The speed awareness course that I wrote about last week focused on stopping distances.
Since then, I have been thinking a bit more about reaction times – because that is the part that, as a driver, you control. Once you put your foot on the brake pedal, it is all down to physics.
It also reminded me of the sequence that I was taught when learning to drive: Mirror > Signal > Manoeuvre.
Yet, even before looking in the mirror, there is the thought or intent to move the car in a new or different direction.
So the whole sequence looks something like: Thought > Intent > Mirror > Signal > Manoeuvre.
And that got me thinking about work.
How often, in business, do we start by looking in the mirror – and we expect to be inspired by looking at the figures of last month’s performance?
How often do we start moving things before we signal to the wider group affected by the change?
In today’s frenetic online world of tweets and likes and such things, the opportunity to act without thinking, to press the “Buy Me Now” button before remembering you already have enough (books, clothes, food…<insert your particular collection obsession here>) for your needs.
How often do we act before we think about the consequences?
How often do we manoeuvre before thinking?
And what about this strange word, Manoeuvre. Is it spelt right? And what does it really mean?
I looked up the second part of the word (oeuvre) and found this:
OEUVRE = A work of art – Synonym = Work
Etymology: Today’s word was borrowed so recently from French, we have not yet resolved its pronunciation in English. It devolved from Latin opera “works,” the plural of “opus.” Sanskrit apas “work” and German üben “practice, exercise” derive from the same ultimate root.
The interesting thing, I find, is that holidays a good time to move out of work mode and into work of art mode. It allows you to look at your life as the creation of a series of works of art and puts a different emphasis on the process or the day-to-day grind and allows you to review your creations in the past year and those that you wish to create in the coming year. I always have a small notebook handy so I can jot down ideas on new works of art. Notebooks are much more fluid than a smartphone. Not sure yet whether an iPad is as good. Don’t think it is.
So, basically, before you start the next round of your Man-Work (or Woman-Work), it is best to take time to think. Think about signalling to those around you that you are going to create this new work of art – and even before that it is worth looking in the mirror to check there is no one behind you that is going to get in your way. Oh – and before ALL of that, it is worth thinking about the implications of changing direction and creating new works of art that might affect other users of the road you have chosen.
Have a great holiday if you are still to go – and hope you got inspired if you have already been! In any case, think before you man-oeuvre your life towards the creation of your new works of art!
I got into a discussion with a friend yesterday about religion. You know the sort. It became a discussion about basic beliefs and ideas about what had happened in the past with facts that neither of us could prove. I capitulated, not wanting to tread on ground that was sacred to them, yet still holding true to my own beliefs. In past times, I might have argued the point. But I was tired and did not see the point.
It got me thinking about this religion and holiness and that sort of stuff and reminded me of a phrase my father used to say to me: “All great religions die with their founder”. He was a spiritual man with his own religion. He is now dead. So I suppose, in his own way, he was right.
In so many things in life we seek out the differences. And religions are often a major culprit. If you believe in one version of history and someone else another, then you are different. You have different religious beliefs and are not of the same system, creeds, language etc. etc. And even within a religion, there are sub-sectors, different interpretations and different organisations supporting them. Yet what is common between religions is far more powerful than what makes them separate.
And so it is also true in the business world. We have finely-tuned sensors to work out if another company is a competitor or a potential “partner”. What are the “differentiators” that make you special? We have defined a set of rituals for ignoring or attacking other businesses. Just as in human relationships, these reactions can be commanded on a whim. Defined by tiny variations in perceived behaviour or circumstance. Individual differences are to be highlighted. Sameness is boring.
Yet there is a counter-force which is found much more commonly in nature. This is the unifying force which finds similarities and which seeks out common ground in any given situation. It requires a different way of thinking and a different way of feeling about a situation. More inclusive. More holistic. More local.
I am not an economist. Nor will I argue the pros and cons of globalisation in this short piece. Yet it seems to me that with all the rational arguments for globalisation and free-trade markets we have lost the ability to balance the world with this holistic energy – because responsibility has been taken away from what makes sense at a local level. We could blame Adam Smith and his ideas on how to increase the quantity of pins produced in pin manufacturing – so aptly celebrated on the British £20 note:
It is as if the new religion of global banking and global economics has become the new church which must be obeyed. Making money at the expense of making things whole, rounded, sensible and appropriate at a local level. With differences, of course, but much less important in this context. Much less expensive, for sure, because it does not carry the burden of national or international overheads.
