Is the Core the new Edge? (or Mindful Innovation)

One of the most problematic metaphors I have heard in changemaking and social innovation is that of ‘the core’ versus ‘the edge’. Changemakers can often be heard to speak of ‘the core’ representing all those aspects of the world which involve the existing system; features that have become so entrenched and enshrined to be unchallenged assumptions of daily existence.

In contrast, many changemakers see themselves as operating on ‘the edge’ – that zone which lies outside of the existing paradigm or system; pushing the boundaries of existence and what is possible. The edge is the space where newness flourishes, innovation bursts forth and discovery happens.

If the core is a place of boundaries and knowingness, the edge is the place of fuzziness and unknowingness. It is the contrast that is powerful, and yet it is the core that is often referred to negatively while the edge the alluring positive. All the while I cannot help but see a necessary yin-yang dynamic here, as if both are necessary and deeply entwined with each other.

In the beginning of heaven and earth
There were no words,
Words came out of the womb of matter
And whether a man dispassionately
Sees the core of life
Or passionately sees the surface
The core and the surface
Are essentially the same, Read more

Business hospice and euthanization: what the…?

Over the past week I have been exploring the ethics of business closure and the idea of euthanisation. It is time for me to explain myself – what do I mean by business euthanization? and why use this metaphor for talking about business life-cycles?

My sense is that how we treat business closure is actually symptomatic of a much wider cultural and spiritual issue around how we perceive and deal with death and dying (stay with me!). For many people, death comes as a surprise and can be full of heartache – not just for the person dying, but also for the family. Research around organ donation for example shows that many families do not discuss the wishes of their loved one prior to their death. This lack of discussion and planning leads to sometimes difficult decisions needing to be made, and conflict amongst those left behind.

What can reincarnation teach us?

All cycles come to a close, and to the beginning of a new cycle. Yet we somehow treat business, strategy and life as if it is in a state of perpetual growth. This is simply not how life works. Of course all cycles will end. In life we have two main types of cycles – the major cycle of incarnation, and sub-cycles which could be seen as life stages. Each sub-cycle can include periods of creation (or innovation), growth, maturity, sustainability and eventually decline. Periods of decline can lead to business turnaround, which usually occur after some kind of midlife crisis or turning point.

Read more

Do the hokey-pokey, that’s what it’s all about!

You put your whole self in

You put your whole self out

You put your whole self in

and you shake it all about

You do the hokey-pokey 

and you turn around

…that’s what it’s all about!

Yesterday I had the amazing good fortune of doing the Hokey-pokey with a group of consenting adults, inspired by Cedar Barstow as part of her Right Use of Power workshop. At the end I laughed both because of the joy and the elegant simplicity of the message. That one little rhyme said more to me than anything else about what it means to be a changemaker (stay with me here).

The journey of doing good often starts by putting part of yourself into something – testing your talents, playing with ideas, exploring the zone. Not long into it though, we find ourselves putting our whole selves into what we do. It is this funny dance of wanting to put our whole self into something, jumping out for survival, only to go back into the zone again.

It is like a dance that repeats in a circular motion, and we keep going back for more.
The origins of the hokey-pokey are contested. In the UK it is regarded a traditional song, now in the trust of the collective consciousness to shape and give new meaning. Writing this from Colorado, I am trepidatious as here the rhyme is owned by Sony. I wonder whether I can give new meaning to our cultural stories when the collective consciousness is owned by the corporate monolith. I will take a risk.

The hokey-pokey is said to have different meanings and origins. The one that I will expand on is that it derives from the words Read more

Change by sword or hug…or both?

Last week I had the great privilege of hanging out with uncompromise (aka Cameron Burgess). We did some work together with the School for Social Entrepreneurs around organisational architecture, or how to design your organisation to achieve maximum impact.

I love Cameron’s passion and drive in the world – his energy is really contagious. We were talking about our different approaches to change-work and he shared an analogy of ‘change by sword’ versus ‘change by hug’. This is grossly simplifying what was actually a beautiful wisdom story of a monk, which I can’t seem to recall right now.

We talked about how Cameron often takes the role of the sword, and uses his intellect and sharp tongue to cut right through issues and get straight to the heart of what is happening for people. His experience with hypnotism has taught him that sometimes it is critical to be sharp like this to break through people’s resistances. In our chats this seemed to contrast with my more soft (or feminine perhaps) style of operating. I loved the conversation because the way he spoke really triggered some things in me and showed me aspects of myself which I was challenged by.

When we got around to running our workshop on the Tuesday however, things seemed to flip. Read more

Seeking Metaphors shaping our world

In the lead-up to Gathering ’11 I wrote a post on the SSE Australia blog called “8 (non-war) Metaphors for building a better future“. This post was driven partly by an interest in metaphor, but also by a strong desire to be conscious in the language we are choosing in describing and creating futures.

The title of the post looked at the prolific use of war-like metaphors for not only describing a change process, but also in creating it. This is the power of metaphor. Metaphors do more than describe reality; they also go a long way to creating it.

I find metaphor to be a powerful tool in communicating, and so often it is done unconsciously. I am on the look out for more metaphors that are shaping our world, with a view to create a sort-of library of metaphors. Please comment with suggestions, ideas and places to look….