Lift13, The Agile Enterprise: Abhijit Bhaduri [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “The Agile Enterprise: Rethinking what it means to manage”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Abhijit Bhaduri

What makes an organization agile? Most people leave an organization because they are sick of the bureaucracy. With time, the organization grows, and starts looking a lot like the one the employee left before to join this one.

Two elements of agility, built around listening:

– Any place that connects to the customer becomes a listening post — that needs to remain agile.
– Ideas from the inside.

Agility: ability of a system to rapidly respond to change by adapting its initial stable configuration.

Wipro: growing company, lots of turnover, so lots of hiring every year (37K for 140K total). Challenge: keep a combination of youth and experience. Average age 29. 70% of the Wipro leaders started their career at Wipro.

Hire for skills, but mostly make sure they are a good fit for the organization. Hire for competencies.

India: large numbers, but very low quality of education in general *(steph-note: don’t I know it…)*

Wipro trains college professors on how to teach people science. Also younger classes. Moving on to STEM subjects in the US. Next three years: 120 teachers k-12.

Culture of the organization: need to be able to break your rules, those that made you successful.

Wipro started in 1945, small low-tech company. Today, high-tech, one of the worlds biggest outsourced technology companies. Design and test laptops, planes, vending machines… Consulting, infrastructure, solar panels…

Wipro culture: light many fires. 29 average age: restless, constantly benchmarking! Fund the entrepreneurs amongst your employees. Be prepared the fail. If you don’t do that they will take their ideas outside the organization. Failure is an investment!

Whatever the role, try and visit customers to understand what we’re trying to do better.

At the end of the day, agility at the company level is not about processes. It’s about trying out many different ideas, and something will work out. Also, Wipro has created a crucible of experiences to allow the leaders to grow. The novice is precious too, not burdened by the past. Keep the eyes of a beginner. Be constantly on the lookout for making things better and improving them.

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Lift13, The Agile Enterprise: Dave Gray [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “The Agile Enterprise: Rethinking what it means to manage”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Dave Gray

Average lifespan of fortune 500 companies is decreasing. Also, as companies grow, average profit per employee decreases (=> less productive).

Shell: The Living Company. 100+ year life span, huge, and oil might run out: major shift, ordered a study on companies in parallel situations.

– decentralization: tolerate different activities on the edges (pods)
– platforms: strong identity, aloes, culture, beliefs (focus on that so the company doesn’t explode)

Evolutionary biology applied to companies: fitness. Fitness landscape: 3D diagram with tradeoffs on x and y and fitness on z.

One example of tradeoff: agility vs. efficiency (hummingbird vs. albatross)

First efforts are often clumsy. First planes were neither 747 of fighter jets.

First few tradeoffs, huge boost of fitness. But as you increase tradeoffs and optimize, the less your fitness increases, until it starts decreasing (you become vulnerable). So peak fitness is somewhere in the middle between perfect chaos and perfect order.

Too hot (chaos): Enron
Too cold (perfect order): Kodak — 1972, invented digital camera, and reaction was “why would I want to watch my photos on my TV?!” Didn’t manage to capitalize on that because the company was too cold.

You want to be in the middle, in the “just right” zone.

How do you build a flexible organization?

Traditional multidivisional organization is hierarchical. Popular organization: is networked, bubbles inside bubbles instead of a tree. Some organizing principles in the middle but semi-autonomous teams inside.

Pods. Morning Star turn tomatoes into tomato paste, that’s all they do. Marketplace of mutual accountability. P2P negotiation of contracts. No hierarchy or managers. Somewhat democratic government for resolving disputes. So every single person is a startup within the organization.

Whole Foods. Pods (teams inside teams inside teams) that are autonomous. Teams that are profitable can make the choice to grow or just keep the money. Team leaders run the store, store leaders run the region, etc. All the pods are relatively small teams.

Semco: every month the numbers are shared for open dialogue and debate. Employees share about 30% (check) of the profits. Book: 7-day week-end.

Platforms: shared services, finance, standards and protocols, culture. Providing some level of consistency across a popular organisation.

IBM: 90s, profit margin below zero. In deep trouble. Lou Gerstner new CEO. Ex-customer with a lot of frustrations as a customer. The very values that made IBM successful for so long are those that are holding the company back as the environment changes.