And so it was that I was browsing a book, “The Nature of Order”by Christopher Alexander, one of the greatest architectural thinkers of our time. He describes wholeness as a series fifteen ideas or factors which are represented in the diagram below:
The Elements of Wholeness by Christopher Alexander
So, I wondered, with these fifteen design ideas, what would a new bank look like? What would a new economic system look like? Globalisation ideas don’t fit very well with concepts such as “Boundaries”, “Local Symmetries” and “Inner Calm”. Then again, that shouldn’t be too surprising!
If you are a wordsmith, you will notice there is a lot more in common between the words HOLINESS and WHOLENESS. The only difference is that makes the first unique is the letter “I” and the second that has the letters “WE”. Not that I am pushing one over the other, but it makes you think, anyway!
I was very privileged last year to submit evidence to the House of Lord’s Communications Committee on their report “Broadband for All”.
Below is The Earl of Selbourne’s summary of what needs to be done from his speech on Monday evening when the report was debated in the Lords:
The Earl of Selborne: My Lords, I join others in thanking the chairman, my noble friend Lord Inglewood, for the way in which he chaired the committee and introduced the debate today. From the speeches that we have heard, it is clear without doubt that the future of our economy will depend to a large extent on our ability to connect to broadband throughout all communities and sections of the population. It is not just about wealth creation and social cohesion. The ability to participate in healthcare and whole tranches of public activity will depend on connectivity. The Government must have a policy, and the Government are right to have a policy, but perhaps, as we have said in our report, they have been preoccupied by one aspect, which is to try to be the leader in Europe on superfast broadband.
The first priority has to be to achieve connectivity. If you have excluded populations, you will have a social divide and a lack of social cohesion. The Government need not worry about speed. That will follow. There are not very often market failures when it comes to cities. I therefore agree with those who have said that to spend money on improving superfast provision in cities is not something that the Government need to worry about if the market can do it itself. But there will be market failure in remote areas, where the costs of pushing out the broadband structure are too great. There will be market failure where the incumbents have an advantage, which inhibits other incomers who can help to provide some of the very many solutions that will be required to get this connectivity to all parts of the population. That is something that we are failing to harness—the undoubted innovation and enthusiasm from local communities, small and start-up companies, all of which would have a contribution to make. We go into some detail in the report. It gets pretty dense, I admit, when we talk about things such as passive optical networks and physical infrastructure access. But this is the key to it.
At the moment, we have what my noble friend Lord Inglewood called “the only show in town” for many rural areas. Whether we like it or not, because it is in the very nature of broadband to have high fixed costs, low marginal costs and great economies of scale, inevitably the incumbents will have a strong advantage. I think that we should be proud of what BT has done. It has improved enormously, by technical innovations, the ability to provide broadband on the existing infrastructure. Of course, it is rolling out broadband at great speed. It says that it hopes to achieve 90% coverage by 2017, but that immediately begs the question as to whether in national terms that is a satisfactory objective. I would certainly say, particularly as I am from a rather remote corner of the rural community and likely to be one of the 10% left out, that it is not satisfactory. So let us see what we can do to achieve that connectivity well before 2017. I do not think that anyone has mentioned yet the 4G mobile broadband technology, which is very soon to be with us and will certainly provide greatly enhanced mobile internet access to areas within adequate connectivity.
There are many different contributions to be made. The case for government involvement and public funds to be deployed rests, as I say, on achieving this reduction of the digital divide. The long-term solution will, ultimately, be fibre to the premises and the home. As others have rightly said, the cost of rolling out fibre to the home is exorbitant. We have a temporary solution, and a good one—the BT solution of fibre to the cabinet. It achieves the objective of reducing dramatically the costs. Usually, you have copper or some other connection from that cabinet. But whether BT likes it or not—it is in something like denial over this—it has the disadvantage that it does not provide open access, as I would understand it. In other words, as a local access network provider, you cannot simply move in with a compatible bit of machinery, stick it in there and do what you are trying to achieve. It is not an open access hub, as we have tried to demonstrate. That is where you come back to the technology of the passive optical network, which is a bit of a fix, as those will know who have read the report with great care. It certainly does not achieve what some of those independent service providers would have hoped for.
