WORLDBLU LIVE 2005 PARTICIPANT BLOG

WorldBlu LIVE invited six guest bloggers to blog about WorldBlu LIVE 2005 throughout the 3.5-day event. Invited bloggers included:

  • JANESSA GANS, Middle East Expert
  • SUZANNE GOLDSTEIN, Social Enterprise + Product Design + Innovation Consultant
  • ALEXANDER KJERULF, CEO, Happy at Work
  • THOMAS MADSEN-MYGDAL, Entrepreneur, Investor, Blogger, Designer + Activist
  • CHRIS RAYMOND, Global Business Strategist
  • MARIO TOSTO, Entrepreneur and Metaphysician

Check out their insights, observations and ah-ha! moments below.

OCTOBER 27, 2005
MY BRAIN IS FULL

I feel like a sponge that is no longer capable of absorbing another bit of information. It's not that this, the first full day of the WorldBlu Forum wasn't incredible. In fact, it was. Almost too incredible.

Over the past 14 hours, we've heard from 16 people. The topics were diverse... from evolution in the natural world, to evolution in the corporate world... and the speakers/presenters at today's Forum served up stories, theroies, anecdotes and analogies to help us all better understand what organization democracy means, and how it can be seen working in the world today.

Perhaps the most compelling theme of the day was the desire of humans to connect, to be involved and to determine our own destinies.

It seems to be a movement that is getting traction. It seems to be generational -- Gen X? Gen Y? -- yet Southwest Airlines started doing it 30 years ago.

It seems hippie and commune-like, yet GE, one of the largest multi-national companies in the world demonstrates one of the best examples of freedom-centered leadership in its Durham engine manufacturing plant -- where the flattened heirarchy and self-lead teams have lead it to be the most productive and cost-saving plant in all of GE.

It seems like it shouldn't work. Yet it does. Financially. Productively. Spiritually. Democratically.

Motek, an LA-based warehouse automation company opens its books to all employees, who, once aware of the company balance sheet, votes on priorities as well as benefits. They are rewarded for loyalty (you get a car once you've been at the company 10 years) and for proactive communication (you get $100 for making your weekly objective... and you also get $100 for NOT making your weekly objective, as long as you report it ahead of time.)

Being democratic and freedom-centered means braking molds and ignoring fear.

Today was fearless. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Susanne's Weblog | 10:32 PM

POWERPOINT FREE ZONE

It was nice today both to see PowerPoint used very creatively, and to see it NOT used :o)

As I mentioned, all our work in the Happy at Work Project is PowerPoint free so we had our designer whip up a logo announcing this.

We are publishing this logo under a Creative Commons license, so feel free to use it yourself. You can find it here.

On a lighter note, here's a satire from The Onion about an office worker who commits suicide and leaves a PowerPoint presentation rather than a note for his co-workers. You can find it here.

Alexander's Weblog | 09:56 PM

APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY

Thanks to everyone for participating so actively in the session about Appreciative Inquiry (or AI). I hope you got a sense of the method, and a desire to learn more about it.

A good place to start is the Appreciative Inquiry Handbook by David Cooperrider et al, which is the ultimate AI reference. you can find a review of the book here.

As promised, I uploaded the interview sheet, and you can find it here.

If you'd like to talk more about AI, grab me any time :o)

Alexander's Weblog | 09:51 PM

DAVID WEINBERGER

Amazing talk by David Weinberger last night.

Didn't get it all written down - was very jetlagged.

Business beyond fear. Society beyond fear. Through conversations.

Living Thoughts | 12:06 PM

OBSERVATION ON ELISABET SAHTOURIS' PRESENTATION

Elisabet's presentation was very interesting. The core realization that businesses are more like living systems and ecologies than like machines is crucial for developing democratic organizations.

For an interesting take on this, read Arie deGeus' book The Living Company. Arie de Geus pioneered a study at Shell that uncovered this fact, and looked at companies that have lasted a long time, and "The living company: Growth, Learning and Longevity in Business" summarizes the characteristics of these organizations. The most important fact that sets them apart: They are not in business only for the money!

You can find a review of the book here.

I did disagree with Elisabet on one (slight) point: She presented the fact that traditional science sees the universe as slowly running down due to entropy, and that this view is depressing. She further argued that a model of the universe that does not imply the universe running down would make more sense.

And that's where I disagree. I do not find the idea, that the universe is not eternal depressing. That would be like finding roses depressing, because they will eventually wilt. I find the universe beautiful BECAUSE it will eventually die.

All living systems will eventually die. Cells, bodies, rain forests, businesses and planets. Why not universes?

Alexander's Weblog | 09:47 AM

OPENING NIGHT OBSERVATIONS

The WorldBlu conference has convened an audience composed of a diverse mix of the population. By so doing, it is walking its own talk because the essence of WorldBlu is to advance “Organizational Democracy.” I have to admit I didn't know much about what this term means, but after an evening here, the kickoff of this 3.5-day event, I'm on my way to seeing how it could be the most revolutionary concept to come along in a long time. Basically, OD acknowledges and encourages the synergistic power of freely thinking people to solve problems, promote the well being of the individual and therefore advance the progress of the species as a whole.