– excellence in everything we do: became an obsession for perfection
– superior customer service: became administrative, like a passionless marriage
– respect for the individual: became “anybody in the company can do pretty much anything without accountability”

Change the landscape by changing the platform/values. Very painful, but it worked.

Xplane, Dave’s company since 93. Dotcom boom, bust, financial crisis. 2006 major changes to go through. Infographics for change management. Created a culture map.

XPLANE Culture Map

Whenever there was a decision to make they would look at the map. *steph-note: might be an interesting exercise to do for the individual too*

Can we do something like the BMG business model tool for culture?

Not ready for sharing yet… but soon!

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Lift13, Resilience and Resistance: Konstantina Zoehrer [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Resilience and Resistance”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Konstantina Zoehrer, check out her speaker notes.

“Since we can’t change reality, let us change the eyes that see reality.” Will try and prove this quote true.

Greece: 20K homeless people, unemployment 25%, below poverty line 28%. 57% (unemployment? steph-note: missed something there.)

Was thinking of leaving the country. Studying. Started working, interest in social media and social networks. Started a community. Blogging. Landed her a job (“dream” job). 2010. But she still wanted to leave. Phone ringing, unknown number. Prime minister’s office. “You asked him on Twitter why you should not leave the country, do you want to ask him in person?” Whee.

She asked her question. He didn’t really give a satisfying answer. “Not leaving, etc. is a personal choice.” Disappointed.

Went back to Vienna. Found a job. steph-note: did something in Athens that I didn’t get. She decided to stay, this time. Tweeted to the Prime Minister: now that I’m staying, you’re leaving (he resigned). Realised that it was indeed a personal choice of hers to stay.

Examples of community-based initiatives. Digitally-organized meetings of people in front of the parliament. Not just demonstrations against austerity measures, but also discussion about solutions.

Fighting against food waste (giving excess to charities). Combating negative stereotypes in the media. Teaching languages in public libraries. Business startup community, entrepreneurship. Changing the insurance model. Symbiosis. Loft2work.

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Lift13, Resilience and Resistance: Noah Raford [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Resilience and Resistance”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Noah Raford

Who is sick of the future? Everything is accelerating, etc etc. We’re pretty bad at predicting the future. steph-note: NNT, Black Swan

Should we give up or try and predict even harder?

Example. Friend getting married in beautiful tropical island, but big project due at work the same week. Two schools of thought:

– book in advance, and lose ticket if you don’t finish the project (and risk losing cheap ticket price if you cancel)
– wait and see if you can finish, then book ticket (and risk paying more)

Anticipation (skate to where the puck will be).
Agility approach: doesn’t matter what’s coming your way, be a ninja, you can deal with anything. Joi Ito, “nowist”.

Big investments: usually, anticipation.
Lots of small decisions: agility.

But what goes on in situations where you have big investments and lots of decisions? “Strategic foresight”, what futurists call themselves when they’re embarrassed to be calling themselves futurists.

Speculative exercise. Look around at the present. What is change, what might change, imagine and rehearse your response. => conversations that are actually about today.

Thinking about bird flu, for example. How can we deal with various pandemic flu scenarios? Actually, this thinking by some shipping companies about how we’d deal with airline traffic being shut down helped them when the volcano blew up. They were wrong about the problem (no bird flu pandemic) but had something to deal with the impacts.

Even if our mental models where perfectly in sync with the outside world, over time they would inevitably get completely out of sync with the way the world has evolved — and not know it. Overconfidence.

Foresight: looking for change. What are we not aware of? Predator: seeing the unseen. Reperceiving the present. Talk about the future in order to perceive the present in a different way.

Tactical decision games. Imagine responses to scenarios. Makes one more mentally and socially resilient. Scenarios: containers for disagreement. You can consider things that are potentially dangerous to the present. Better be surprised by simulation than blindsided by reality.

Future of newspapers. Drones.

Lots of what we do (focus groups, etc), serves to reinforce our mental models of the present. Cf. “If I’d asked people what they’d wanted, they’d have asked for a better horse.” (fake Ford quote by the way).

The web is changing the way we think about foresight.

Christensen’s Curve. Futurescaper. Postcardurbanism.net.

Future of foresight (!!).