I think that the Government should ask quite firmly that, for the next tranche of money, which we hear will come in 2015, there should be proper open access. It is not beyond the wit of man. Clearly, there is no great financial advantage to the incumbents to roll out proper open access, but that is what is needed. If it is what is required, that is what will happen. It must be future proofed. We know that the technology changes dramatically fast. We know that some of the existing solutions, including the cabinet, will not stand the test of time for very long, but the fibre-optic cable will. Ultimately, it will be able to handle this vast amount of information. Therefore, we must make sure that as we improve the broadband infrastructure, we have the ability to upgrade and upgrade. That is why I say that, frankly, the cabinets are not very easily upgraded. You have to go back to the exchanges and think again. That is why we should look on them only as a temporary expedient.
When public money is distributed to extend the commercial network, as is happening at the moment, the Government should insist on the long-term solution. We took evidence from a particularly impressive consultant, Mr Lorne Mitchell, who is setting up a community scheme in Goudhurst, Kent. I think he was the first to put it to me how important it was for local groups to be able to access the middle mile and to get the backhaul back into the infrastructure. He said that the key to the problem is the openness of the middle mile, which is the connection back to the internet. If this can be designed in a way that gives each community a chance to get to one of these community hubs, it would be a massive leap forward. That is precisely what the committee report has tried to promote. I think it makes a lot of sense. However, the government response simply quoted a report which said that it was unrealistically expensive to have hubs in every community, and so it would be if you were to launch it all overnight. However, ultimately, it would be no more expensive than the cabinets. It is the same technology but it is a question of making sure that when you roll out the hubs, you do what you are not doing at the moment with the cabinets, and that is making them available to all. To say that they will cost far in excess of the funds available to the Government at present, as the government response does, simply misses the point. If the Government can fund any hubs such as cabinets or exchanges, they should be accessible to the community and to other providers. This simply requires a change in specification, not a change in the scale of funding.
I hope the Minister will recognise that, however impressive BT’s record of rolling out broadband is—it has, indeed, been most impressive—the interests of the BT shareholder and of wider society, particularly the 10% in rural communities who will remain without adequate connectivity in 2017 if present policies are continued, are not always the same.
There is a much better and fairer way to make the UK’s telecoms infrastructure truly open and competitive – and also give much better value-for-money to the government’s interventions. The Lords highlighted the way – but the vested interests put a cloud over the path. Many assume because BT Openreach is called “open”, then it is open. It is not. Never has been. Never will be. Clever marketing.
In spite of many other schemes being “rolled-up” by the BDUK closed scheme where only BT can win, we are letting the Government and the English Counties inject the biggest single donation to BT’s balance sheet in a lifetime. Definitely not the best way to invest government money. Definitely not an open debate in the House of Commons on how to do it differently. Only in the House of Lords.
I am really pleased to say that we were told this week that the Goudhurst Broadband scheme that I presented to the Communications Committee is still going strong – with great support from Kent County Council and our Local Parish Council. You can find more at one of my other blogs: http://www.goudhurst.net I also blog about the final 10% (last point above) at http://www.finalninth.com – so for those who wondered what I do outside writing Thursday Thoughts – then this is some of it!
Let’s hope the Lords’ Report continues to be read and championed and that Monday was not the end of the work of trying to develop a new set of really good ideas for next generation internet access distribution for the UK.
As we hear the conflicting messages of the US and UK stock market reaching all-time highs, but the British Pound losing its creditworthiness and predictions of the currency on a long-term slide into goodness knows where, the uncertainties about the world trigger a search for a model that can understand what is going on – and what one should do about it. More importantly, it makes us think more about what is important in life so we can make the hard choices to navigate a fruitful future for ourselves and those who are important to us.
It was therefore a coincidence that yesterday, I turned to a set of cards of wise sayings that I was given a few years ago, The cards summarise the ideas of Abraham-Hicks (more details at the bottom of this post).
The text says:
Those who are
mostly observers thrive
in good times but suffer in bad
times because what they are observing
is already vibrating, and as they observe it,
they include it in their vibrational countenance;
and as they include it, the Universe accepts that as
their point of attraction – and gives them more
of the essence of it. So for an observer
the better it gets, the better it gets;
or the worse it gets, the worse
it gets. However, one who
is a visionary thrives
in all times.
