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

My Opponent

 

A lesson I am learning is about my own ability to create chaos in my life and sabotage the best efforts of the Creator to bring fulfillment to my life. The problem is that I don’t handle success any better than failure because my ego wants me to think only about myself. When I think things, do things and embrace things that are just for me – to make me look good, feel good or impress others the chaos begins. As I feed on the feelings and recognition I seek more and make decisions that will satisfy the insatiable ego.
If on the other hand I seek to share more, add value to my world and make the difference I am called to make the chaos subsides. My ego doesn’t like the diet and so it pushes back. It creates uncomfortable circumstances (IN MY HEAD) and unnecessary desires for material rewards (IN MY HEART). The ego screams that I deserve more, more notice, more love, more recognition, more shiny stuff so that I will be temporarily sated. The feeling of satisfaction is the addiction that E is trying to foster. If I feel good in this moment, I will continue to seek these small inconsequential victories, at almost any cost.

opponent

Smart people find themselves in unethical quandaries because they became addicted to micro bursts of self satisfaction. We can be fulfilled if we seek to be of service to others, to a cause greater than ourselves, to an agenda that is about sharing our gifts with those around us; near and far.

Make Today Remarkable, by starving your ego,

B

Self Improvement

Is Planning Crazy?

The world changes so quickly and the variables that impact us and our lives are so interconnected. Does this make planning ahead (more than 168 hours) utter nonsense?

I have meetings booked into July. A vacation is booked for next January. I am looking at financial requirements for mid 2017. We have been discussing goals for 10 years from now. Is this all just to quell anxiety or is it helpful in shaping the future?

A few years ago, I would have said ” it is  essential to lay the groundwork and make specific plans for the future”. Everything seemed so predictable then. Predictability has been shaken. Two economic downturns in ten years. World conflicts bubbling everywhere. Political partisanship and pandering is the order of the day and thousands of variables that I don’t recognize are banging into each other and creating and recreating trajectories.

I obviously am still planning, even if it with less certainty. In uncertain times having a preferred planned future appointment or direction creates a bit of a frame around all the tomorrows. Today I need that range of possibilities or fear I would be paralyzed by the undetermined and erratic possibilities.

pathway

I suggest we all continue to lay out the future with the understanding that adaptation and evaluation may be our most important tools. Planning may be crazy but it is also crucial and constructive.

Make a Plan Today,

B

Uncategorized

Calculated Frenzy

One of the definitions of madness includes the idea state of frenzied or chaotic activity. I have some routines that serve me on the micro level. My mornings from 5am to 8am are all very similar. My dietary state , my physical and mental health are all better when  I stay close to a routine. I end most days with a consistent practice that, for the most part, ensures a restful sleep. In between I have moments of accidental madness and periods of calculated frenzy.

I try to shake things up where I have some measure of control. My travels are opportunistic rather than planned. I don’t take the same route two days in a row. If walking, I meander and try to be observant (even though I have a destination in mind). If biking, I take a different loop. If driving, my options are limited but still varied. This practice seems to step me out of the rut of sameness and leaves open the possibility for some madness.

As a procrastinator, I usually have a looming deadline that creates some calculated frenzy that I find  exhilarating. I do worry that my best work might not arise from the pressure but not enough to take a different approach.

The impact of working with others, especially those who have a different agenda or those who answer to a different authority means that unexpected accidental chaos can occur. I do get frustrated and can feel anxious by delayed responses and too much paralyzing collaboration. Strange that where someone sees collaboration as an organizing practice, I find it can be fruitless and mediocre.

I know my frenzy isn’t anything like yours. I understand that where I see beauty in change you may see chaos. It is likely that some of you live a heart pounding frenzy that I somehow have avoided. I would be interested in hearing how you handle or create madness in your life.

Make Today Remarkable, for someone you love,|

B

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Freedom

Those who were dancing were thought crazy by those who couldn’t hear the music ~ Nietzsche

Last night, we watched a elderly lady dance her heart out to some 1970’s folk/rock music at an outdoor event. She couldn’t stop smiling as she swayed a stepped to music she heard as a young adult. She danced alone when others were sitting straight backed – prim and proper (me too). Some voyeurs smiled (me too) and some shook their head at this crazy old lady. We could hear the same tunes that she did and her moves were pretty good, but still no one else joined in.

Imagine if she was the only one who heard the songs. If you were the only one. Would she have still danced? I think so. Would you? Maybe. Me? I hope so.

Even though I didn’t take to the pavement a share a dance last night doesn’t mean that I don’t hear different music. It is exhausting being contrary, even when it is with the best intentions. The lessons I learned were to be okay with others dancing when I don’t and to be okay when others see me as odd for being tuned to a different frequency.