1975 John Brunner, The Shockwave Rider: every decision is basically a crowd sourced one (scary).

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Lift13, Resilience and Resistance: Venkatesh Rao [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Resilience and Resistance”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Venkatesh Rao

The “blogger” here. Being resilient is getting up again and again after being punched down.

How can you be resilient? The more he thought about it, the more he realized the important question is the “why” of it.

The fox knows many things, the hedgehog knows one big thing. Good and bad in both styles.

Fox gets up for new adventure. Hedgehog gets up for old passion. Turkey gets up out of habit. Different narratives.

Story 1: the stonecutters and the cathedral (stonecutters are fox, turkey, hedgehog). Fox: building a cathedral. Hedgehog: fastest stonecutter. Turkey: earning the paycheck.

Story 2: 3 stonecutters at Chesterton’s Fence. In the countryside. Fox: let’s build a bazar here! Fence on the road. Hedgehog: tear it down and put a stone fence. Turkey: hey hold off, we don’t know why this fence is there, it might serve a purpose, let’s not touch it.

Story 3: 3 stonecutters and the vicious dogs.

Morale: fox or hedgehog ok, but don’t be a turkey. steph-note: story incomplete, hope there is a complete version online somewhere.

Hedgehog resilience in Nature: the panda, knows how to look cute.

Foxy resilience: sea birds at Mira Flores, know “4-hour fishing” by Tim Seagull Ferriss.

Hedgehog resilience for humans: Transition Village, Val David, Quebec. Big organic idea of the world.

Foxy for humans: Jugaad movement in India.

Hedgehog mind: single model, one big idea, eliminate contradictions.

Foxy mind: slightly better at prediction, embrace contradiction, interdependence.

Every resilient hedgehog is alike, but every resilient fox is resilient in its own way. Hedgehogs are more predictable.

You can put people on a two-way chart (values, talents | fox, hedgehog).

Foxes: sacred = adventure, profane = boredom
Hedgehogs: sacred = love, profane = betrayal

steph-note: a few more charts I didn’t manage to capture here, check slides.

Law 1: build on contradictions, not values. Enterprise = adventurous voyage rather than institution, initially! Go boldly where no man has gone before, but don’t mess with pre-warp cultures.

Hedgehog: mint condition stamp (more damage, less value)
Fox: wabi-sabi bowl (more damage, more value)

Law 3: seek motifs, not truths. Globalization = container ships everywhere.

Law 4: pursue adventure, not love. Hojun Song’s devices: Global Orbiting Device (GOD), WMH = Weapon of Mass Happiness.

– build on contradictions, values will emerge
– preserve memories, identity will emerge
– seek motifs, truths will emerge
– pursue adventure, love will emerge

Act like a fox, your inner hedgehog will emerge! (but seriously, don’t be a turkey)

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LIft13, Mobile Stories: Christopher Kirkley, Sahel Sounds [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Mobile Stories.” Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Christopher Kirkley: Sahel Sounds

Camera and other functions supersede making calls. How technology has been adopted in a different culture challenges some of our ideas.

Initially thought the cellphone would interfere with his field work and recordings. Started to realize that the cellphones were also a tool (e.g. people recording local music productions).

The cellphone in West Africa is a little different from in the West. Cheap alternative phone market, converging technologies into one device. Memory card as personal storage space of all digital media. Photos reworked and passed from person to person.

People spend a lot of time sitting around and drinking tea, context where file-sharing can happen. So cellphone adapted as a sharing device. Bluetooth for direct file transfers. Browsing each other’s collections. This is how most media is traded. Emergent network: cellphones and people traveling from city to city. steph-note: back to a “slow” network with spatial highways

Metaphor for the internet. Has evolved differently from “our internet”. Most frequently shared data on mobiles is music. Soundscape has been transformed. Tinny cellphone music being played all the time, headphones pretty much inexistent. Home-made creations found only on the bluetooth exchange network. Most interesting music! Music would not be distributed without the cellphones (cheap!) About 15$ to record a song in a cheap studio (don’t need the best microphone…). You can walk out of the studio and immediately start sharing your song. Great method of distribution for music of ethnic minorities.

Shops which are physical versions of iTunes: you go and buy an MP3 song. Of course paying for the service and not the music (which isn’t perceived as having an inherent value). For artists: mp3 trading as a way of free promotion. A lot of artists are actually going to the mp3 vendors with their new songs so they will distribute them, sometimes even paying them to promote them.