For those new to Abraham-Hicks, words like “vibrational countenance” and “point of attraction” might seem a bit strange. But for me, having read deeper into their work for a few years, I have found the Abraham-Hicks way of looking at the world to be extraordinarily powerful, interesting and helpful.
A simple message, shines through the more esoteric phrases: have a vision and hold it through good times and bad and you will find it is easier to take the ups and downs in life than if you just sit back as an observer and let life happen around you.
Food for thought. I would love to hear from any readers who have thoughts on these ideas. Please post them below!
More information on the Abraham-Hicks publications at:
I had to introduce a workshop last week with a bunch of folk who were trying to take on the “big guys”. I opened the workshop with a story which, for me, gives great hope to the small guys who are toiling away to take on the big guys.
Some say the big guys have gotten the world into the mess that it is currently in. So here’s a story to cheer those up who are ploughing their furrow as a “small guy”!
There is an old Celtic legend, a story of two lumberjacks.
Both men were skilled woodsmen although the first, called Angus, was much bigger, welding a powerful axe. He was so strong that he didn’t have to be as accurate for he still produced due to his sheer size. He was known far and wide for his ability to produce great quantities of raw material. Many hired him just because he was bigger. After all, his customers reasoned, everyone knows that bigger is always better!
In spite of his size, the fame of the second woodsman’s (who was called Hamish) was spreading for his skill was in his accuracy. There was very little waste in his efforts so his customers ended up with a better product for their money. Soon the word spread that Hamish’s work was even better than his larger competitor, Angus.
Upon hearing this, Angus became concerned. He wondered, “How could this be? I am so much bigger that I MUST be better!” He proposed that the two compete with a full day of chopping trees to see who was more productive. The winner would be declared ”The Greatest Lumberjack in all the land.” Hamish agreed and the date for the bout was set.
The townsfolk began talking. They placed their bets. Angus was the favorite to win with a 20 to 1 advantage. After all, bigger is better! The evening before the bout, both men sharpened their blades. Hamish strategized to win the bout. He knew he would never win because of his size. He needed a competitive advantage. Each man went to bed confident that he would be declared the winner.
Morning broke with the entire town showing up to cheer on the lumberjacks. The competition started with a the judge’s shout, “GO!” Angus, strong and broad, leaped into action. He chopped vigorously and continuously, without stopping, knowing that every tree he felled brought him closer to his coveted title.
Hamish, wasting no time, jumped into action as well, attacking his trees with every intention of winning the distinguished title. But unlike his larger competitor, he stopped every forty five minutes to rest and sharpen his blade.
This worried the onlooking townspeople greatly. They murmured among themselves. Surely, he could never win if he didn’t work longer and harder than his competitor. His friends pleaded with him to increase his speed, to work harder – but to no avail. This pattern continued throughout the day when both men heard the judge yell “TIME!”, signaling the end of the match.
Angus stood, winded and exhausted, yet also proud by his pile of trees knowing he had given his best having chopped almost continuously since the start of the match. Surely, he was the winner!
Hamish also stood by his pile of trees – though, unlike his competitor, he was still fresh, ready to continue if necessary. He also stood confident in knowing that he had also given of his best and that his tactics would pay off.
When all the trees were counted, it was announced that Hamish had, indeed, felled more trees than Angus and he was granted title of “The Greatest Lumberjack in all the Land!”. He happily shook the judge’s hand and gripped his newly won axe made of the finest steel in the land. Angus (and most of the townspeople) stood in stunned silence at the announcement – for he was far greater reputation, was far stronger and had a much heavier axe!
But Hamish was not that surprised by the result. For he knew that, in order to win against his larger competitor, his instrument had to be continually sharpened. His axe was smaller and therefore each swing must be more accurate in order to produce the better product. By stopping the sharpen his instrument, he had proven, once and for all, that he was the better man for the job. He also knew that, with regular rests, he would be able to endure his technique far longer.
