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working concretely with culture and behaviors

A while back I posted this list (below) from McKinsey showing a ranked order of challenges with regards to meeting digital priorities. Now, I’d like to add to that an initiative from colleagues of mine (with whom I also collaborate on the project) that seeks to spread solutions for how to deal with this situation.

Culture for a digital age - McKinsey Quarterly, July 2017

The initiative I’m referring to is a Kickstarter Campaign for a series of books that’s a part of a collaborative project called The Book of Collaboration. A project that is more than a book.

The need for working human-oriented

The basic premise for the project is quite depressing: Only 15% of employees are engaged… How about that for starting point when really needing to change, transform, build and all those things we need right now…

Now to the solutions. The project is based on 5 key pillars that help you ask better questions with regards to the diagram above and most business challenges. They help you work with what you can affect and not just the outcomes. If you look at the above items, they are the equivalent of lagging indicators, whereas the 5 pillars help you work with leading indicators that can actually be affected. Kind of like happiness correlating to innovation output. Just looking at output won’t help you affect or control it. Ok.

  • Reinforcing a human-oriented culture and building trust
  • Applying a growth mindset, unlearning, and learning in new ways
  • Creating effective teams and collaborating for real
  • Making everyone leaders and focusing on growing facilitation skills
  • Re-inventing leadership and organizations – with engagement as core

Leaders: mind your toolbox

If you’re a typical leader it’s unusual to you, you don’t immediately have tools that come to mind and you might think it’s fluff. If you’re an interested, great future leader, you understand the need to include this in your toolbox and catalogue of methods. I’m basing this on my day-to-day work from within, and not looking in from the outside. It’s not even debatable and it’s easy to see.

The good thing with this diagram is that the number one item – culture and behavior – indicates the realization of a human-oriented focus as a prerequisite. The challenge is still how this is done, but that’s a better problem to have. And that’s the aim of the project, so go back it if you’re smart.

the revolution that wasn’t a revolution

A man in a large crowd stares into the camera. His eyes are wide open. If you didn’t know what was happening, you’d have a hard time telling if he had a stare of anger, victory or happiness. It was a mix of all three. He was in the start of a revolution.

There was a panel discussion at FutureEverything in Manchester some time back, about digital and the future. Ela Kagel, a curator focusing on free culture and the open web, had a talk about value transfer, crowd funding and the challenge of future revenue models for artists and cultural workers. It’s a very interesting subject, and indeed her project called Free Culture Incubator is too.

What I find quite interesting with this is that arts grants and other official cultural support functions have been about the process of creating art. Support for the doing, so that artists can then sell the final product. And although many artists, who have always struggled, may find bootlegging and copying a major problem and maybe even a spit in the face, they now have so many new ways of getting support for the process and the actual doing from a much larger community. A visionary idea or project like Molly Crabapple’s Week In Hell can get $17,000 from supporters that don’t know what’s going to come out at the end. We don’t just buy the final art, we buy into a thought, idea, culture or movement. Below is a graph of the different types of projects that get funding from Kickstarter.

“Are we prepared for after the revolution?”

That was the key question that made me squirm in my seat up in Manchester. “Are we prepared for after the revolution?” Well that makes no sense at all, which, seen as I can’t shut up, proclaimed loudly. I got a quiet stare back. The fact of the matter is that only if you’ve been asleep for the last 20 years can you wake up after a revolution. What we’ve been in for quite some time now (quite being the key part) is an evolution and not a revolution. An evolution that many have handled brilliantly and others not so brilliantly. But to blame it on being a victim of a revolution is crazy. Revolutions explode. Those prepared for this revolution are those who saw it as, and treated it as, an evolution early on. Those interested in, or at least realizing, the change. So the question has the answer already. For those who see it as a revolution; no, you’re not prepared.

Why is it important to distinguish a revolution from an evolution? Because it better helps corporations, organisations and brands making sense of it all. That it’s not making sense of something new, but continuously making sense of ongoing change. It might be about an implementation. Only not a solution, but rather a mindset or approach. The quicker they come to terms with the fact that never again will it move so slowly, the better. It’s not a change. It’s change.

But still, wise words from a man who wrote poetry from his thoughts about revolutions. Revolutions will not be televised because the actual revolution has already happened in the hearts and minds of revolutionaries. That cannot be televised. Revolutions, he said, happen within. Only the effects can be viewed and broadcast, and here’s how it looks.


Romanian revolutionaries taking over mass media, a good sign of a revolution.