The quiet revolution you’re in. Like it or not.

The interesting thing about revolutions is that nobody knows they’re happening until they’re over. Up to that point, we get worried about anomalies, and try to get things back to normal.

So it is with centralisation. We have seen it (or often chosen not to see it) in the rise of everything from Napster to the organisation of Al Qaeda. It has been written about by leading thinkers like Ori Brafman and Seth Godin.

Established organisations have chosen to ignore it, to treat it like an anomaly that will disappear as we get back to normal. It won’t, of course.

The major impact will not be on these organisations, with their bloated overheads and addiction to the industrial economy  models. Their shareholders will gradually desert them, and they will sink silently from view, the services and products they provided delivered by smaller, faster, more passionate advocates of the connection economy.

The real impact will be on those who choose to remain inhabiting them in the belief that they will be looked after, and that their position gained by being really good at what is increasingly obsolescent will secure their future. It won’t.

In his brilliant book “Orbiting the Giant Hairball“, Gordon MacKenzie tells the story of hypnotising chickens; how if you draw a chalkline on the floor, and point the chickens head at it, it will stay there transfixed. He makes the point that much of corporate behaviour is similar. Policies, rules, protocols, structures. Lines on the floor. He wrote the book in 1996. It’s one of the most insightful, funny, important books relating to business I have ever read.

The point is this. The organisation , even the best meaning one, cannot protect you in today’s (and tomorrows) uncertainty. In a connection economy, its about you and your connections. It’s about understanding, developing and loving your own unique talents. Those that cannot be replicated, or reduced to a job description, or a qualification.


It’s about your insight, creativity and genius. Your willingness to do work that matters, and take risks for. Then it’s about having a purpose, and connection to people who share it. Its about a sense of impact every day, on your own terms, not an annual appraisal on someone else’s. Giving yourself permission, not seeking it from someone else.

If you can do that within an organisation, that is a seriously good result. In any event, and wherever you work, treat it like self employment, because, in effect that is exactly what it is becoming. Huge opportunities, quite scary, joyous and more than a little chaotic. A chance to be you.

The near future belongs to networks of purpose. Decentralised, flexible, low overhead teams of people who share the characteristics of craft – “a marriage of head , heart and hand” in pursuit of  shared aims on things that matter to them. The days of “solutions” are behind us, and the requirement for originality with us.

The end of centralisation.

Enjoy the revolution.



Dependence, Independence, Interdependence and Permission

Most of us are brought up to be dependent – on other’s approval, on “experts”, and to needing permission.

In the industrial era, it made sense, hierarchies were effective means of command and control, and compliance meant the difference between earning a living, or not.

As technology and social structures changed, we moved towards greater independence, often with money at the heart of it. Lifelong employment disappeared, and with it notions of loyalty and duty towards an employer, to be replaced by independence  for those who had marketable skills, or independent means. It gave us a sort of lonely freedom – not being governed, but without the work community that often provides support and meaning.

The most successful are now moving beyond this to interdependence – retaining all the options of independence, but choosing communities and “tribes” of those they choose to share their work and lives with. I work with a lot of fast growing businesses, and this feature – an interdependence with colleagues and clients – is a very visible feature. It gives them purpose, adaptability, flexibility and huge capability and attractiveness.

Many established organisations, and most of government, has not yet understood this. They pay lip service to it without understanding its implications. A dangerous place to be complacent. Those centralised institutions, from Head Office to Westminster, are becoming less and less important to those with the talent to create the future.

Adam Lent has written an excellent blog on the RSA site, which examines what 21st Century organisations might look like. In my view, worth the five minutes it will take to read.

The future is arriving faster than you think, whether you’re ready or not.

It offers immense opportunity, but won’t ask permission.

Breaking Rocks with Spoons

I always enjoy Sundays. Despite being (more or less) master of my own time, there is still something about them. One of the things I like to do is go through articles and mails that I’ve sidelined during the week so I can go through and give them time they deserve on Sunday. In the way that these things do, a picture emerged from this week. People breaking rocks.

People approaching things head on, when standing back would indicate a more effective way.

People obeying patently daft rules, despite the fact they know it hurts them and their clients, because the rules somehow have a power of their own.

People “sticking to their knitting” in a valuable education market, even though a small team has created a digital equivalent that will likely pull the rug from under them. If our job can be described and specified, it can be automated. See here for the jobs under threat – right now – of automation.

Screenshot 2014-11-23 11.20.12

You can read the full article here

Our futures do not belong to organisations, they belong to us. Each of us has unique abilities (and the likelihood for most of us is that it has little to do with your job) that we can leverage, particularly if you find the right group to work with (clue: They are probably not those you work with)

Last week, I had the pleasure of listening to Richard Gerver; who talked about a conversation he had with Sébastian Foucan, who you may recognize from his part in Casino Royale. During a walk, Richard asked him what he was looking at. To paraphrase the answer, the reply he got was “the spaces”. Sébastian sees the buildings as rocks, the spaces as the fastest way through, and himself as water. This is what happens:

Maybe we should look at what we do in the same way. Our passions and abilities are like water. Many of the organisations we work in are rocks. Quite often , the resources we are given are like spoons.

Breaking rocks with spoons. Not the future.

Using your skills like Seb? Maybe…….