The older I get, the more I believe in coincidences. And one of the strange coincidences that I have recently discovered is that there are a set of stories that are told in slightly different forms all around the world – as if they all had their roots in one story told many thousands of years ago. A fine example is the Story of the Broken Pot:
Once upon a time there lived a woman called Truhana. Not being very rich, she had to go yearly to the market to sell honey, the precious product of her hive.
Along the road she went, carrying the jar of honey upon her head, calculating as she walked the money she would get for the honey. “First”, she thought, “I will sell it, and buy eggs. The eggs I shall set under my fat brown hens, and in time there will be plenty of little chicks. These, in turn, will become chickens, and from the sale of these, lambs could be bought.”
Truhana then began to imagine how she could become richer than her neighbors, and look forward to marrying well her sons and daughters.
Trudging along, in the hot sun, she could see her fine sons and daughters-in-law, and how the people would say that it was remarkable how rich she had become, who was once so poverty-stricken.
Under the influence of these pleasurable thoughts, she began to laugh heartily, and preen herself, when, suddenly, striking the jar with her hand, it fell from her head, and smashed on the ground. The honey became a sticky mess upon the ground.
Seeing this, she was cast down as she had been excited, on seeing all her dreams lost for illusion.
Idres Shah in his book “World Tales” (which is where this story came from) notes:
“The tale is called a number of things like – “The Girl and the Pitcher of Milk”. Professor Max muller remarks how the tale has survived the rise and fall of empires and the change of languages, and the perishing of works of art. He stresses the attraction whereby “this simple children’s tale should have lived on and maintained its place of honor and its undisputed sway in every schoolroom of the East and every nursery of the West.”
“In the Eastern versions, it is always a man who is the fantasist and whose hopes come to grief: in the West it is almost always a woman. The man generally imagines that he will marry and have a son, while the woman tends to think of riches and marriage.”
And so it was, last week, I was visiting Telefonica’s incubator (which they call an Academy) in London. There are 19 startups (or eggs) being hatched – each into what will hopefully be new chickens. However, given the statistic that over 65% of companies fail in their first two years, I could not but think the question as to which ones might be successful, and which ones not. Which ones would hatch and which ones would be eaten before hatching? Talking to the head guy there, he said that it was surprising that some of the start-ups that showed no hope four months ago are now doing really well – and others that showed great potential have somehow stumbled. Each of the eggs will be moved out from the Academy at the end of March – and I wish them all the best of luck in moving from the egg stage to the chicken stage!
Oh, and just to round off this Thursday Thought, I visited my own beehives on Monday to give them some sugar cake food. All was well – each of the six hives had bees! I just hope they will all survive through February and March. No honey in the pot yet, but I still dream that their stories will make me rich and famous one day!
I am going to be exploring the power coincidence in a lot more detail in the coming months. If you are on Twitter you can read the regular tweets and observations on coincidence and business by following my new Tweet stream @coinmark.
Story from: “World Tales” collected by Idries Shah published by the Octagon Press 1991 – page 27
Picture – Copyright iStockPhoto – I bought it and if you want to use it you should buy it too!
It’s that time of the year again where we set goals and objectives and personal New Year’s Resolutions. Sure, there are the normal ones about losing weight or taking more exercise or spending more time with loved ones. Yet I have been digging a bit deeper this year about the whole process.
Both were concerned with my personal weight. Each year I have lost a decent amount of weight between January to March (between 7-13 pounds). Each year I have put that weight on by the following New Year’s Day. As I identified last year, it is not just about losing weight (I reckon I can do that now). It’s about keeping it off. That is the problem.
It is not just my personal resolution of attempted weight-loss that this pattern can be seen. As the Guardian so cuttingly put it earlier in the year:
“Failed plans fall into three categories. There are good plans that are poorly executed, as in the blueprint drawn up by Count Alfred von Schlieffen for the invasion of France in 1914. There are strategically bad plans that are well executed, as in Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812. And then there’s the coalition government’s deficit reduction plan.”
It got me thinking about the whole word “RESOLUTION“. Made from the base word “RESOLVE” – or “RE-SOLVE” or “RE-SOLUITION“. The idea that we are solving something again (not for the first time). That somehow we need to re-solve the problem because the first solution did not work fully the first time around. Or we need to re-dissolve the solution, as it were, because the solution was too saturated with whatever it was we were trying to dissolve.
