black swan

Black Friday strikes me as a strange confection – a celebration of nothing more than an urge to spend, with no purpose in sight other than to get retailers beyond their breakeven point (The term derives from the point they have covered costs for the year, and here on in is profit)

As never before we are defined by asymmetry. We are moving from the traditional Pareto of 80/20 to many areas of 99/1. From sports stars to wealth. Those who have receive, only moreso.,

Whilst on the face of it this seems grossly unfair, I don’t think that’s where the unfairness lies. If we were all able to use our talents to the full, we would all be in the 1% within  our own field. For some, that may be money, for others, skills, and for many, happiness.

Instead, events like black Friday encourage us to play by other’s rules. Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks about “anti fragility” – a state where we can grow stronger when unexpected events occur.

Playing to other’s rules – playing to the tunes of marketers, retailers and credit card companies – makes us fragile. Buyer’s remorse is a powerful concept – the debt obligation outlasts the satisfaction of purchase and initial pleasure – on an asymmetric basis.

So, on this Black Friday, maybe we should consider where our 1% lies, and ask ourselves whether what we are spending today – from money to attention to energy – takes us toward that 1%.

Whether tomorrow, Hangover Saturday, will find us more. or less, Fragile.



Friday question #3. Play, leadership and work.

In a world of increasing complexity, a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) I think we try to make our selves feel more comfortable by talking about “change management”, as though that somehow makes something essentially unmanageable less threatening. By believing we can manage it (as against develop a relationship with it – something entirely different) we think about it as episodic rather than continuous and largely random.

Our experience to date is nothing compared to what is coming, and our industrial era models of leadership, organization, marketing and employment are rapidly becoming counterproductive. The sort of attitudes, dispositions and skills we will need are beautifully outlined in Bob Johansen’s “Leaders make the future”, shown here (and here’s a link to one of his presentations at CCL)

Screenshot 2014-11-21 10.48.44

If you want to see these skills displayed with absolute Mastery, watch a group of five year olds playing, or go and talk with an early years education specialist, or visit www.sightlines-initiative.com. If you want the theory, watch Stuart Brown’s TED talk. At GrowHouse Initiative we are building a whole approach around rediscovering and using these skills.

So, here’s your Friday question. When was the last time you played at work – I mean, REALLY PLAYED? If you can’t remember, you may want to try it……..