to evolve our ideas, to improve our situation, and to hope for a better tomorrow.” ~ Seth Godin

I am not an eternal optimist but I am a dreamer. Not rose colored glasses dreaming but taking the circumstances and whistling them through my imagination.
Idealism sees the best something can be and wishes and acts it to be so. When I whistle and wish and look to a preferred future I am filled with hope. Hope is a choice that we get to make every day and the more we choose it the more we feel.
I don’t subscribe to a Utopian agenda because I believe that we live in a time and place that can be good, better, best but if we get Pollyana the menu of change becomes sappy and sugary and hard to swallow.

Optimists, enthusiasts, fanatics, admirers can be a ray of sunshine in a group or community but they need a tinge of realism so that they aren’t seen as naive empty headed zealots.

Why is the best of us and the worst of us separated by such a thin line? Have we always seen the easy going, buoyant, stargazer with suspicion if the enthusiasm was too over the top? Bryan Welch wrote “But history also gives us plenty of reason for optimism. On the humble foundation of skin clothing and bone jewelry we have built a wondrous technological superstructure to support ongoing innovation.” Maybe we only suspect the optimist when the level of uncertainty gets too high or the circumstances to dire. I imagine the guy who said ” It will all be great tomorrow” as meteors were raining down or an ice age was upon us would have been pretty hard to take.

Optimism is a motivator and a coping skill. For me it can be both at the same time. Leading me forward to good, better, best and protecting me from bad, worse, tragic.
I get to choose to be optimistic every morning and with every turn of my day. You get to accept my zeal every morning and at each turn. The acceptance has to do with me and our relationship and you and your disposition. Given that we both have a choice, I have decided that I am going to lean to hoping for the best and expecting the best. You can make your own decision.

Make Today Hopeful,
B

Uncategorized

Be Useful

The mire and muck of mediocrity and misery has depressive and draining side effects. One of the consequences of being stuck in the mud too long is that you become less useful than yesterday and eventually useless. Your lack of motivation is smothered by the ache of all the yesterdays and you become rooted in place. In a world that is on a path of skyrocketing change, you are left behind in weeks and knowing that it adds to the lethargy. The only way out is to become useful again.

Utility is incremental. It begins with 3 steps in succession. Take 3 small steps towards usefulness – 1 Do one thing better than you have done it before (or at least better than the past month) 2) Do something outside the bare necessities – if you need to wipe down 10 tables, do it and wipe 10 chairs as well 3) Have a small celebration (to yourself) that you  did better and did more.

Rinse and repeat tomorrow. After a week the muck will loosen around your knees and the stranglehold of misery will begin to release you.

As always, utility isn’t a single act that will change everything – keep breathing, appreciating, practicing self care and being kind as well as the other 13 steps we have taken this month.

Tomorrow – Happiness