Yet it is so much more difficult to withdraw than to re-draw. Much more difficult to cut-back than keep the status-quo. It reminded me of an old military saying:
“Of all operations of war, a withdrawal under heavy enemy pressure is probably the most difficult and perilous.”
On this theme, it is recorded of the great Helmuthe von Moltke the Younger, that when he was being praised for his generalship in the Franco-Prussian War, and was told by an admirer that his reputation would rank with such great captains as Napoleon, Frederick, or Turenne, he answered: “No, for I have never conducted a retreat.”
So as we see the US apparently fall off the fiscal cliff and the UK economy continuing to groan on with its deficit, the need to resolve to re-solve the problem becomes even greater. The solution is in the re-solution. That we need to re-think our way through the problem is clear. Yet it is unfortunate that the political cycles and systems in the West seem to get in the way of a sensible resolution, a sensible re-solution, a sensible re-think. Democracy is stuck.
So, this year, I resolve to lose weight and find new solutions for keeping the weight off. I’m not obese – but I am overweight. And being normal weight is where I want to be.
So here goes for the third year. I resolve to be in a different (better) place this time next Year and hit 2014 at 13st 7 lbs. No, really!
As we leave 2012, there are many things we may remember which, for those that live in the UK, can be summed up as a year of broken records:
The driest spring for 100 years followed by the wettest 9 months since records began
The summer Olympic and Paralympic games that smashed many World, Olympic and Paralympic records
The Diamond Jubilee celebrations with cheery faces, street parties and that magnificent pageant on the Thames. (Although the Queen did not break the record as the longest-serving British Monarch – she is in good health to take the record from Queen Victoria in three years time with 64 years on the throne).
The “broken record” of economic doom, debt mountains, fiscal cliffs, war, murder, hunger etc. etc.
…..and what should not be forgotten – our own personal records – whatever they might have been.
As we enter 2013, it is the time of year where we look back and look forward. Remember and try to stretch our minds to a New Year.
If there is one thing that I will remember, above all else, it was the power of the “Games Makers”.
Through economic gloom and despondency and the ever sharper and more graphic accounts of murder and mayhem around the world, the Games Makers surely showed us how to make a difference. Whatever is going on in the world, each individual can volunteer to create their own, brighter future. A powerful message for me from 2012 that I was not expecting to receive!
I hope all readers have an extraordinarily successful New Year and the best of luck with breaking your own records in 2013!
I took part of the afternoon off yesterday to sort out a friend’s beehive. He had started keeping bees earlier this year, having been given a new hive by his parents for his birthday. After two inspections he called for help for me to take them away. The bees had stung him so badly that he had dramatic side-effects. Last weekend, I took a new hive over and yesterday I went to put the bees into my hive. The bees were one of the most aggressive colonies I have ever opened – and it became clear that they were not the best colony for a beginner beekeeper to start with.
It got me thinking of a few visits that I have recently done to business incubators and business colonies around the country in the past few months.
The first was in London, near Kings Cross at the Centre for Creative Collaboration (C4CC). My good friend, Brian Condon, has just started a new phase of development by taking on a full-time role running the place. The C4CC is based near Kings Cross and funded by various parts of the University of London. The way that the centre attracts projects and develops ideas is outstanding. A particular success has been Pavegen – which creates paving slabs that generate electricity from footsteps. They started with the founder and a desk in C4CC two years ago and have now moved out to a local office employing about 30 people.
The second example was in Edinburgh, where I was shown around a new venture called “The Tech Cube” . The building used to be the home of the The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies until last year when the School moved to new purpose-built facility 7 miles to the south. The vision for the Tech Cube was impressive – though the building was still under refurbishment. What was interesting was the link between the Tech Cube and the University – with the idea of taking some of the young ideas that will be incubated on the top three floors of the Appleton Tower (part of the Informatics Department) about half a mile away and then to commercialise them further in the Cube. Again – a strong link between University and the commercial sector seems to be the trend.
I was also lucky enough to be shown around O2’s new Business Academy in London – part of a network of accelerators owned by Telefonica under the brand name “Wayra“. 19 start-ups in London (from a total of 171 worldwide) are each given about £40,000 as a loan by Telefonica to catapult them to the next level. They each spend 9 months in the accelerator in a cube on the edge of the building bounded by corner-less walls of black that can be written on by passers by.
