Precipitating change

I talked with some friends at DrupalCampNYC this weekend and a few common themes kept coming up:

  • Technology is not the problem with adoption or creation of new things
  • Infrastructure and bureaucracy are increasingly the barriers to technology adoption
  • Technology adoption is increasingly a political tightrope walk across the board
  • Simply complaining about problems and pointing to a “them” or “those people” or “The man” is not the solution

The answer as a passing by colleague said at an after party is the exact opposite of that last thread: Sell out.

What is “Selling out” anyway? It’s when you give in and do what everyone else is doing. Get a job in “the system” and obey “the man”. The opposite of Occupy movements (on the surface). But where those movements may have gotten things wrong (we’ll know in about 10-20 years) is that it’s easy to protest (and an important start to any social movement); but after getting together, rising up and saying “no something is wrong here”… it’s time to take action.

There are 2 forms of action, violent and non-violent. Obviously violent is never the way to go, destruction begets destruction. You see movements that get overly aggressive or violent rejected outright, overwhelmingly throughout history (and those that don’t devolve often into more violence and chaos ala french revolution). Violence is never the answer. But what do those others do? Where do they go if not back home to sleep and forget about the movement. They sell out the rest of the group….Or do they?

Selling out is only if you actually abandon your ideals. What if instead, you get into the organizations that you see as the problem, infiltrate, and spread (positively) your ideas throughout them. The way to change is not through direct confrontation, but through consensus and changing that notion of consensus from within.

I would argue your seeing that today in the US Government via the offshoots of protest movements in the late 60s. Yeah, some got violent (and their voices lost to history, no one wants that) but the truly “insidious” ones “sold out”. They “dropped the radical means for the radical ends”.

There are a few tactics / concepts in this tool belt that we won’t go into but you should definitely read into further:

  • Nudge – get people to make the choice you want through elimination of the “wrong ones”
  • Overton window – the sliding window of society and its political acceptance of ideas as more or less free.
  • Hacktivism – using technology to change society, usually has a negative / destructive connotation though (re Anonymous / actual hacking of systems)
  • Information Altruism – Using the liberation of information to transform payment based industries.

If you want radical change, you need first to ensure it is no longer perceived as radical. You need to Nudge society to a place where it is acceptable within the eyes of the Overton windowSo wake up, stop complaining about the problems you see around you and get involved with them. The organizations of today were built by the mindsets of yesterday. Become part of the problem, and you can resolve it… unless you just sell out 🙂

ELMSLN snowflake symbol with sticky notes.

Will you be in business next century?

Ask yourself, right now, will my company exist in 100 years? Well that’s too far to project, ok, 50? 30? 20? 10? 5? 1???

How long is acceptable to project out and make philosophical decisions about the trajectory your business takes. This obviously doesn’t apply to all. If you run a coffee shop, you might not be able to project that robotic coffeepots overtake us in the year 2075 in the great Bux Revolution.

But when it comes to technology, to innovation; do you project far enough? Are you looking at the trends of the day in your own industry or the trends in the global market. I see infographics all the time about what life will be like 5 years from now (ones like this). Foretelling where we are going in the near future.

Without philosophy though, do you have anything to base your trajectory on as an organization, or an individual?

In education, I see too many looking to others in education for the trends to follow. This doesn’t inspire, it follows the crowd. This doesn’t lead to new innovations, this leads to trend lines in management slide decks to highlight that “yes CEO / Boss, as you can see, we’re inline with everyone else”.

Is that where you want to be? Just in line with the rest of the crowd? Wow, aspirational. What would 8 year old you say if he/she looked and said “Wow, so then, you just toed the company line because it was what you expected to hear / do?”.

Would your answer make you stop and question, or would you say “Well younger me, you don’t understand…” and then backpedal on dreams and imagination in favor of bottom lines and bureaucracy.

So back to the question, will my organization exist 100 years from now?

If the only constant in life is change, and technology is on course to change and disrupt all industries over a long enough timeline. Then start behaving like it. The Amazons, Googles, Starbucks, PapaJohns, the titan brands of industry only remain titans by taking risk. They only stand out today because of stepping outside the boundaries of what the rest of the societal line was up for.

It is walking a different path, changing the industry instead of trying to compete in it, that has dismantled and collapsed the big brands of previous generations. Where are the brands from the 20s, 30s, and 40s that were able to weather the changing times of society and still remain industry leaders. Did they not ask themselves how to survive the next 100 years by keeping agile? Only to fall into the dustbin of forgotten constructs.

Dreams, organizations, businesses; as temporary on the historical timeline as the throw-away culture we’ve become.

We can be more, we can always be better. Speak into existence where you want to take your organization. Every day. Every moment you will be resisted. Technologists especially are the most resistant to change when it involves them.

Principles to wake up to; and if you don’t work towards these, if you or your employees simply show up, I assure you, you will not see the next 100 years:

Where Innovation lives to power the next 100 years of any organization

Create – Don’t rely too much on others to achieve the objectives you seek; Build, experiment, create your own. Organizations throughout history reinvent themselves, grow, expand, risk and MAKE.

Teach – Train, invest in yourself and others in your organization. Never feel that anyone is unteachable or incapable of learning new things and new ways of doing business. If they can’t, then they aren’t going to take you where you need to go to hit 100.

Learn – Keep up on trends on society and, always more importantly, outside of your discipline. Disruption always comes from invading forces from other industries bleeding into your own. What themes exist in the societal marketplace, not just my own.

Love – love what you do, pour yourself into it. If you can’t, it’s time to look elsewhere.

Inspire – do these actions, these companies seek to inspire others to our organization / culture / movement; or do they seem to divide? Division, bickering, negativity, FUD, kill organizations. Speak and act, to inspire; if what you do doesn’t, do neither.

Dream – you need dreamers, desperately. Not to see life as it is but to see it as it will become, or could become. Envision the future and you will speak and create it daily.

We Are here to innovate through creation, love and dedication to bring dreams to reality. To inspire generations of teachers, leaners, and anyone who thirsts for knowledge to build up themselves, and to build a better planet.