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 Fourth Generation

The North American Indians had a thing about generations.

Any action they took were required to not adversely affect seven generations from where they were, and they saw themselves always as the fourth generation-shaped by the three generations before them, and shaping the three generations in front of them.

I think that’s a wonderful way of looking at things, and one we might wish to consider.

Those of us around today have been shaped by three past generations with an obsession with “the market”; taking actions to promote growth and short term returns, based on a consumer attitude, that we now realise will create real challenges for the three following us.

It’s our responsibility. We cannot outsource it, nor find a “solution” in the way we pop a pill for a headache. “Solutions” have an increasingly short half life. They rarely address systemic root issues.

We have to live the change, and take the hits, all the time holding ourselves accountable to those of seven generations on who we will never meet.

Feedback vs. Harmonics

“I’d like to give you some feedback”. Words to strike terror into most people, particularly in a corporate setting.

Most feedback contains some element of “I need you to be more like……” in pursuit of something wanted by somebody else.

The return of a fraction of the output signal from an amplifier, microphone, or other device to the input of the same device; sound distortion produced by this.


We respond to this input in much the same way as the dictionary definition – with a fraction of what the person giving the feedback wants, and the result, often for both parties is similar to the feedback we get when the microphone gets too close to the speaker – a discordant shrieking of the soul and a need to get the microphone and speaker as far apart as possible.

Harmonics is different. The resonance derives from the compatibility of two elements to create something additional

An overtone accompanying a fundamental tone at a fixed interval, produced by vibration of a string, column of air, etc. in an exact fraction of its length.


Each part is a precise fraction of the other. Same values, same vision, same ways of working. It soothes, supports and inspires.

The sound of church bells on a Sunday morning. Tibetan Singing Bowls. Gregorian Chants. Walking in the woods. Tea with a friend.

My main point is that in times of rapid and unpredicatable change, we have to understand and work with who we are right now, not worry about who someone else would like us to be.

If the future is uncertain and largely unpredictable, trying to be something different in anticipation of it is pretty much a waste of time.

Who we are, right now, is enough providing we are working with harmonics not feedback.

Who we work with, what we work at, and where we work matters, It’s a choice (often a difficult one) but it’s still a choice.

Harmonics build, feedback fractures.