Student who publicly shames a director for abusing students in exchange for grades, through a rap song. Song goes viral. Student expelled until he deletes the song, so he deletes it. But it’s already on the network, out of control.

Rise of the cyborg esthetic in Mali.

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LIft13, Mobile Stories: Geoffrey Dorne [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Mobile Stories.” Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Geoffrey Dorne

Créativité mobile et évolutions sociales que ça engendre. Technologies de plus en plus intimes (on dort, mange avec son téléphone). Proximité et individualisation. Jeux et applications qui n’existent que dans le téléphone.

“There’s an app for that.” Il y a toujours une application pour répondre à un besoin.

Applications comme signaux faibles, signaux faibles comme applications. Photos dans les musées. Parents qui photographient leurs enfants pendant le concert scolaire. Filmer et enregistrer les concerts auxquels on assiste. Belkin qui a sorti un grip pour tenir son iPhone pendant les concerts. Outlisten (montage d’un concert via tous les enregistrements crowdsourcés).

Retour à l’animisme, au côté sensible et émotionnel. Applications vivantes: calendrier avec animations, magazine complètement interactif (au sens fort du mot). Il est une expérience tactile également. Plutôt qu’un album, Philip Glass fait une application qui permet presque de toucher la musique à travers les visualisations graphiques qui l’accompagnent. OKO, application où il faut manipuler des photos de la NASA mouvantes pour reconstituer le puzzle. Application qui envoie des messages/photos via un son audible que n’importe quel autre téléphone peut capter (avec la même app).

Retour à la matérialité. Au revoir le skeuomorphisme. Boujour tangibilité! On envoi une vraie carte postale à travers une app. steph-note: love what has to do with binding together the online and the offline worlds

Ouvrir les frontières de l’écran, faire glisser quelque chose d’un devise à l’autre. Social mirror: le téléphone comme réceptacle (LiquiData) — on le pose sur une grande table dont il devient un élément.

Popslate. Ecran e-ink derrière son téléphone (coque qui change tout le temps). Objet plutôt que l’écran. Jeu avec de vrais pions qui utilise l’iPad comme plateau de jeu (social).

Dématérialisation du téléphone. Il existe encore, capteurs embarqués, mais on le voit plus. iPad caché sous un plateau de jeu qu’il rend vivant. Un élément de l’ensemble, ce n’est plus “un iPad”. Petit théâtre 3D dans lequel on place son iPhone pour voir un film en 3D. Impression de tous ces objets numériques, retour au support papier.

Jeu de rôle où le téléphone nous dicte l’espace de jeu, on le dessine, et ensuite le téléphone nous fait jouer dedans.

– de plus en plus de proximité entre l’objet téléphone et l’intimité
– on observe dans les apps les signaux faibles des évolutions sociales
– s’oublier et regarder les usages alternatifs et les gens

Demain le téléphone restera dans la poche et on regardera autour de soi.

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Lift13, Gudrun Pétursdóttir: Icelandic Constitution [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Democracy in Distress: Re-engineering Participation.” Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Gudrun Pétursdóttir

From the Californian dream to the cold reality of the Icelandic quest for a Constitution for the people by the people.

Economic collapse in 2008. Huge amount of public anger. Demanded a cleaner and reformed constitution.

Iceland has been independent since 1944 (before: Denmark). Hasty constitution adopted with great national support (98%). Was to be revised very soon but it never happened in the hands of the Parliament. Maybe they weren’t the right ones to deal with it? Vested interests.

How they did it: put together a national assembly which had only one role, work on the constitution. Random sample, 18-92. Very well-prepared. In one 8-hour day of work, they had drafted out the major points that the constitution should include, and were able to publish it online the very next day.

25 people elected from the general public (anybody could run) form the Constitutional Council. Worked for 4 months solid (leave of absence from their work). Draft proposals posted on the website and open to public comments. 3600 comments. 370 formal suggestions processed by the Council. So we have a bill which took shape in the Council but with open exchange of opinion with the community. General feeling of being able to participate.

After 4 months the Council presented to the president of the parliament a bill for the new constitution — which had to be done in a way that was in line with the old constitution: only the parliament can change the constitution.

