Fear is a waste of imagination

Some of the biggest shifts we are seeing in the way our world operates is being enabled by interoperable systems. Ensuring that my data can work with your data, and that my systems can work with your systems.

This capability is creating fertile conditions for everything from mashups to radical innovation and insight. The “price” we pay for this is not putting fortresses around what we have created. It offers a mindset that recognises that the speed of change makes protection much less effective than collaboration.

Then we get to people, and we seem to slip back a century or so. Non disclosure agreements, non compete clauses, “gardening leave”. All designed to prevent what is known by one from fertilising an idea in another.

There will always of course be areas where this is necessary, but not many. We seem to take it as a default. However, if I “let you go” it means I no longer need or value your potential, so why would you stop me using what I know to work with another to create something new – other than fear?

Driven by fear of missing out, we actively prevent the creation of the new by constraining the people who may bring it about. If we believe the figures for employee disengagement, it seems clear that most businesses only use a fraction of their employees potential, but are driven to prevent anyone else using it for as long as they can.

There is of course a mirror side to this. Why, as employees would we put up with this – other than the fear that our unused potential will not be recognised by another?

The system will eventually sort this out, but in the meantime, at a time when we desperately need every ounce of available creativity to address the huge challenges we face, we are doing ourselves a huge disservice.

If you’re afraid of missing out on an opportunity you have not seen, compare that to the threat of the collapse of the systems we depend on to exist.

If you’re afraid of taking a step into the unknown and uncertain, consider how that will make you feel when you look back on it and recognise you could have.

Everything is connected to everything in one form or another. Increasing human, as well as systems interoperability seem like a good idea really.

Being afraid is a waste of imagination.

The Emotional Supply Chain – a tale of three businesses.

Having written about emotional supply chains earlier, a good example fell into my lap this week.

I took an opportunity to spend a few days in Puglia, which involved three companies; an airline, a letting agency, and a car hire company. Turned out to be three very different experiences.

In chronological order, the letting agency. The have a developed an outstanding app, which let me choose somewhere, check availability, talk directly to the owner, and book. A great combination of automated efficiency and human contact. It extended to arrival and departure, being looked after by a local contact. (A high five to home and away)

The airline, a currently strike prone national carrier, was heavy on automation, but it worked well. Very few humans, but easy check in, bag drop and a good flight.

The care hire company, a major international chain, was neither of the above. Cumbersome booking and opaque pricing on a very average web page, but where it got interesting was on arrival. It took as long in the queue to collect the car as it took to fly from the UK. Staff were harassed, no eye contact, and a frustrating experience given that the admin can hardly be much more complex than for the airline. In this case the humans were a real downside. I was longing for an app.

Overall, I came away with a feeling of trust and connection to the letting agency, neutral abut the airline (efficient, but the prospect of unexpected strike action negated the human side) and a real dislike of the car hire company, who I am unlikely to use again. Which is a shame, because if the got the human part of it half right, the rest worked well.

As we increasingly automate what we can, the human aspect will come to the fore. Size and scale will only really affect the logical supply chain, and I suspect it has an inverse effect on the emotional one.

It’s happening now.