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Reflections 21st January

It’s been said that we don’t know there’s been a revolution until it’s over. Until then, it just seems like a little local difficulty.

Now feels like such a time. There is something in the air, in the conversations I hear, and what I see written. On the surface, the language of conquest over a virus, but underneath an acute awareness of something altogether more systemic going on.

Leaders, political and business, used to hierarchies and control (whatever spin they put on it) looking and sounding unnerved and uncertain as the peasants quietly revolt. Business built on fragile debt based models pleading for help. Talented people more productive working from home. Dramatic understanding of who does the real work in society. Knee jerk reactions of key and screen logging software being used by nervous, control obsessed leaders.

Whilst there is much talk of “Zoom burnout”, less attention is being paid to the fact that it also enables conversations to take place between people who would previously been unlikely to talk. Conversations without predetermined agendas, sharing views of what is happening, rather the mind numbing, forecast update stuff of burnout inducing meetings.

Conversations and ideas are the mycorrizhae that work there way through the formal networks, structures and communication channels. Backchannels on steroids. Conversations about things that matter that thrive on the opportunities presented by zoom becoming a channel of choice, and people having the time and inclination to access them as a refuge from the shallowness of social media and the crushing boredom of badly managed business meetings.

Zoom has become a place where ideas and people can meet out of sight as they look for ways to reach the light of meaning and purpose. It will be interesting to look back at this time, and see what has germinated.

Something is breaking through.

This week’s books

Entangled Life. Merlin Sheldrake. Every now and again, something crops up that upends my thinking. This is one, recommended to me by Steve Done who has a track record of doing this, and for which I’m grateful. Sheldrake’s passion for and perspective on Fungi and the power they have is a revelation, with many metaphors in our everyday lives.

Self Renewal. John Gardner. I read this on the basis of an extract I posted in last Sunday’s Reflections. The book is 25 years old, and as relevant as ever. A wonderful short read bound to inspire.

Articles

How to make friends as an adult. Psyche Magazine. In times of change, trusted friends are vital. The seeds of change lie in connection, interaction, diversity and adaptation (Tyson Junkaporta, Sand Talk). It starts with meaningful connection. It’s never too late to start.

Principles of good management. The problem with principles is that they cannot be taught, only acquired. Three minute read from Farnam St Blog.

In the News

Google fires its ethics chief. This feels really important. When the AI we use has such vital implications in what we are tempted to rely on, and which increasingly determines everything from credit ratings to access to data, it is chilling to see oversight as a detachable optional extra.

WhatsApp carries on regardless. In a related area, WhatsApp is going ahead with changes to its terms and conditions around privacy. Tech arrogance is now a thing,

One to watch

Alan Moore’s new book, Do Build, launches 4 March. It’s very timely. Here’s an overview

Have a great week

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