There is an interesting map emerging – which is summarised on the TechBritain website:
All this got me thinking what the similarities were between my apiary and the successful custodianship of these new businesses accelerators / incubators around the country:
Projects and/or businesses are bounded physically (like a hive is within an apiary)
Each project has a leader. Some are more successful than others – depending on the leadership qualities of the boss (queen bee)
The organism depends on cross-fertilisation of ideas between the various colonies (a role performed by the drone in the bee world)
The workers of each project (hive) collect ideas (pollen and nectar) and enrich their organisation
Some incubators (like C4CC) have private rooms that projects can keep their Intellectual Property (honey stores) from the competition
Each building (apiary) needs a good leader (beekeeper) to ensure the right treatment is given to each project (hive) to ensure they flourish and survive
Each business (hive) has a different path, a different energy, a different future. Predicting which ones will win and which ones will fail can be difficult! Just as with bee hives.
Colonies of Artists are not a new thing (see previous post on the Cranbrook Colony. However, with all the mergers, acquisitions, outsourcing, offshoring and MBA-ification of our business fabric, I somehow think that the only way we can get the UK back on its feet is to get back to the level of the hive and re-learn the art of business within a colony, or business apiary.
This is backed-up by thinking from the Futurist, Thomas Frey, in his analysis of the future of work and how business colonies will become a growing force in the future of how work works.
This weekend I will move the hive from my friend’s garden to my out-apiary where I will have to decide what to do with it in the spring. Some colonies are just too angry for an amateur beekeeper to want to keep. Below is a rather quaint scene from the French Alps of an apiary that has probably not changed for a hundred years or more:
However, on the up-side, they are often one the most profitable hives for producing excess honey. After this appalling year of honey production, I might well encourage them to flourish next year. The again, it might be good to encourage them to swarm – so I lose the queen that produces such aggressive daughters. As in beekeeping, so as in Wayra’s motto: “The rules are not yet written!”
I was with a client yesterday and drew attention to a recent article Two-Speed IT: A Linchpin for Success in a Digitized World from BCG Perspectives on how some organisations are being forced split in two with the pressure of the internet. The BCG paper describes a “two-speed IT” – but in many ways, the IT is only part of it – and BCG have taken the two-speed analogy far further with other thoughts on organisations, economies and governments.
It would appear that, in order to survive, successful organisations now need to have (at least) two speeds or engines within in them. One is there to cope with traditional “industrial speed” business and the other need to cope with innovation and customer interactions at “digital speed”.
There is no finer example than Telefonica-O2 – which has recently split itself in to two companies. One which manages the more traditional “industrial” network and handset business. The second (called Telefonica Digital) was set up to manage innovation and all the different aspects of interconnecting the network business to new technologies and services.
I’m with O2 – and it was disappointing that even after splitting itself in two, the industrial part of the business, they still managed to knock-out my service for 24 hours in the early summer. Even more reason to believe in the importance of creating and adapting organisations so that they can take both the expected and unexpected demands placed upon them.
A better example of success is probably BT’s execution of the Olympic Games. I am sure the stories will start to come out in the next few months, but I heard at a conference recently that there were over 50 severe attacks on the Olympic Network that could have brought it down – had BT not had the right protection in place. In the industrial network game, true success normally means not failing!
As many of you know, I like to draw analogies, and I thought that this client that I was working with had a problem of shifting from first gear to second gear. Somehow, they had all the parts to make very solid machines for the industrial age, but they were not thinking of designing and creating smaller, lighter, more nimble components to put in the small engines of the digital age (for new organisations such as Telefonica Digital). To use a truck-car analogy, they were still assembling large-scale gearboxes for big trucks – (where each component takes days and weeks to manufacture and assemble) – whilst missing the market opportunity to provide new, smaller gearboxes (or even components) that will allow emerging digital organisations to engage with the bigger industrial engines of the past.
These new gear boxes are going to be smaller, cheaper and faster to assemble. It might even require a new, separate organisation to design, market and support them. The possibilities were very interesting.
So I was charmed by the Queen of Coincidence, when, whilst I was preparing for the client presentation, a good friend, Jo, sent me this brilliant recording of a telephone conversation between a guy who has just bought a BMW with a “wonky gearbox” – Listen and enjoy!