These sound like extravagant claims, and so idealistic as to tempt a polite little grin onto the faces of the savvy. And when you note that this conference is attended by a large number of 20-to-30-somethings the sense of collegiate earnestness threatens to engulf the scene.

But if you stick with it and listen to the conversations, hear the reports of personal experiences and think about the reasoning behind the idea, it's not so far-fetched. By bringing this group together, Traci Fenton - the organizer - and her staff of mostly volunteers, have convened something that has the earmarks of a revolution in the making. Though the group is small this could be the makings of a critical mass that could explode many conventional organizational systems. And we're talking not just companies but municipalities, governments and - heaven knows - maybe even churches - any organization where power comes from the top down.

David Weinberger, in a brilliant keynote address that coaxed humor and freshness out of staid old PowerPoint, noted that when he searched the Web for graphics about “manageement” all he could find was a layered pyramid, with the smallest layer at the very top, dominating all the other layers.

By convening such an event, WorldBlu QEDs its premise, for the power in this idea doesn't come from experts laying their opinions on the spongy masses. While the presentations promise to be thrilling, it's exciting to see the intense interactions among the assembly. (I'll blog one of those conversations later.)

So, if you're here, do more than soak up speeches. Connect with everyone, have conversations, blog them here and everywhere you can. You'll have a good time, and the rest of us will share in the bounty of democracy let loose.

Mario's Weblog | 09:15 AM

DEMOCRACY AND FALLIBILITY

The forum was off to a great start wednesdaty night with David Weinbergers excellent keynote speach. The one idea that resonated the most with me in what David said, was the notion of how democracy embraces fallibility. Traditional management holds a delusional belief in the power of accountability to make people stop making mistakes. Democracy acknowledges that people are fallible. Errare humanum est. To fail is human.

One company who embrace this is the design firm Alessi. At their headquarters, they have a gallery of products that never went anywhere. They didn't sell. They didn't work. This gallery recognizes the fact, that without making mistakes, they could have no progress, and if they aren't making mistakes, they're not innovating and developing quickly enough.

Alexander's Weblog | 08:53 AM

DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP

A common misconception is that democracy entails a lack of strong leadership. This is only true of dysfunctional democracies. Healthy democracies have many leaders, who step up whenever interest, passion, energy, motivation and organizational needs dictate.

Democratic organizations need leaders too - the main difference is that in a democratic organization leadership is dynamic and distributed. In a traditional organization leadership is static and centralized.

You may see different people taking leadership in different areas, or you may see people taking leadership in the same area at different times. But note that leadership in a democratic organization is something you actively seek out - whereas in a traditional organization it "comes with the job".

Alexander's Weblog | 08:51 AM

BLOG-OFF

Welcome to my blog at the WorldBlu Forum.

As with all blogs, you can't really know what it'll be, before it's there. I'm thinking I'll post my impressions of the sessions and general thoughts on organizational democracy.

Or it may end up being totally different. We'll see :o)

Alexander's Weblog | 08:48 AM

SUBVERSIVE SEEDS

I am reasonably sure that I am witnessing something really really huge. Not "big bang" huge, like blinding flash of light, more like sparks, tons of sparks...more like subversively big.

Here's why: last nite at the kickoff of the Forum in the several conversations I had with "new-old" friends (new because I had not met them before, but old because it felt like we had known each other for a long time because of the ideas we had in common), it was clear that as we shared ideas with each other it was "recognition". We recognized in one another similar ideas that we had only communicated silently in our own heads. And here we are voicing and hearing them OUT LOUD.

Oh boy. Now I hear "revolution"...that's how big this conference is.

The keynote last night was David Weinberger. I am one of David's many longtime fans and his keynote was yet another reason why. He is like your favorite stand-up comedian who observes what is going on in social-political events, sees the enormous and serious meaning behind the event, and synthesizes and elevates it with humor. So that you can do something with the information.

One of the constant themes that i take from David's books, blogs and talks is that the Web shows us how to be our better selves...and that is how we can live our whole life, not just on the Web. David talks about the key contribution of the blogging genera is that it shows us its ok to be fallible (good), which demands immediate forgiveness (very good) by the blog reader, which creates a deep intimacy between reader and writer (excellent!).

Think about it : The thousands of blogs and the millions of readers, then, must have an incredible effect of forgiveness and intimacy in the physical world.

See, that is the ultimate expectation of this Forum. We must take the ideas gathered here and do something with them. Take the seeds and make them practical. Make them count.

Hmmm....forgiveness, intimacy and revolution. That's how big this Forum is.

Chris | 08:42 AM

LET'S GET IT STARTED IN HERE!

WorldBlu rocks!

And along with it, I'm gonna learn how to podcast.

So read, listen, live.

Here we go...

Susanne's Weblog | 06:48 AM