A year and a half later the constitutional bill is still under deliberation by the parliament. Heck. Conventional party-political practices: the opposition has to be against, by principle anything the ruling majority supports.

The question remains: will the parliament manage to complete the task that the public has contributed so much to? Dreary and pessimistic last slide. Whatever happens however, Iceland will never accept to go back to the previous ways of having the Parliament only work on the new constitution. They have tasted participation. steph-note: that’s depressing

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Lift13, Micah Daigle: Upgrade Democracy [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Democracy in Distress: Re-engineering Participation.” Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Micah Daigle

Activist for 8 years.

Story: city with only one clock, owned and controlled by the king. He’d tell people when to wake up, go to work, eat, etc. Revolution, stormed the palace, took the clock, and put a replica in the public square. Good time will be kept, and it will be kept in public. Years and years later, the clock starts wearing out, and it cost so much to maintain it that only a few wealthy people were able to do it: they became the clock-keepers, and controlled it just like the king. People took the clock apart and realized it had inherent flaws. They came up with a better solution, but it was rejected by the people, because the clock in the city centre was the symbol of their freedom. The clock remained. Years later, completely solved by a solution which did not involve taking the clock down.

This is about democracy, not about a clock. How we make decisions together.

Democracy is both an ideal and a system. You can agree with the ideal and not the system.

Micah Daigle at Lift13

We have direct and representative democracy. In CH and California, hybrid system. Direct democracy seems like a good idea until there are too many people making too many decisions. 100-page book in the mail with all the stuff one has to vote on (California). But that was just a small percentage of things the government needed to vote on. They had got on the ballot because of money, etc. Not that good a system.

Representatives do not represent all your opinions on all the issues. People get in there because they care about certain issues, but then need to take a stand on others, start trading favors, slippery slope to corruption. Money buys access to politicians.

Humans have inherent limitations (trust, etc.). What if we could turn them into strengths? “What if we could represent each other on the issues that we know best?” What would that look like? Well, we would vote on issues we knew about or cared about. And delegate our vote to somebody else we trusted for other issues. But what about money, buying votes? If I’m representing my friends, that would be an incentive to not get bought out (would break their trust). But what if? Kick the person out of the system. “Liquid democracy”, “distributed democracy”, “dynamic democracy”… better: networked democracy.

We move from hierarchy to networks. Though old networks turn into pyramids. Everything the internet touches, though, seems to want to turn into a network. Makes sense our democracy would become networked. Makes sense in theory, but how does that work out in practice?

To change something, build something that makes the existing model obsolete.

Back to our town clock: wrist watches.

Lesson here: this isn’t about upgrading democracy, but upgrading collective decision-making.

Where are we now? Started thinking about how to build it. But to build the network, need to raise money, which would in a way trap the network inside a pyramid. Others than him in the same situation. Started company called collective agency. Looks for these projects that might transform the world, but can’t get funded by traditional VCs, and helps them tell their story in a way that allows them to crowd fund them effectively.

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Lift13, Maximilian Stern [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Democracy in Distress: Re-engineering Participation.” Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Maximilian Stern

Think tank on Swiss foreign policy (foraus). Anybody can join and contribute to drafting papers on Swiss foreign policy. Party membership declining.

We face big challenges, however, and need to act — there is a tension here with our desire to include people’s concerns for our political decisions. Protests: Stuttgart 21. Nuclear power plant shutdowns. But you need to install new ways to produce electricity before shutting down power plants. Germany: wind in the north, industry in the south, so you need high voltage power lines to bring electricity from the north to the south.

=> new ways to integrate people into political decision-making.

But what kind of reform?

– direct democracy. Flaw: you can say yes or no, but not make comments. And it takes a long time to implement direct democracy.
– liquid democracy (cf. German Pirate Party). Only works within one party, the big parties are losing members.
– deliberative democracy: public discussion to reach decisions.
– go one step further: collaborative democracy.

Maximilian Stern at Lift13

Developed 6 tools for deliberative democracy:

– analyze
– …
– check the facts
– joint planning
– engage financially (citizen’s wind parks)

Examples: Iceland tried to crowd source its new constitution. Merkel’s dialogue with randomly picked citizens. Shell project connect to build a pipeline under the Rhine. Invited people to their plants and talked to them. Ended up changing their project a bit (different placement), and the project cost a little more, but they avoided all the inevitable protests.

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